The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 1, 2013

A look at Syria developments around the world

Eds: Updates entries from Syria and the United Nations. With AP Photos.

The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

President Barack Obama said he has decided that the United States should take military action against Syria but will seek congressional authorization for the use of force.

Here's a look at key Syria developments around the world Sunday amid heightened tensions over potential military action:

UNITED STATES:

Secretary of State John Kerry asserted the United States has evidence of sarin gas use in Syria. A day after President Barack Obama stepped back from his threat to launch an attack, Kerry said in interviews that the administration learned of the sarin use through samples of hair and blood provided to Washington by first responders in Damascus.

SYRIA:

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mikdad, claimed that Obama stepped back from his threat because his administration lacks evidence of Syrian government involvement in purported poison gas attacks. Syria's state-run news agency SANA quoted Assad saying that his government is capable of confronting a U.S. strike, but did not carry his exact comments.

UNITED NATIONS:

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked the head of the U.N. chemical weapons inspection team to expedite the analysis of tests from samples collected from its visits to alleged chemical weapons attack sites in Syria. He said two Syrian government officials are observing the process as mandated by guidelines that safeguard the samples' chain of custody. Nesirky declined comment on when results were expected.

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