U.S. has evidence sarin gas used on Syrian civilians, Kerry says

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad greeting Syrian army soldiers during a visit in Daraya, southwestern of the capital Damascus.Photo: AFP / SANA
Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States now has evidence Syria used sarin gas in a recent attack on civilians and predicted Congress will back President Barack Obama in his decision to launch a limited attack on the Syrian government.
He said samples from hair and blood gathered after the attack "tested positive for signatures of sarin".
Kerry told U.S. media Sunday he is confident that Congress "will do what is right," as President Barack Obama seeks approval for a military strike against Syria. Kerry calls the case against Syria "overwhelming." He said the president has the power to act, no matter what Congress decides.
Kerry implied that the US evidence was supplied by its own sources, rather than via the UN inspectors.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained defiant on Sunday, saying: "Syria… is capable of facing up to any external aggression just as it faces up to internal aggression every day, in the form of terrorist groups and those that support them."
Assad\’s comments were his first since Obama on Saturday committed the fate of US action to a vote in Congress.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad says Obama\’s decision to seek approval from Congress shows he is hesitant and confused. 
Arab League foreign ministers ended a meeting Sunday by calling on the world to take what they call the "necessary deterrent" steps against Syria. A resolution issued after the meeting calls those responsible for the chemical weapons strike "war criminals."
The UK has ruled out taking part in any attack, after Prime Minister David Cameron failed to win the support of parliament last week.
That leaves France as the only other major power that has said it could strike against Syria – though it says it will not act on its own before the vote in the US Congress.
U.S. intelligence says more than 1,000 civilians, including entire families, were killed when Syrian forces dropped poison gas on four Damascus suburbs August 21. United Nations inspectors plan to deliver samples collected in Syria to laboratories on Monday.
The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons and says the rebels have used poison gas against Syrian troops.
President Obama says the United States should take military action against Syria but thinks it is important for the country to have a debate on the issue. He has formally asked Congress to let him use military force in Syria to "deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade" the potential for more chemical attacks. He says no U.S. troops would go to Syria.
Congress is not expected to take up the Syrian issue before lawmakers return from vacation next week.
The Syrian government has been fighting rebel forces since March 2011. More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict, and at least 1.7 million have become refugees.

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Source: Agencies

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