U.N. inspectors start leaving Syria; Obama meets with security team

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 8/30/2013, 2:07 p.m. | Updated on 8/30/2013, 2:07 p.m.
100 videos attributed to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria "show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent ...

A preliminary U.S. government assessment of last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria has made these key findings:

--100 videos attributed to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria "show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure." Some videos show what appear to be fatalities "with no visible injuries" -- imagery "consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents," said the report, released Friday.

--1,429 people were killed in an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria and asserted that "we assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs."

-- The United States says it has "intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel ... were preparing chemical weapons munitions prior to" what Washington believes was a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. "In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack," the U.S. government said in its assessment released Friday.

Citing support from the Arab League, Turkey and France, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that "we are not alone in our will to do something about" last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria that he blamed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry added that the United States "makes our own decisions on our own timelines, based on our own values and interests" in signaling a possible military response to last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Read the full assessment

[Breaking news alert 1:08 p.m. ET]

A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria and asserted that "we assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs."

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the American intelligence community has "high confidence" in what he called evidence and facts that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, adding that "the questions is what are we ... in the world going to do about it."

[Breaking news alert 1:06 p.m. ET]

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Syrian officials made preparations for chemical weapons use for three days prior to the August 21 attack, and that rockets were launched from areas controlled by the Syrian regime and landed in areas controlled by the opposition or contested.

[Breaking news alert 1:04 p.m. ET]

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday the United States "will not repeat" justifying a military campaign on false intelligence, referring to the Iraq war under President George W. Bush, in detailing information about the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

[Breaking news alert 12:56 p.m. ET]

The U.N. mission inspecting a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria has completed its collection of samples, said Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general said Friday. Nesirky told reporters that inspectors visited a government military hospital in Damascus and will be leaving Syria on Saturday.