On Aug. 26, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that there was "undeniable" evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, that "[t]he indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," and that "this international norm cannot be violated without consequences."
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC Radio 4 that Britain and its allies could intervene in Syria without the authority of the UN, and that "[w]e have tried those other methods, the diplomatic methods, and we will continue to try those, but they have failed so far."
Also, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 Radio that there will be a "proportionate response" to the chemical weapons attack and that "[i]t will be negotiated in coming days. All the options are open. The only option that I can’t imagine would be to do nothing."
The three nations are considering action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad without UN approval because any effort within the UN would almost certainly be vetoed by Russia, which has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The US has moved four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers into position near the Syrian coastline in preparation for possible cruise missile strikes.
In an interview with Izvestia, Assad responded, "How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located? This is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists."
Russian officials have argued that the use of chemical weapons in Syria could be a false flag of sorts, as the rebels would have a clear motive to bring attacks by Western militaries against Syrian government forces by using chemical weapons, while Assad had no motive to use chemical weapons when his forces are advancing against the rebels. Of course, this possibility would mean that chemical weapons are within the arsenal of al-Qa'ida, as some of the more radical elements within the rebel forces have ties to the terrorist organization.
While the US, UK, and French governments may be adopting a more hawkish stance toward Syria, the opposite is true of the civilian population in America. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 9 percent of Americans support action against the Assad regime while 60 percent oppose any involvement in the Syrian civil war. The poll, taken August 19-23, also found that if Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, 25 percent of Americans would support intervention while 46 percent would oppose it. The poll did not ask about the possibility of rebel forces using chemical weapons.