Washington: A US Senate intelligence panel has released 13 videos showing images of the chemical attack in Syria allegedly carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as the White House pressed its case for military action in the strife-torn country.
Some of the graphic images of the chemical attack have been shown in the videos, which come days ahead of the debate and vote in the Senate on the resolution to authorise US President Barack Obama to launch “limited” military strikes against the Assad regime.
The videos, first played to the members of the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday were first leaked to CNN, which many media outlets said is part of an effort to build public opinion on the Syria attack.
The Obama administration has accused Assad’s forces of killing 1,429 people in a poison-gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August, a charge denied by the Syrian government. Some of the latest opinion polls have showed that the appetite for another war in the US is very low.
The Senate intelligence committee, in a statement, said that the 13 videos were compiled by the US open source centre from footage taken in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August, the day of the alleged attack.
“All of the videos were posted on YouTube by pro-Syrian opposition users,” the committee said. “With one exception, all 13 videos were posted by a pro-opposition Internet news channel that consistently posts user-created videos concerning the Syrian conflict. The news channel does not primarily generate content, but instead re-posts content originally posted by others,” it said.
The Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said early this week that she asked for the DVD to provide “specific instances of evidence, largely victims, and what we see means, what pinpointed eyes mean, what the convulsions mean, a number of aspects.”
“They took 170 videos and siphoned them down to 13, which have very probative points in them, and dispositive, with respect to the use of chemical weapons,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration continued to garner support both inside the Congress and at the international level for their plans of an attack on the Syrian regime. The US Senate is expected to vote on it early this week, even as secretary of state John Kerry is travelling in Europe garnering international support.
Obama himself was on phone most of Saturday calling members of the Congress stressing the need of holding the Assad regime accountable for using chemical weapons against its own people in violation of international norms.
Obama received an update from his chief of staff Denis McDonough on Saturday on the administration’s latest consultations with members of Congress. Obama, also received support from his former top general and CIA director general (retired) David Petraeus, who urged the Congress to vote in favour of the Syria attack authorisation resolution, arguing that not doing so at this point of time to encourage countries like North Korea and Iran to take similar measures to kill their own people.
“Failure of Congress to approve the President’s request would have serious ramifications not just in the Middle East but around the world,” Petraeus told POLITICO.