The United States warned Syria on Monday it would take action over the "moral obscenity" of a chemical weapons attack, following UN inspectors currently in Damascus coming under sniper fire as they gathered evidence.
Speaking amid a media frenzy that Washington and its allies are preparing to launch a punitive missile attack on Syrian targets and discussing a possible intervention, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Bashar Assad's regime of trying to conceal the extent of the alleged chemical weapons crime.
"Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," Kerry declared in a televised statement, according to AFP.
"By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable."
Kerry said the United States would provide more evidence of who was behind the attack, and that US President Barack Obama was determined that the perpetrators of the chemical attack would face serious consequences.
"We have additional information about this attack, and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead," he warned, AFP reported.
"Make no mistake. President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious."