- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syria on Tuesday issued a formal reply to Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim of “undeniable” evidence of chemical weapons use by government forces on a rebel stronghold near Damascus: You’re lying.

The Syrian Arab News Agency, run by the government, said Mr. Kerry has “fabricated” evidence to sway the international community to side with rebel fighters, The Associated Press reported.

SANA’s statement continued: Mr. Kerry is “jumping over” and short-circuiting the U.N.’s special team investigation of chemical weapon use, in order to exploit recent clashes for Western benefit.

Syria’s blunt response comes just hours after Mr. Kerry insisted that facts proved a chemical weapon attack did occur and that intelligence reports pointed to President Bashar Assad as the aggressor.

Rebel forces and human rights activists said Mr. Assad unleashed poison gas at a site just outside Damascus, killing several hundreds of people — including women and children — in the process. The chemical attack reportedly took place on Aug. 21.

Mr. Kerry’s claim comes, too, as the White House is wrestling with a response to the incident and debating whether to ratchet up America’s presence in the nation.

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