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Sarin gas used in Syria attack

On Sunday, The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted the government of Syria used the nerve gas sarin to kill more than 1,400 people.

John F. Kerry said new laboratory tests showed traces of sarin, an extremely toxic nerve agent, in the blood and hair samples from emergency workers who responded Aug. 21 to the scene of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs.

Sarin, which affects the nervous system and is toxic in liquid or gas form, can be delivered in missiles, bombs, rockets or artillery shells. The gas is outlawed under international rules of warfare. The reference to hair and blood samples were the first pieces of specific physiological evidence cited by any member of the administration, which previously spoke only about an unnamed nerve agent.

American officials learned of the lab results over the weekend, John Kerry added the new forensic evidence strengthened an already compelling case for taking military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, predicting that Congress would vote to give President Obama that authority.

President Barack Obama is likely to find stronger support in the Democrat-controlled Senate than the GOP-dominated House, yet faces complicated battles in each. Some anti-war Democrats and many tea party-backed Republicans are opposed to any intervention at all, while hawks in both parties, such as McCain, feel the president must do far more to help Syria's rebels oust Assad from power.

But many lawmakers, including some who had previously pushed for a harder line against Assad, said the White House would have a tough time drumming up support for intervention in Syria’s seemingly intractable civil war.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama said he had decided the United States should launch a military attack against Syria in retaliation for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs. But he said he would first ask Congress to approve the use of military force.

The House and Senate will both vote on the resolution soon after their return from recess Sept. 9, but Senate leaders said they would revise their agenda and hold a hearing on Syria on Tuesday.

The White House opted against calling them back early due to Jewish holidays this week. That decision was backed by the Pentagon, which has told the administration that a delayed military response in Syria wouldn't hurt the U.S. in the Middle East. The delay also gives Obama more than a week to exert public pressure on both Congress and the international community.

Source: ABC News | USA Today