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      Invoking Israel, Kerry Says Congress will Vote 'Aye'

      Bashar al-Assad discounts “American threats” as US says sarin gas was used in August 21 massacre.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 9/1/2013, 6:28 PM

      John Kerry
      John Kerry
      AFP photo

      John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said on Sunday that the administration had new evidence that sarin gas was used in an attack by Syrian government forces that killed 1,400 people last month. Kerry also said that he is certain that Congress will approve the attack on Syria, and invoked the name of Israel in this context.

      “I can’t contemplate that Congress would turn its back on Israel and Jordan and the allies of the region,” Kerry said on “Fox News Sunday,” saying that lawmakers had a duty to act to uphold international norms against using chemical weapons. Kerry stressed that it was important to send a tough message to other nations pursuing weapons programs, like Iran and North Korea.

      Kerry, also sent a warning to Assad, saying that if he were “foolish enough” to harm his people again, then US President Barack Obama might take military action without waiting for Congress.

      “Of course the president of the United States knows we have the power to do this, and I assume he would move very, very rapidly,” Kerry said.

      Kerry said hair and blood samples from first responders who were helping victims in the Damascus neighborhood of Ghota al Sharkiya “have tested positive for signatures of sarin.” He did not say how the administration had obtained the evidence, but expressed confidence that the case against Assad was “going to build.”

      Syrian President Bashar al-Assad voiced a defiant message Sunday, a day after Obama called for military action against him but postponed the attack.

      "Syria ... is capable of confronting any external aggression," Syrian state television quoted Assad as saying on Sunday at a meeting with Iranian officials.

      "The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles ... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America," he added.

      The term “terrorists” is usually used by Assad to refer to the rebels fighting his regime inside Syria.

      Other Syrian spokesmen sounded a gloating tone Sunday, and called Obama's decision to hold off on striking Syria "a historic retreat."