UNITED NATIONS — The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are meeting informally to discuss the language of a draft resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Syria.
Britain put forth the proposal Wednesday as momentum seems to be building among Western allies for a strike against Syria. U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have charged that President Bashar Assad's government used deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week.
The U.S. has not presented concrete proof, and U.N. inspectors have not endorsed the allegations.
U.N. envoy to Syria says chemical 'substance' used
Evidence suggests that some kind of chemical "substance" was used in Syria that may have killed more than 1,000 people, but any military strike in response must first gain U.N. Security Council approval, the U.N.'s special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday.
Brahimi spoke to reporters in Geneva as a U.N. inspection team was investigating the alleged poison gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 and momentum built for Western military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in the civil war that he called the most serious crisis facing the international community.
"With what has happened on the 21st of August last week, it does seem that some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people: hundreds, definitely more than a hundred, some people say 300, some people say 600, maybe 1,000, maybe more than 1,000 people," Brahimi said.
Brahimi did not elaborate on whether he based his information on the work of the U.N. team or other sources such as Western intelligence, including what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Assad's regime.
U.N. experts head to Damascus suburb, activists say
U.N. chemical weapons experts headed to a Damascus suburb Wednesday for a new tour of areas struck by a purported poison gas attack, activists said, as the U.S. laid the groundwork for a possible punitive strike and the U.N. chief pleaded for more time for diplomacy.
U.S. leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have charged that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government fired deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week — though they have not presented concrete proof and U.N. inspectors have not endorsed the allegations.
Syria, which sits on one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, has denied the charges.
U.K. to give U.N. resolution condemning Syria
Britain says it will put forward a resolution Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council condemning the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack that has killed hundreds of civilians.
A statement from Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Britain would seek a measure "authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter. Military force is one of the options that can be authorized under that section.
The resolution will be presented to the U.N. Security Council in New York later Wednesday, officials said.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.