Secretary of State John Kerry sought to build momentum for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel forces during a press briefing Thursday.
Touting a U.N. report released Monday, Kerry said it's clear Sarin gas was used against the more than 1,400 Syrians killed, including 400 children, in the August attack, and that the international community should take next week's U.N. grand assembly meeting as an opportunity to act.
"This fight about Syria's chemical weapons is not a game, it's real, it's important," Kerry said. "Despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise, thanks to this week's long-awaited U.N. report the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling."
Kerry praised the diplomatic efforts of Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin still claims the Syrian government did not perpetrate the attack, to work with Syrian President Bashar Assad to remove his chemical weapons cache. Russia and China have repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.S., Great Britain and France to pass U.N. Security Council resolutions against Assad, but stepped up diplomatically after President Barack Obama threatened military strikes in Syria.
"The security council must be prepared to act next week for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons," Kerry said. "The world is watching to see whether we can avert military action and achieve through peaceful means even more than what those military strikes promised."
But Kerry's faith in the Russia-Syria solution comes as news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and CNN, are reporting that Syria is moving around its chemical weapons stockpile ahead of a Saturday deadline to catalogue them.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been a strong proponent of military intervention in Syria, though he told CNN's Jake Tapper Thursday he hopes the Russia-Syria effort works. Asked about the reports of Syrian movement, McCain said he wasn't surprised given his lack of trust in leadership in both countries.
It's hard to take Putin's word when he still maintains the rebel forces launched the chemical attacks "despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary," McCain said.
"I hope all this works, I pray that all this works, but to really see this whole scenario unfold is really beyond the imagination," he said.
The American public remains largely opposed to military strikes in Syria, and Obama's decision to ask for congressional approval has been met with skepticism from politicians on both sides of the aisle.