In a scathing set of remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it is "undeniable" chemical weapons were used in Syria last week and accused the Assad regime of attempting to destroy evidence of the "moral obscenity."
"What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world," Kerry said Monday afternoon in a set of prepared remarks, noting the U.S. has additional information about the attack on the Damascus suburbs — killing hundreds last week — and will release it in the days ahead.
All intelligence indicates that "chemical weapons were used in Syria," Kerry said, adding that "our sense of basic humanity is offended, not only by this cowardly crime, but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up."
"[T]he regime's belated decision to allow access is too late and is too late to be credible," Kerry added.
Kerry said President Obama will be making an "informed" decision in consultation with Congress on how to respond, adding the president believes there must be "accountability" for the use of chemical weapons.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added later in the daily White House briefing that President Obama "is evaluating the appropriate response" but said he would not "speculate" on when he will make such a decision.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied launching a chemical attack, according to the Associated Press.
NBC's Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd said on Twitter that the Kerry speech appeared to indicate "we're in the 'drumbeat' stage" towards war.
On Friday night, CBS News reported the Pentagon is making preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces.
U.S. Navy ships are capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, as they did in 2011 to help overthrow the Libyan government.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter