UNITED STATES - Citing intelligence reports, the United States says the Syrian government used sarin gas on its own citizens during an Aug 21 attack on opposition forces outside Damascus. It also says that 1,429 people died, including 426 children.
Following a request from US President Barack Obama, members of Congress will soon decide whether to authorise the use of military force to punish the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.
Having earlier declared the use of chemical weapons by Syria against combatants to be a "red line" that would trigger US intervention, President Obama is now obliged to act or spend the remainder of his presidency in ignominy.
But as commentators around the globe have been pointing out in recent days, there is much more to it than that.
Given that domestic politics in the US rules out the possibility of a "boots on the ground" approach, what can - or should - Washington do to prevent such attacks occurring in future?
Indeed, is there anything at all that it can do?