U.S. highly confident that Assad perpetrated chemical attack

The U.S. intelligence findings were enough to justify the credible threat of force against Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson for the State Department, made the remarks on Thursday as part of a daily press briefing. In light of the recent U.N. report that chemical weapons were used during an August 21 attack in Damascus, Harf responded to a question about whether the report was enough to justify the threat of force against Assad's regime. Harf said the question was a hypothetical that didn't exist because the U.S. case, on its own, is so strong against Assad.

"We think that our intelligence case that we've laid out is a very strong one," Harf said. "We have high confidence in it... We declassified an unprecedented amount of information with that report. So that intelligence case, coupled with, as you heard (Secretary of State John Kerry) say, the U.N. report, presents a picture of exactly what happened on the 21st."

When asked why President Barack Obama's administration felt the need to give a statement in support of the U.N. report, Harf said it wasn't a response to anything in particular.

"I think the secretary wanted to make clear some key points about the U.N. report which came out earlier this week, which we've had a little chance to talk about, but he believed was very important to highlight, particularly given the ongoing Security Council negotiations and also, of course, heading into U.N. (General Assembly)," Harf said. "So we though it was an important time diplomatically for him to make a strong statement about what the U.N. report shows."