Kerry: U.S. response to Syria won’t involve ‘boots on the ground’

Watch: John Kerry’s full statement on Syria

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. knows based on intelligence that the Syrian regime carefully prepared for days to launch a chemical weapons attack, but says U.S. response will not involve “boots on the ground.”

Kerry says Syrian regime personnel were at the site of the attack for three days beforehand, making preparations.

“We know the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions,” said Kerry.

He says regime elements were told to prepare by putting on gas masks.

READ MORE: U.S. finds itself with only 1 ally in Syria strike: France

Kerry says the U.S. also knows where the rockets were launched from. He says the rockets came from regime-controlled areas, and went “only to” opposition-controlled areas.

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“And we know just 90 minutes later, all hell broke loose on social media,” he said.

Kerry also says a senior regime official confirmed that the weapons were used and was afraid it would be discovered. He said the U.S. government knows at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children.

“We saw rows of children lying side by side sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas, and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate,” he said.

When it comes to action, Kerry said discussions will continue with Congress, U.S. allies, and “most importantly” the American people.

“President Obama will ensure that the United States of America makes our own decisions on our own timelines, based on our values and our interests,” he said.

“Whatever decision President Obama makes in Syria, it will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq or even Libya. It will not involve any boots on the ground. It will not be open-ended and it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway.”

Watch: John Kerry’s full statement on Syria

The U.S. is releasing a public report on intelligence gathered about last week’s deadly attack. President Barack Obama is preparing for a possible military strike in response.

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VIDEO: Protestors in Jordan rally against the US taking military action against Syria

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