Secretary of State John Kerry unequivocally condemned the chemical attack in Damascus last week and blamed Syrian leader Bashar Assad for it, saying it “defies any code of morality” and should “shock the conscience of the world” but declined to say how the United States would respond.

“What is before us today is real and it is compelling,” he said, noting that the administration’s conclusions about the chemical assault are “grounded in facts and common sense.”

The secretary of State addressed reports about last week's chemical attack in the Ghouta area of eastern Damascus in a lengthy statement to reporters. Placing the blame squarely on the Assad regime, Kerry ridiculed suggestions that the weapons could have been deployed by opposition rebels or that the attack was staged. He also called the strike a “moral obscenity.”

Anyone suggesting that the reports of a chemical attack were “contrived or fabricated needs to check their moral compass,” he said.

Kerry gave no indication of the Obama administration’s response, saying only that there “must be accountability.”

“The president will be making an informed decision on how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons,” he said, adding that, “There must be accountability — nothing today is more serious and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.”