Syria chemical arms: ‘Global red line’ crossed

Washington. US Secretary of State John Kerry says he and Arab League foreign ministers have agreed that the Syrian president’s alleged use of chemical weapons crossed a “global red line”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry. Net photo.
US Secretary of State John Kerry. Net photo.

Washington. US Secretary of State John Kerry says he and Arab League foreign ministers have agreed that the Syrian president’s alleged use of chemical weapons crossed a “global red line”.

Mr Kerry, speaking in Paris, is in Europe to muster support for action against President Bashar al-Assad.

“Assad’s deplorable use of chemical weapons crosses an international, global red line,” he said.

Mr Assad has reportedly again denied any link to the attack.

In an interview for US broadcaster CBS, to be broadcast on Monday, Mr Assad also reportedly “suggested that there would be, among people that are aligned with him, some kind of retaliation if a strike was made”, CBS said.

Arab countries are divided on the question of military strikes on Syria. The BBC’s Hugh Schofield reports from Paris that some like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are in favour while others like Syria’s neighbours Jordan and Lebanon are far more cautious, worried about the conflict spreading across their borders.

The US accuses Mr Assad’s forces of killing 1,429 people in a sarin gas attack on 21 August.

Mr Assad’s government blames the attack on rebels fighting to overthrow him in the country’s two-and-a-half-year civil war, which has claimed some 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.

There are reports that rebel forces have taken control of the historic Christian town of Maaloula, north of Damascus. Mr Kerry was speaking at a news conference after meeting Arab League foreign ministers.

Referring to Mr Assad’s regional allies in Lebanon and Iran, Mr Kerry said: “It is clear that if we don’t take action, the message to Hezbollah, Iran, Assad will be that nobody cares that you have broken this 100-year-old standard.”

Syria’s civil war, he said, was going to require a political solution.

“We have repeated and I repeat every time I stand up and talk about it - there is no military solution,” Mr Kerry continued.

 

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