Obama: Syria will be 'held accountable' for WMDs

Damascus says it would not use its massive chemical weapons stockpile in uprising but warns it could against any external aggression.

By REUTERS
July 24, 2012 09:42
2 minute read.
Chemical WMDs (illustrative)

weapons of mass destruction 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

US President Barack Obama said on Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad would be held accountable if he made the "tragic mistake" of using his stockpile of chemical weapons.

"Today we're also working so that the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime," Obama said in a speech on his foreign policy to veterans in Reno, Nevada.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"Given the regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons," he said.

Syria said on Monday it could use chemical weapons in response to any "external aggression" but they would not be used in Syrian President Bashar Assad's campaign to crush a 16-month-old uprising against his rule.

Obama's comments echoed a similar statement made Monday by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who called Syria's threat to use chemical weapons against foreign intervention "unacceptable."

"This is typical of the complete illusion of this regime, that they are the victims of external aggression," Hague told reporters at a European Union foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. "What is actually happening is their own people are rising up against a brutal police state ... and in any case it is unacceptable to say that they would use chemical weapons under any circumstances."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said any chemical or bacterial weapons were securely stored by the armed forces.



"The ministry wants to re-affirm the stance of the Syrian Arab Republic that any chemical or bacterial weapon will never be used - and I repeat will never be used - during the crisis in Syria regardless of the developments," Makdissi said.

"These weapons are stored and secured by Syrian military forces and under its direct supervision and will never be used unless Syria faces external aggression."

Click for full JPost coverage

It appeared to be the first time that Syria acknowledged it might possess non-conventional weapons. Damascus is not a signatory to the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention that bans their use, production or stockpiling.

Makdissi raised the possibility that "terrorists groups" might be supplied with biological weapons by outside powers which "could be used in one of the villages - God forbid - and then they would accuse the Syrian forces."

He also said the security situation in Damascus, where Assad's forces have been battling rebels for more than a week, was improving and would return to normal within days.

He condemned calls for Assad to step down at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Qatar over the weekend, calling it a "flagrant intervention" in Syria's internal affairs.

Related Content

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
July 21, 2018
Khamenei backs blocking Gulf oil exports if Iranian sales stopped

By REUTERS