Monday, August 20, 2012

Obama warns Assad against using chemical weapons

Washington: August 21, 2012,

US President Barack Obama on Monday warned Bashar al-Assad that American forces could move into Syria and act against him if he chooses to deploy his chemical weapons against rebel fighters.

Obama's strong remarks came on a day when UN observers withdrew from Syria following a fruitless effort to bring back peace in the Arab country.

Obama said Assad faced \"enormous consequences\" if he crossed a \"red line\" of even moving unconventional weapons in a threatening manner.

Seeking re-election in November, Obama noted that he had refrained \"at this point\" from ordering US military engagement in Syria. But when he was asked at a White House news conference whether he might deploy forces, for example to secure Syrian chemical and biological weapons, he said his view could change.

\"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,\" Obama said. \"That would change my calculus.\"

Syria last month acknowledged for the first time that it had chemical and biological weapons and said it could use them if foreign countries intervened. The threat drew strong warnings from Washington and its allies, although it is not clear how the Syrian armed forces might use such weapons in urban warfare.

\"We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,\" Obama told the impromptu news conference on Monday. He acknowledged he was not \"absolutely confident\" the stockpile was secure.

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