Syria has the world’s fourth-largest supply of chemical weapons, says the New York Times. On Monday, President Barack Obama warned the country that the US would not hesitate to use military force “if there were signs that its arsenal of unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use.” Specifically citing “our close allies in the region, including Israel,” he stressed the regional risks should Syria deploy such weapons. Doing so would mean that the Syrian government had crossed a “red line.”
According to the BBC, Syria admitted to having chemical weapons in July. It has insisted that these would only be used in cases of “external aggression” and would “never be used in the Syrian crisis, no matter what the internal developments.” Syria is thought to possess mustard gas and sarin and the CIA believes that it has sought to develop “more toxic and more persistent nerve agents.”
Obama’s statement was his first direct mention of using force against Syria in the 18-month conflict.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is holding talks with China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, and a delegation from the Syrian government in Moscow, said that “we need to strictly adhere to the norms of international law and the principles contained in the UN Charter, and not to allow their violation.” Lavrov also said that only the UN Security Council could authorize the use of force against Syria.
The U.S. and Russia, along with China, have been at odds over how to address the uprising in Syria for months. Russia and China have vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions demanding harsher measures against Syria and calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
In Moscow, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said that foreign military intervention in Syria would be “impossible” because such would pull the conflict beyond the country’s borders. He also said that Obama was issuing “propaganda threats that are linked to the upcoming elections.”
A veteran Japanese war correspondent for Japan Press, Mika Yamamoto, was killed on Monday in Aleppo. Another Japan Press reporter, Kazutaka Sato, said that she was apparently shot by government forces.
Syrian soldiers reportedly led an assault on the western Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya today, in search of rebel fighters; the opposition reports that some 23 people were killed. According to a commander in the Free Syrian Army, Col Abdul Jabbar al-Ukaidi, the rebels now control 60 percent of the city of Aleppo, but government sources in Damascus dispute such a claim.
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