Obama Warns Against Chemical Weapons, U.N. Reduces Syria Operations
President Barack Obama issued a warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons against the Syrian people. “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,” Obama said, “there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.” Speaking in Prague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Obama’s statement. “We have made our views very clear,” Clinton said. ”This is a red line for the United States.” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted that “if anybody resorts to these terrible weapons I would expect an immediate reaction from the international community.” Following Rasmussen’s warning, NATO approved the use of the Patriot anti-missile system along Turkey’s border with Syria.
Meanwhile, the United Nations announced the suspension of aid operations in Syria, citing the need for additional armored vehicles for humanitarian aid convoys. All non-essential staff have been ordered to leave Syria, and the U.N. plans to reduce field work as well. Hours after the U.N. announcement, the European Union said it would be reducing activities in Damascus ”to a minimum” due to artillery and airstrikes by Syrian security forces in the area.
“Syria’s arsenal is a particular threat to American allies,” said Kimberly Dozier and Pauline Jelinek in The Christian Science Monitor. Although “Syria has repeatedly said it would not use chemical weapons against its own people, the line grows blurry as increasing numbers of rebels battling the Syrian government come from outside the country,” according to Mark Thompson in Time Magazine. ” “Blowing your people up with high explosives is allowable, as is shooting them, or torturing them,” mused Dominic Tierney in The Atlantic, “but woe betide the Syrian regime if it even thinks about using chemical weapons!”