US President Barack Obama has warned Syria’s Assad regime that it would be held “accountable” if it uses its stockpile of chemical weapons.
“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,” Mr Obama said.
Addressing the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nevada, Mr Obama said that his administration is working for a transition so the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime.
“We will continue to work with our friends and our allies and the Syrian opposition on behalf of the day when the Syrian people have a government that respects their basic rights to live in peace and freedom and dignity,” he said.
Mr Obama’s remarks came hours after the Pentagon issued a similar warning to the Assad regime.
“The Syrian regime is already responsible for unacceptable levels of deplorable violence against the Syrian population, and they should not think one iota about using chemical weapons,” the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
“When chemical weapons are mentioned in the press by Syrian officials, that raises concerns. And we just want to make it known that we would strongly object, to put it mildly, to any thinking that would generate a motivation on the part of the Syrian regime to employ these weapons,” he said.
“We’ve been talking with a number of our partners about the situation in Syria. We, and they, share very serious concerns about the overall situation in Syria, to include chemical weapons,” he said, adding that the Syrian regime is aware of the concerns of the international community.
“We believe that public messaging has an effect. We also believe that the regime has received the message through other channels,” the Press Secretary said.