Clinton warns Syria again on chemical weapons

AFP , Wednesday 5 Dec 2012

In her last NATO foreign ministers meeting, Hillary Clinton once again warned Damascus that any use of chemical weapons against rebel forces was absolutely prohibited and a clear red line

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Damascus again Wednesday that any use of chemical weapons against rebel forces was a clear red line that must not be crossed.

Clinton, attending her last NATO foreign ministers meeting, said Washington had made its views "absolutely clear through various channels" to Syria about an issue which the "entire international community is united on."

"Our concern is that an increasingly desperate regime might turn to chemical weapons ... or lose control of them" to groups in Syria, she said, describing the issue as "a red line."

In this context, a NATO decision to approve the deployment of Patriot missiles to protect Turkey from Syrian threats sends a "clear message" to Damascus that Ankara "has the full support of all its NATO allies."

Clinton said the focus in Syria should now be about the political transition, as quickly as possible, from President Bashar al-Assad, and Washington would do all it could to support the recently formed united opposition.

NATO's decision Monday on the Patriot deployment came amid reports that Syria was moving chemical weapons as President Bashar al-Assad fights rebels seeking to oust him.

The Syrian government, faced with a popular-revolt-turned rebellion that erupted in March last year, has said it will never resort to chemical weapons.

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