Warnings from the US and Israel and concern from the United Nations have followed Syria’s threat to use its chemical and biological weapons.
Bashar al-Assad’s government says it will only turn to its stockpiles if faced with foreign intervention.
His US counterpart cautioned against a ‘tragic mistake.’
“Today we’re also working for a transition so that the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime,” President Barack Obama told
an audience of US war veterans in Nevada.
“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,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it would be “reprehensible” for Damascus to use chemical weapons.
In Isreal, the fear is that they could get into militants’ hands if the government falls. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not ruling out military action to stop them reaching the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah. This, he said, would be like al Qaeda having chemical weapons.
Syria has admitted for the first time that it has chemical and biological stockpiles. It insists it would never turn them on its own people, even those involved in the rebel uprising.