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Proof of Syria chemical weapons to be `game changer`, says Barack Obama

Last Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 09:41

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: In light of growing concerns over usage of chemical weapons by Syria, US President Barack Obama has warned the strife-stricken country once again, saying that it would be a "game changer", if proved.

Obama was speaking at White House as he met King Abdullah II of Jordan there.

After US intelligence officials gathered evidences on c chemical weapons being used on Syrian population, Obama has cautioned that the US must act prudently and embark on a "vigorous" investigation and find out "how, when, where these weapons have been used."

As US intelligence has suspected that deadly nerve gas sarin was used in Syria, Obama has been facing increasing pressure to act on the issue of chemical weapons.

"Horrific as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed, to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law."

"All of us, not just the United States, but around the world, have to recognise how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations," he said.

Though Obama has earlier warned that using chemical weapons would cross a "red line", Obama this time stopped short of declaring to vow a military action and instead laid more emphasis on the investigation and getting complete proof on whether the chemical weapons were used.

"We have to act prudently. We have to make assessments deliberately."
Obama, who has been reluctant to plunge the US military into action in Syria after extricating it from Iraq, warned:

"We have seen very bad movies before when intelligence is perceived to have driven policy decisions that in the full light of day have proven wrong," a US defense official said on condition of anonymity.

The official was referring to assertions -- later proven false -- by former president George W. Bush`s administration of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the justification for a 2003 invasion that brought eight years of war that killed nearly 4,500 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

However the White House hinted at all options being mulled over Syria.

"All options are on the table, in terms of our response," a senior White House official said, adding that Washington was consulting with its allies.

Adding to the political heat on Obama, the Syrian opposition urged the UN Security Council to take immediate steps, possibly even by imposing a no-fly zone.

And British Prime Minister David Cameron said the growing evidence that Assad had turned chemical agents on his own people was "extremely serious."

The fighting in Syria, which the UN says has left more than 70,000 dead since March 2011, showed no signs of abating Friday, with fresh clashes outside the capital Damascus and elsewhere across the country.

The United States opened a potentially serious new dimension to the Syria conflict when it said for the first time on Thursday that Damascus had likely used chemical weapons against rebel forces.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday the White House wanted to establish "credible and corroborated" facts to determine whether the red line has been crossed.

Washington backs a United Nations investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Damascus has asked for a UN probe but has since refused to let a UN team into the country.

With AFP Inputs

First Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 09:41

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