US cautions Assad regime against threats to civilians
Washington: Expressing concern over threats to the civilian population in Syria, the US has cautioned the Assad regime against such measures, saying that it would be held accountable for its acts by the international community.
"We are deeply concerned by reports that the Assad regime has begun dropping leaflets over Qusayr that tell all civilians to evacuate or be treated as combatants. We strongly condemn any shelling of innocent civilians or threats to do so," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Ordering the displacement of the civilian population under these circumstances is the latest demonstration of the regime`s ongoing brutality, she said, adding that the regime`s continued indiscriminate aerial bombing in civilian areas, including bakeries, breadlines, and hospitals, violates international humanitarian law.
"As horrifying reports of regime atrocities and massacres continue to emerge, the Assad regime and all its supporters who commit crimes against the Syrian people should know that the world is watching and that they will be identified and held accountable," Psaki said.
As the Syrian people address questions of accountability, the US will continue to work with Syrians and the international community to support the documentation of violations, she said.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the US is working cooperatively with a number of allies and partners in assessing the situation in Syria on the ground, and specifically with, in relation to this very important matter, the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"What the (US) President has said and what we have said is that we have information that chemical weapons were used, but we do not have a complete picture about how that was used, who was responsible, what the chain of custody was," he said.
"We need to build a case, if you will, about that use before we make policy decisions based on it. And I think that`s something that the American people would expect us to do, to be very deliberate about this, and to rely not just on an intelligence assessment," Carney said.
"Interestingly we`ve been talking about intelligence assessments and the fact that they evolve and sometimes in the first instance aren`t accurate and we need to build on that," Carney said in response to a question.
"In this case, we believe very strongly that the intelligence work done here has been very solid, but it is not the end of the process; it`s closer to the beginning. And we`re continuing to work with our partners. We`re continuing to press for a UN investigation," he said.
"But we`re not leaving it only to the UN. We are working with our allies and partners, and, importantly, with the Syrian opposition to gather more information and evidence about chemical weapons use in Syria," Carney said.
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