NATO warns Syria against chemical warfare
Brussels: Sending a tough signal against chemical weapons reportedly possessed by Syria, NATO on Tuesday warned the country that using chemical stockpiles would evoke international outrage.
Speaking at Brussels during the meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen chose similar words used by Obama to warn Syria when he said, "The possible use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable for the whole international community".
"If anybody resorts to these terrible weapons, then I would expect an immediate reaction from the international community," he said.
Earlier Obama had warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of "consequences" if he used chemical weapons in the country's 21-month conflict.
"The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons there will be consequences and you will be held accountable," he said.
The foreign ministers of 28-member alliance met in Brussels on Tuesday to decide on Turkish request of securing its border from chemical weapons reportedly possessed by Syria.
NATO leaders have repeatedly said they would provide any assistance Turkey needs.
NATO officials said that deploying Patriot anti-missile systems along Syria-Turkey border would bolster Turkey’s defense against possible strikes from its neighbor mired in a civil war.
Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads and Turkey, a NATO member, fears a spillover of the civil war on its territory.
Ankara, which has been highly supportive of the Syrian opposition to President Bashar Assad's regime, wants the Patriots to defend against possible retaliatory attacks by Syrian missiles carrying chemical warheads.
Germany and the Netherlands are expected to provide several batteries of the latest PAC-3 version of the U.S.-built Patriots air defense systems which is optimized to intercept incoming missiles.
The exact details of the deployment and the number of batteries to be sent will be determined by NATO's military committee based on a report by a joint team that has been studying possible basing sites.
Parliaments in both Germany and the Netherlands must approve the move, which would also involve several hundred soldiers.
German ambassador Martin Erdmann said the decision to deploy would likely be made Tuesday, adding that the Bundestag will probably take up the matter next week.
NATO foreign ministers will also meet with their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Russia has criticized the planned deployment of the Patriots saying that it would further inflame tensions in the region.
With Agency Inputs