Says “it’s evident that Syrian regime is responsible” for chemical weapons attack
As Syria edges closer to reaching a compromise over securing and destroying their nuclear arsenal, NATO leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen is warning the U.S. and its allies to be weary of Assad’s acquiescence, thereby urging the U.S. to keep the prospect of military strikes on the table.
“There’s a lot of public evidence,” Rasmussen told Public Radio International today, adding, “The attacks were launched from areas controlled by the government into areas controlled by the opposition. It doesn’t make sense for the opposition to attack their own people with chemical weapons in areas they already control, and the opposition doesn’t have the capacity to conduct such an attack of that scope and scale.”
The U.S.-led intergovernmental military alliance hadn’t joined the conversation over Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use, but today publicly condemned the attacks and placed blame on the Al-Assad regime.
Amid fears of an all-out regional conflict, NATO has also taken steps to protect its member state Turkey by supplying them with Patriot missile batteries.
“If the horrendous chemical attacks remain unanswered, it might send a very dangerous signal to not only the regime in Damascus, but to dictators all over the world, that chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction can be used without any consequences,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen’s statements are in stark contrast to the position he held in late May when he told CBS News that military involvement in Syria could “have unpredictable regional repercussions.” “And this is a reason why it’s important to focus on finding a political solution,” Rasmussen stated at the time.
The NATO Secretary General’s sentiments now more strongly echo those of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who recently issued a joint statement urging Congressmen still on the fence over whether or not to conduct air strikes that Russia’s proposal should build an even stronger case to go to war.
“Today’s development should make Members of Congress more willing to vote yes,” McCain and Graham said in a joint statement. “This will give the President additional leverage to press Russia and Syria to make good on their proposal to take the weapons of mass destruction out of Assad’s hands.”
Secretary of State John Kerry has also sidestepped Russia’s proposal – which would have Syria surrender its WMD to the international community – even though he himself was responsible for the off-the-cuff remark that led Russia to pursue the current course of action. The use of force “absolutely should not be off the table,” Kerry told CNN earlier today.
With Syria and Russia seemingly willing to do what it takes to avoid military intervention at all costs, it should be painfully evident who the real terrorists are and who are the peace-seekers.