NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday welcomed a “clear” US statement accusing the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons and said Damascus must let the UN investigate the allegations.
“I welcome the clear US statement. It is urgent that the Syrian regime should grant access to the United Nations to investigate all reports of chemical weapons use,” Rasmussen told a press conference in Brussels with the Moldovan premier Iurie Leanca
“This is indeed a matter of great concern.The international community has made clear that any use of chemical weapons is completely unacceptable and a clear breach of international law.”
On NATO’s role, he said the alliance would protect member Turkey with Patriot air defence missiles stationed on the Syria-Turkey border.
“The Patriot deployment will ensure effective protection of Turkey against any missile attack, whether the missile is carrying chemical weapons or not,” Rasmussen said.
The NATO chief’s comments came a day after President Barack Obama’s administration said it had concluded that Syrian regime forces had used banned arms, including the nerve gas sarin, in attacks that killed up to 150 people.
The White House also promised “military support” to Syrian rebel forces.
But Rasmussen said he supported a political approach to ending the Syrian civil war, now in its third year. According to the United Nations, more than 93,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
“I still believe that the right way forward is a political solution,” Rasmussen said.
“In that respect I welcome the joint American-Russian initiative to call an international conference and I urge all parties involved, the government and opposition in Syria, to attend that conference and hopefully pave the way for a long-term sustainable political solution and urge all parties to stop the bloodshed immediately.”
World powers have however been unable to fix a date for the conference as Washington struggles to find common ground with Moscow, which is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s closest ally.