NATO Head ‘Concerned’ by Syrian Chemical Weapons Use

BRUSSELS, June 14 (RIA Novosti) –The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a “matter of great concern,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday, but did not say what the alliance might do in response.

“The international community has made it clear that any use of chemical weapons is completely unacceptable and a clear breach of international law,” Rasmussen said, urging both sides in the conflict to “stop bloodshed immediately.”

The White House said on Thursday it now believes with “high confidence” that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons many times during the two-year conflict there, and vowed to boost US aid to the armed opposition fighting to remove President Bashar Assad from power.

A Russian lawmaker who is head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee dismissed the US report on Syrian chemical weapon use was “a fabrication,” earlier on Friday.

The NATO chief said he welcomed the “clear US statement” and urged the Syrian regime to grant access to the United Nations to investigate all the reports of chemical weapons use in the country.

“As a solution to this problem, I still believe that the right way forward is a political solution,” Rasmussen said in reference to the Syrian crisis, which has claimed over 93,000 lives since fighting broke out between government forces and rebels in March 2011.

Rasmussen said Patriot anti-missile batteries which have been sent to Syria’s neighbor and NATO member Turkey “will ensure effective protection of Turkey against any missile attack.”

Rasmussen also said he supports the US-Russian initiative to call an international conference to find a solution to the Syrian conflict and has urged all parties involved, both government and opposition, to attend, to “pave the way to a long-term sustainable political solution.”

The conference is designed to be a follow-up to last summer’s international meeting in Geneva which drafted a peace roadmap for Syria. Efforts to set up the talks are continuing, despite the EU announcement that its arms embargo would be lifted, and Russia stating recently it would deliver S-300 air defense missiles and Yakhont anti-ship missiles to the Assad regime.


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