France Warns of Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack
Western powers are preparing a tough response if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime deploys chemical or biological weapons in its civil war, key European officials warned Monday.
Syria’s leadership has said the country, which is believed to have nerve agents as well as mustard gas and Scud missiles capable of delivering them, could use chemical or biological weapons if it were attacked from outside.
“Our response … would be massive and blistering,” if Assad’s forces used such weapons, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RMC radio.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons he had asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to begin preparations so the U.N. could quickly deploy experts to make checks if “we have any reports of such chemical weapons being used or moved.”
Hague said the U.S., France and Britain had been clear to Assad that the use of chemical weapons could prompt a dramatic change in their handling of Syria’s civil war. President Barack Obama has called the issue a “red line” for the U.S.
“We have not ruled out any options as this crisis deepens,” Hague told lawmakers.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has said the U.K. had no plans to intervene militarily in Syria, but that the use of chemical weapons would lead him to “revisit” that approach.