Obama Warns Syria Amid Rising Concern Over Chemical Weapons
President Obama warned Syria on Monday that deploying chemical weapons is “totally unacceptable,” after what U.S. officials said were new intelligence reports that the Damascus government is preparing such munitions for possible use.
Obama told the government of President Bashar al-Assad that “there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable” if it used any part of its stockpile of chemical weapons, including sarin gas, the deadly nerve agent.
A U.S. intelligence official said “we have pretty good visibility” into Syria’s depots, and a second U.S. official said intelligence gathered in recent days has raised alarms. The second official said it was unclear whether the Assad government planned to move beyond the preparation stage to deploying the weapons.
After months of dogged, siegelike fighting, rebel forces have begun to make significant advances in Syria, raising questions about Assad’s durability and desperation.