US wants limited action, Syria threatens retaliation
US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday said the US backed an "unbelievably small, limited kind" of attack to desist Syria from using chemical weapons even as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned of retaliation if his country is made the target of an attack
"Let me be clear. The United States of America, President Obama, myself and others are in full agreement that the end of the conflict in Syria requires a political solution. There is no military solution. We have no illusions about that," Xinhua quoted Kerry as saying at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
But Kerry strongly batted for a military attack on Syria "in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his (President Bashar al-Assad's) capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war".
When asked whether there was anything Bashar al-Assad's government could do to stop the US attack, Kerry said: "Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week - turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it), but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done."
However, Hague reiterated the British government's position not to take military action against Syria in line with a veto by its parliament. Meanwhile, in an interviews with CBS aired Monday, Assad said if there were US military strikes on Syria, the US "should expect everything", Xinhua reported. "You are going to pay the price if you are not wise with dealing with terrorists," Assad said.
US President Barack Obama has been seeking congressional authorisation for a limited military action against Syria, which he says is aimed at punishing Assad's government for perpetrating a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus Aug 21. In another development, Russian and Syrian foreign ministers warned Monday that a US military strike against Syria would embolden terrorists.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem made the remarks after holding talks in Moscow, reported Xinhua. "We believe it is absolutely necessary to respect international law and agreements reached. This applies to the necessity to thoroughly investigate all reports about use of chemical weapons," Lavrov told reporters.
Lavrov said Russia possessed "plentiful" evidence that chemical weapons in Syria were used by the armed opposition and not the government troops. In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay Monday called for immediate negotiations to end the 30-month-long conflict in Syria. "States, together with the United Nations, must find a way to bring the warring parties to (the) negotiating table and halt the bloodshed," said Pillay. She was speaking at the Human Rights Council's 24th session which began in Geneva Monday.
The number of deaths in the conflict stands at over 100,000, the number of refugees reached two million last week and an additional four million people were displaced inside Syria, said Pillay. "This appalling situation cries out for international action, yet a military response or the continued supply of arms risk igniting a regional conflagration, possibly resulting in many more deaths and even more widespread misery," she added.