For first time: Obama threatens Assad with military action
U.S. President Barack Obama has threatened a military strike against Syria, should the regime of Bashar al-Assad use chemical weapons or prepare their transfer to another party. Until now, the American leader did not resort to a military involvement in the Syrian conflict, but Obama said there would have "enormous consequences if we see the chemical weapons moved to the front or being used." He added: "That would change my calculations considerably."
The United States monitors the situation very closely, Obama said. "The issue of chemical weapons is aimed not only Syria. It affects our close allies in the region, including Israel. We will not have the situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people," the American president said.
Due to the ongoing fighting between rebels and government forces, there are growing fears that chemical weapons will fall into the hands of radical groups or that Assad will order the use of them in case he would feel his end nears.
About a month ago, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the Syrian regime would not use chemical weapons against the rebels, but only against "external aggression." This was the first time the government in Damascus admitted the possession of such weapons of mass destruction.
Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons are considered the largest in the region and include, inter alia, Sarin, mustard gas and possibly VX.