Saudi: Syrian crisis goes beyond chemical weapons
The Council of Ministers on Monday said that international intervention in Syria must go beyond dismantling the regime’s chemical arsenal.
The Cabinet, chaired by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, emphasized that the Syrian crisis must not be minimized simply to the fallout of using chemical weapons.
Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the Cabinet renewed its calls to the international community to take effective decisions to immediately end the fighting in Syria. It also called for strengthening international support to the Syrian opposition so as to enable it to face attacks by the regime, whose obstinacy serves interests of extremist movements and threatens the regional and international security.
Dr. Khoja said the Cabinet stressed the need for protecting the Syrian people and helping them to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, UN inspectors on Monday reported widespread use of chemical weapons in Syria as Britain, France and the United States launched a push for a tough Security Council resolution on the issue.
The keenly-awaited inspectors’ report stated that there was clear evidence sarin killed hundreds of people in an Aug. 21 attack that triggered threats of Western military strikes against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.
“The conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic ... against civilians including children on a relatively large scale,” the inspectors said on the first page of their report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The details of the report’s contents emerged as the Western allies, meeting in Paris, warned Syria of “serious consequences” if it stalls on handing over its chemical weapons. Kick-starting a week of intense diplomatic activity in the wake of a weekend US-Russia deal on the proposed disarmament, the three powers also moved to bolster rebels fighting Assad’s regime and reiterated calls for the Syrian president to step down.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was vital that the allies, who came to the brink of launching air strikes against Assad earlier this month, maintain the pressure on the regime.
“If Assad fails to comply with the terms of this framework make no mistake we are all agreed, and that includes Russia, that there will be consequences,” Kerry said.
“If the Assad regime believes that this is not enforceable and we are not serious, they will play games.”
British Foreign Minister William Hague added: “The pressure is on them (the Syrians) to comply with this agreement in full. The world must be prepared to hold them to account if they don’t.”