Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Military option remains on the table

U.S. says 'threat of force real' if Syria doesn't honour deal to give up chemical weapons

  • Print

BEIRUT -- A high-ranking Syrian official called the U.S.-Russian agreement on securing Syria's chemical weapons a "victory" for President Bashar Assad's regime, but the U.S. warned Sunday "the threat of force is real" if Damascus fails to carry out the plan.

The comments by Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar to a Russian state news agency were the first by a senior Syrian government official on the deal struck a day earlier in Geneva. Under the agreement, Syria will provide an inventory of its chemical arsenal within one week and hand over all of the components of its program by mid-2014.

"We welcome these agreements," Haidar was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti agency. "On the one hand, they will help Syrians get out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one."

He added: "These agreements are a credit to Russian diplomacy and the Russian leadership. This is a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends."

'We welcome these agreements. On the one hand, they will help Syrians get out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one'

There has been no official statement from the Syrian government, and it was not clear whether Haidar's comments reflected Assad's thinking.

The deal, hashed out in marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats, averts American missile strikes against the Assad regime, although the Obama administration has warned that the military option remains on the table if Damascus does not comply. U.S. President Barack Obama said last week the U.S. Navy will maintain its increased presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to keep pressure on Syria and to be in position to respond if diplomacy fails.

"The threat of force is real, and the Assad regime and all those taking part need to understand that President Obama and the United States are committed to achieve this goal," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Jerusalem, where he briefed Israeli leaders on the agreement.

He also said the agreement, if successful, "will have set a marker for the standard of behaviour with respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea and any rogue state, (or) group that tries to reach for these kind of weapons."

French President Francois Hollande said in a televised address to his country that he has not ruled out the "military option," either. Otherwise, he said, "there will be no pressure."

The U.S. accuses the Assad government of using poison gas against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21, killing more than 1,400 people. Other death toll estimates are far lower. Syria denies the allegations and blames the rebels.

The suspected chemical attack raised the prospect of U.S.-led military action against Syria that the rebels hoped would tip the civil war in their favour. But as the strikes appeared imminent, the Parliament of key U.S. ally Britain voted against military action and Obama decided to ask Congress for authorization first, delaying an armed response.

Russia then floated the idea of Syria relinquishing its chemical arsenal to avert Western strikes, and the Assad regime quickly agreed. On Saturday, Moscow and Washington struck a framework agreement to secure and destroy Syria's chemical stockpile.

For Syria's opposition, the deal is disappointing in many ways. It defers any U.S. action for the foreseeable future and does nothing to address the broader civil war or the use of conventional weapons, which have been responsible for the vast majority of the more than 100,000 deaths in the conflict.

With that in mind, the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group called Sunday for a ban on the use of ballistic missiles and air power by Assad's forces in addition to the prohibition on chemical weapons.

 

-- The Associated Press

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2013 A9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google