REUTERS, CNN (USA), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), HAARETZ (Israel)
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen have each issued stern warnings to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons against the opposition in Syria.
In a strongly worded speech (watch video below) at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday evening, the U.S. President warned al-Assad that "the use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable."
Obama's warning was followed Tuesday morning by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's declaration to reporters that any such use of unconventional weapons would provoke an immediate international response, Reuters reports.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that NATO foreign ministers will agree later Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to beef up Turkey's air defenses amidst fears that it could face a missile attack from Syria, possibly with chemical weapons.
The warnings comes amid concerns that Syria might be preparing to combine the chemicals needed to make sarin gas and use it against opposition forces, according to Reuters.
Syrian state media quoted its foreign ministry as saying that it would "never under any circumstances" use such weapons, "if such weapons exist," Al Jazeera reports.