BRUSSELS, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – NATO’s chief on Monday urged the international community to undertake a tough response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
“We need a firm international response in order to avoid that chemical attacks take place in the future. It would send a very, I would say, dangerous signal to dictators all over the world if we stand idle by and don't react,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists.
US President Barack Obama said Saturday that his country was considering a “limited” attack in Syria. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have already died in the two-year civil war.
The United States on Friday released a report saying Syria’s government was responsible for a chemical attack that purportedly killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb late last month. The Syrian regime has consistently denied the allegation.
Asked whether resolving the Syrian conflict was a priority task for NATO, Rasmussen said the alliance had “not been seeking a role in Syria. Our main focus is effective defense and protection of our ally, Turkey.”
Speaking about a possible military operation in Syria, the NATO chief said he would “envisage a very short, measured, targeted operation.”
“And you don't need the NATO command-and-control system to conduct such a short, measured, tailored, military operation,” he said, adding that a long-term solution would require a “political process.”
Rasmussen said the Syrian government was responsible for purported chemical attacks. “The way these chemical attacks were conducted points to regime responsibility,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow, which has been Damascus’ most important ally during the civil war, denounced the use of chemical weapons and was ready for “consolidated participation in drafting measures to oppose such acts.”
However, on the same day, Putin slammed the United States, saying that Washington’s allegations about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians were “unimaginable nonsense.”
On Monday, Putin backed an initiative by Russian lawmakers to establish dialogue with their US counterparts and resolve the Syria situation without the use of force.
Russia has, along with China, previously vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions that would have condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Russia has urged all parties to the conflict to use diplomatic means to resolve it.