Military action against Syria should remain an option, Nato says

Rasmussen says ‘credible threat’ was reason diplomacy was working


Military action against Syria should remain an option as the international community attempts to enforce proposals for president Bashar Assad’s regime to give up its chemical weapons, Nato’s secretary general has said.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he believes the “credible threat” of military action against Syria was the reason diplomacy got a chance and added there was no current call for Nato to get involved in efforts to rid the country of the weapons.

Mr Rasmussen met British prime minister David Cameron at Downing Street today to discuss Syria and Afghanistan.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mr Rasmussen said: “I welcome the recent American/Russian agreement on elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. Now it is essential to ensure full and effective implementation of that agreement.”

“In that respect, it is crucial that the UN Security Council expeditiously adopts a firm resolution that can constitute the framework for a swift, secure and verifiable elimination of all chemical weapons in Syria.

“The use of chemical weapons is a crime, is a violation of international law, and those responsible must be held accountable.

“I would expect the Syrian regime to fully comply with the demands of the international community and in the case of non-compliance we would need a very firm international response.

“I do believe the credible threat of military action was the reason why diplomacy got a chance and I think in order to keep momentum in the diplomatic and political process the military option should still be on the table.”

Russia says Syria has given it evidence claiming rebel fighters carried out the chemical weapons attack that sparked the crisis.

A Russian diplomat visiting Damascus said Assad’s regime turned over material on the attack last month.

Speaking about the Russian reports and claims the UN inspectors’ review of the chemical weapons attack was one-sided, Mr Rasmussen said: “I have no reason to criticise the UN inspectors’ report and personally I have no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible for the horrendous chemical weapons attack on August 21.”