Showdown set over action against Syria

2013-08-28 22:41


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Damascus - The Syrian president's friends and foes on Wednesday headed for a showdown at the United Nations, as Britain pushed for a resolution to pave the way for military strikes over suspected chemical attacks.

Washington and its allies are pressing for likely military action against President Bashar Assad's regime despite stern warnings against intervention from key Damascus supporters Russia and Iran.

Prime Minister David Cameron said London was presenting a resolution "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad" to a meeting of the Security Council's five permanent members in New York.

"We've always said we want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. Today they have an opportunity to do that," he said via Twitter.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also urged the Council to "find the unity to act... to use its authority for peace."

But a quick vote on the draft resolution looked unlikely.

Russia, which has already used its veto to block resolutions condemning Syria, said it was premature for the Council to act before a UN team inspecting the sites of the alleged attacks releases its findings.

The UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, confirmed that chemical "substances" were used in the attacks that are thought to have killed hundreds of people on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August.

Inspectors returned to Damascus on Wednesday afternoon after visiting Eastern Ghouta, a site of one of the reported attacks, and Ban suggested they would need until at least Friday to complete their work.

The UN chief added that their findings would then be analysed and the result sent to the Security Council for "any action they would deem to take".

Brahimi said any military action "must be taken after a decision by the Security Council".

US taking steps

However, such as was the case when Nato forces helped rebels oust Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, there is a precedent for action without a UN resolution.

A senior US official said Washington has ruled out unilateral action and was conferring with allies on potential punitive strikes that could last for more than a day.

"Any military action would not be unilateral. It would include international partners," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

US President Barack Obama's deputies are consulting Turkey, Jordan and other partners on contingency plans in preparation for any retaliation by Syria in the event of US-led action, the official said.

"There's a possibility that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons again. I don't think you can discount that," said the official.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the American military was already prepared to act if Obama gave the order - though White House aides said no final decision had been taken.

"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Hagel told the BBC. "We are ready to go, like that."

A military campaign in Syria is expected to be limited in scope, likely to last only several days and to target military sites but not chemical weapons stocks themselves, sources in Washington said.

Russia warned of the consequences of any possible military action.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by his ministry as saying "a military solution will lead only to a further destabilisation of the situation in the country and the region."

Read more on:    un  |  david cameron  |  chuck hagel  |  barack obama  |  ban ki-moon  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.