The world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable.
There are reports that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is considering the use of chemical weapons in the war against its own people. President Barack Obama was quick to warn against such action:
“I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching. 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. We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century.”
Already, more than 40,000 Syrians have been killed in the bloody civil war that began when the regime attacked peaceful protestors in March 2011. The fighting has been accompanied by the worst sort of human rights abuses by the government and government-controlled militias, including the use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments.
The Syrian people have faced massacres, arbitrary executions, extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment against children, and the killing and persecution of protestors, human rights defenders and journalists.
Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Syrians are fleeing to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in order to escape Assad’s brutality. There are as many as 2.5 million people inside Syria who are either displaced or in critical need of humanitarian support.
The U.S. is providing nearly $200 million worth of aid to those in Syria and in neighboring countries. The U.S. has reached approximately 1 million people through the World Food Programme with food and basic supplies inside Syria. As winter sets in, the U.S. is providing funding to our partners to reach hundreds of thousands of Syrian families with winterization kits to protect them and help them stay in their communities.
The Syrian people are fighting for their rights and freedoms. It would be an abomination for the Assad regime to resort to chemical warfare. The regime’s actions against its own people have been tragic, said Secretary Clinton. “But there is no doubt that there is a line between even the horrors that they have already inflicted on the Syrian people and moving to what would be an internationally condemned step of utilizing their chemical weapons.”
As President Obama said, it is a step that must never be taken.