U.S., France, Britain to press Assad on chemical arms

U.S., France, Britain to press Assad on chemical arms
# 15 September 2013 23:41 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The United States, France and Britain warned President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that there would be consequences if he fails to stick to a deal under which Syria must give up its chemical weapons, and U.N. experts confirmed sarin gas was used in the August 21 attack in Damascus, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Russia, which negotiated the deal with the United States, cautioned against imposing tough penalties on the Syrian leader, who is Moscow's close ally. In Syria, fighting was reported on several fronts, and Turkey said its warplanes shot down a Syrian helicopter after it violated Turkish airspace.

The three Western permanent members of the United Nations Security Council said they would seek a strong U.N. resolution setting binding deadlines for the removal of Syria's chemical weapons, French President Francois Hollande's office said.

A U.N. report on the August 21 attack confirmed "unequivocally and objectively" that chemical weapons were used, according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"This is a war crime," Ban told the Security Council. "The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare."

As expected, the report did not say who carried out the attack. Ban said on Friday that Assad "has committed many crimes against humanity," although he did not ascribe blame for this specific incident.

Assad and Moscow have blamed the rebels.

The United States reached a deal at the weekend with Russia that could avert U.S. strikes on Syria as punishment for last month's attack.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in Paris that the three powers agreed with Russia that Assad must suffer consequences if he fails to comply with U.N. demands.

"If Assad fails in time to abide by the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed - and that includes Russia - that there will be consequences," Kerry said.

The accord offered the Syrian leader "no lifeline" and he had "lost all legitimacy", Kerry added.

After Hollande met Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague and their French counterpart Laurent Fabius, an aide to Hollande said: "The idea is to stick to a firm line".

"They've agreed to seek a strong and robust resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines with a calendar," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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