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Kerry Does Not Rule Out Return To UN Over Syria

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington has not ruled out returning to the United Nations Security Council to secure a resolution on Syria after UN inspectors complete their report regarding Damascus's alleged use of chemical weapons.

Speaking at a news conference with his Qatari counterpart Khaled al-Attiya in Paris on September 8, Kerry said President Barack Obama had yet to make a decision.

After meeting with Arab League ministers Kerry indicated that there was growing support for punitive action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for use of chemical weapons.

Kerry also sought to dispel doubts that Assad's forces have used chemical weapons.

"This is not fantasy land," he said. "This is not some sort of conjecture. Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons at least 11 times or so, according to our best judgments; with clarity now -- in this evidence we have presented to the world -- on August 21. He has one of the largest stocks of chemical weapons in the world and at the moment he has no intention of really negotiating. So it is certain that if he is threatened he will use them again."

In an interview with the U.S. news network CBS that is due to be aired on September 9, President Assad denied being behind the alleged chemical attack, adding there was no proof such an attack happened.

Kerry maintained in Paris that video footage offered proof that a chemical attack took place.

"These are real human beings, real children, parents being affected in ways that are unacceptable to anybody, anywhere by any standards," he said.

Kerry's remarks came shortly after Iran's new foreign minister said any U.S.-led strikes on Syria would be outside the bounds of the United Nations charter and therefore "illegal."

Speaking on September 8 in Baghdad on his first official trip abroad since taking office last month, Mohammad Javad Zarif said "civilized countries" rejected the use of force "as an illegal practice" decades ago when they signed on to the UN charter.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has sought to maintain a neutral stance towards the Syrian conflict and has warned against any Western military intervention in Syria.

Iran, Damascus's main regional ally, also opposes a strike.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP