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POLITICS > Turkey urges stronger stance against Syria after US accusations of chemical weapon use

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Members of the Free Syrian Army run to avoid a sniper in Deir al-Zor, June 13, 2013. Picture taken June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Members of the Free Syrian Army run to avoid a sniper in Deir al-Zor, June 13, 2013. Picture taken June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Turkey says a U.S. announcement that it has conclusive evidence the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against opposition forces corroborates its own findings and is urging the international community to take a decisive stance against the regime's "atrocity."

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement released Friday calls on the international community to "unite and openly manifest its stance" against Syrian President Bashar Assad. It stated the regime's attacks must be halted and a "democratic transition process" must start in Syria.

Asked about the U.S. assertions, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said: “These are very serious assessments. Using chemical weapons is like a small nuclear weapon. The dimension of this is very dangerous. We know what has been experienced in Halabja. I am sure all diplomats and analysts are evaluating these claims. If this finding has been proved precisely, then it is certain that all things will enter another phase.”

Turkey has said preliminary tests on some injured Syrians indicated that chemical weapons had been used. The country is a major backer of the Syrian opposition.

U.S. officials said President Barack Obama has authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels after the White House disclosed that Assad's forces used chemical weapons.

US to provide direct military support to Syria rebels

The United States on June 13 accused Syria of using chemical weapons against the rebels, and announced it would offer "military support" to the forces battling President Bashar al-Assad. The declaration - alleging that up to 150 people have been killed in chemical weapons attacks - means that Syria has crossed what President Barack Obama has called a "red line" in the crisis.

But Washington has not yet decided whether to implement a no-fly zone over Syria, where more than 90,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in March 2011, according to the United Nations.

"Our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a White House statement.

"The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date," he said.

"The president has been clear that the use of chemical weapons -- or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups - is a red line for the United States," Rhodes noted.

Rhodes did not say if the United States was moving towards directly arming the rebels battling Assad, but said Obama "will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks." "The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available," he said.

"The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition. That will involve providing direct support to the (rebel) Supreme Military Council. That includes military support," Rhodes said, without offering details.

Meanwhile, "It's been reported to me by reliable sources that the president... has decided, he's reached the conclusion that they used chemical weapons, and that they are going to provide arms to the rebels," U.S. Senator McCain told reporters.

Complied from AP and Agence France-Presse stories.

June/14/2013

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

Eric Martin

6/17/2013 9:24:39 AM

Half the comments here are Syrians. Turkey should be arming the rebels. Why only give them small arms? Stupid.

young genius

6/15/2013 8:22:59 AM

There's clearly no win-win situation for Syria at all.

mara mcglothin

6/15/2013 2:25:29 AM

Yeah CHRIS We Americans are known for all our lies, not to mention the millions of dollars we give to people who hate us. But I guess you forgot that. Exactly! ROGER HARDING

Ali Benjamin

6/15/2013 1:30:02 AM

Another American / Obama illegitimate, de facto war without congressional approval. Incredible! As if Libya wasn't enough! Again - World Policeman over-sized bully U.S. sticking its big fat nose into a situation where it has absolutely no business being. Plus propagandizing the "150"! Have you read the Constitution Mr. Obama? The purpose of the United States military is to protect the lives and interests of the people of the U.S. - NOTHING more! I guess you'll now use PRISM to quell any dissent!

Turk Uzan

6/15/2013 12:56:47 AM

I think a lot of our citizens aren't objective in this matter.. Often they dislike our stance on Syria just because they dislike Erdogan .. this is wrong. Assad is a mass murdering dictator, to support him because Erdogan doesn't is immoral. Especially for all those that scream "the horrible horrible police are using teargas etc on the protesters". See when similar protests started in Syria. It wasn't teargas they shot but sniper bullets. Assad isn't using water cannons .. he's using artillery

Roger Harding

6/14/2013 11:17:32 PM

Mr. Erdogan, Your plate is full at home in Turkey. Take care of Turkey. Make sure freedom of expression is respected, media is free, rule of law is supreme, minorites are respected, women's rights are not undermined etc. List is long. Leave Syria to Syrians.

Fred Doyle

6/14/2013 10:56:47 PM

RTE used chemical weapons(tear gas)against his fellow Turks.No one is screaming for the US to invade Turkey.What kind of chemical weapons were used?93K people have died so far (UN #s) and now because 150 people have been killed by chem weapons, we should get involved?Where is the PROOF?! In this day and age no one has video or pictures of this? USA needs to stay out of this sectarian civil war. It's a lose-lose situation for the US and I have voiced this to my Senators and Representative.

Chris Bar

6/14/2013 7:43:10 PM

We still wait to see Sadams weapons of mass destruction. What can we expect from US other than lies, lies and ...lies.

alkan alkan

6/14/2013 6:48:41 PM

Davut, forget about Syria. Turkey's fragile economy will be ruined with a foolish adventure in Syria. And the Army is in no shape to intervene there.

mara mcglothin

6/14/2013 6:45:14 PM

I called my representative this morning to voice my displeasure on the USA getting involved in this conflict. Good deeds rarely go unpunished, and like you BLUE I want to see the proof of chemical usage for my self. The pics from N Iraq against the Kurds by Chemical Ali were graphic and told the real story, BUT still the USA was abused for any help. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, so I say DON"T. Then you guys can talk about us for NOT helping these poor people.
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