Obama warns Assad regime against making 'tragic mistake' of using chemical weapons
US President Barack Obama has warned Syria not to make the 'tragic mistake' of using chemical weapons amid reports that the embattled Bashar al-Assad regime was preparing supplies of deadly nerve gas.
Obama vowed that the world would not stand by Syria if chemical weapons were used by it as part of its 21-month-old civil war.
"Today, 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," Obama said during a speech on nuclear proliferation in Washington.
"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," he said.
According to the Telegraph, Obama's warning came as US officials claimed to have detected signs that Syrian forces were mixing the chemicals needed to produce sarin gas, a nerve agent banned under international rules of war.
"We've picked up several indications which lead us to believe that they're combining chemical precursors," one official told an international news agency.
Obama has previously warned that even the movement of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces would amount to the crossing of a 'red line' and prompt a swift response from Washington, the report said.
"That would change my calculus," the President said during a press conference in August, adding: "That would change the equation".
The Syrian regime has never overtly admitted having chemical weapons, though it is believed by Western analysts to have the biggest stocks in the Middle East, the report added.
According to the report, Syria has also denied it would ever use chemical weapons against its own people, a denial it reiterated few days back.