Germany would back 'consequences' over Syria chemical attack

26th August 2013, Comments 0 comments

Germany on Monday said it would support "consequences" against the Syrian regime if its suspected deadly use of chemical weapons is confirmed.

"The use of chemical weapons of mass destruction would be a crime against civilisation," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told a Berlin conference of German ambassadors.

"If their use is confirmed, the world community would have to act. Then Germany would be among those who would support consequences.

"In this regard, we are in close communications with the United Nations and our allies."

He did not specify what the consequences would be.

The comments came as pressure for international action in Syria was mounting in the wake of an alleged gas attack near Damascus last week.

Syria's opposition says more than 1,300 people died when regime forces unleashed chemical weapons against rebel-held towns near Damascus Wednesday, while Doctors Without Borders said 355 people had died of "neurotoxic" symptoms.

Damascus has strongly denied it carried out a chemical attack, instead blaming the rebels.

UN experts headed to the site of the suspected attack on Monday.

The German foreign minister said growing evidence that the regime had used chemical weapons was "disturbing" and said the admission of UN inspectors to the area was overdue.

Westerwelle also urged "level-headedness" to avoid an escalation in the Middle East and said the goal remained a political solution to the conflict.

"Both are necessary: determination and prudence," he said.

The United States, Britain and France have signalled a growing willingness to strike the regime militarily if the use of chemical weapons is confirmed.

Germany has so far opposed any military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has fought a bloody campaign against rebels for over two years.

Memories of Germany's World War II aggression have made it reluctant to take part in military action abroad, although it has sent troops to Afghanistan and joined a series of peacekeeping missions.

Berlin earned diplomatic criticism for failing to take part in the 2011 NATO action to oust Libya's dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

© 2013 AFP

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