NATO Chief Pins Chemical Attack on Syrian Regime, Urges Response

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Syrian government appears to have been behind last week’s massacre of civilians with chemical arms near Damascus and urged an international response.

“Information available from a wide variety of sources points to the Syrian regime as responsible for the use of chemical weapons in these attacks,” Rasmussen said in an e-mailed statement after representatives of the 28 allied governments met in Brussels today. “Any use of such weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. Those responsible must be held accountable.”

Rasmussen gave no indication of a role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in any attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. NATO’s only current regional involvement lies in protecting the southeastern border of Turkey, an alliance member, with batteries of Patriot missiles.

The U.S., Britain and France -- all NATO members -- are in the vanguard of preparing a military strike on Syria, while some allied countries won’t make up their minds until the United Nations assesses whether chemical weapons were used last week.

“NATO allies expressed their full support to the ongoing UN investigation,” according to the statement. “They deplored that the Syrian regime failed to provide immediate and secure access for the United Nations inspectors to the sites of the attacks.”

Opposition groups say more than 1,300 people were killed in last week’s attacks.

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