US, France say support growing for Syria strikes

People march in Washington against US intervention in Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said that many countries were prepared to take part in US-led military strikes against the Syrian regime for an alleged chemical attack near a Damascus suburb last month.
International support is growing for military action against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said during a press conference in Paris on Saturday.
Both Washington and Paris said Saturday that more countries were getting behind the need for military action after European Union nations condemned "the cynical use of chemical weapons".

Speaking in Paris, he said the world could not be "silent spectators to slaughter" after Syria\’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its civilians.

Kerry said the international community was facing a "Munich moment" – a reference to the policy of appeasement that failed to stop Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
"We in the United States know, and our French partners know, that this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter," he said.
"This is the time to pursue a targeted and limited but clear and effective response that holds dictators like Bashar Assad responsible for the atrocities which they commit."
"There are a number of countries, in the double digits, who are prepared to take military action," Kerry said.
This was more countries than could actually be used "in the kind of military action being contemplated", he added.

"This is growing, not receding, in terms of the global sense of outrage of what\’s happened." 

He commented during a Saturday news conference in Paris, along with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. 

Kerry said the European leaders had made a "powerful statement" even though some countries still did not believe in military action. 
He also said President Barack Obama had not made a decision on waiting on the report from the U.N. team.
Earlier in the day, Kerry met with European foreign ministers in Lithuania in a bid to strengthen support, as the U.S. considers a possible military strike against Syria. 
After the meeting, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton read a statement for the group that called for a "clear and strong response" to the attack in Syria but stopped short of specifying military action. 
Ashton also said the EU wants Syria\’s crisis to be addressed by the United Nations. She said any further action against Damascus should be delayed until a U.N. chemical weapons team presents its findings. 
Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Sunday rebels, including Islamic extremists, have taken control of a Christian village north of Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces had withdrawn from Maalula after clashing with the Nusra Front. 
On Saturday, Obama said in his weekly recorded address that failing to respond to what he called Syria\’s "outrageous attack" would increase a risk of further chemical weapons attacks. 
He also said the Syrian government\’s alleged use of chemical weapons was a "direct attack on human dignity" and a threat to national security.
The president\’s address on Syria came a day after he wrapped up a visit to Russia for the G20 economic summit. 
During the trip, Obama held bilateral meetings on Syria with leaders of the world\’s major economies. He received support from the leaders of France, Turkey and other nations, but Russian President Vladimir Putin remained adamantly opposed to any attack on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Obama takes his case for targeted military strikes on Damascus directly to the American people in a televised speech Tuesday. 
The U.S. Congress is expected to vote on possible U.S. action against Syria in coming weeks. A key Senate panel voted last Wednesday in favor of action.
The US accuses President Bashar al-Assad\’s forces of killing 1,429 people in a gas attack on 21 August.
In Riyadh, the Gulf Cooperation Council urged the international community to intervene immediately to "rescue" the Syrian people from "oppression".
In Syria Saturday, opposition activists say at least 16 people were killed in heavy shelling near Damascus.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and the UN refugee agency says about one third of Syria\’s pre-war population of 20.8 million have fled their homes, either to other countries or safer areas within Syria.

Source: Agencies
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