17:05 21 August 2012
US President Barack Obama has issued a warning that if chemical weapons are used by Syria, it would prompt a "red line" that would change his standpoint on military intervention.
Claiming that the situation was "critical", the American leader said that he had "at this point not ordered military engagement" but that "there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons."
The President was speaking at a White House briefing to the world's press and took the time to clarify that the use of biological warfare is not just limited to the current Syria crisis.
He said: "It doesn't just include Syria. It would concern allies in the region, including Israel, and it would concern us."
US forces could therefore move against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad if chemical weapons were used to overthrow rebels battling against his regime.
It has been reported that Syria holds the world's fourth-largest stockpile of chemical weapons. Obama issued his warning to President Bashar al-Assad and "other players on the ground" that if "we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised that would change my calculus."
The warning from America comes at a time when Syrian cities are being torn with conflict, particularly in Damascus.
Of the conflict, the United Nations have stated that more than 18,000 people have been killed in the war, 170,000 have fled Syria and 2.5 million need aid within the country.
Obama has spoken out calling for Assad to quit, stating: "The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war, he should move in the direction of a political transition. But at this point, the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant."
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