September 19, 2013 - 13:50 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The option of carrying out a military strike or similar operation in Syria must be kept open as a way of dealing with the crisis, the secretary-general of the NATO military alliance said on Thursday, Sept 19, according to Reuters.
Anders Rasmussen welcomed a U.S.-Russian agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons, but said it was essential for keeping momentum in the diplomatic and political process that the military option remained on the table.
"I think, irrespective of the outcome of the deliberations in the UN Security Council, the military option will still be on the table," Rasmussen said at an event organized by the Carnegie Europe thinktank.
A draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria's chemical weapons under discussion in New York leaves the door open to the use of force if Syria does not comply. Russia is expected to oppose this provision.
Rasmussen said he had no doubt the Syrian government was behind an August 21 sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb that the United States says killed more than 1,400 people.
He dismissed an allegation made by the Syrian government and Moscow that the rebels were responsible.
"The missiles were launched from areas controlled by the government," he said. "It doesn't make sense for the opposition to attack their own people with chemical weapons in areas they already control, and furthermore, we don't think the opposition has at its disposal means to carry out a chemical weapons attack of that scope and scale."
A day earlier, Rasmussen discussed the Syrian crisis, the Alliance's mission in Afghanistan, and European defense capabilities with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
According to the NATO’s website, the Secretary General said: "I welcome the recent American-Russian agreement on elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. Now it is essential to ensure full and effective implementation of that agreement. In that respect, it is crucial that the UN Security Council expeditiously adopts a firm resolution that can constitute the framework for a swift, secure and verifiable elimination of all chemical weapons in Syria.”
During his visit, Rasmussen also met with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. He thanked Britain for its staunch commitment to the Alliance and in particular the remarkable role played by British forces in improving security in Afghanistan.
“The Afghan forces that we have trained are now out there, keeping their country secure,” said the Secretary General adding that this was a clear demonstration that transition to full Afghan security responsibility is on track.
He said this progress has been possible “because of the significant contributions” made by the United Kingdom.
Rasmussen also welcomed the UK’s continued commitment to Afghanistan after 2014.