Syria warns against foreign intervention after chemical attack

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 25, 2013 5:51 AM
Syria warns against foreign intervention after chemical attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian authorities warned the United States against any military action over a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria's civil war, saying this would "inflame the Middle East".

U.S. President Barack Obama and top advisers are hashing out options for responding to the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria amid what Britain called "increasing signs" that the Syrian government was responsible for Wednesday's nerve gas attack on civilians in a rebel-dominated area.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has accused the insurgents of firing the chemical weapons "as a last resort" to try to provoke foreign intervention on their side.

Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said that any U.S.-led military action would be "no picnic".

"U.S. military intervention will create a very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East," Zoabi told the Syrian state news agency SANA.

He also suggested that U.N. inspectors would not be allowed to visit the site of the alleged nerve gas attack as it was not part of a previously agreed list of locations where opposition activists say government forces used chemical weapons. Syrian authorities have denied any use of poison gas in the conflict.

Zoabi said Damascus would cooperate "significantly and transparently" with U.N. investigations but not allow any "inspection that will prejudice national sovereignty".

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; editing by Mark Heinrich)