Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Nato warned of Syria's chemical weapons threat

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has urged Nato to prepare for the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria and called for alliance members to boost their assistance to the Syrian opposition.

BRUSSELS // The US secretary of state, John Kerry, yesterday urged Nato to prepare for the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria and called for alliance members to boost their assistance to the Syrian opposition.

Attending his first meeting of the alliance's governing body, the North Atlantic Council, as the US's top diplomat, Mr Kerry said contingency plans were needed to guard against the threat of a chemical-weapons strike.

Nato ally Turkey borders Syria and would be most at risk from such an attack. Nato has already deployed Patriot missile batteries in Turkey.

"Planning regarding Syria, such as what [Nato] has already done, is an appropriate undertaking for the alliance," Mr Kerry told Nato foreign ministers.

"We should also carefully and collectively consider how Nato is prepared to respond to protect its members from a Syrian threat, including any potential chemical weapons threat."

Nato's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, noted that "the situation in Syria has dramatically deteriorated" and "continues to pose a threat to regional stability".

He said the alliance was "extremely concerned about the use of ballistic missiles in Syria and the possible use of chemical weapons". But he also noted that Nato has not yet been asked to intervene.

"There is no call for Nato to play a role, but if these challenges remain unaddressed they could directly affect our own security," he said.

Rasmussen said Nato's commitment to Turkey was "rock solid" and that the alliance had "plans in place to ensure the effective defence and protection of Turkey."

Despite the deterioration in the situation in Syria, Nato officials say there is virtually no chance the alliance will intervene in thecivil war.

Mr Kerry said his administration was "looking at every option that could possibly end the violence and usher in a political transition" and that plans were needed now to ensure that there was no power vacuum when that took place.

On Sunday in Turkey, Mr Kerry announced that the US would double its non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, possibly including defensive military supplies for the first time.

The US is not giving the rebels arms and ammunition but is not opposed to others doing so as long as the recipients are fully vetted and the supplies are channelled through the military council.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National