The US and its two key allies, Britain and France, stressed Monday that there has to be a threat of military attack against Syria if the government of President Bashar al-Assad fails to adhere strictly to the demands contained in a chemical weapons agreement reached Saturday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The bellicose rhetoric from the meeting in Paris between Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Minister William Hague underscored sharp differences with Russia, which warned that the threats from the West could undermine any chance of a negotiated end to Syria's two-and-a-half-year-old civil war.
"If Assad fails in time to abide by the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed -- and that includes Russia -- that there will be consequences," Kerry said. Kerry claimed that Russia had indicated its support for a Security Council resolution that would invoke Chapter VII of the UN charter, which authorizes the use of military force, if Syria failed to comply.
The message from the meeting in Paris echoed threats made over the weekend by both US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, whose government was the only one in the world to commit to joining the US in its planned aggression against Syria.