Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton issued stern warnings to Syria Monday that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people will not be tolerated and would warrant a “swift U.S. response.”
U.S. intelligence officials learned over the weekend that besides moving chemical weapons, Syria may in fact “have begun combining chemicals that would be used to make deadly sarin gas for use in weapons to attack rebel and civilian populations, “ CNN reported.
According to the BBC, the intelligence received was sufficient enough to prompt the U.N. to begin withdrawing all non-essential personnel out of Syria on Monday. The BBC said the CIA knows Syria has a large chemical weapons stockpile, and that the “level of concern” from the White House “was such that Washington is preparing contingency plans.”
Clinton’s warning to Syria came Monday morning, reported CNN. “I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people,” she said. “But suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur.”
The President made his comments during a speech Monday afternoon in Washington:
I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command — the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.
Watch Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterate the administration’s warnings to Syria: