The New York Times reports: President Obama on Monday threatened military action against Syria if there was evidence that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was moving its stocks of chemical or biological weapons. It was Mr. Obama’s most direct warning of American intervention in Syria, where Mr. Assad’s military is fighting an 18-month-old rebellion.
“We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Mr. Obama said in an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room. “We have put together a range of contingency plans. We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us.”
The president said he was deeply troubled by the possibility that the safekeeping of such weapons was now at risk in the Assad government’s increasingly harsh effort to crush the uprising. “That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria,” Mr. Obama declared. “It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us.”
Meanwhile, BBC News reports: The new UN special envoy to Syria has rejected criticism from opposition groups for refusing to say whether President Bashar al-Assad must resign.
Lakhdar Brahimi told the BBC that he was “not in a position to say yet” but was “committed to finding a solution”.
Mr Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, last week succeeded Kofi Annan who resigned after both sides largely ignored his peace plan.
On Sunday, UN observers ended their mission to verify its implementation.
Their departure came after the UN Security Council agreed to allow their mandate to expire at midnight, and instead set up a new civilian office in Damascus to pursue political contacts that might lead to peace.