Obama Calls Denial of Syrian Regime’s Chemical Weapon Use an ‘Insult to Human Reason’
U.S. President Barack Obama criticized members of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday for not taking a greater role in stopping the bloodshed in Syria, and dismissed allegations that rebels fighting there were responsible for a deadly chemical weapons attack in August.
“It is an insult to human reason – and to the legitimacy of this institution – to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out” the chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last month that left more than a thousand Syrians dead, Obama said.
The U.S. and Russia reached an agreement earlier this month whereby an American strike on Syria would be averted if President Bashar al-Assad relinquishes the country’s chemical weapons stockpile to the international community. The agreement, Obama said, “should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria. I do not believe that military action – by those within Syria, or by external powers – can achieve a lasting peace.”
Obama also clarified that the U.S. had no interest in dictating who the next leader of Syria would be, but that Assad, a “leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country.”
“There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe-haven for terrorists,” the U.S. president said.