Washington: US President Barack Obama on Monday warned that the use or deployment of chemical or biological weapons by Syrian regime would be a "red line" that would change his decision against any military engagement in the conflict-torn country.
"We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation," Obama said in response to a question.
"I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation, but the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That's an issue that doesn't just concern Syria. It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us," Obama said at a White House news conference.
"We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people."
Reiterating that the Assad regime in Syria "has lost legitimacy" and "needs to step down" Obama alleged that authoritarian Syrian regime has doubled down in violence on his own people.
"The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war, he should move in the direction of a political transition, but at this point the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant," he said.
"What we've said is, number one, we want to make sure we're providing humanitarian assistance, and we've done that to the tune of $82 million, I believe, so far, and we'll probably end up doing a little bit more because we want to make sure that the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are fleeing the mayhem, that they don't end up creating or being in a terrible situation or also destabilizing some of Syria's neighbours," he said.
"The second thing we've done is we said we would provide in consultation with the international community, some assistance to the opposition in thinking about how would a political transition take place and, you know, what are the principles that should be upheld in terms of looking out for minority rights and human rights. And that consultation is taking place," Obama said.