UK & World News
Syria Warned Of 'Consequences' If Deal Fails
Britain, France and the US have warned Syria "there will be consequences" if it fails to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal.
The top diplomats from the countries stood side by side in Paris on Monday to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to uphold his end of any deal on securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the allies would "not tolerate anything less than full compliance" with the agreement that he hammered out with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during three days of talks in Geneva.
The United Nations Security Council is set in coming days to take up a resolution laying out plans for the agreement brokered by the United States and Russia.
"If Assad fails to comply with the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed, and that includes Russia, that there will be consequences," said Mr Kerry.
"Should diplomacy fail, the military option is still on the table," he warned, flanked by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius.
Mr Kerry said Mr Assad had "lost all legitimacy" to govern Syria and that the three nations remained committed to a diplomatic solution to end the "violence" and two-and-a-half year conflict.
"Removal of the chemical weapons, takes away from Assad one of the tools that he has been using against the opposition, against the people of his country," he said.
"We will do everything in our power to help the people of Syria get out from under this chaos and violence that is creating such a human catastrophe for all of us, not only to witness, but to have to deal with."
Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall said the draft deal struck by the US and Russia would now have to be put into a UN resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which can authorise both the use of force and non-military action.
He said: "The French have talked about 'serious consequences' in the resolution. Mr Kerry only said 'consequences'. Now 'serious consequences' in diplomatic language is code for war. 'Consequences' is code for sanctions. So there is still all that language to fight about."
A report by UN chemical weapons inspectors sent to Syria to investigate an alleged gas attack is set to be revealed to a closed session of the Security Council.
The inspection team, led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, was tasked with determining whether chemical weapons were used in the August 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus.
The team will also establish which chemical agents were used, but will not make a judgement on who was responsible.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will brief the council on the findings, has already revealed he expects the report to provide "overwhelming" confirmation that chemical weapons were used.
Meanwhile, UN human rights investigators warned that militant opposition groups in Syria, including foreign fighters invoking jihad or holy war, had stepped up killings and other crimes in the north.
"Across northern Syria, there has been an upsurge in crimes and abuses committed by extremist anti-government armed groups along with an influx of rebel foreign fighters. Entire brigades are now made up from fighters who have crossed into Syria, with Al Muhajireen being one of the most active," Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the independent inquiry, told the UN Human Rights Council.
Reporting on suspected war crimes since July 15, he added that the Syrian government had continued its "relentless campaign of air bombardment and artillery shelling across the country".