US President Barack Obama has warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to make the "tragic mistake" of using chemical weapons, saying he will face "consequences" for unleashing the weapons against people.
"Today, 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 where be consequences, and you will be held accountable," the US president said in the strongest ever warning issued to Syrian regime, which is facing a popular revolt from his people.
"We have worked to keep weapons from spreading, whether it was nuclear material in Libya or, now, chemical weapons in Syria. On Syria, let me just say this. We will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people - engaging with the opposition, providing them with the humanitarian aid, and working for a transition to a Syria that's free of the Assad regime," Obama said.
Earlier in the day the White House expressed concern over possible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
"We closely monitor and we continue to closely monitor Syria's proliferation- sensitive materials and facilities," the White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"As the opposition makes strategic advances and grows in strength, the Assad regime has been unable to halt the opposition's progress through conventional means, and we are concerned that an increasingly beleaguered regime, having found its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate, might be considering the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people," he said in response to a question.
Army shells Damascus
The Syrian army shelled several areas east and southwest of Damascus early on Tuesday after radical Islamist fighters seized a village in an eastern province bordering Iraq.