NATO chief: No plans for alliance action in Syria

By Jan M. Olsen

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 30 2013 12:11 p.m. MDT

In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises after explosives were dropped by a Syrian government warplane, in Idlib province, northern Syria, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

Associated Press

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — NATO's chief said for the first time Friday that the alliance has no plans for military action in Syria because of the alleged use of chemical weapons against its civilians.

Asked about the alleged deadly attack in a suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pointed the finger at Syrian forces. "It demands cynicism beyond what is reasonable to believe that the opposition is behind a chemical attack in an area it already largely controls," he said.

On Wednesday, Fogh Rasmussen said, "Any use of such weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. Those responsible must be held accountable."

But on Friday he told reporters in Denmark that NATO has no plans to intervene in Syria, which would require the approval of all 28 of its members.

Supporters of a proposed no-fly zone in Syria have pointed to the one that was established by NATO over Libya in 2011. It overwhelmed Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses and attacked tanks and military vehicles that threatened civilians.

NATO's top decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, struggled for days to reach an agreement on using its military command and control capability to coordinate the operation in Libya, and the governments of the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Turkey helped coordinate that breakthrough.

But no such cooperation is emerging regarding Syria's civil war.

Backing the Obama administration, French President François Hollande offered strong support on Friday for international military action against the Syrian government over evidence of chemical munitions' use in the Syrian civil war. But on Thursday the British Parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's call for intervention.

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