US secretary of state John Kerry has given an ultimatum to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to avoid a military strike by turning over his entire chemical weapons arsenal to the international community within the next week.
At a joint press conference with UK foreign secretary William Hague, Kerry said that America was not going to war but would launch an “unbelievably small and limited effort” to punish the Assad regime for the 21 August chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and to deter it from doing it again.
“If you want to send Assad a congratulatory message, you would support non-intervention,” he said although he was sympathetic to fears of the American public who do not want to see troops coming home in body bags.
“But that’s not what we are talking about,” he stressed. “Military effort will be targeted and short-term.”
Kerry added that the only thing Assad’s government could do to stop an attack was to turn over all his chemical weapons to the international community within the next week.
“But he is not about to do it and it cannot be done,” Kerry added.