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Obama 'never retreated' from Syria red line - Kerry   

Kuwait News Agency - 11 January, 2017

US Secretary of State John Kerry staunchly defended Tuesday Obama Administration's decision not to bomb Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad in 2013, after caliming government forces used chemical weapons on civilians.

President Barack Obama had warned the regime against crossing the now infamous "red line," and threatened US military intervention.

Instead, the US and Russia collaborated with Assad and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to have chemical weapons shipped out of the country.

The Administration came under intense criticism from its allies around the world as well as Syrian rebels for walking back its pledge.

Stripping the regime of its chemical capability was the best decision because those weapons may be in the hands of the so-called Islamic State (IS) had they remained in the country, Kerry said during a question and answer session at the US Institute of Peace (USIP).

"President Obama never retreated from his red line; but rather went to Congress to get their permission, and was not given an immediate response," Kerry said.

In the meantime, Kerry mentioned that he was contacted by his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov after suggesting in an interview that there could be an alternative to military engagement.

They decided to work on having the chemical weapons stockpiles removed, in coordination with the regime and the UN Security Council.

"The OPCW won the Nobel Peace Prize for this," Kerry reminded the audience.
The last of the declared stockpiles were shipped out nearly two years ago, but since then, human rights groups have accused the Assad regime of using chlorine gas on civilians.

Besides issuing a condemnation of the chemical attacks, the US has not taken further action.
 
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