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ATLANTA....The use of chemical weapons on August 21 near Damascus is a grave breach of international law that has rightfully outraged the world community. The United States and some of its European allies are calling for military strikes on Syria, but apparently without support from NATO or the Arab League. Predictably, Russia, Iran, and Syria are predicting dire consequences. At Syria's invitation, a U.N. investigation is already underway and will soon make its report. A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war. It will only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process to put an end to the catastrophic violence. Instead, all should seek to leverage the consensus among the entire international community, including Russia and Iran, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and bringing under U.N. oversight the country's stockpile of such weapons.
"It is imperative to determine the facts of the attack and present them to the public. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must bear personal responsibility," said President Carter. "The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution."
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