A 'world war' in the offing should the US intervene in Syria
A Syrian Chaldean Catholic bishop has warned that armed intervention in Syria by the Western powers may cause a "world war." "If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned," said Monsignor Antoine Audo of Aleppo in an interview on Vatican Radio. "We hope that the pope's call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting," he said.
Audo is also the head of the Syrian arm of the international Catholic charity Caritas and has repeatedly warned about the human cost of the war.
L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, criticized Western powers in an editorial. "The drumbeat of an armed intervention by Western powers is becoming ever more insistent and ever less restrained by prudence," it said. "Several representatives of these countries say they are convinced that the accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons is founded -- a question which the United Nations is investigating," he said.
For his part, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on August 27 that the U.S. military is "ready" to invade or otherwise intervene in Syria. Hagel said that U.S. forces are "in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take" in Syria, even while he suggested the Obama administration may wait until there is further clarification about the chemical attack that killed dozens last week in a suburb of Damascus. Syria's government denies responsbility for the attack. However, UN inspectors now on the ground in Syria came under fire on August 26. Syrian government snipers have been blamed for that attack.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who as a young man was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, weighed in about the chemical attack. Speaking on August 26, Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta area, while U.S. intelligence strongly pointing to President Bashr al-Assad's government as the guilty party. Saying that the images of the dead in Syria "should shock the conscience of the world," Kerry said that President Obama "believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people."
Several U.S. and British warships are near the coast of Syria, as well as a strike force of U.S. Marines.
Pope Francis has called for dialogue and prayers. "I launch an appeal to the international community to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and to commit itself to the maximum to help the dear Syrian nation find a solution to a war which spreads destruction and death," he said.
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