Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 6:27 pm
In one of the sharpest warnings so far to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today "the whole world is watching" and that if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, "there will be consequences."
Without saying specifically that the U.S. and its allies would take military action, Panetta said it is "fair enough to say that their use of those weapons would cross a red line."
Germany's Cabinet on Thursday approved sending German Patriot air defense missiles to Turkey to protect the NATO member against possible attacks from Syria, in a major step toward possible Western military role in the Syrian conflict.
Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters that two batteries with a total of 400 soldiers would be sent to the border area under NATO command for one year, although the deployment could be shortened.
The decision must be endorsed by the German Parliament, but approval is all but assured.
It's early afternoon when the sun is bright, and it's finally warm enough to come outside. This tent camp on a hill overlooking the Turkish border, near the Syrian town of Atma, houses more than 14,000 displaced Syrians.
The water here is trucked in, and it's the only source. Women line up with plastic jugs to haul the daily delivery back to the tents. What is striking are the children — in dirty clothes and summer shoes, faces red and raw from the cold.