The number of child refugees fleeing the escalating Syria conflict has reached one million, with a further two million internally displaced, the U.N. has claimed as Western powers appear ready to intervene in the two-year-old civil war.
Horrific images of scores of linen-wrapped bodies reported to be victims of chemical weapons as well as graphic testimony from witnesses and aid groups has prompted the U.S. to join the U.K., France, Germany and Turkey in pushing for a military response. The British government is preparing to recall Parliament with Prime Minister David Cameron cutting short a vacation in a bid to convince lawmakers to agree to armed engagement.
Citizens of Syrian neighbor Israel are hurrying to equip themselves with gas masks to protect against Syria’s touted 1,000-ton stockpile of nerve agents.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Monday that it was “undeniable” that chemical weapons had been used by embattled President Bashar Assad.
“Make no mistake,” said Kerry. “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapon against the world’s most vulnerable people.”
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin is maintaining his opposition to intervention and reportedly told Cameron by phone that there was “no evidence” to support claims that Assad had deployed chemical weapons.
European markets opened lower Tuesday, marketwatch.com said, owing to fears of a deterioration in the Syrian conflict, while AP reported the price of oil rising to more than $106 a barrel over similar concerns.