WASHINGTON - The White House on Thursday defended the red line set by US President Barack Obama on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, arguing that the policy does not bring about a green light for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use conventional forces.
Earlier in the day, a New York Times story reported that a prominent supporter of the Syrian rebels said Obama's red line on use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces could "provoke intervention amounted to a 'green light' for Assad to use as much conventional force as possible."
"No, I would strongly disagree with that," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in response to the statement.
Affirming Obama's warnings on the chemical weapons, Carney stressed that Washington "could not condemn in stronger terms the actions of the Assad regime and its use of force of all kinds against its own people."
On August 20, Obama warned the Syrian government against using chemical weapons in conflicts with the opposition forces or letting them fall into the wrong hands, calling it a "red line" that would change his calculus in his approach to the prolonged conflict in the Middle East nation.
Critics argued that such policy means the administration will tolerate Assad to use large-scale conventional forces in cracking down the opposition.
Carney insisted that the quickest way to end the bloodshed in Syria is for Assad to step aside and have a peaceful Syrian-led political transition.
"We will continue to work with all our partners in this effort and we have provided substantial humanitarian aid, as well, to the Syrian people, as well as non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition as part of our efforts in Syria," he noted.