Saudis back international intervention against Assad

CAIRO Sun Sep 1, 2013 2:39pm EDT

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) meets Alaeddin Boroujerdi (L), head of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, in Damascus September 1, 2013 in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) meets Alaeddin Boroujerdi (L), head of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, in Damascus September 1, 2013 in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA.

Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout via Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia told fellow Arab League states on Sunday that opposing international intervention against the Syrian government would only encourage Damascus to use weapons of mass destruction.

The United States had seemed to be gearing up for a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's forces over an August 21 poison gas attack, but is now seeking Congressional approval first.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told foreign ministers meeting in Cairo that condemnation of Syria over the poison gas attack, which U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people, was not enough. He said opposing international action on the grounds that it was "foreign intervention" was no longer acceptable.

"Any opposition to any international action would only encourage Damascus to move forward with committing its crimes and using all weapons of mass destruction," said Faisal.

"The time has come to call on the world community to bear its responsibility and take the deterrent measure that puts a halt to the tragedy."

President Barack Obama's decision to delay military action against Syria to seek Congressional support could delay a strike by at least 10 days, if it comes at all.

The Arab League meeting highlighted divisions between Saudi Arabia and Egypt over how to approach the Syrian crisis. Egypt said it was opposed to foreign military intervention in Syria.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jon Boyle)

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