BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called respectively prime ministers of Britain and Canada over possible responses to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, while the United Nations stressed its rejection to a military solution to the crisis.
The White House described the phone conversation between Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the second since Saturday, as part of the ongoing consultations about Syria, where the government and opposition have traded blame for the chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21, in which 1,300 people were reportedly killed.
Obama and Cameron discussed "possible responses" to the attack and agreed to "stay in close consultation in the coming days," the White House said.
Even though a UN inspection team has not drawn a conclusion on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict, Washington has pinned the blame on the Syrian government and vowed to hold it accountable.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that the U.S. military stands ready to strike Syria at once if Obama gives the order.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday called the use of chemical weapons in Syria "a moral obscenity," saying it is "inexcusable" and "undeniable."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Obama is considering a limited military strike on Syrian targets, involving sea-launched cruise missiles or possibly long-range bombers.
Cameron has recalled lawmakers from their summer recess to vote Thursday on a government motion on how to respond.
Also on Tuesday, Obama spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on phone about the Syrian crisis.
"The United States and Canada strongly oppose the use of chemical weapons," the White House said in a readout of the talks, adding the two leaders pledged continued consultations over "potential responses."
Obama had spoken to leaders of Britain, France and Australia in the past few days, as he is considering limited strikes on military targets not directly related to Syria's arsenal.
On the ground, the UN Chemical Weapons Investigation Team postponed its second day of on-site probe in Syria due to safety concerns following Monday's attack on the UN vehicles.
Unknown snipers shot at the first vehicle of the UN inspectors on Monday as they were heading for the eastern suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, to investigate the latest alleged use of chemical weapons.
The team has completed its first day of work and was to continue its investigation at different sites.
The United Nations has stressed its rejection to a military solution to the 29-month strife between the Syrian government and opposition forces.
Jeffrey Feltman, UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, said during a two-day visit to Tehran that the world body appreciated Iran's statement that it is committed to facilitate a political solution to end the Syrian crisis.
"Feltman shared the United Nations' position that Iran, given its influence and leadership in the region, has an important role to play and a responsibility in helping to bring the Syrian parties to the negotiating table on the basis of the Geneva communique," said Farhan Haq, associate spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at a regular news briefing.
On Monday, Iran "strongly" warned against any foreign military strike against Syria.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi on Tuesday reiterated that no authorization by the UN Security Council has been issued for military intervention in Syria.
"Our region is in a very sensitive situation and it needs tranquility more than ever. Therefore, political solutions are required for the problems," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also warned the Western powers against military strikes on Syria, calling the move "a very dangerous and slippery path."
The world market was deeply concerned about the looming Western response to the Syrian conflict.
Global stocks tumbled Tuesday, while oil and gold prices surged to multi-month highs.
US stocks fell, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropping 1.6 percent to 1,630.48 in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 170.33 points, or 1.1 percent, to 14,776.13, the lowest since June 25.
At the same time, shares listed on Gulf Cooperation Council stock markets lost across the board.
The Dubai Financial Market index posted the biggest loss in the oil-rich region, which lost 7 percent on record high turnover to hit 2,549.61 points, the biggest day drop since the beginning of 2013.
On the other hand, the United Nations' refugee agency on Tuesday called on Syria's neighbors to accept all the Syrians who were forced to flee the bloody conflict in their homeland.
"When a war sweeps up a nation, there can be nothing more important to its people than open borders," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres said during his visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
"With the escalation of this conflict, Syria could be on the edge of an abyss. This war has resulted in a humanitarian calamity without parallel in recent history," Guterres was quoted as saying in a press release emailed to Xinhua.
The UNHCR chief and Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), jointly visited the Iraqi capital amid a growing exodus of Syrians into Iraq's northern Kurdish region.
About 46,000 Syrian refugees entered Iraq's Kurdish region in the recent influx after regional authorities decided to open the border for them on Aug. 15, raising the total number of Syrian refugees in Iraq to some 200,000, according to the UN refugee agency.
"Enough. Now is the time for the global community to come together to ensure the violence ends and the healing begins. The children of Syria are depending on us not just to meet their needs today but to provide hope for a better tomorrow," Cousin said.
Iranian FM says U.S. attack on Syria "unlikely"
TEHRAN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. attack on Syria over alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians seems "unlikely," the Iranian foreign minister was quoted as saying by official IRNA news agency on Tuesday.
"I think it is unlikely for the United States to enter another war in the (Middle East) region," Mohammad-Javad Zarif said, adding that there is no consensus among the world's countries against Syria, although the United States and the West try to represent an "unreal picture."Full story
Obama calls British PM again over Syria
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama called British Prime Minister David Cameron again Tuesday over possible responses to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, as both leaders are weighing military actions against the Arab nation.
The White House described the phone conversation, the second since Saturday, as part of the ongoing consultations about Syria, where the government and opposition have traded blame for the chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus, capital of Syria, on Aug. 21, in which as many as 1,300 people were reportedly killed.Full story
Syria interested in revealing reality of chemical attack: FM
DAMASCUS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said that his government has interest in revealing the reality of the chemical attack that supposedly took place near Damascus, stressing Syria has lived up to its part of the deal with the UN but the rebels hindered the UN mission. Full Story
British military working on Syria contingency plans: media
LONDON, Aug. 27, (Xinhua) -- Britain's armed forces are working on contingency plans for military action as a response to "the chemical weapons attack" in Syria, media quoted Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman as saying Tuesday.
Claiming "unacceptable" of "any use of chemical weapons" in Syria, the spokesman urged the international community to respond to that. Full Story
Syria to defend itself in case of any military attack: FM
DAMASCUS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Syria will defend itself by all available means if the United States decided to attack the country, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said at a press conference on Tuesday. Full Story
Kerry says Syria chemical weapons use "undeniable"
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the chemical-weapons use against civilians in Syria is inexcusable and "undeniable," and that President Barack Obama will make an informed decision on how to respond.
"Indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," Kerry said. Full Story