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Germany backs response if Syria gas use confirmed

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August 26, 2013 06:59 AM EST | AP

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BERLIN — The German government is suggesting for the first time that it would support an international military response against Syria if it is confirmed that President Bashar Assad's troops attacked opponents with chemical weapons.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that if U.N. inspectors confirm the use of chemical weapons, "it must be punished."

Seibert says the government has "very clear evidence that this was a chemical weapons attack." He says he won't speculate on what kind of response might be needed but would not rule out the use of force.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that if the attack is confirmed "Germany would be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate."

Merkel on Saturday urged a political solution to the Syrian conflict.