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Germany suggests it would support military response if Syria chemical weapons attack confirmed

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 believes there is a "very high probably of a poison gas 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.