Russian Federation says proposed UN Syria chemical attack resolution "unacceptable" - Ifax

A suspected chemical attack in a town in Syria's rebel-held northern Idlib province killed dozens of people on Tuesday, opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war.

Russian Federation said the town of Khan Sheikhoun was exposed to chemicals from a rebel arsenal hit by a Syrian air strike. The WHO added that "the likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death". Rescue workers hose down the limp bodies of small children, trying to wash away chemicals. Trump said Assad was responsible for Tuesday's deaths, yet also targeted his predecessor's failed strategy to deter such attacks. Instead, the government blamed rebels - that it refers to as "armed terrorist organizations" - for the attack.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson yesterday blamed Bashad al Assad for the "barbaric attack" and urged Russian Federation to reign in the Syrian president. If confirmed the incident would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta in August 2013. We must remind all sides of their obligations contained in numerous United Nations resolutions to allow aid to reach all who need it wherever they may be. We also had videos of chlorine gas clouds in Sheikh Masud area in Aleppo after it was bombarded by Jaish al-Islam.

The White House called the attack an "intolerable act" and said President Donald Trump was alarmed by the reports.

The World Health Organization said victims of the attack appear to show symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent.

Following the 2013 attack, Syria joined the global Chemical Weapons Convention under a US-Russian deal, averting the threat of US-led military intervention.

But a chemical weapons expert, Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, told the BBC's Radio 4 that all signs showed the chemical used was sarin gas and that Russia's versions of events was "completely unsustainable". The Russian military involvement follows an official request from President Bashar Assad to President Vladimir Putin.

Since March 2011, the Syrian opposition has demanded an end to more than 44 years of Assad family rule and the establishment of a democratic state.

"It is at the least embarrassing to have Assad be massacring civilians with chemical weapons at the same time Trump is trying to make the case that they're potentially a partner", said Phil Gordon, Obama's top Mideast adviser from 2013 to 2015, including when the USA president declined to retaliate militarily against Assad.

The use of banned chemical weapons would make it harder for the global community to sign off on any peace deal that does not remove him. The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia's Defense Ministry spokesman said.

In 2013, internal debate focused on everything from so-called pinprick operations that would have negligible effect on Assad to a broader strategy to push him from power.

The resolution calls on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to quickly reveal its findings on the attack and "condemns in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons" in Syria.

  • Leroy Wright