UN Security Council to meet on alleged Syria chemical attack

A grisly chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria may put pressure on the Trump administration to take a stronger stand against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Assad went ahead and used those weapons again anyway, according to the U.S. Syria and Russian Federation deny that they used chemical weapons, saying that they hit a cache of rebel weapons that then leaked.

Francis also condemned the bombing on Tuesday of the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia, which killed 14 people and wounded about 50 others.

Western states said the Syrian government was responsible for the 2013 attack.

On Twitter, the head of the opposition High Negotiations Committee Riad Hijab said the "massacre is evidence that it is impossible to negotiate with a regime addicted to criminal behaviour". The statement that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made in Turkey that the future of Assad was up to the Syrian people seemed to reflect the changing realities in Syria and the Assad clique's increasingly secure hold on power.

Graphic pictures showed men, women, and children choking and foaming at the mouth.

President Obama's unenforced "red line" against the use of chemical weapons in 2012 did nothing to help the situation in Syria.

"Bombing your own civilians with chemical weapons is unquestionably a war crime and they must be held to account".

The Observatory said the chemical attack was carried out by warplanes believed to belong to the Syrian military.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who holds the council presidency this month, announced the meeting at 10 am (1400 GMT) Wednesday to discuss the "terrible chemical weapons attack in Syria".

Reuters photographs showed people breathing through oxygen masks and wearing protection suits, while others carried the bodies of dead children, and corpses wrapped in blankets lined up on the ground.

"Those outside backers who are said to be guarantors of the (Assad) regime obviously have a lot to answer for", the State Department official said, referring to Russian Federation and Iran, which have provided military backing for Assad.

Most of the fatalities died before they reached hospitals, Tennari said.

The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets - a rescue service that operates in opposition areas of Syria - said jets struck one of its centers in the area and the nearby medical point.

The UK and France circulated a resolution calling for the United Nations Security Council to condemn the attack.

In comments last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the "longer-term status of President (Bashar) Assad will be decided by the Syrian people", and USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said "our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out".

They do indeed. Demanding Russia and Iran answer for facilitating a major war crime by their Syrian client is not drawing a red line. Two days ago, she went so far as to call him "disgusting" and a "war criminal". We call on the Council to take action in response to this attack.

The UN envoy for Syria said the "horrific" chemical attack had come from the air.

Damascus would be asked to provide the names of all commanders of helicopter squadrons to United Nations investigators and allow them to meet with generals and other high-ranking officials within five days of their request, the draft resolution said. "Chlorine gas doesn't cause such convulsions", he said, adding that doctors suspect sarin was used.

That agreement came after hundreds of people - up to 1,429 according to a United States intelligence report - were killed in chemical weapons strikes allegedly carried out by government troops east and southwest of Damascus.

But in the years that followed, there have been persistent allegations of toxic gases being used.

The OPCW said it had begun "gathering and analyzing information from all available sources" about the suspected Khan Sheikhoun attack.

If the resolution goes to a vote, it is likely to be blocked by Russian Federation.

  • Larry Hoffman