Syria again rejects claims it was behind chemical attack

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has said that "all evidence points" to the Syrian government being behind a devastating chemical attack this week, and called on Russian Federation to honor its agreement to help eliminate chemical weapons in Syria.

Russia, Syria's ally, used its position as a permanent member of the Security Council to veto similar action in February.

Tuesday's attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province killed more than 80 people, including up to 30 children, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

Mr Putin defended the Syrian government during a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

The United States fired dozens of missiles on Friday at a Syrian airbase from which it said the chemical attack was launched. "In particular, Vladimir Putin stressed the unacceptability of making groundless accusations against anyone before a thorough and impartial global investigation", the statement said.

Turkey said Thursday that autopsies of Syrian victims from this week's assault in Idlib province, which happened 60 miles from the Turkish border, show they were subjected to chemical weapons.

Peskov said Russian Federation expects a full worldwide investigation into the attack before the U.N. Security Council considers any resolution condemning the chemical attack that he described as "very tragic".

"These weapons are frightening and disorienting to the targeted populations, and they also highlight to the local population and the rebels that there is no worldwide limitation on regime behaviour, and that resistance is therefore futile", said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

"These crimes must not go unpunished", Ayrault told CNEWS television.

"How many more children have to die before Russian Federation cares?" she demanded.

At least 546 people were wounded, he said, adding that "casualty figures are expected to rise".

U.S. president Trump and United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May have blamed Assad's regime for the strike and condemned the use of toxic gas, with Trump describing the attack as "an affront to humanity" and accusing Assad of crossing "many, many lines".

Senior US officials had also recently suggested it was no longer a priority that Assad be removed from power. President Donald Trump, in a joint press conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II, called the incident an "affront to humanity" that crossed "a lot of lines".

Even a limited military strike using sea- or air-launched cruise missiles might deter Assad from resorting again to chemical weapons.

During the emotional speech, Haley held up photos of victims, noting, "We cannot close our eyes to those pictures".

Assad was not asked about the chemical attack in the interview.

Postmortem results have confirmed that chemical weapons were used in the attack.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use since.

"We're dealing with a real unknown here, in that we have no precedent to use to assess whether the Trump administration's words yesterday were bluster or a representation of genuine threat", said Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute. "Now we need to wait to see whether that transforms into real policy shifts or not".

  • Zachary Reyes