Syria attack a ‘moment of truth’
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria the day before was a “moment of truth” that must be investigated.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that some victims have symptoms consistent with exposure to a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents.
The UN health agency said the deadly attack in Idlib province Tuesday appeared to have involved chemical weapons, pointing to the “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.”
“Some cases appear to show additional signs consistent with exposure to organophosphorus chemicals, a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents,” it said.
At least 72 civilians, among them 20 children, were killed in Tuesday’s attack in rebel-held Khan Sheikhun, and dozens more were left gasping for air, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth, doctors said.
UN secretary general Guterres told reporters at a Syria donor conference in Brussels “the horrific events of yesterday demonstrate that unfortunately war crimes are going on in Syria, that international humanitarian law remains being violated frequently.”
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the attack was “a major crime.”
“Targeting and killing civilians with these prohibited methods is considered a major crime and a barbaric act,” Aboul Gheit said.
“Whoever carried it out will not escape from justice, and must be punished by the international community according to international law and international humanitarian law,” the Arab League chief said.
Britain and France on Wednesday renewed their call for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to go.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that “all the evidence” he had seen so far “suggests this was the Assad regime who did it in the full knowledge that they were using illegal weapons in a barbaric attack on their own people.”
Johnson also says that he does “not see how a government like that can continue to have any kind of legitimate administration over the people of Syria.”
He added that he “would like to see those culpable pay a price for this.” French President Francois Hollande called for an international response, calling the attack a “war crime”.
Hollande “reiterated his indignation over the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called for a reaction by the international community commensurate with this war crime,” the president›s office said in a statement. — Agencies