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Alleged Syria chemical attack unites nations in condemnation as Trump calls al-Assad an 'animal'

Widespread claims today suggest that an attack on the town of Douma, which killed 70 people, saw the Syrian regime use deadly chlorine gas on the town’s residents.

SYRIA-DAMASCUS-DOUMA-SYRIAN ARMY-STROMING-ISLAM ARMY Smoke rises from the town of Douma yesterday as the Syrian army continued its shelling attack Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated 7.04 pm

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has described the deadly attack in the Syrian town of Douma as ‘mindless’ and stated explicitly that it was a chemical attack.

There has been widespread condemnation today of the attack, which left 70 people dead.

Nine countries have demanded an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting tomorrow after the alleged chemical attack.

France initiated the move, and the request was also signed by the United States, Britain, Kuwait, Sweden, Poland, Peru, the Netherlands and Ivory Coast, the sources said.

The meeting is tentatively called for 7pm GMT but needs to be formally confirmed.

Along with Syria’s ally Russia, France, the US and Britain are permanent members of the Security Council, as is China.

The EU said it have evidence suggesting he Syrian regime carried out the chemical attack in Douma and urged Damascus’s allies Russia and Iran to help prevent another attack.

“The evidence points towards yet another chemical attack by the regime,” the European External Action Service said. “We call on the supporters of the regime, Russia and Iran, to use their influence to prevent any further attack.”

Trump

Earlier, the US itself strongly condemned the alleged chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta, saying if proved Russia would bear some responsibility due to its “unwavering support” for the regime.

Douma, the last opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta, was pounded by renewed airstrikes that killed 70 civilians in around 24 hours – while 11 people also suffered breathing problems.

First responders have accused forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of using poisonous chlorine gas.

Taking to his favourite medium of Twitter this afternoon, Trump placed the blame for the attack firmly on Russia and Iran for their backing of Al-Assad.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!” he tweeted.

He also took the opportunity to lay some blame at the door of his predecessor Barack Obama, stating that if  he had: “crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago!”

Animal Assad would have been history!

Earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “”These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community.”

“The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately,” she said in a statement.

Russia, with its unwavering support for the regime, ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks.

Nauert repeated the US’s previous assertions that Moscow had “breached its commitments to the United Nations as a framework guarantor” and questioned the Kremlin’s commitment to ending the crisis.

“Russia’s protection of the Assad regime and failure to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria calls into question its commitment to resolving the overall crisis and to larger non-proliferation priorities,” she said, calling upon Moscow to join international efforts to prevent further attacks.

Iran has labelled allegations of the chemical attack as a “conspiracy” against al-Assad and a pretext for military action.

“Such allegations and accusations by the Americans and certain Western countries signal a new conspiracy against the Syrian government and people, and a pretext for military action,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Syrian regime has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons, with the United Nations among those blaming government forces for a deadly sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun in April 2017.

Since February 18, the regime’s Ghouta offensive has killed more than 1,600 civilians.

The regime has used a combination of a fierce military onslaught and two negotiated withdrawals to empty out 95 percent of the enclave near Damascus, but rebels are still entrenched in its largest town of Douma.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan and Rónán Duffy

© – AFP, 2018

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