UN secretary general demands an investigation into alleged chemical attack
Syria’s closest ally, Russia, has joined the secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s call for United Nations (UN) inspectors to be allowed to investigate allegations of a chemical attack in Damascus on Wednesday that could have left more than 1,700 dead, according to activists.
The international community’s condemnation of the alleged attack intensified today as the Syrian government faces mounting pressure.
The Syrian opposition reported that between 800 and 1,700 people were killed after a rocket attack on the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Allegations were supported by horrific videos showing rows of corpses. Many women and children were among the victims, and could be seen frothing at the mouth, convulsing, with dilated pupils.
Some first responders were reported to have died after treating victims, providing more evidence that a weapon of mass destruction was indeed used, opposition forces said on Thursday.
The latest attack took place just a few miles from the hotel where UN inspectors – who were finally allowed in the country on Sunday after months of negotiations – are staying. So far, however, they have only been granted access to locations previously agreed with the government to investigate three other alleged chemical weapons attacks across the country.
The UN secretary general reiterated his call for an investigation. “I can think of no good reason why any party – either government or opposition forces – would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter,” Mr Ban said from the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Mr Ban added: “Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law. Such a crime against humanity should result in serious consequences for the perpetrator.”
Foreign secretary William Hague said that anyone responsible will be held to account, and emphasised that the situation is extremely urgent as proof of use of chemical weapons can disappear quickly on the ground.
Syria’s closest ally, Russia, has also asked the government to cooperate with the UN to allow for investigations. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US secretary of state John Kerry agreed that an objective investigation was needed according to Russia’s foreign ministry.
US president Barack Obama also expressed his grave concerns over the allegations as France declared that a response with force was necessary.