World reacts to Syria's worst chemical attack in years, White House blames Assad and Obama

Namrata Tripathi
Syria chemical attack

A suspected chemical attack on Syria's Idlib on Tuesday caused outrage across the world with United States, France and Britain presenting a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council demanding a full investigation into the incident.

Deemed as one of the worst chemical attacks in Syria's 6-years of civil war, the attack killed at least 70 civilians, which included 20 children and 13 women. Many others in the attack were left with respiratory problems and faced symptoms like vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Britain condemns attack

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"This is clearly a war crime," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters. Washington condemned the incident, calling it a "reprehensible" attack by the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's forces. The United States officials said that Assad's allies: Russia and Iran must bring him under control.

"While we continue to monitor the terrible situation, it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

France calls UNSC meeting

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French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting. "In the face of such serious actions that threaten international security, I ask for everyone not to shirk their responsibilities. With this in mind, I ask for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council," Ayrault said.

Trump blamed Assad and Obama

The US President Donald Trump also denounced the incident as a "heinous" act that "cannot be ignored by the civilised world." However, Trump blamed the incident on Assad, and former US President Barack Obama's "weakness" in failing to respond aggressively after the 2013 attack.

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"These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution," Trump said. "President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a 'red line' against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack." 

UN Syria attack

UNSC schedules emergency meeting

Soon after the attack, the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday, which came ahead of a major international donors' conference in Brussels on the future of Syria and the region. 

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said that the attack was believed to have been launched from the air and was of chemical in nature. He also added that there should be a  "clear identification of responsibilities and accountability".

Syria chemical attack

At least 160 people gravely injured

According to the Syrian Observatory, the attack on the residential part of Khan Sheikhun was conducted early on Tuesday through an air strike, which released "toxic gas." Reports state that the attack gravely injured at least 160 people, many of whom died after they were taken to hospitals for treatment.

Syrian activists and the main opposition claimed that the attack was conducted through an air strike by either the Syrian government or the Russian warplanes. However, the Syrian army has denied any involvement in the incident and released a statement blaming "terrorist groups" for using "chemical and toxic substances" on civilians.

This is the third such chemical attack in Syria, the first two attacks were reported in Hama province, not far from the site of Tuesday's incident.

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