UN calls for unfettered probe on Syria attack

Washington, Tuesday

The UN Secretary General on Tuesday called for international investigators to have unfettered access after an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

Rescuers and medics in the town of Douma say more than 40 people died after the alleged poison gas attack in the last rebel-held pocket of the one-time opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta.

“Any confirmed use of chemical weapons, by any party to the conflict and under any circumstances, is abhorrent and a clear violation of international law,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

“The seriousness of the recent allegations requires a thorough investigation using impartial, independent and professional expertise,” he said.

Guterres reaffirmed his full support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and its fact-finding mission which “should be granted full access, without any restrictions or impediments to perform its activities,” Guterres added.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has promised a “forceful” response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria, as Western leaders consider what action to take.

“We have a lot of options militarily,” he told reporters. He added that a response would be decided “shortly”. Trump said the US was getting some “good clarity” on who was responsible for the incident in Douma on Saturday.

The US leader also discussed the incident with French President Emmanuel Macron late on Monday, and both leaders expressed a desire for a “firm response”, the Elysee Palace said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said she “utterly condemns” the “barbaric” incident, and called for backers of President Bashar al-Assad to be held to account. -BBC/AFP

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