UN Security Council Meets on Syrian Chemical Disaster; Toll Over 100

Russia Blames Rebel Munitions, US-led Positions Oppose, Say Assad’s Army Directly Targeted Citizens of Khan Sheikhoun with Nerve Agent

تم نشره في Wed 5 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Children umong the victims of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib yesterday

NEW YORK — The United Nations Security Council went into emergency talks on Wednesday after the worst chemical attack in Syria in years, as condemnation of the assault poured in and as donor nations met in Brussels and called yet again for an end to the six-year war.

“The time has come to act collectively with all necessary firmness,” France’s ambassador to the United Nations, François Delattre, told fellow Security Council members. “The world is watching us.”

Both Mr Delattre and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, where many of the stricken Syrians were evacuated after the Tuesday assault, said more than 100 people had been killed.

Britain, France and the United States put forward a resolution condemning the attack and calling for an investigation, but Russia, one of the Syrian government’s principal backers, said the resolution was “unacceptable,” setting the stage for a Security Council showdown.

Officials in Russia suggested that a Syrian airstrike had hit a bomb-making “terrorist warehouse” containing toxic substances, but Western governments, including the United States, placed the blame squarely on the government of Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, declared in Brussels on Wednesday that “war crimes are going on in Syria.”

Asked whether Mr Assad’s government was responsible, Mr Guterres called for “a very clear investigation to remove all doubts.” He added that the Security Council would gather on Wednesday for “a very important meeting” in the aftermath of the assault.

Condemnation also came from Pope Francis, who called the attack “an unacceptable massacre”; the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, who deplored “the use of these barbaric weapons”; and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who said that Syria’s government bore primary responsibility.

In Brussels, donors convened by the European Union met for a conference to raise money for humanitarian relief. Last year’s meeting saw more than $12 billion in pledges, but given the scale of the suffering today — five million refugees, more than a quarter of Syria’s pre-war population — whatever additional aid is pledged seems unlikely to suffice.

(The New York Times)