Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that all evidence suggests that the government of Bashar al-Assad was behind the deadly chemical attack in Syria on Tuesday.
“All the evidence I have seen suggests this was the Assad regime … using illegal weapons on their own people,” Johnson told Sky News.
He called the attack, which injured hundreds and killed more than 50 people, including many children, a “barbaric act.”
Bashar al-Assad’s regime denies any involvement in the attack.
Johnson also said that those responsible should be held accountable and that he could not imagine a Syrian future with Assad.
“This is a barbaric regime that has made it impossible for us to imagine them continuing to be an authority over the people of Syria after this conflict is over,” Johnson said on arrival at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
Prime Minister Theresa May echoed the foreign secretary’s sentiments. May said she was “appalled” by reports of the attack, according to the AFP. “We condemn the use of chemical weapons in all circumstances,” May said, adding that “I’m very clear that there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria… We cannot allow this suffering to continue.”
The attack took place on Tuesday, in the northwestern Syrian province of Idilb in the town of Khan Sheikhounand. The number of casualties is still unclear as different organisations have been reporting conflicting numbers.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that following new airstrikes on the town on Wednesday, the attack has now killed at least 72 people, including 20 children.
The initial attack left many of the victims to choke and some to foam at the mouth and convulse.
Earlier, the Foreign Secretary, who is in Brussels for a Syrian aid conference, also said in a statement that the incident bore the “hallmarks of an attack by the regime, which has repeatedly used chemical weapons.”
Moscow said on Wednesday that the Syrian air strike had hit a “terrorist warehouse” containing “toxic substances.” “According to the objective data of the Russian airspace control, Syrian aviation struck a large terrorist warehouse near Khan Sheikhun,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
If confirmed, this would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians near Damascus in 2013. The Syrian Civil War has been raging for six years and has killed almost half a million people and displaced close to half of the country’s population.
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