If this week’s reports from Syria are true, President Bashar al Assad has perpetrated the largest chemical weapons attack in 25 years against his own people in a village on the outskirts of Damascus.
The brazenness of the act would be startling. U.N. chemical weapons inspectors are currently on the ground in Syria, investigating claims of three other gas attacks in the last year. France, Britain, the United States, and Syrian opposition forces all say the previous attacks took place.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has said that if the latest claims are substantiated, the French support responding with force.
The office of Ban Ki-Moon, the U.N.’s Secretary General, just released a statement where he makes little effort to conceal his intent to get those weapons inspectors to the site of the last incident.
“A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard,” the statement reads. “He expects to receive a positive response without delay.”
Additionally, the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, on her 19th day on the job, is an expert on human rights who has long advocated an interventionalist approach in the case of atrocities. She took to Twitter to address the attack yesterday:
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) August 21, 2013
During her senate confirmation, Power called the U.N. Security Council’s failure to intervene in Syria a “disgrace that history will judge harshly.”
Here’s the full statement from the U.N. Office of the Secretary General:
The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General believes that the incidents reported yesterday need to be investigated without delay. Since yesterday he has been in touch with world leaders on the matter. He has instructed Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane to travel to Damascus. Furthermore, senior UN officials have been in contact with the Syrian authorities since the first reports were received.
The Secretary-General takes positive note of yesterday’s meeting of the Security Council as well as the conclusions by the President of the Security Council supporting his intention to conduct a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation.
The Secretary-General now calls for the Mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21August 2013. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for a cessation of hostilities so that humanitarian assistance can be urgently delivered.
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