UK urges ‘strong’ response to alleged Syria chemical attack

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British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday called for a “strong and robust international response” to an alleged poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus.

Speaking with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on the phone, Johnson “underlined the urgent need to investigate what had happened in Douma and to ensure a strong and robust international response,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier also called for a “strong, joint response” to the suspected chemical attack on Saturday that killed dozens of people.

Syria and its ally Russia have dismissed allegations that the attack was carried out by Syrian forces as “fabrications” and have warned against using them to justify military action.

Damascus and Moscow accused Israel on Monday of carrying out a deadly dawn bombing raid on a military airbase in Syria.

The Foreign Office statement did not apportion blame for the alleged chemical attack.

But it said that Le Drian and Johnson “noted that international investigators mandated by the UN Security Council had found the Assad regime responsible for using poison gas in at least four separate attacks since 2014”.

The two “agreed that those responsible for this attack must be held to account” and a UN Security Council meeting on Monday would be “an important next step in determining the international response and that a full range of options should be on the table,” it added.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman called reports of a chemical weapons attack “deeply disturbing” and said Britain would work with its allies on “a coordinated approach”.

The spokesman said Britain was “not involved” in the bombing raid on a Syrian airbase. (AFP)

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