UK, United States say Syrian government attacked its own peopleThursday, August 29, 2013 by: Donna Hopper
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy to Syria, stated yesterday that evidence indicates a 'substance' was used in an attack that took place in a busy Damascus suburb on August 21 resulting in, according to Doctors Without Borders, the deaths of at least 355 Syrian citizens.
Although Syrian authorities deny responsibility and blame rebels for the deadly attack, both the U.S. and British governments conclude that the Bashar Assad government used chemical weapons against its own people.
The conclusion is reportedly based on a number of factors, few of which have been made public.
Today, the UK government released its legal position regarding the attack, which states: "The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity. However, the legal basis for military action would be humanitarian intervention; the aim is to relieve humanitarian suffering by deterring or disrupting the further use of chemical weapons."
The document calls for the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution condemning Syrian use of chemical weapons, and demands that Syrian authorities adhere to international law obligations by discontinuing the use of chemical weapons.
The proposed resolution would "authorize member states, among other things, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Syria from the use of chemical weapons and prevent any future use of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons; and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court."
"If action in the Security Council is blocked, the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures in order to alleviate the scale of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe in Syria by deterring and disrupting the further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime," the document reads.
To read the full statement issued today by the UK government, please click here.
Two reports are expected to be issued today by the U.S. government, one a classified assessment for members of Congress and another for public distribution.
In a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, U.S. President Barack Obama stated: "We want the Assad regime to understand that using chemical weapons on a large scale against your own people - against women, against infants, against children - you are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency, but you're also creating a situation where U.S. national interests are affected. That needs to stop."
Despite limited evidence and continuing debate over who may be responsible for the August 21 chemical attack, with a number of U.S. intelligence officials describing the presented evidence as no 'slam dunk', the U.S. is reportedly increasing its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in preparation for a strike.
According to The Guardian, witnesses report that Britain has also been strengthening its forces at the Akrotiri base on Cyprus, not far from the Syrian coast.
U.N. chemical weapons inspectors are currently touring the area of the attack, collecting evidence, and speaking to witnesses and survivors.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the U.S. and its allies to refrain from a decision regarding action against Syria until official findings are presented to the U.N. Security Council and member states.
Although he condemns the use of chemical weapons, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran, working in 'extensive cooperation' with Russia, will stand behind Syrian President Assad's Tehran-backed regime by increasing its efforts to prevent military action by the United States and its allies.
Rouhani urged the U.N. to fully investigate both sides of the current and ongoing Syrian conflict.
Iran's Chief of the Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, told the Tasnim News Agency: "The Zionists should know that a U.S. military attack on Syria will not save the fake regime from the resistance, but it means the immediate destruction of Israel."
For more on this developing story, please go to your preferred online or broadcast source for world news.
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