UK urges 'strong international' response to alleged Syria gas attack

British Foreign Affairs State Secretary Boris Johnson (L) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg address a press conference following their meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has called for a "strong and robust international response" to an alleged chemical weapons attack near the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Speaking with his French counterpart on Monday, 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.

The Foreign Office maintained that a full range of options should be on the table.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman also said Monday that Britain was working with its allies on a joint response to the reported gas attack on Douma.

The Saturday attack came in the wake of the Syrian Army's push to drive out last remnants of terrorists from the militant-controlled town.

Damascus strongly rejected the allegation of using chemical munitions and said the so-called Jaish al-Islam terrorist group, which has dominant presence in Douma, was spreading the accusations “in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”

May’s spokesman said the UK had no role in overnight air strikes on a Syrian air base, which Russia and the Syrian military have blamed on Israeli war planes.

"If there is clear verified evidence of the use of chemical weapons and a proposal for action where the UK would be useful, then we will look at the range of options," he said.

'Big price to pay'

The strike happened as US President Donald Trump said there would be a "big price to pay," raising concern that he could order another missile strike against Syrian government positions.

Trump also called out Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in Syria’s conflict that just entered its eighth year.

The US president and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call that chemical weapons had been used in Douma.

“Both leaders strongly condemned the horrific chemical weapons attacks in Syria and agreed that the Assad regime must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses,” a White House statement said.

“They agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Russian specialists had found no trace of a chemical attack on Douma.

He also said that the strike on the T-4 air base in Homs was a "very dangerous development."

"I hope at least that the US military and those of the countries participating in the coalition led by the United States understand that," Lavrov told a press conference.


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