World Bulletin / News Desk
The condemnation by the U.K. and France followed earlier worldwide reaction to the chemical gas attack in Douma, Syria.
Assad regime forces struck targets in the Damascus suburb’s Douma district on Saturday midnight using a poisonous gas, which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to the White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “has this morning spoken to his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, about the horrific attack in Douma… and ahead of an emergency session of the United Nations later today [Monday], which was called for by the U.K. alongside allies”, the statement said.
Speaking to Le Drian, Johnson “underlined the urgent need to investigate what had happened in Douma and to ensure a strong and robust international response”.
The ministers “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 and agreed that those responsible for this attack must be held to account,” the statement added.
Johnson and Le Drian “both condemned the use of chemical weapons by anyone anywhere and they agreed to work together to stand up for the Chemical Weapons Convention and to ensure that there was no impunity for those that use such barbaric weapons”.
They also “agreed that today’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York would be an important next step in determining the international response and that a full range of options should be on the table”, the statement added.
Germany also called on Russia to stop blocking efforts at UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on investigating chemical gas attacks in Syria.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman condemned the attack that killed at least 78 civilians in Douma and accused the Assad regime of violating the international humanitarian law.
Steffen Seibert urged the regime’s backer Russia to exert pressure over Damascus.
“Russia must abandon its blocking attitude at the UN Security Council, with regards to the investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It must constructively contribute to the investigation,” he stressed.
On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 which called for a month-long cease-fire in Syria, especially in Eastern Ghouta to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies early this month launched a major ground offensive backed by Russian air power aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta.
Home to some 400,000 people, the suburb has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Earlier this month, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.