Assad, backers ‘must be held to account’ if chemical attack confirmed: British PM

Copenhagen: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers “must be held to account” if a suspected poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma is confirmed, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday. “If confirmed this is yet another example of the Assad regime’s brutality and brazen disregard for its own people and for its legal obligation not to use these weapons,” May told reporters in Copenhagen following talks with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

“If they’re found to be responsible, the regime and its backers, including Russia, must be held to account.” “The UK utterly condemns the use of chemical weapons in any circumstances and we must urgently establish what happened on Saturday,” May said. Syria’s White Helmets, who act as first responders in rebel-held areas, said “poisonous chlorine gas” had been used late Saturday.

International outrage has mounted against the alleged use of the weapons, with US President Donald Trump and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron vowing strong responses. 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.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Monday that Russian specialists had found no trace of a chemical attack on Douma. The global watchdog working to eradicate chemical weapons, the OPCW, is investigating the reports, its head said on Monday.

Agence France-Presse