World leaders condemn suspected chemical attack on Syria's Idlib

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

New Delhi [India], Apr. 4 (ANI): Political leaders across the world minced no words while condemning Tuesday's suspected chemical attack on Syria's rebel-held Idlib province. The White House blamed the former administration's weak Syria policy for opening the door to such attacks. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the chemical weapons strike was the direct result of "the past administration's weakness and irresolution" toward the Assad regime, the Washington Times reports. "Today's chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act," Spicer said. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) would hold a rare open session on Syria's chemical weapons use at the organisation's headquarters in New York later this week. Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande directly blamed the Syrian Government forces and said his allies were emboldening him to act with impunity. "Once again the Syrian regime will deny the evidence of its responsibility in this massacre. Like in 2013, Bashar al-Assad counts on the complicity of his allies to act with impunity," Hollande said in a statement. "Those who support this regime can once again assess the magnitude of their political, strategic and moral responsibility," he added. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on for an emergency meeting of the UNSC after what he said was a 'disgusting' gas attack. "A new and particularly serious chemical attack took place this morning in Idlib province. The first information suggests a large number of victims, including children. I condemn this disgusting act," Ayrault said in a statement. "In the face of such serious actions that threaten international security, I ask for everyone not to shirk their responsibilities. With this in mind, I ask for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council," he added. Britain also condemned the attack, saying it bore 'all the hallmarks' of action by government forces calling for those responsible to be 'held to account'. "Horrific reports of chemical weapons attack in Idlib, Syria. Incident must be investigated and perpetrators held to account," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter. In February, France, Britain and the U.S. put forward a resolution to impose sanctions targetting Syrian government officials over accusations of chemical weapon attacks during the six-year conflict. Meanwhile, the death toll in Tuesday's attack is likely to rise further. Dozens of people, including at least ten children, were killed and over 200 injured as a result of asphyxiation caused by exposure to an unknown gas, as reported by CNN. According to Anas al-Diab, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center, airstrikes hit the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province giving off a poisonous gas that led to this asphyxiation. Three more strikes hit the same city center location but did not result in any gas, al-Diab added. The death toll is said to be at least 67, according to al-Diab, while the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported it to be 58. The High Negotiations Committee claimed the death toll could be as high as 100 with up to 400 injured. Activist groups have blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for the attack. (ANI)