Boris Johnson condemns Russia and Assad over Syria chemical attack as Corbyn calls for probe

Posted On: 
9th April 2018

Boris Johnson has condemned the “deeply disturbing” gas attack in Syria which left whole families - including small children - dead or seriously injured.

Evacuations from the besieged rebel-held city of Douma, syria
Credit: 
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary called for an international response and urged Russia not to block a full investigation into what happened in the rebel-held town of Douma.

But in his own response to the attack, Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of blaming the Bashar al-Assad's regime, instead calling for a full investigation and the resumption of peace talks in the region.

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Medical sources say dozens of people were killed in a chemical weapons attack - although it has not been possible to independently verify what happened.

Mr Johnson said it was “truly horrific to think that many of the victims were reportedly families seeking refuge from airstrikes in underground shelters”.

He said: "Despite Russia’s promise in 2013 to ensure Syria would abandon all of its chemical weapons, international investigators mandated by the UN Security Council have found the Assad regime responsible for using poison gas in at least four separate attacks since 2014.

"These latest reports must urgently be investigated and the international community must respond. Investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons looking into reports of chemical weapons use in Syria have our full support. Russia must not yet again try to obstruct these investigations."

Mr Johnson added: “Should it be confirmed that the regime has used chemical weapons again, it would be yet another appalling example of the Assad regime’s brutality and blatant disregard for both the Syrian people and its legal obligations not to use chemical weapons.”

Reports overnight said several people were hurt after a Syrian military airport was hit by missiles - shortly after US president Donald Trump said there would be a “big price to pay” for the “mindless chemical attack”.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been found by UN investigators to have used chemical weapons in at least four separate attacks since 2014.

But Moscow - which is backing Mr Assad in the Syrian civil war - has blocked investigations into his chemical weapon use in the past.

Tory MP and ex-soldier Johnny Mercer called for Britain to "countenance trying to put an end to this horrific slaughter that is a modern Syria".

He said the military bases of those who launch poison attacks "should be levelled" ans suggested cyber attacks and targeted drone strikes on "individuals" should be an option.

And he lamented: "We have reached such a fetid low post-Iraq that there is now an expectation that any foreign action will go through a vote in Parliament.

"This is a uniquely useless way of conducting foreign policy, and in almost one action emasculates us on the world stage."

FURY AT LABOUR RESPONSE

Meanwhile, Labour faced outrage at its own response to the alleged gas attack after it initially released a statement that failed to attribute blame to the Syrian regime or Russia.

It said “anyone responsible” should be brought to justice and called for “concrete steps on all sides” to start peace talks.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was among those who piled into the Labour leadership - saying the statement “could have been written by the Kremlin”.

Later Mr Corbyn tweeted a few lines of the statement from his own personal feed.