Israel has joined a chorus of Western allegations that the forces of Bashar al-Assad were behind a suspected chemical attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun that left scores dead. The strike on the rebel-held Idlib Province is being described as the worst chemical weapons strike in Syria in years. Moscow, Assad's key backer, has supported the Syrian government militarily in the ongoing conflict since 2015.
"I stress to you once again: the Syrian army has not, did not, and will not use this kind of weapons - not just against our own people, but even against the terrorists that attack our civilians with their mortar rounds", Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in a press conference. Please support our efforts. Also, the United States should reinvest in supporting a political process that can lead to a transitional government and Assad's departure.
Elsewhere in Syria, the Observatory said government air raids killed at least 18 people, including nine children, in Saqba city in the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday.
"It was targeting a weapons and ammunitions depot belonging to al-Nusra Front which happened to contain chemical weapons", Moallem said. Trump's apparent condemnation of the Syrian government Tuesday came less than a week after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley indicated that Assad's fate would be left up to the Syrian people and that removing him from power was no longer a policy goal of the U.S.
"You can not eliminate terrorism if Assad remains in power, and you can not eliminate Iranian influence if Assad is in power", said Hijab.
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Asked whether his country would give access to a fact-finding mission over the use of chemical weapons, Moallem said: "Our experiences with worldwide investigating committees were not encouraging, because they come out of Damascus with certain indications which then change at their headquarters". But Russia, which has launched thousands of airstrikes against the Syrian opposition, must be persuaded or pressured to break with Assad.
France and Britain are still seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria, the foreign ministers of the two countries said on Thursday, adding that diplomatic negotiations were a priority over possible military action. "How many more children have to die before Russian Federation cares?" "It is now my responsibility", Trump said while standing alongside Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House.
A vote on the resolution was set to be held Thursday at the earliest, diplomats said, after Russian Federation vetoed the text slamming it as "categorically unacceptable". This morning, President Donald Trump, who previously excused Assad's crimes by highlighting that his regime was also fighting ISIS, said that the attack "crosses many lines, beyond a red line, many many lines", possibly signaling a change in attitude toward Syria and Assad.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft dismissed that account, saying the United Kingdom had seen nothing that would suggest rebels "have the sort of chemical weapons that are consistent with the symptoms that we saw yesterday".