Syrian regime 'very clearly' responsible for chemical attack - Gilmore
Calls on UN Security Council to refer Syria to International Criminal Court
Mr Gimore: the Damascus attack represented “a new low in [an] endless litany of horrors” during the two-year conflict in Syria which has resulted in more than 100,000 dead and more than six million displaced.
All existing evidence points “very clearly” towards Syrian state forces’ culpability for the chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds last month, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said yesterday.
Mr Gilmore was addressing the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee after a UN investigation confirmed a large-scale chemical weapons assault on the suburb of Ghouta and other areas around Damascus on August 21st.
The UN inquiry was not mandated to assign blame for the attack but the US, Britain, France and several human rights organisations have said the UN team’s detailed account of the missiles used, the amount of sarin nerve agent employed and the direction from which the missiles were fired all indicate that military forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad were responsible.
Mr Gilmore said the attack represented “a new low in [an] endless litany of horrors” during the two-year conflict in Syria, which has resulted in more than 100,000 dead and more than 6 million displaced.
“This cowardly and cynical attack was aimed at opposition-controlled suburbs of Damascus. The video and photographic evidence of toddlers gassed to death in the middle of the night is proof enough for us to know that this was aimed at a defenceless civilian population, sleeping in their beds,” Mr Gilmore said.
“The information available points very clearly towards Syrian state forces as the responsible party for this horrific crime.”
Mr Gilmore reiterated his call for the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
“There cannot be any impunity for leaders or anyone under them who carries out these crimes. The use of these weapons has been viewed with horror by the international community and we cannot allow those who would seek to introduce their use anywhere to succeed.”
While welcoming the agreement by the US and Russia of a framework for the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal, Mr Gilmore noted its success depended on the compliance of the Assad regime.
“I am not labouring under any illusion as to the nature of that regime: it has repressed and murdered its own people and lied to the international community, denying until recently that it even possessed these weapons . . . Syria has used these weapons with deadly effect and they must be eliminated before their repeated use can ever again be contemplated.”