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France seeks sanctions over Syria chemical attacks

France seeks sanctions over Syria chemical attacks

PARIS/ALEPPO: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Saturday asked the UN Security Council to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged that those behind the attacks be placed under sanctions.

“I want... a clear condemnation of these crimes in a resolution from the UN Security Council... that places the perpetrators under sanctions,” Ayrault said.

The minister’s comments came a day after UN experts said in a report that the Syrian army had attacked a village with chemical weapons in 2015.

The militant Islamic State group has also been accused of using mustard gas as a weapon.




“The Syrian army and Daesh have used chemical weapons against civilians on at least three occasions,” Ayrault said, using an Arabic acronym to refer to IS.

“These acts are inhuman and unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

“France will not accept that the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which has now been proven beyond doubt... should remain unpunished,” he said.

“We call on all our partners in the Security Council to assume their responsibility.”

The United States, Britain and France have repeatedly called for sanctions, particularly against the Syrian regime, over the use of chemical weapons in the five-year conflict.

However President Bashar al-Assad’s main backer Russia, a permanent Security Council member, has cast doubt on the UN experts’ findings, claiming that they are not sufficiently conclusive to warrant sanctions.

Truce deadline

A ceasefire in the Syrian army’s Russian-backed assault on rebel-held Aleppo appeared to expire with the UN saying it had been unable to evacuate anyone from the ravaged city.

Moscow had extended the unilateral “humanitarian pause” into a third day until 1600 GMT on Saturday, but announced no further renewal of the truce despite a UN request for longer to evacuate wounded civilians.

Neither residents nor rebels in the opposition-held part of the city heeded calls from Syria’s army and Moscow to leave, after weeks of devastating bombardment and a three-month government siege. The pause began on Thursday, and came after Moscow announced a temporary halt to the Syrian army’s campaign to recapture the divided city.

Published in Dawn October 23rd, 2016

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