This Week's Chemical Attack in Syria is Just the Latest "Red Line"

Posted April 07, 2017

The strike on the rebel-held Idlib Province is being described as the worst chemical weapons strike in Syria in years.

CBS News' Holly Williams reports at least 72 people died in the attack, many of them children.

Russian Federation has challenged President Donald Trump to come up with a clear, comprehensive strategy for the war in Syria after Trump said Wednesday that an alleged chemical attack had changed his opinion of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"The first air raid conducted by the Syrian army was at 11:30 AM (0830 GMT) on that day (Tuesday) and it attacked an arms depot belonging to Al-Nusra Front that contained chemical weapons", he said.

Syrian regime Foreign Minister Walid al Moualem on Thursday blamed the suspected chemical gas attack in Idlib on Daesh and the opposition.

Peskov told The Associated Press in an interview that "unconditional support is not possible in this current world", but added that "it is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow".

Earlier on Wednesday, Downing Street played down the prospect of military action in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons against civilians, insisting "nobody is talking" about an armed response to the atrocity.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday that "a day will come when global justice will give its verdict on Bashar al-Assad who is massacring his people". Trump's apparent condemnation of the Syrian government Tuesday came less than a week after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USA 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.

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Although Assad can count on the backing of his top allies, Russian Federation and Iran, the attack has revived global outrage at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is still formulating his policy on Syria. He also said that he could not predict "the reality of United States intentions" in Syria.

Trump, who opposed military intervention in Syria under the Obama administration, has not said if he would take action against Assad, while other Western countries, including the United Kingdom, have ruled out a military intervention.

On Thursday, Muallem said such an investigation "must guarantee that it is not politicised, that it has broad geographic representation and that it is launched from Damascus, not Turkey".

Meanwhile, the United Nations has called the US, Russia, Turkey and Iran to help establish a 72-hour ceasefire in Syria in order to deliver humanitarian aid to remote areas and also to the 400,000 people trapped in eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

Syria officially relinquished its chemical arsenal and signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 to avert military action after it was accused of an attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use since.

Doctors said victims of Tuesday's attack showed symptoms consistent with the use of a nerve agent such as sarin - suspected to have been used by government forces in deadly attacks outside Damascus in 2013.