mercredi 18 septembre 2013

West Pushes for Syria Action

Report by Ling Yuhuan.
Western powers said on Tuesday that the Syrian government was responsible for an August 21 chemical weapons attack, after a long-awaited UN report confirmed on Monday that the nerve agent sarin had been used in the attack.

Without assigning blame to either the Syrian regime or the opposition, UN inspectors said they had collected "clear and convincing evidence" to prove that "surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used" in Ghouta, the Damascus suburb held by the opposition, on August 21.

The US and its allies said the UN report showed Syrian government forces were responsible for the attack.

"The technical details of the UN report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack," Washington's UN ambassador Samantha Power was quoted by AFP as saying. "It defies logic to think that the opposition would have infiltrated the regime-controlled area to fire on opposition-controlled areas."

Power highlighted one type of munition cited in the UN report, 122-millimeter rockets, noting that the US had not observed "the opposition manufacturing or using this style of rocket."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted that the Syrian regime was undoubtedly to blame, while his British counterpart William Hague said the UN report had made it "abundantly clear" that the responsibility for the attack rested with the government forces.

The three Western powers have been pressing for a "strong" UN resolution to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

Diplomats said France and Britain would send a draft resolution to other members of the UN Security Council soon, demanding a threat of sanctions on Syria if President Bashar al-Assad did not comply with the US-Russia disarmament plan, which demanded all Syrian chemical weapons be removed or destroyed by mid-2014.

At a Tuesday news conference with Fabius in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that the resolution will not fall under the Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the use of force.

He also said the UN report did not prove the Syrian regime was behind the attack, insisting that there was still "most serious basis to believe that this was a provocation," AFP reported.

Yin Gang, a research fellow on Western Asian and African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the US and its allies are likely to impose more pressure on Damascus, pressing it to comply with the terms of the framework.

"The real goal of the West is not to find out who's behind the chemical weapons attack but to deal a blow to the Syrian regime. The Western powers' anti-Assad stance has been determined long before the report was released," Li Weijian, director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times.

He also said the US and Russia, regardless of the report, would continue carrying out the disarmament plan according to the timetable they had earlier agreed upon.

"The US and Russia have not attached great importance to the report from the very beginning, or else they would not work out the framework before it was released," he said.

The Syrian foreign ministry on Tuesday lashed out at the US, Britain and France, saying they were trying to "impose their will on the Syrian people," AFP reported.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said on Tuesday that "China attaches great importance to the UN report," adding that China will seriously study the report, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

He added that China supports UN inspectors continuing their work in Syria.

Hong said China supports the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria within the UN framework and hopes that the political settlement process will be pushed forward at the same time, reported Xinhua.

The US State Department said on Monday that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi will meet Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday. They are expected to discuss the Syrian conflict, reported Xinhua.

Meanwhile, tensions along the border between Syria and Turkey were escalating on Tuesday. At least a dozen people were hospitalized after a car bomb hit the Syrian side of the main Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Turkey, Syrian opposition activists said. The bombing came a day after a Syrian helicopter was shot down by Turkey.

Agencies contributed to this story

Beijing Global Times Online

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