AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as “repugnant” and has called on United Nations weapons inspectors to evaluate the allegations, as France claims that the international community is ready to act without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council.
Footage released yesterday showed what appeared to be the devastating results of an attack on an eastern suburb of Damascus, with indications that chemical weapons were used to kill a significant number of civilians. The Syrian opposition claim that around 1300 civilians died in the attack, while other estimates place the casualty toll at around 647 confirmed dead.
Mr Rudd said earlier today that he wants United Nations to thoroughly investigate the massacre in an attempt to confirm whether chemical weapons were used. Australia is currently serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, which has been meeting to discuss the Syrian civil war throughout the conflict.
Mr Rudd said: “The use of weapons of mass destruction in any circumstances is intolerable and unacceptable in any civilised nation. When weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, are used against civilian targets it is repugnant beyond description.”
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting in New York City earlier today in which they determined that there was a need for “clarity” regarding the reported chemical attack before any decision could be made. A representative from the United Nations confirmed after the meeting that the Security Council had agreed that any use of chemical weapons would constitute a “violation of international law.”
The French government have pledged to use armed force against the Syrian government if it is proven that chemical weapons were used against civilians, regardless of United Nations sanction. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that if the United Nations Security Council were unable to come to take action that “decisions will be made in other ways.”
Mr Fabius said: “If this is proven, France’s position is that there must be a reaction. There would have to be a reaction with force in Syria from the international community, but there is no question of sending troops on the ground.”
It is understood that the presence of Syrian ally the Russian Federation on the United Nations Security Council may prove to be a sticking point in any action taken against the Assad regime in Syria. As a permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation has the power to veto any decision made by the organisation.