Top Saudi Envoy Demands Global Action on New Syrian Gas Claims

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 16, 2014, 8:27 a.m.

Saudi Ar­a­bia’s top dip­lo­mat ac­cused the Syr­i­an re­gime of con­duct­ing new chem­ic­al strikes that he called a test of “in­ter­na­tion­al will,” Re­u­ters re­ports.

“These con­tinu­ous vi­ol­a­tions by the Dam­as­cus re­gime re­quire the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity to take firm ac­tion against the con­tinu­ous de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tion­al, Ar­ab and Is­lam­ic will,” Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Saud al-Fais­al told journ­al­ists in Riy­adh on Tues­day.

His state­ment came in re­ac­tion to re­ports of sev­er­al chem­ic­al strikes con­duc­ted on Fri­day and Sat­urday in Syr­ia’s three-year-old civil war. Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment and its op­pos­i­tion have blamed one an­oth­er for the at­tacks, which al­legedly in­volved re­leases of chlor­ine gas in the rebel-held town of Kfar Zeita.

The Saudi for­eign min­is­ter said the new al­leg­a­tions con­sti­tute an af­front to the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil’s 2013 call for As­sad’s re­gime to elim­in­ate its chem­ic­al arms. The gov­ern­ment joined an in­ter­na­tion­al chem­ic­al-arms ban and agreed to elim­in­ate its stock­piled war­fare sub­stances after a sar­in gas as­sault in Au­gust promp­ted threats of in­ter­na­tion­al mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion in the con­flict.

The re­gime’s dis­arm­a­ment pledge does not ex­tend to chlor­ine, which has peace­ful ap­plic­a­tions. Still, the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion pro­hib­its use of the sub­stance in com­bat, ac­cord­ing to former Brit­ish mil­it­ary of­ficer Ham­ish de Bretton-Gor­don.

The is­sue ex­pert said chlor­ine is easy to ob­tain in Syr­ia, but ad­ded that the ma­ter­i­al re­portedly fell from air­craft in the re­cent al­leged at­tacks.

“As far as I am aware, the op­pos­i­tion does not have heli­copters,” de Bretton-Gor­don said.

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