Britain would consider joining U.S. military strikes against the Syrian government if there is evidence chemical weapons are being used against civilians, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.
“If we know that it has happened, and we can demonstrate it, and if there is a proposal for action where the UK could be useful then I think we should seriously consider it,” Johnson told the BBC.
NAN reports that health authorities in the opposition-held area on Sunday alleged that several people suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta district near Damascus.
The authorities said one child was killed.
Opposition Syrian Interim Government’s Ministry of Health said victims, ambulance drivers and others smelt chlorine after “an enormous explosion” in the eastern Ghouta in the area of al-Shayfouniya.
The Syrian army could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Syrian government has consistently denied using chemical weapons in the war that will soon enter its eighth year.
The Russian defence ministry, which backs the Syrian government in the war, on Sunday accused rebels of preparing to use toxic agents in eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that reports on the war, confirmed a child had died from suffocation in eastern Ghouta but said it could not confirm if poison gas had been used, its director told Reuters by phone.
Video circulated on social media networks purporting to show the aftermath of the attack depicted a child’s corpse wrapped in a blue shroud, and several bare chested men and young boys appearing to struggle for breath, with some holding nebulizers to their mouths and noses.
The UN Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce across Syria.
The Observatory said Sunday’s bombardment of eastern Ghouta was less intense than last week, but 14 people were still killed.
In recent weeks, the U. S. has accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas as a weapon. Rebel-held areas of the Ghouta region were hit in a major chemical attack in 2013.
In 2017, a joint inquiry by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found the Syrian government was responsible for an April 4, 2017 attack using the banned nerve agent sarin in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing dozens of people.
The inquiry had previously found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State militants used mustard gas.
The Russian defense ministry said rebel leaders were “preparing a provocation with employment of toxic material, aiming at accusing the governmental forces of using chemical weapons against civilian population”.
The statement was released by a Russian ceasefire monitoring center, which is run by the Russian military, and published on the defense ministry’s website. (Reuters/NAN)
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