22nd Mar 2018

EU ministers point to Assad and Russia on Syria gas attack

  • Germany's Sigmar Gabriel (r) says Russia has to clarify its role in the Syria gas attack (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)

Senior ministers in Brussels spoke out against the chemical attacks in Syria, with Germany saying that Russia has to clarify its role, and Britain and France claiming they have evidence that Assad was behind the war crime.

The UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says around 20 children and 52 adults were killed in a nerve agent gas attack in the Idlib province on Tuesday (4 April).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The attack came one day ahead of Wednesday's large donor conference on Syria in Brussels and has rattled leaders in their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the six-year-old raging war.

"I know it sounds surreal, especially today, but if you want peace you have to start building peace," said the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in light of the attacks.

Both the UK and France have called for an emergency Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York. The two countries are veto-holding permanent members of the council.

British and French foreign ministers, Boris Johnson and Jean-Marc Ayrault, told reporters in Brussels that the resolution aims to condemn the chemical attack and calls for an immediate international investigation.

"I don't think anybody could possibly, reasonably oppose such a resolution in all conscience," Johnson said.

Johnson and Ayrault say all the evidence behind the attack points to the regime under strongman president Bashar al-Assad, with Ayrault pointing out that the planes used in the raid were "Russian-made".

Images emerging from the attack show children choking and foaming at the mouth.

Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the war, with around 5 million Syrians fleeing their homes to seek refuge outside the country.

"He [Assad] is responsible for the vast majority of that butcher's bill and you have to go a long way back in history to find a tyrant who had stayed in office in such circumstances," said Johnson.

Johnson also appeared to echo comments by US president Donald Trump, who said Barack Obama should have upheld the "red line" promise of acting in Syria, following a similar gas attack in 2013 in Ghouta.

"I am afraid that the people of Syria are living today with the consequences of that decision," said Johnson.

Germany wants answers

The blame on Assad may implicate the regime's staunchest ally and military supporter in Moscow.

But Russia denies any involvement and says the chemicals were released after a rebel depot was bombed.

The view has been roundly rejected, with Germany's foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, saying Russia has to clarify its role.

"Russia is responsible for clarifying matters, clarifying matters as soon as possible," he said.

The UN is also seeking answers.

A UN investigative body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has been tasked to launch a probe.

"We need to have accountability based on the results of that investigation," said the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

Donors pledge billions for Syria amid European shame

Donors pledged €5.5 billion in aid for Syria for 2017 and another €3.47 billion up until 2020. The figures contrast the number of refugees hosted by Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey when compared to Europe.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  2. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  3. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  4. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  5. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  6. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  7. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  8. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus