Facts of Syrian gas attacks need to be established to assign blame: Freeland

Facts of Syrian attack needed: Freeland

OTTAWA — The facts behind the Syrian chemical weapons attack must be clearly established so those responsible can be held accountable, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday.

Freeland stopped short of directly blaming President Bashar Assad’s government for the attack, but said it would be a “damning indictment” of him if that turned out to be the case.

“It is extremely important to hold accountable, at an individual level, the people responsible for this heinous attack,” Freeland said Wednesday from Brussels, where she was attending an international conference on the future of Syria.

The minister chose her words carefully, saying the investigation into Tuesday’s chemical attacks must essentially be bulletproof, so there is no doubt who is responsible.

Freeland said Canada and the U.S. are the two leading funders of the United Nations organization that investigates the use of the chemical weapons, which will play a role in establishing the facts of the attacks.

She said the international community must investigate, identify who did it, and hold them to account. She said the findings must be presented “in a highly credible international fora … so they cannot be disputed in any credible way.”

Freeland urged all permanent members of the Security Council to support a resolution by the U.S., Britain and France condemning the use of chemical weapons and threatening consequences.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the attacks have “all the hallmarks” of Assad’s government and the U.S. may take action if the UN Security Council fails to act.

The UN envoy for Russia, which backs Assad, opposes the resolution, saying it is based on information from “discredited” groups.

Freeland praised Haley’s comments at the Security Council, saying the U.S. has an important role in resolving the ongoing conflict.

She said Haley has been “very active, very strong and very outspoken in the debate today at the Security Council and personally I would like to really commend the work that she has been doing today and the strong position she’s been taking.”

Donald Trump refused to say Wednesday what action the U.S. might take against Assad. But the president adjusted his view of Assad, blaming him for the attack, after saying just days ago that removing him from power was not a priority.

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies â€” babies, little babies â€” with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines,” Trump said.

One of Freeland’s Liberal colleagues, Omar Alghabra, the parliamentary secretary for consular affairs, called the allegation against Assad “credible,” given his government’s past use of chemical weapons.

“But I can’t say that for certain because we need an independent party to verify that.”

Alghabra said the ongoing Syrian conflict is frustrating, given his personal connections to the carnage.

“My background is Syrian. I still have family in Syria, so watching these horrific images and hearing about these stories are heartbreaking,” he said.

“We need to talk to Russia. We need to talk to other players in the region to ensure that they understand the consequences of continuing this.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Man struck and killed on the Pat Bay Highway

Pedestrian struck while crossing near Mount Newton X Rd in Central Saanich

VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Six officers, including three school liaisons, to be reassigned to frontline duties

WATCH: Officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

Joining the new wave of women in trades

Pair of Saanich residents among women joining trades

Affordable housing development leaves neighbours concerned

A 90-unit proposal on Prosser Rd. is before Central Saanich council

WATCH: Officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

Saanich Police pull over Pink Flamingo

Saanich Police are reminding the public to properly tie down items after… Continue reading

COLUMN: Stanley Cup playoff second-round predictions

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins continue their quest for their third straight Stanley Cup

B.C. seeks court ruling on new pipeline regulations

Province wants to require permits for any new bitumen transport

LIVE: TSB findings on plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

The TSB will announce its findings and the Capital News will follow.

Former child watchdog to head UBC centre on residential schools

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead university’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Saanich MLA says business world prepared her for political arena

Lana Popham says the work will never end on the equality front, but each success makes it easier for the next person

Federal Green Party leader says finances were her biggest career obstacle

Elizabeth May lists her mother as her main role model

Man dead after possible attack near Vancouver casino

A 38-year-old man with ‘serious injures’ was rushed to hospital but died in surgery

Most Read