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

Colwood mayor pitches ferry as commuter alternative

Mayor Rob Martin says different modes of transportation need to be considered

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Victoria residents and businesses could see a jump in property taxes

A change in health premium coverage could prompt an increase in taxes for 2019

Bouquet sales support big dreams in Greater Victoria

Country Grocer features holiday bouquets for Help Fill a Dream

Emerald Gloves boxing brings fights to Langford

Langford’s Matt Daniels dropped weight for debut

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Port Alberni convenience store robbed

Police still searching for suspect

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read