US, France Issue Stern Warnings against Syria over Chemical Attacks

Mattis warns Syria over use of chemical weapons on civilians

Modal Trigger James Mattis Getty Images

Reviewing his annual report at a Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Zeid bin Ra'ad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the indiscriminate and brutal attacks against civilians in the eastern Ghouta can not be justified no matter what, dismissing the Syrian regime's false claims that it took precautions to protect civilians as "ridiculous", and stressing the need to take the matter to the International Criminal Court. Blasts could be heard as he spoke to The Associated Press via a messaging service. "And those are the people we're supposed to be fighting for", she said.

The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons.

"You're making everybody happy except for the people of Syria". He said 800,000 civilians in Afrin were now facing a humanitarian "catastrophe" amid food shortages and relentless Turkish airstrikes.

The Observatory confirmed talks were taking place on Hammuriyeh, as well as the towns of Kafr Batna, Jisreen and Saqba, but said no agreement had yet been reached. These attacks are evidence to the significant rise in attacks when compared to pre-UNSC resolution, in a clear and explicit disregard to the Council and its resolutions. Ankara considers the YPG a terror organization linked to its own Kurdish insurgency.

Since Feb. 18, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have retaken almost 60 percent of the enclave, whittling down rebel territory to three isolated pockets.

"The majority of them are women and children", said Linda Tom, from the UN's humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) in Damascus.

Syrian soldiers flash the victory sign on their tank in the town of Aftaris in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside, Syria, on March 12, 2018. "The Syrian and Russian regimes insist that they are targeting terrorists, but their bombs and artillery continue to fall on hospitals and schools-and on innocent civilians". It would also be the worst setback for rebels since the opposition was ousted from the eastern half of the city of Aleppo in late 2016 following a similar siege and bombing campaign. Eastern Ghouta has been besieged for years after many of its residents joined the initial protests against Assad's rule in 2011. More than 1,100 people have been killed since the large-scale government offensive began on February 18.

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The Russian Defense Ministry was cited by local media reports as placing the number of civilians evacuated from Eastern Ghouta over the past few days at 76.

The United Nations on Monday said more than 1,000 people in Eastern Ghouta needed urgent evacuation from the area for treatment.

The Army of Islam said the wounded will be evacuated in stages but made no mention of whether they are rebel fighters or civilians.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, warned on Monday that Washington "remains prepared to act if we must", if the UN Security Council fails to act on Syria, Reuters reported.

Syrian troops have used siege tactics on several areas around the capital, sealing off rebel-held territory and pressing a military operation before securing an evacuation deal.

Russia's United Nations envoy Vassily Nebenzia also said some states were accusing the Syrian government of carrying our chemical weapons attacks in a bid to "prepare the ground for the unilateral use of force against sovereign Syria".

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