US says chemical weapons attack in Syria was ‘war crime’

Syria's President Bashar Assad. (SANA via Reuters)
Updated 14 April 2017
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US says chemical weapons attack in Syria was ‘war crime’

WASHINGTON: The Syrian government’s suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians last week amounts to a “war crime,” the US State Department said Thursday.
It also ridiculed comments by President Bashar Assad in an interview with AFP to the effect that the alleged attack was fabricated by the United States to justify an American military strike.
“Sadly, it’s vintage Assad. It is an attempt by him to throw up false flags, create confusion,” said department spokesman Mark Toner, alluding to what Assad said in the interview Wednesday. It was Assad’s first since the alleged April 4 chemical weapons attack prompted a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base.
The suspected chemical attack killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage.
“Frankly, it’s a tactic we’ve seen on Russia’s part as well in the past,” Toner told a daily press briefing.
Echoing charges by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Toner said there can be little doubt that the chemical weapons attack in Idlib province was carried out by Syrian government forces.
“It wasn’t only a violation of the laws of war but it was a — we believe, a war crime,” Toner said.
Tillerson, visiting Moscow on Wednesday, addressed the issue of the chemical weapons attack but he stopped short of calling it a war crime.
Tillerson did raise the prospect of criminal proceedings at some point over the attack, including against Assad himself, but warned there were be major legal obstacles to this.


Three women, baby die after migrant boat sinks off Turkey

Updated 55 min 59 sec ago
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Three women, baby die after migrant boat sinks off Turkey

  • Turkish authorities rescued 11 people when the boat drowned
  • Almost one million refugees fled into the European Union through Turkey

ANKARA: Three women and a child drowned when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Turkish coast, the Turkish coast guard said on Tuesday.
Turkish authorities rescued 11 more people after the boat went down 1.7 nautical miles off the coast near Canakkale early Tuesday morning, the coast guard said in a statement.
State news agency Anadolu said the migrants were from Afghanistan and Iran.
Turkey, which has taken in nearly four million refugees from the Syrian war, is also an important route for illegal migrants trying to reach Europe.
Around a million people, mainly fleeing the conflict in Syria, crossed to European Union member Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
Ankara struck a deal with the EU in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, and agreed to take back those landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives and financial aid.