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Turkey Sends Letter To UN On Syria Chemical Attack

Turkey has urged accountability for the Syrian regime over the chemical weapons attack in Idlib, according to a letter sent to the United Nations.

“The use of chemical weapons cannot be allowed to continue with impunity any further, and the regime who has the blood of the Syrian people in its hands must be held accountable,” Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, Ankara’s permanent representative to the global body, said in the letter.

According to Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s Permanent Mission to the UN told Anadolu Agency that the letter was sent Wednesday to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who presides over the Security Council in April.

Tuesday’s attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun killed at least 100 people and injured more than 500, according to the Syrian opposition’s health minister, Firas Jundi.

The U.S. has put the blame squarely on the Syrian regime, amid an ongoing fact-finding mission by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

“There’s no doubt in our mind that the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for this horrific attack,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed findings of a nerve gas in the affected area. Turkish authorities, collaborating with WHO experts, have corroborated the results while treating victims of the attack along the Turkey-Syria border.

The Turkish mission’s letter said the nerve agent sarin was used in the attack, calling it “20 times as deadly as cyanide” and “the most evil of evils”.

The attack cements the regime’s “well-established notorious record of committing atrocities involving the use of toxic chemicals as weapons”, the letter said.

Referencing similar reported chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime on March 20 and again on March 30, the letter said such attacks would continue unabated if the perpetrators are not held accountable.

Gathering Wednesday morning, the UN Security Council appeared gridlocked as the members exchanged accusations rather than respond to the attack.

A planned vote on a resolution drafted by the U.S., U.K. and France never happened after Russia, a permanent member of the Council, vehemently objected to its wording as a “provocation”, and called its authors “irresponsible”.

The draft resolution Tuesday called on the Syrian government to “cooperate fully” with the OPCW fact-finding mission.

The resolution notably asked the regime to provide the mission with wide-ranging military information, including flight plans and logs, information on helicopter squadrons and access to relevant military bases.

On Wednesday, Ambassador Haley suggested the U.S. would take unilateral action if Russia failed to help the international community eradicate the use of chemical weapons.

“When the UN consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states when we are compelled to take our own action,” Haley said.

U.S. President Donald Trump later said the attack “crosses many, many lines” and that the deaths are “an affront to humanity”.

WHO said Wednesday that reports first emerged of the use of chemical weapons agents in Syria in 2012 and have since occurred with disturbing frequency, including repeated allegations of chlorine use in and around Aleppo last year, especially in September-December 2016.

This latest reported incident in Khan Shaykhun is the most horrific since Ghouta in August 2013, WHO added.

That attack on Ghouta, eastern Damascus, killed more than 1,300 civilians, most of them women and children, according to local and international human rights groups.

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