Top Saudi Envoy Demands Global Action on New Syrian Gas Claims

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, shown in January, on Tuesday called for a strong international response to last week's alleged use of chlorine gas during fighting in Syria's civil war.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, shown in January, on Tuesday called for a strong international response to last week's alleged use of chlorine gas during fighting in Syria's civil war. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia's top diplomat accused the Syrian regime of conducting new chemical strikes that he called a test of "international will," Reuters reports.

"These continuous violations by the Damascus regime require the international community to take firm action against the continuous defiance of international, Arab and Islamic will," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told journalists in Riyadh on Tuesday.

His statement came in reaction to reports of several chemical strikes conducted on Friday and Saturday in Syria's three-year-old civil war. Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and its opposition have blamed one another for the attacks, which allegedly involved releases of chlorine gas in the rebel-held town of Kfar Zeita.

The Saudi foreign minister said the new allegations constitute an affront to the U.N. Security Council's 2013 call for Assad's regime to eliminate its chemical arms. The government joined an international chemical-arms ban and agreed to eliminate its stockpiled warfare substances after a sarin gas assault in August prompted threats of international military intervention in the conflict.

The regime's disarmament pledge does not extend to chlorine, which has peaceful applications. Still, the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits use of the substance in combat, according to former British military officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.

The issue expert said chlorine is easy to obtain in Syria, but added that the material reportedly fell from aircraft in the recent alleged attacks.

"As far as I am aware, the opposition does not have helicopters," de Bretton-Gordon said.

April 16, 2014
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Saudi Arabia's top diplomat accused the Syrian regime of conducting new chemical strikes that he called a test of "international will," Reuters reports.