BORIS Johnson has skewered Russia for “shielding the Assad Regime from investigation” and “repeatedly lying” after the US, UK and France launched airstrikes in Syria.
By Thomas Mackie (Sunday Express)
The Foreign Secretary said: “Russia has repeatedly shielded the Assad Regime from investigation and censure.
“Russia has repeated its lies and obfuscation that we have seen in this country since the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal including the grotesque assertion that the UK is somehow behind the attack in Douma.”
He insisted “the UK and our allies have done everything in our power to deter the barbaric use of these weapons” after a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma killed at least 70 people.
Mr Johnson’s comments come almost 24 hours after the US, UK and France launched strikes against targets at three sites in Syria.
The US-led airstrikes are believed to have hit the Barzah Research and Development Centre outside Damascus with 76 missiles and what the US military described as the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Complex outside the city of Homs.
The military said the strikes “completely destroyed” the complex’s chemical weapons storage facility and “successfully hit and sustained damage” to the installation’s chemical weapons bunker.
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip said in a column for the Telegraph: “The Douma massacre is now part of a pattern of use of chemical weapons by the Assad Regime.”
It is believed international investigators assigned by the UN Security Council have uncovered that the Assad regime was responsible for using chemical weapons on four different occasions since 2014.
The Foreign Secretary continued: “If we do nothing there will be other people and other governments around the world who will look at the impunity of Assad and ask themselves: they got away with it – why shouldn’t I?
“Unless we act there is a risk of moral contamination, a coarsening and corruption of what we have until now thought to be acceptable.”
He said: “This is about more than diplomacy. It is about principle.
“The global community cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Syria.
“This is about our collective future. It is about the kind of world we want our children to grow up in.
“It is about whether the world should tolerate the repeated use of chemical weapons and the human suffering they cause.”
He added: “The Douma atrocity alone would be enough to demand a response. But it is not a one-off.
“In 2013 the Syrian regime committed to destroy its chemical arsenal while Russia – the mentor of the Assad Regime – guaranteed to oversee the process.
“Since then the Assad Regime and Russia has made a complete mockery of that pledge.”
He continued: “Anyone looking at the pictures from Eastern Ghouta can see the kind of suffering involved: the foaming at the mouth, the floppy bodies of children, and the particular terror those weapons deliberately inspire.
“Vile, sick, barbaric though it is to use such weapons – that is not the principal objection. These munitions are not just horrible.
They are illegal.”
The politician concluded: “In degrading Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities we intend to do what we can to protect his people from that specific form of cruelty.
“We are standing up for principle and for civilised values.
“We may not end the barbarism – but we are telling the world that there is one type of barbarism that is banned and that deserves to be banned.”