European Council backs UK, US and France over Syrian air strikes

 
Catherine Neilan
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The air strikes came in response to suspected chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime (Source: Getty)

The European Council has said it backs the air strikes carried out by the US, France and the UK against Syrian military targets on Friday.

The leaders of the 28 countries of the EU issued a joint statement this morning saying that Bashar al-Assad's regime "bears the overwhelming responsibility for the catastrophic humanitarian situation and the suffering of the Syrian people", strongly condemning the latest suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma as "a grave breach of international law and an affront to human decency".

The air strikes, on military bases near the capital Damascus and the city of Homs, were "specific measures having been taken with the sole objective to prevent further use of chemical weapons and chemical substances as weapons by the Syrian regime to kill its own people", the statement said.

Referring to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the statement added: "The Council is supportive of all efforts aimed at the prevention of the use of chemical weapons. This is the position expressed on behalf of the EU at the OPCW."

However, it goes onto say "there can be no military solution" to the eight-year crisis, and urged both sides to agree an immediate ceasefire, urging Russia, Iran and Turkey to ensure the "cessation of hostilities and unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access throughout all of Syria, and to fulfil their commitments towards achieving a nationwide ceasefire in Syria as well as sieges to be lifted".

This morning representatives of the OPCW, who are hoping to carry out independent investigations of the area thought to have come under chemical attack, said their access to Douma was being blocked.

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