Turkey says Syrian regime likely to be behind Ghouta chemical attack


Ankara is “continuing to closely monitor” developments as tensions between the United States and Russia flare, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Thursday.

“There are strong suspicions that the [Syrian] regime conducted the attack. International institutions should carry out investigations. Chemical attacks should not go unpunished. Whether Incirlik Air Base will or will not be used in a potential operation will be discussed on Monday with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg,” Aksoy said.

Stoltenberg is expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli on Monday in Turkey.

“The veto of a U.S. draft resolution at the UN is a missed opportunity,” he added.

Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution on Tuesday that would have established a new expert body to determine culpability for the suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta on April 8.

The U.S. draft had the overwhelming support of the council with 12 of the 15-member council voting in favor and only two – Russia and Bolivia – voting against. China abstained.

It was one of three votes held Tuesday after the White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for attack, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.

Russia’s latest veto is its twelfth of council resolutions seeking to hold the Assad regime accountable for rights violations. Six of those resolutions would have condemned the regime for chemical weapons attacks.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria over a poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump was responding to a Russian warning on Tuesday that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria over the assault on an opposition enclave would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

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