Last updated: 21 August, 2013

Syria attack should wake up Assad supporters, says British Foreign Secretary

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday that he hoped the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria would “wake up” President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters to the nature of his regime.

“I hope all members of the (UN) Security Council will join us,” he told reporters before talks in Paris with French counterpart Laurent Fabius. “I hope this will wake up some who have supported the Assad regime, to realise its murderous and barbaric nature.”

His comments came as the Security Council prepared to meet over claims from the main Syrian opposition group that as many as 1,300 people were killed in chemical weapons attacks Wednesday on rebel areas near Damascus.

Paris and London were to send a joint letter to the secretary general asking him to order the team of UN experts in Syria to go to the scene to investigate.

“We hope that the UN team will be given immediate and unrestricted access to this area to try to establish the truth,” Hague said.

“There is no reason for them to not be given access to an area a few miles away from where they are.”

Fabius also called for UN inspectors to be given “immediate” access to the sites of the alleged attacks.

He called the alleged attacks “a terrible tragedy” and “an attack that is probably without precedent since what we saw with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.”

In a separate statement, Fabius said he had spoken with the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, to express his “horror at the massacre carried out today by the Syrian regime.”

“The evidence gathered by the Coalition tends to corroborate the suspicions of the use of chemical weapons. If confirmed, they are extremely serious,” Fabius said.