EU: evidence points to Assad using chemical weapons

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Evidence suggests that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind a purported chemical weapons attack in Damascus last month, Agence France-Presse reported EU defense ministers as saying on Friday.

“There are many signs that the regime used the [chemical] weapons,” AFP quoted Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas as saying. EU defense ministers met in the Baltic state, which currently stands as president of the EU, according to the rotating presidency system.

On Aug. 21, the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said more than 1,300 people were killed in a chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta.

However, there were “a variety of opinions” on what should be done in response, Olekas said, despite the fact that all his fellow ministers “condemned the use of chemical weapons and believed those responsible must be held accountable.”

Another EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said France and Denmark were among the most vocal supporters of military intervention against the Assad regime, while Italy and Spain remained more skeptical.

"However, no one said that they would condemn it if there is military action," the official told AFP.

EU foreign ministers are also due to discuss Syria at their meeting in Vilnius on Friday, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry due to join the talks on Saturday.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a firm international response was needed.

“The international community has a responsibility to uphold and enforce the international ban against the use of chemical weapons,” he told reporters on Friday.

(With AFP)

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