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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

EU 'understands' missile attack on Syria, but stresses peace efforts

Iran Press TV

Tue Apr 17, 2018 07:17AM

European Union foreign ministers say the recent tripartite missiles strikes against Syria was 'understandable,' but that a diplomatic solution remains the only option for lasting peace in the war-torn country.

The 28 ministers met on Monday in Luxembourg to discuss how to revive the political peace process in Syria in the aftermath of the Saturday airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain against multiple sites in Syria.

The strikes hit three sites, one in Damascus, and two in the city of Homs, which US President Donald Trump claimed were "associated with the chemical weapon capabilities" of the Syrian government.

The tripartite Western countries announced that the strikes were carried out as a "punitive" measure against Damascus for a gas attack they claimed was conducted on April 7 by the Syrian government on the Damascus suburb town of Douma.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegation and called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission for investigations.

In a statement after talks in Luxembourg, the EU ministers "strongly condemned" what they claim to be the "continued and repeated use of chemical weapons" in Syria.

The ministers said they would support all efforts aimed at preventing the use of chemical weapons in the war-stricken country.

"The Council understands that the targeted US, French and UK airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria were specific measures... with the sole objective to prevent further use of chemical weapons and chemical substances," the statement said.

The bloc said, unlike the US, it would not impose further sanctions on Syrian officials with alleged links to chemical weapons development at this time, but added that the EU "is ready to consider imposing further measures going forward."

The foreign ministers also called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to allow humanitarian access to conflict-ridden areas.

Next week, the EU and the UN will host a two-day conference in Brussels on the future of Syria and the region.

The tripartite strikes delayed a visit by OPCW experts to the site of the alleged chemical attack. Experts from the chemical watchdog would visit Douma on April 18.

Moscow has said it has "irrefutable" evidence that the Douma attack was a "false flag" operation orchestrated by British spy services.

The EU's call for peace talks come while the Syrian government and opposition groups are already involved in a political process mediated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The talks have led to the formation of four deescalation zones across Syria and helped significantly reduce violence in the country.

The talks in Astana have been going on in tandem with another series of talks held in Geneva and brokered by the UN. Previous rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the UN over the past five years have failed to achieve tangible results.

Russia said the tripartite Western attacks hit Syria right at the moment the country had a chance to have a peaceful future.

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