Boris Johnson backs condemnation of 'heinous' chemical bombs in Syria


Boris Johnson has welcomed the decision of an international watchdog to condemn the use of banned chemical weapons by Syria's Assad regime and Islamic State (IS).

The Foreign Secretary said it amounts to confirmation that government forces and IS - also known as Daesh - militants are responsible for using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.

A United States-tabled motion was carried in a vote by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with roughly two-thirds of its 41 members backing it.

It follows a 13 month-long international investigation by the OPCW and the United Nations, which concluded that Syrian government forces have used chlorine barrel bombs against civilians, while IS terrorists have used sulphur mustard gas.

The motion was opposed by Russia, despite Moscow in 2013 agreeing to work with the US to rid the country of chemical weapons.

The OPCW said chemical weapons are still being used by Assad, whose regime alongside Russia has bombarded the northern city of Aleppo with air strikes for months.

Mr Johnson said: "This decision confirms that the Assad regime and Daesh are responsible for using abhorrent chemical weapons against civilians. I welcome the OPCW's conclusion following the UN mandated investigation.

"There is a clear determination across the international community to hold those who have used these heinous weapons to account.

"The UK will continue to work with international partners to secure justice for victims, and to prevent the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere."

Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Priti Patel expressed concern over reports that food is running out in Aleppo.

"Warnings that food is running out in Aleppo are desperately worrying, but inevitable while Assad's regime and its backers continue to besiege the city using access to food as a means to wage war.

"The onset of winter will only add to the pressures on those trapped inside the city. Families who have survived years of conflict and bombing face the threat of malnutrition and starvation.

"It is imperative that sustained access is put in place for aid workers and for the delivery of food and medical supplies and that urgent medical evacuations go ahead.

"The UK is at the forefront of the Syria humanitarian response and we are backing the UN's emergency response plan for Aleppo. All parties to the conflict must now make sure this plan gets implemented so aid can get through before more lives are lost."