Claims 1300 massacred in Syrian government gas attack
ALLEGATIONS the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill more than 1300 people would represent a "new level of barbarism" if proven to be true, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday.
The world woke to shocking pictures out of the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday - including images of dead children - but the Assad regime remained resolute dismissing claims of a chemical weapons attack as "absolutely baseless".
Mr Rudd told reporters in Victoria that Australia, in its capacity as a member of the United Nations Security Council, had co-authored a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon asking that an inspection team be sent to Syria immediately to establish how many people were killed and whether chemical weapons, including the deadly nerve agent sarin gas, had been used.
"The use of use of weapons of mass destruction in any circumstances is intolerable and unacceptable in any civilised nation," Mr Rudd said.
"When weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, are used against civilian targets, it is repugnant beyond description.
"I think all countries in the world would have a view that in the year 2013 if there is a factual basis to any regime in the world using chemical weapons against people, frankly we enter into a new level of barbarism and therefore all civilised nations in the world have a responsibility then to act.
"But the first step is to establish the facts."
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the allegations represented a "serious additional escalation in the tragic war that has torn Syria apart".
Senator Carr described the images out of Damascus as "appalling" and expressed the need for an "immediate and transparent investigation" so those responsible could be "held accountable for their actions".
He said if the Assad regime's assertion it had not used chemical weapons was true it should have "no objection" to UN investigators entering the country.