Aug 21 2013
Forces behind an alleged chemical weapons attack that has reportedly killed at least 100 Syrians will be held to account, William Hague has insisted.
The Foreign Secretary said claims of toxic agents being used in an assault in rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus would mark a "shocking escalation" if proved true.
UN inspectors, already in the region to investigate three sites where chemical attacks previously allegedly occurred, must be given immediate access to investigate the latest claims, he insisted.
Opposition groups accused President Bashar Assad's regime of carrying out the deadly attack using rockets with poisonous gas heads - a claim government officials insist is baseless.
Mr Hague said: "I am deeply concerned by reports that hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in air strikes and a chemical weapons attack on rebel-held areas near Damascus.
"These reports are uncorroborated and we are urgently seeking more information. But it is clear that, if they are verified, it would mark a shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"Those who order the use of chemical weapons, and those who use them, should be in no doubt that we will work in every way we can to hold them to account.
"I call on the Syrian government to allow immediate access to the area for the UN team currently investigating previous allegations of chemical weapons use. The UK will be raising this incident at the UN Security Council."
Unverified footage of casualties, including children, in makeshift hospitals suffering convulsions and breathing difficulties, has circulated on YouTube.
The Syrian government and opposition groups have repeatedly accused each other of chemical warfare, something US President Barack Obama warned was a "clear red line". Earlier this year Prime Minister David Cameron backed Washington's "candid assessment'" that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons.