By Michael Hernandez
U.S. President Donald Trump called Syria's Bashar al-Assad an "animal" on Sunday following a deadly chemical attack in a Damascus suburb.
"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay," Trump tweeted.
"Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!" he added.
Laying some of the blame on his predecessor, he said: "If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"
According to the White Helmets, also known as Syria Civil Defense, the regime forces struck targets in Douma, a town in Eastern Ghouta, in a midnight attack using poison gas that left at least 70 civilians dead. In all, the White Helmets counted more than 500 cases of chemical exposure, many of whom, it said, are women and children.
Reacting to the attack, the UN said Secretary General Antonio Guterres "is particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma".
"While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation," Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. "It is critical that civilians be protected."
On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 which called for a month-long cease-fire in Syria – especially in Eastern Ghouta -- to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies early this month launched a major ground offensive backed by Russian air power aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta.
Home to some 400,000 people, the suburb has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Earlier this month, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.