This Sunday, April. 8, 2018 file image released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a rescue worker carrying a child following an alleged chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP, File)

Canadian minister says Syrian government to blame for chemical-weapons attack

Syrian government to blame for chemical-weapons attack, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says

Canada has become the latest to lay the blame for a deadly chemical-weapons attack in Syria last week at Syrian President Bashar Assad’s doorstep, despite Russian suggestions to the contrary.

“When it comes to this use of chemical weapons, it is clear to Canada that chemical weapons were used and that they were used by the Assad regime,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.

Related: Explosions rock Syrian capital as Trump announces strikes

More than 40 people were killed and 500 injured — including women and children — after poison gas was used in an attack on Douma, a rebel-held enclave near the Syrian capital of Damascus, on April 7.

The Syrian government has denied responsibility and Russia has suggested Israel or Britain was to blame, the latter to justify increased western intervention into the war-ravaged country.

Freeland made the comments on the sidelines of a major international summit in Lima, Peru, which U.S. President Donald Trump skipped last minute to deal with the recent chemical-weapons attack in Syria, which culminated in the launch of U.S., British and French strikes against Syrian targets on Friday night.

Freeland, who spoke before the strikes were announced, said Canada is working with non-governmental organizations and others to collect evidence of war crimes and other atrocities in Syria.

“We have seen as a pattern in the world today is actors who behave in a reprehensible manner, then can be quite clever in trying to muddy the waters and in trying to dodge responsibility,” she added.

“Of course, it is important for Canada to be a country that acts based on facts. But it is equally important for us to be aware of the distraction tactics that some of the actors in the world are using today and to not allow those tactics to work.”

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is attending the Summit of the Americas in Trump’s stead, and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday.

“I think it is completely understandable that the president would feel that, given this crisis situation, he would need to be at home,” Freeland said, adding that the Canadian delegation is looking forward to its meeting with Pence.

While Trump announced the “precision strikes” in Syria, Trudeau has ruled out any Canadian participation.

Related: The Latest: U.S. and allies attacking Syria

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Haven from the sun

Viviers and Tupas family have been in Prince Rupert 20 years after leaving the sun in South Africa

LETTER: Take a moment to think of the first responders

Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus crash has affected many

Wind damage delays opening of Doug Kerr field

Sections of the field’s sod were torn up by high speed winds on April 10

Heart of Our City: Jeroen Gerritsen’s Scout’s honour

Jeroen Gerritsen joined Scouts Canada when his sons wanted to sign up

Cleanup for felled trees in Prince Rupert expected to fall within budget

Gusts reaching 104 km/h downed more than 60 trees across the city

North Coast teachers learn the language of technology

School District 52 teachers learned about circuits, Microbits and JavaScripts on April 20

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Most Read