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Johnson says he believes Assad behind chemical attack

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Johnson says he believes Assad behind chemical attackBoris Johnson insisted Bashar Assad's reign 'can't go on' today as he made clear 'all the evidence' points to the Syrian regime being behind a chemical weapons strike which killed dozens of civilians.The Foreign Secretary said he had seen 'absolutely nothing to suggest' the attack was carried out by anyone else.The comments came ahead of an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting called by the UK and France to discuss the atrocity in Idlib province.Downing Street has already dismissed the prospect of a military response to the deadly incident - saying the government will work through international institutions.The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 70 people died in the attack, including 20 children.Witnesses have claimed the strike was conducted by jets operated by the Russian and Syrian governments.But the Syrian regime has 'categorically rejected' responsibility, instead blaming rebels and accusing them of making it up to frame the regime.Russia said the town of Khan Sheikhoun was exposed to chemicals after a rebel arsenal was hit by a Syrian air strike.Arriving for a major aid-pledging conference for Syria in Brussels this morning, Mr Johnson told reporters: 'I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest, or rather to lead us to think, that it's anything but the regime.'All the evidence I have - and there may be more to come out of this - all the evidence I've seen suggests that this was the Assad regime who did it in the full knowledge that they were using illegal weapons in a barbaric attack on their own people.'Mr Johnson added: 'You cannot go on with a regime that's willing to use illegal weapons against its own people, a regime that's killed hundreds of thousands of its own people.'What's needed now is a political process to get rid of that regime and give the people of Syria a chance.'Mr Johnson said he would like to see 'those culpable pay a price', adding: 'I think what it confirms to everybody is that this is a barbaric regime that has made it impossible for us to imagine them continuing to be in authority over the people of Syria after this conflict is over.'He added: 'We need to wait and see exactly what has happened. If this is confirmed to have been another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime, with or without the complicity of the Russians.'I think what it shows is that this is a government that has absolutely no compassion for its own people that has put itself beyond the pale.'Addressing the conference later Mr Johnson said: 'As we sit here in Brussels it is still the case that the regime is preventing the UN from delivering aid to millions of Syrians - besieging over 475,000 people with the aim of starving them into submission.'Together we should make clear our abhorrence of the regime's tactic of starve or surrender. We must remind all sides of their obligations contained in numerous UN resolutions to allow aid to reach all who need it wherever they may be.'The people of Syria are today paying a price for our collective inaction over the last five years and decisions we took.'We cannot now undo those mistakes but we can and we must work together to alleviate their suffering. To help Syria's neighbours and prepare Syria for the moment when peace finally returns.' US President Donald Trump also blamed the Assad regime, saying the attack was 'reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilised world'.His Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was 'clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism'.He added: 'Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions. Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable.'Matthew Rycroft, the UK's ambassador to the UN, told reporters in New York that the attack was 'very bad news for peace in Syria'.He said: 'This is clearly a war crime and I call on the Security Council members who have previously used their vetoes to defend the indefensible to change their course.'We need to wait for the full investigation to take place, but, as I said, this bears all the hallmarks of a regime attack.'It is only the regime that have the necessary equipment to deliver an attack like this and I've seen the same reports that you have about what the weapon might have been.'However, Downing Street aides travelling with Mrs May on her trip to the Middle East played down the idea of a military response, saying 'nobody is talking about that'.A No10 source told reporters: 'We hope that everybody will condemn what has happened and that there will be agreement that those responsible should be brought to justice.

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