Russia must end “blind support” for Bashar al-Assad regime and help find a political solution to the six-year war in Syria, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday.
In a statement to parliament, Johnson said that sarin was used by the Assad regime in the most recent chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, including children, in Khan Sheikoun.
“We know beyond doubt that two Sukhoi-22 aircraft took off from Shaerat airfield where we know that chemical weapons are stored,” Johnson said. “We know that they were overhead at 6.39 AM, when, according to all eyewitness accounts, the attack took place.”
“We know from shell fragments in the crater that not only had sarin been used, but sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime,” Johnson said.
There was “only one conclusion — that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law and the rules of war,” Johnson added.
Underlining an open support for U.S. strikes, Johnson said the strikes helped “create an opportunity to break the deadlock“ and pave the way for a political settlement and a truce, following a succession of failed cease-fires.
“The essential thing will be to have a political process that preserves the institutions of the Syrian state while decapitating the monster,” he said.
“But that will only happen if Russia is prepared to bring Assad to the negotiating table and begin a transition to a new government that represents the sole chance of peace in Syria.”
Johnson said the UK has “no intention of dislodging Russian interests in Syria,” adding: “But Russia’s position in Syria does not depend on Assad.”
Johnson called on Vladimir Putin to end his “blind support” for Assad. He urged: “Stop the gas attacks and the barrel bombs, allow the delivery of aid to those who need it, deliver a real ceasefire and begin the political process that will include a transition away from Assad.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)