Turkey: Intelligence shows Assad behind chemical attack

Turkey: Intelligence shows Assad behind chemical attack

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says 'no doubt' regarding Syrian regime's culpability, cites national experts

Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (photo credit: AP/Hakan Goktepe/Turkish Foreign Ministry)
Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (photo credit: AP/Hakan Goktepe/Turkish Foreign Ministry)

Turkey’s top diplomat said Friday that there is “no doubt” Syrian President Bashar Assad’s soldiers were responsible for a chemical attack that took place on the outskirts of Damascus last week.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed that intelligence reports conducted by the Turkish army had confirmed the use of non-conventional weapons by the Syrian regime.

“From our point of view, totally based on our national intelligence and assessments by our national experts,” Davutoglu told reporters, “there is no doubt that the regime is responsible.”

On Monday, Davutoglu said Turkey would be willing to join an international coalition against Syria, under UN auspices or not.

“We always prioritize acting together with the international community, with United Nations decisions,” Davutoglu told the Turkish daily Milliyet. “If such a decision doesn’t emerge from the UN Security Council, other alternatives… would come onto the agenda.”

On Friday, UN inspectors who were looking into claims of alleged chemical attacks in Syria crossed over the border to Lebanon, according to Lebanese reports.

The team of experts was ordered out of the country a day earlier than scheduled by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, as the US appeared to move toward a military strike on the Bashar Assad regime.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Friday that his government would not accept the UN team’s “partial findings,” reported AFP.

French President Francois Hollande expressed readiness Friday to push ahead with plans to strike Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons, despite the British parliament’s rejection of military action, and Germany’s declaration that it would not participate. Washington was understood to be preparing for the possibility of a strike against the Damascus regime within days.

“The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished,” Hollande said in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde, published Friday.

The French president reiterated that France wants a “proportional and firm action.” When asked about the type of intervention, however, he said “all options are on the table.”

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