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Finnish Foreign Minister: Sufficient evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday decided against imposing new sanctions on Russia – a close Syrian ally – over a chemical weapons attack that took place nearly two weeks ago.

Timo Soini
Ulkoministeri Timo Soini Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The European Union has thrown its support behind the United States, France and the UK over their decision to launch retaliatory missile strikes against Syria following an alleged chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed dozens in Douma Syria nearly two weeks ago.

The strike involved more than 100 missiles and took place in the small hours of Sunday morning and targeted Syrian government installations believed to be used for developing or storing chemical weapons. Russia – a staunch ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – has condemned the reprisal by the West.

According to Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, there was sufficient evidence that the attack did indeed take place. In the aftermath of the incident, Russia had questioned whether an attack actually took place.

“A chemical weapon was used and that has consequences,” Soini said during a break in deliberations in Luxembourg on Monday.

Humanitarian situation under scrutiny

According to the minister there is no reason to question whose chemical weapons were used in Syria or that the air strikes were based on accurate information. The EU indicated that it was ready to introduce new sanctions for the use of banned weapons, but no firm decision was taken on the matter.

“I wouldn’t say that the EU is toothless if it has given its support to this kind of measure in which two member states participated,” Soini said in response to a question about whether or not the EU was powerless.

Instead of applying new sanctions, the EU is emphasising its role as a provider of humanitarian aid in Syria. Next week officials will gather in Brussels to discuss Syria’s future and the humanitarian situation there. Soini has said that he will attend that meeting.

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