The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia believes that missile strikes by the United States, France and the United Kingdom targeting Syrian military infrastructure is appropriate action to prevent any further use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. The use of chemical weapons is a flagrant breach of international law, a serious crime that is not and cannot be justified.
We express regret at Russia’s decision on 10 April to exercise its right of veto at the United Nations Security Council thereby stopping a draft resolution on the establishment of a new independent mechanism for investigations into chemical attacks in Syria. This is now the sixth time that Russia is using its veto right over the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Actions of this kind have a negative impact on the diplomatic capacity of the international community to prevent the use of chemical weapons.
Russia’s behaviour in subsequent sessions of the Security Council clearly demonstrated what had already been obvious for several years since Russia’s military engagement in the Syrian conflict. Russia protects the official regime of Syria by covering up and supporting its criminal conduct.
Thus, over this week, possibilities were exhausted for achieving a diplomatic solution to the investigation into the chemical attack on the town of Douma on 7 April.
On 7 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the chemical attack in Douma, Syria, in which, according to data from the World Health Organisation published on 11 April, 43 civilians were killed due to exposure to toxic chemicals, and 500 others had to receive medical treatment.
The chemical weapons attack on 7 April is a serious violation of international norms and law, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. As a party to the Convention, the Syrian government is responsible for compliance with the obligations laid down therein.
In view of the critical humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta and across Syria, the Latvian Foreign Ministry is calling on all the parties, the Syrian government and Russia in particular, for an immediate and full compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2401 on a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.
At the same time, the Ministry also urges all parties to the conflict to engage in a constructive manner in a UN-led process of peace talks in order to achieve a political solution to the conflict in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 of 18 December 2015 endorsing a road map for a peace process in Syria.
The airstrikes by the U.S., France and Britain are a response to the 7 April attacks launched by the Syrian government forces on the rebel-controlled positions in the town of Douma, in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
The military action of the U.S., France and Britain in Syria is a one-off operation to curb the Syrian government’s capabilities of using chemical weapons.
A previous assault of this scale involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria took place on 4 April 2017, when Syrian air forces attacked the rebel positions in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province. The strike killed more than 80 civilians, including at least 30 children, and several hundred were injured.