‘Big price to pay’ for chemical attack

BEIRUT/WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Sunday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of people were killed by poison gas in a besieged rebel-held town in Syria.

As international officials worked to try to confirm the chemical attack which happened late on Saturday in the town of Douma, Mr Trump took the rare step of directly criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the incident.

The Syrian state denied government forces had launched any chemical attack. Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally, called the reports fake.

Mr Trump threatened action, although it was unclear what he had in mind. Last year, he authorised a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base days after a sarin gas attack on civilians.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned against military action on the basis of “invented and fabricated excuses.”

A joint statement by the medical relief organisation Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defence service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said 49 people died in the attack.

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