Saudi Arabia calls for emergency U.N. Council meeting on Syria

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2013 9:49 AM

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia called on Wednesday for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss reports of a chemical attack that opposition groups say killed hundreds of people in Syria.

"It is time for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility and overcome differences between its members and restore the confidence of the international community by convening immediately to issue a clear and deterrent resolution that will put an end to this human crisis," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a statement.

Leading Syrian opposition figure George Sabra said in Turkey the attack in which chemical weapons were used had killed 1,300 people. Syria described the reports its army had used chemical weapons as completely untrue.

Video footage from districts east of Damascus showed people choking, some of them foaming at the mouth, and many bodies with no signs of injuries.

Prince Saud, whose country has been a major supporter of rebels fighting to topple Assad, also urged European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels to discuss the Syrian crisis.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ... warns that continuing to shy away from responsibility in dealing with the Syrian crisis will lead to more of these tragedies," he said.

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A U.N. team is in Syria investigating allegations that both rebels and government forces have used chemical weapons in the past.

The Swedish scientist leading the team, Ake Sellstrom, said the latest reports should be looked into, but doing so would require a request from a U.N. member state.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Andrew Roche)