Ireland pledges €25m in Syrian aid following "barbaric" attack

World leaders have condemned the suspected chemical weapons attack that left dozens dead and hundreds injured

Tel Aviv, shooting, Israel, Palestine, attack, Charlie Flanagan, Benjamin Netanyahu

Minister Charlie Flanagan | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has condemned a suspected chemical-weapons attack in Syria as an “appalling act” and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The government has pledged to provide €25m in aid to support those affected by the ongoing crisis in the region this year.

The Union of Medical Care Organizations has reported that at least 100 people were killed in the attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun in the northwest of the country - while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has put the death toll at 58.

Approximately 20 children are believed to be among the dead - with upwards of 400 people injured.

“I condemn unreservedly the attack and those responsible,” said Minister Flanagan this afternoon. “This attack was simply barbaric and my thoughts are with those affected by this horrendous crime.”

“Those responsible for this appalling act and for all the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria must be held accountable.”

UN Security Council

The attack has been roundly condemned with the UN Security Council holding a special meeting to discuss its response.

While no-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the majority of the international community has pointed the finger at Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The French President Francois Hollande again backed a military intervention against the Assad regime, while the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said “all the evidence” points towards Syrian government forces.

A spokesperson for the German government said responsibility for the attack lies with Russia and Iran “as allies of the Assad regime.

"We are convinced that without their massive military support the regime would have long ago had to agree to serious negotiations about a political solution," she said.

The US President Donald Trump said the “heinous actions” of the Assad regime were a consequence of his predecessor’s inaction - while the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley insisted Assad “must be held accountable for these barbaric attacks against his own people.”

Russia has claimed that the gas was released after Syrian government forces hit a rebel chemical weapons depot.

Supporting the future of Syria

Ireland’s €25m pledge was made at the “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” conference in Brussels today.

International donors are hoping to drum up billions in support at the conference which is attended by top officials from approximately 70 countries.

Last year’s event raised more than €12bn in pledges – while relief workers have said a further €8bn will be needed this year.

Minister Flanagan said Ireland’s pledge will help to bring lifesaving assistance to those affected by the crisis in Syria and displaced in surrounding countries.

“The conflict in Syria has now entered its seventh year,” he said. “Its impact has been catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced or affected by violence.” 

“Ireland condemns the grave atrocities that innocent civilians continue to endure, and calls on all parties to the conflict to uphold their responsibilities under the terms of the ceasefire and international law.

Concern Worldwide

The chief executive of Concern Worldwide Dominic MacSorley welcomed the pledge adding that yesterday’s “barbaric” attack reinforced the need for assistance in the region.

“Concern staff are on the ground providing lifesaving assistance to over 1.5 million people in Syria and in its neighbouring countries,” he said.

“The Irish government’s funding is timely and desperately needed, showing leadership that other donors must follow. 

“However, the conflict shows no signs of abating and, if anything, it is intensifying.

He said the chemical attack only reinforces the need for an immediate need to end to fighting, adding that the eyes of the world are now on the "powers that be, including the United Nations Security Council," to bring the violence to an end.