Thursday, June 20, 2013

Carr backs US claims of Assad chemical weapons use

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Violent clashes in two Syrian cities

RAW VISION: Violent clashes between rebels and pro-government forces flared up in Aleppo and Damascus.

Australia has backed US intelligence claims the Assad regime has deployed the lethal nerve gas sarin in Syria's bloody civil war.

It comes as rights campaigners release a series of evocative photographs detailing the plight of children among the swelling ranks of refugees fleeing the conflict.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Wednesday the government shared a US assessment that the regime of Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons on its people.

He also appeared to rule out Australia making any military contribution to a growing call for outside armed intervention, saying Australian assistance in the Syrian crisis ''remained focused on humanitarian aid''.


"The US has reported multiple instances of small-scale chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. Casualties are estimated at between 100 and 150 people,'' Senator Carr told the Senate this week.

Publicly available evidence in support of US allegations is patchy to date, with no footage seen of Assad or Hezbollah forces from neighbouring Lebanon fighting in gas masks or scenes of chemical attack uncovered.

Australian intelligence agencies are not believed to have made an independent assessment of the US claims.

The chemical weapons concerns come as the results of the conventional warfare takes a heavy toll on refugees.

Humanitarian agency Save the Children commissioned photographer Moises Samman to document the plight of children in series released to coincide with World Refugee Day.

Mr Samman said the mood in the refugee camps was growing more frustrated as the months went by and journalists and aid workers came and went.

''You see some of these camps starting to take shape into something more permanent,'' Mr Samman said.

To donate to the Saving the Children Syria Refugee Crisis Appeal: 1800 76 00 11 or at

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