Chemical weapon use in Syria

Media release

19 June 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said the Australian Government shared the United States assessment that Syria's Assad regime had used chemical weapons against its people, including the nerve gas sarin.

Speaking in the Senate yesterday Senator Carr said Syria's use of chemical weapons was abhorrent and a breach of international law.

"Australia has been at the forefront of efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons," Senator Carr said.

"We founded the Australia Group in 1985 to prevent the export of materials and equipment that could aid proliferation.

"And we secured the passage of the Chemical Weapons Convention through the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.

"The United States has reported multiple instances of small-scale chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. Casualties are estimated at between 100 and 150 people.

"Australia opposes any use of chemical weapons and condemns their deployment against the Syrian people."

Senator Carr said Australian Government assistance in the Syrian crisis remained focused on humanitarian aid.

"We're doing what we can to assist the millions of Syrians driven from their homes as this conflict enters its third year," Senator Carr said.

"Australia has provided more than $78 million for emergency accommodation, drinking water, child protection and medical aid.

"We also advocate a medical pact, to protect doctors and nurses, end the use of hospitals as bases and make sure medicines can be brought in for civilian care."

Senator Carr said Australia was committed to a political settlement for Syria, comprising a ceasefire followed by institution of a transitional governing authority to move towards a pluralist, democratic and multi-faith Syria.

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