Syrian children protest at world’s inaction after chemical attack in Idlib

The children stand in protest with duct tape over their mouths to signify the international silence and inaction over the atrocities taking place in Syria.

One girl holds a sign reading “Friends of Syria” next to seven children bearing the flags of countries supporting the opposition and looking over “bodies” on the ground in images shared by opposition activists via social media.

Nearly a third of the 86 victims of Tuesday’s chemical attack on the town of Khan Skeikhoun in Idlib, northern Syria, were children.

Activists say the deaths were avoidable, that its allies should have intervened to stop President Bashar al-Assad years ago.

Children from Idlib protest the international inaction after chemical attacks
Children from Idlib protest over inaction in response to the chemical attacks

Barack Obama drew a “red line” in 2012, when he said he would change his calculus on armed intervention in Syria if Assad used or moved chemical weapons.

Almost a year later, Assad’s regime killed more than 1,400 people in a chemical weapons attack on the city of Damascus. 

Children in Idlib, Syria, protest against international inaction after the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun
Children in Idlib, Syria, protest against international inaction afterthe  chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun

Even though Assad crossed the “red line,” Mr Obama chose not to strike Syria and instead looked to Congress to authorise force. Eventually, through a deal with Russia, Syria handed over its chemical weapons, and no strikes were fired in direct retaliation for the chemical attacks.

Some in the opposition believes the US administration comments last week which appeared to back away from long-held calls for Assad to step down gave the president “carte blanche” and “encouraged him to commit more atrocities” with a sense of impunity.

Watch | Grieving father weeps for dead twins at graveside

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“Until now, this (US) administration has done nothing and adopted an attitude of a spectator, making statements that give the regime an opportunity to commit more crimes,” the deputy head of the Syrian National Coalition Abdelhakim Bashar said.

The US, Britain and France have proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution that would condemn the attack, although Russia will almost certainly veto it as it has done in the past.

Theresa May condemned the suspected sarin attack and called for an end to the appalling suffering of civilians.

Asked if preparations were being made for military retaliation, a Downing Street official travelling with Mrs May in the Middle East said: “Nobody is talking about that.”

Donald Trump, meanwhile, raised the prospect of intervention after he said Assad had “crossed a lot of lines” and the US has a “responsibility” to act.

The US response to the attack is being viewed as Mr Trump’s first major foreign policy test

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