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Western leaders voice 'outrage' over alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria

Canada is expressing "outrage" over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as United Nations inspectors prepare to examine the site of a deadly attack in suburban Damascus.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement Sunday following separate morning conversations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. On Friday, Mr. Baird spoke with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"The minister and his counterparts shared their outrage about this past week's events in Syria, especially the use of chemical weapons," said a statement released Sunday afternoon by Mr. Baird's office.

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The statement calls on Syrian authorities to allow the UN team immediate and unfettered access to the affected areas without delay.

"Ministers agreed that the daily delay by the Assad regime in allowing inspectors into affected areas, coupled with the continued bombardment of the area where chemical weapons were used, has likely impaired the UN's ability to assign responsibility," said the statement.

"Minister Baird reiterated that the Assad regime's credibility to act in good faith is low, and that anything short of full compliance for UN inspectors to have unimpeded access would be absolutely unacceptable," it states.

This week is shaping up to be a critical moment in terms of the global response to the ongoing violence in Syria. The United Nations chemical weapons inspectors are scheduled to visit the site of an alleged poison gas attack on Monday.

The site is located in the suburbs of Damascus and the Syrian government has promised to observe a ceasefire while the inspections take place.

Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say more than 300 people were killed in the alleged toxic gas attack on the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

France stated last week that if an independent investigation confirms that chemical weapons were in fact deployed, then military force could be used in Syria.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed the situation in Syria over the weekend in separate phone calls with French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

A brief summary of the calls provided by Mr. Harper's office said all three leaders expressed their "deep concern" related to the "disturbing events" of recent days.

"Both emphasized that a clear picture of the facts must be obtained," said the summary of the Harper-Cameron conversation.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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