Syria's opposition chief Ahmad Jarba (L) speaks with rebel leader General Salim Idris on August 24, 2013 in Istanbul
Syria's opposition chief Ahmad Jarba (L) speaks with rebel leader General Salim Idris on August 24, 2013 in Istanbul. Jarba called on Western nations to intervene Saturday after a suspected chemical attack that left up to 1,300 dead in the country ravaged by civil war. © Bulent Kilic - AFP
Syria's opposition chief Ahmad Jarba (L) speaks with rebel leader General Salim Idris on August 24, 2013 in Istanbul
AFP
Last updated: August 25, 2013

Syrian opposition urges Western actions after chemical attack

The president of Syria's main opposition group called on Western nations to intervene Saturday after a suspected chemical attack that left up to 1,300 dead in the country ravaged by civil war.

Ahmad Jarba, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, called on the United States, Britain, France, as well as Arab states, to take "serious steps and actions" after the attack in a Damascus suburb on Wednesday.

"I ask the international community to move from words into actions, we've had enough with words and we need serious steps and actions," he said at a press conference in Istanbul.

US President Barack Obama should lead an intervention along with the leaders of Britain and France, he said.

Jarba said the West, with UN backing, was required to intervene "in a serious manner" to stop the "continuing killing of Syrians, whether by traditional or chemical weapons".

The leader of the coalition described the response so far as a "shame" for not reaching "the ethical and legal response that Syrians expect".

US President Barack Obama meanwhile met his top national security advisers to weigh the response to the killings.

He is under mounting pressure to act following Wednesday's reported chemical attack near Damascus that opposition groups say was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's forces and claimed up to 1,300 lives.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that around 3,600 patients displaying "neurotoxic symptoms" flooded into three Syrian hospitals on the day of the alleged attacks, and 355 of them died.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegations but has yet to accede to demands that UN inspectors already in the country be allowed to visit the sites of the alleged attacks.

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