The Syrian government is lying about using indiscriminate bombing against civilians, the UK’s foreign secretary has said.
Addressing footage which appears to show an Assad regime helicopter dropping an improvised “barrel bomb” Philip Hammond said Syrian forces were responsible for “criminal acts”.
“This video footage exposes Assad’s lies on barrel bombs. It shows the casual and indiscriminate way in which Syrian regime forces are dropping these horrific weapons out of helicopters onto civilians below. For months we have seen reports of barrel bombs hitting hospitals and schools, killing thousands,” Mr Hammond said.
“The UN has called for an end to these attacks but Assad continues to ignore international outrage. We will bring those involved in these criminal acts to justice and will continue to help those caught in attacks by continuing our support of rescue teams working on the ground.”
So-called “barrel bombs” are improvised barrel-sized bombs packed with explosives and shrapnel. They are dropped from helicopters, unguided.
The video footage addressed by Mr Hammond was discovered on a mobile phone found by opposition forces in the wreckage of a crashed Syrian government helicopter.
The footage, which shows an airman lighting an improvised barrel bomb mid-flight using a cigarette before pushing it out of a helicopter, was first broadcast by the Al-Jazaeera Arabic news channel.
Field reports from doctors disclosed this month suggest that chemical weapons including chlorine are being packed into the improvised bombs and used against civilians.
The country’s government has also been accused of indiscriminately bombing the Yarmouk refugee camp five miles from the centre of the country’s capital Damascus.
The intervention by Mr Hammond is perhaps the strongest condemnation yet of the attacks.