File Photo: Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic on the rebel-held village of al-Shifuniyah in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late on Feb. 25, 2018. (Xinhua/AFP)
UNITED NATIONS, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Security Council on Monday will hold an emergency meeting on suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, a press release of the U.S. delegation to the UN said on Sunday.
"The United States, along with Cote d'Ivoire, France, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in light of the latest allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria," the press release said.
"Yet again, there are reports of what appears to be a chemical weapons attack in Syria. Unfortunately, chemical weapons use to injure and kill innocent Syrian civilians has become all too common," the press release said.
Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari (front) addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York, March 27, 2018. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
"The Security Council has to come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act," the press release cited U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as saying.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (Front) speaks after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding a ceasefire across Syria at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 24, 2018. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
"The United States supports a new independent, impartial mechanism to make attributions for chemical weapons use in Syria and calls for access for first responders to provide medical help and verification without delay," the press release said.
Opposition activists and local rescuers said Saturday's attack killed at least 40 people, including families found in their homes and shelters. Activists said Syrian forces used chlorine gas in the attack against Douma, the last rebel-held area in the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus.
Smoke rises after the Syrian army's shelling targeted the Douma district in Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus, Syria, on April 7, 2018. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)
The Syrian government has denied the allegations, calling them fabrications.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Sunday responded to the rebels' claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian army in Douma as "premeditated pretexts," according to Syrian state news agency SANA.
The ministry said the allegations had been planned beforehand to prolong the lives of the "terrorists" in Douma.
Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said here Wednesday that China firmly opposes the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances.
Speaking at the Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, Wu said China is "greatly concerned" about the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.
He said establishing a new investigative mechanism to find out the truth and prevent the recurrent use of such weapons is "of vital importance."
All parties should continue to insist that the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be the main channels for addressing the use of chemical weapons, said the Chinese envoy.
Wu expressed the hope that the Syrian government would continue to cooperate with the OPCW to properly resolve related issues.
Political settlement is the only way to resolve the Syrian issue, Wu said, calling on the international community to support the next round of Geneva talks.