European Parliament wants 'clear strong' response on Syria

STRASBOURG, France (AFP) - The European Parliament on Thursday urged a "clear, strong, targeted and united" international response, including "deterrent measures" if needed, to the chemical weapons attack that left hundreds dead in Syria last month.

In a resolution, the parliament noted that "different sources seem to indicate" the Syrian regime was behind the August 21 attack which if proven, "is a flagrant breach of international law, a war crime and crime against humanity."

"The international community cannot remain idle," it added as Russia and the United States met in Geneva to discuss plans to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Welcoming the plan, the 751-seat assembly added that the use of such weapons "requires a clear, strong, targeted and united response, not excluding eventual deterrent measures."

"In the event of failure to comply, this measure might be imposed on the basis of all the instruments provided for in the United Nations Charter," the resolution said.

The MEPs reiterated that the international community "should bring about a political solution for Syria which can stop the violence" and said the situation in the country "warrants a coherent common approach" by the EU's 28 member states.

In Brussels, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU called on both the Syrian opposition and the regime to reaffirm their commitment to joining peace talks expected to take place in Geneva.

The Strasbourg resolution once more called on President Bashar al-Assad and his regime to step aside to open the way to a democratic transition, and pledged further humanitarian assistance.

More than 100,000 people have died and two million fled the country in the more than two-year conflict.