this is bbc news. i'm ben brown. the headlines at 11: there's international condemnation as at least 70 people are feared dead in a suspected chemical attack in syria. we have received many patients who have suffered from symptoms compatible with exposure to chlorine gas. america describes the reports as "horrifying" and says russia "ultimately bears responsibility" for the alleged attacks. the foreign office wants an urgent investigation. the home secretary, amber rudd, denies that falling police numbers are to blame for the recent surge in violent crime in london. the foreign secretary borisjohnson describes jeremy corbyn as "the kremlin‘s useful idiot" — the labour leader hits back saying mrjohnson has "made a fool of himself" over russia. the authorities in germany say there's no indication of an islamist links to an attack that left two dead and 20 injured. also in the next hour:
northern ireland win their first medal of the commonwealth games. 18—year—old niall mcclenaghan claimed pommel horse gold. olivia breen produced a commonwealth record, to claims wales‘ third gold medal. and the dateline london panel examine the diplomatic fallout of the nerve agent attack in salisbury. that's in half an hour, here on bbc news. good morning and welcome to bbc news. the syrian government and its russian allies have denied allegations that they used chemical
weapons to attack the rebel—held town of douma in eastern ghouta. reports suggest that up to 70 people have been killed in what appears to be a chemical attack. unverified footage from rescue workers shows a number of bodies, many of them women and children. the us state department has described the reports as "horrifying" and said that, if confirmed, it would demand an immediate international response. here, the foreign office said there should be an urgent investigation. lebo diseko‘s report does contain disturbing images from the start. the victims of an alleged chemical attack, according to volunteer rescue workers in douma. this footage, supplied to the reuters news agency, and not independently verified by the bbc, apparently shows medics desperately trying to help children and families. syria's government says the allegations are a fabrication, and staff from a medical relief
organisation on the frontline say they are worried about what could have been used. we have received many patients who suffered from symptoms compatible with the exposure to high concentration chlorine gas. also, their symptoms were deteriorating in a fashion that is not compatible with pure chlorine gas exposure. and that is why our physicians are concerned about exposure to nerve gas in low concentration. what is not disputed is the ongoing bombardment of douma, the last remaining rebel stronghold on the outskirts of damascus. weeks of assaults from the air and the ground as the president's troops, backed by russia, try and reclaim control of the town, and that is perhaps why the us has been quick to blame both, saying the regime of president assad and its backers must be held accountable, and any further attacks prevented immediately. and they must work with the
international community to prevent further attacks. but it is civilians who suffer most is this conflict continues, more than seven years in and no end in sight. earlier i spoke to matthew morris from the red cross in damascus has been monitoring the events from the syrian capital. what we can't be clear about is exactly what has happened, but we are seeing the same pictures, the same videos, that you've been hearing back in the uk, that you've been seeing and hearing back in the uk. we are extremely concerned and distressed about these reports. what we can be absolutely crystal clear about is that there is no time and place for any kind of attack with chemical weapons.
the use of chemical weapons is prohibited under international humanitarian law. and of course there have been many alleged chemical attacks in syria during the course of this horrific conflict. it's been one of the most gruesome parts of the conflict, in a sense. yes, and depressingly it's been a call we've had to renew, that... what i've just been saying is that this kind of attack is completely unacceptable and illegal. there's no time or place for it, and we have been reminding all sides fighting, across syria, across the different front lines, across different communities, that the use of this kind of attack is unacceptable. we've been seeing in damascus — we've been hearing and seeing — that there's been obviously an increase in fighting since friday afternoon, more violence in and around the city of douma in the eastern ghouta, but also mortars landing within damascus city itself. so another surge in violence and another increase in fear amongst civilian populations, who are clearly not taking part in this fight.
and this area, eastern ghouta, and douma in particular, have been so hard fought over in recent weeks, and we have seen some really horrific violence there. yes, and i myself arrived in damascus on thursday, and there have been perhaps ten days, two weeks, of calm, relative calm, because of the discussions that were clearly going on between the sides fighting, and what that may lead to, but quite clearly what happened on friday was that this all broke down in, clearly broke down, and there was this increase in fighting. we could hear the sound of explosions and aircraft overhead and, as i say, mortars coming in to the city, so this conflict is now
in its eighth year and there is no end in sight. that was matthew morris from the red cross speaking to me from damascus. we can speak now to the independent chemical weapons expert, dr richard guthrie, who is in our bristol studio. thank you very much indeed for being with us. as i was saying there are the red cross representative, matthew morris, there has been a pattern of chemical attacks in syria. yes, there has been over a number of years. fortunately, in the last year or so this has not been as significant as some of the period earlier. just about a year ago we had that attack, but there have been some imported political developments. in january president macron of france gathered together quite a high—level meeting of countries, talking about making sure there was no impunity in use of chemical weapons, and promising a more effective response if chemical weapons were used again, so if what
has appeared to happen in syria today turns out to be true, this could be very significant. we were just seeing the pictures there, you know, in the hospitals, people try almost to hose down some of these patients, pour water over them and so patients, pour water over them and so on, but clearly in terms of trying to deal with this sort of onslaught, what they have in the hospitals is pretty rudimentary there. yes, and the potentialfor treatment is very poor, in those difficult conditions. many of those hospitals don't even have the facilities to deal with many everyday cases of illnesses. unlike, for example, in the uk at the moment where we have had the cases of the skripals in hospital in salisbury where they have been able to receive very effective treatment. what sort of chemical weapons do you think would have been used in this attack? i know it is difficult to say, and
it has been difficult to verify what has happened there in douma, but what is your guess? on the initial information, and it has to be stressed this is initial information on and looking at the videos posted and the photographs out, it is quite clear that a poison that has a fairly rapid effect, so probably inhaled, saw something in the area has been used. the symptoms, or the visible signs primarily, they look like something like a fairly large scale chlorine attack but they are not inconsistent with the use of a nerve agent. as i say, it is very difficult from this distance, with only video and photographs, none of which can be absolutely verified to be from that location, but that is what the initial indication is. be from that location, but that is what the initial indication ism it your understanding that the syrians, the government, have stocks of this kind of thing, chlorine, for example, ora of this kind of thing, chlorine, for example, oi’ a nerve of this kind of thing, chlorine, for example, or a nerve agent, of this kind of thing, chlorine, for example, ora nerve agent, or is this something that might be supplied by one of their allies such
as russia? i think this is down to domestic production if it is syria. there are ongoing disputes about whether syria had declared fully its chemical weapons capabilities when it was required to in 2013. clearly the number and scale of attacks in the number and scale of attacks in the last year or two indicate there isa the last year or two indicate there is a supply somewhere of toxic materials to use as weapons. they are precisely these are being acquired from, that is not clear, but my instinct, or reading what is available in the public literature, it would indicate to me that it is a domestic supply. but most importantly on the international front, their closest ally is russia, and russia must therefore bears some responsibility for their ally continuing to use weapons that have been prohibited under international law. ok, that was dr richard guthrie. many thanks indeed to dr richard guthrie, independent
chemical weapons experts speaking to us chemical weapons experts speaking to us from bristol. just to say, on that, we have just us from bristol. just to say, on that, we havejust heard us from bristol. just to say, on that, we have just heard from the condemnation of that apparent gas attack in syria, "an unjustifiable use of instruments of extermination. " use of instruments of extermination." that is condemnation from the pope there, as instruments of extermination. we will have more on that as we get it. the foreign secretary, borisjohnson, has described jeremy corbyn as the "kremlin's useful idiot" over his response to the nerve agent attack onsergei skripal, the former russian spy living in the uk, and his daughter yulia. writing in the sunday times, (he said the labour leader was giving moscow "propaganda" false credibility by refusing to "unequivocally" back the government's view that russia was responsible for the attack in salisbury. labour, in turn, said mrjohnson had "made a fool of himself" by misrepresenting what he had been told by chemical weapons experts. the home secretary amber rudd says
rising violence on britain's streets is not caused by falling police numbers. writing in the daily telegraph, she said evidence did not back up claims that cuts to resources were the cause of increased crime. the government has outlined a new strategy to tackle serious violence, including a new task force, and tougher controls on the purchase of knives and corrosive substances in england and wales. andy moore reports. amber rudd said the spate of recent attacks in london reflected a wider pattern of violence in major cities across the uk. she said she'd be launching what she called a serious violence strategy tomorrow, and chair a task force that would bring together key representatives to tackle the problem. she also rejected claims there were not enough police officers on the streets. she said in the early 2000s, when serious violent crimes
were at their highest, police numbers were also rising. the government has announced that a new offensive weapons bill will be introduced next week. further restrictions will be placed on the sale of knives online, preventing them from being posted to residential addresses. while certain other weapons, like zombie knives and knuckledusters, will become illegal to possess in private. the planned legislation also includes a ban on the sale of corrosive substances to under 18s. carrying acid in a public place will be a criminal offence. this is a really essential piece of legislation for the policing and for the public and communities. it will allow us to control the purchase by people under the age of 18 and it will allow us to have much more control as to who carries it in a public place and whether they have good reason to or not. labour said tough talking by the government was not enough. it needed to give the police the resources they needed to keep people safe. andy moore, bbc news. for more on this i'm joined by our political
correspondent susana mendonca. what else has the home secretary been saying on this? she is very much been focusing on that line by the government. notjust matsuyama but for the past months we have at the mayor of london saying we need more money for the police and the government —— not just more money for the police and the government —— notjust now, but for the past few months. the government saying it is notjust about numbers for the police. and the home secretary is reiterating that line, saying violent crime was increasing ata time saying violent crime was increasing at a time when police numbers were increasing so it backs up that point. the government are coming out with this serious violence strategy, which as we understand it is about looking at the root causes of violent crime, and also the 0ffe nsive violent crime, and also the 0ffensive weapons bill which will actually give the police tangible new rules to be able to crack down on the possession of certain types of knives. sajid javid, the
communities and local government secretary, has been speaking about this today and made the point that actually the government is taking action... there is a real problem here, and especially over the last three or four years. we have seen a significant decline before then, and now we're seeing a rise. so the question is for the government, what are we doing about it... the home secretary will announce... you have not been looking after the police, is what you're doing about it. well, first of all, let me go through, if i may, just because there are many complex issues here. first of all the home secretary tomorrow will announce a new serious violence strategy that will focus on the root causes, and also on early intervention. but also there's a role to play for law enforcement, and that's what we are announcing today. that is what the government is setting out. what are labour saying about all of this? vaping criticising the police numbers for some time now, and we have fewer police officers than back in 2010 —— they have been criticising. they say it is cause and effect, and of course that is not the full story but if you don't have those community police officers they are not doing the community engagement work they were doing beforehand, so
labour are saying there needs to be more police officers on the street, the government needs to get more money to police forces to make that happen, but also it is not about police funding but also about the funding of local government strategies that in the past have been able to get young people in the community youth groups, that kind of thing, so angela rayner, the shadow education secretary, has been making the point that actually public services have been cut and that is why labour see this accumulation of issues really is actually exacerbating the situation. and that is part of the cause, as they see it, for this rise in violent crime. we've seen knife crime increase in 39 of the 43 police forces across the uk, and it's not just about austerity, but i think when the home secretary sticks her head in the sand and suggests that losing 21,000 police officers off our streets doesn't have an effect, then i think that's a very naive position. that was angela rayner. so a row over crime, and also a row over the fallout from the nerve agent attack
in salisbury. between borisjohnson and jeremy corbyn. what is going on there? boris johnson, people remember that last week he said there was no doubt the substance found in salisbury had been made in russia, and then we heard from the scientists who had been examining that substance is saying that they couldn't confirm whether or not it had been made in russia. so that put borisjohnson in had been made in russia. so that put boris johnson in quite had been made in russia. so that put borisjohnson in quite a difficult position, and the russian government has been using that against him over the last few days. so today we have an article that borisjohnson has written, where he is criticising not just the russians, but also bringing jeremy corbyn back into the fray. 0f course there was that criticism of jeremy corbyn a few weeks ago, that he wasn't clear enough in his position to russia and the assertion that russia was involved in that chemical weapons attack, the jeremy corbyn, he has said... sorry, boris johnson has said thatjeremy corbyn was "the kremlin's useful idiot," so not doing quite strong white witch.
and labour has said it is actually borisjohnson who has made a fool of himself by misinterpreting what he was told by the scientists, and we have also heard from angela rayner in the past few minutes who said that boris johnson in the past few minutes who said that borisjohnson is in fact russia's useful idiot, as far as she is concerned. thank you very much indeed, susana. susana mendonca, correspondent. susana mendonca, our correspondent. the headlines on bbc news: the pope condemns as unjustifiable the use of instruments of extermination, after 70 people have been killed in syria in what appears to bea been killed in syria in what appears to be a chemical attack. the home secretary, amber rudd, denies that falling police numbers are to blame for the recent surge in violent crime in london. the foreign secretary borisjohnson describes jeremy corbyn as "the kremlin's useful idiot" — the labour leader hits back saying mrjohnson has "made a fool of himself" over russia. sport now, and for a full round—up from the bbc sport centre, here's adam wilde.
ben, good morning. hugely busy weekend of sporting action, not least on australia's gold coast where the medals keep coming for our home teams on the fourth day of the commonwealth games. let's go live there for all the very latest from mike. good morning, mike. hello, adam. it is the evening session under way, and you can probably the band ‘s striking up in the various venues below me to keep the fans entertained. it has been the best day for the home teams so far, all getting gold medals. i reckon the standout performance has just come ina swimming standout performance has just come in a swimming pool, their 100 metres freestyle for the men, all the australian tv networks building up their home favourite and obviously their home favourite and obviously the south african legend, le clos, but they did not account for the scottish start duncan scott, who bet them both to the wall, his fourth medalfor insult them both to the wall, his fourth medal for insult and his team's first gold in a swimming pool at
these games. he said it was a dream come true. earlier, another fantastic performance came in the gymnastics and northern ireland won their first gymnastics and northern ireland won theirfirst medal at gymnastics and northern ireland won their first medal at these games. i gold for the 18—year—old who built the england's 0lympic gold for the 18—year—old who built the england's olympic champion max whitlock to victory on the pommel horse, and the two actually finished with identical scores but the northern gymnast took the medal due to better execution. i was very pleased, i have no words. this sensation of feeling i have at the minute is unbelievable. have you ever perform like that in your life? in training, yes, but not in the competition and it goes to show that all of the hours i put in in the training, 100%, it paid off,. and success for rhys mcclenaghan and
northern ireland. and after the success of her boyfriend yesterday, sarah matched his feet. i spoke to the couple yesterday. to win a commonwealth medal is just phenomenal, and all the hard work has paid off. after his silver yesterday, i had to at least match it, otherwise i would have been a bit upset but, yes, medal is amazing. and you both have the matching silvers? i was pretty excited this morning. at home, screaming in the venue. and when you did the left it meant it was a guaranteed medal, it wasjust amazing to see it. laughter finally just laughter finallyjust time to tell laughter finally just time to tell you laughter finallyjust time to tell you about an incredible finish to the gold medals in the men's triple balls. it went down to the final end and scotla nd went down to the final end and scotland beat hosts australia to become the commonwealth champions. it all came down to that final end, so it all came down to that final end, so dramatic there, at the bowls complex just down the beach from the
susana mendonca. just time to tell you wales are celebrating on the first day of athletics, 0livia taking gold in the long jump. back to you. thank you very much indeed, mike bushell, on australia's gold coast. the football, and manchester city's title celebrations remain on hold for the time being. they threw away a 2—0 lead against their cross city rivals, manchester united, before going on to lose 3—2. first goalfrom vincent before going on to lose 3—2. first goal from vincent kompany, before going on to lose 3—2. first goalfrom vincent kompany, and before going on to lose 3—2. first goal from vincent kompany, and then this from brenda blethyn —— from gundogan, and then manchester united through chris smalling and paul pogba with a dramatic turnaround. and in golf, patrick reed is still the man to catch with a short lead, but rory mcilroy is really giving him a run for his money in augusta. this eagle at the eighth was one of the highlights of his third round.
he is 11 under and the american patrick reed responded in some style, two eagles on his back name keeping him at the top of the leaderboard going into today's final round. patrick has a three shot lead so round. patrick has a three shot lead soi round. patrick has a three shot lead so i feel all the pressure on him. he has to go out and protect that and he has a few guys chasing him who are pretty big—time players. you know, he has that to deal with and sleep on the night, so, you know, i feel i can quote there and play like i have got nothing to lose. sebastian vettel will start today's bahrain grand prix on paul, qualifying on three tenths of a second. however, lewis hamilton will start on ninth following a penalty after changing the gearbox on his mercedes. that is over on five live sports extra. that is all the sports for now. i will have plenty more in
the next hour. adam, thank you very much indeed. let's go back to amber rudd's remarks that cuts l police much indeed. let's go back to amber rudd's i’( have 5 that cuts l police much indeed. let's go back to amber rudd's i’( have 5 the she :s l police i'm nowjoined by simon harding, who is an associate professor university of west london. thanks for being with us, simon. you study crime, clearly. what do you think about that claim that it is not about cuts in police numbers. think about that claim that it is not about cuts in police numberslj can not about cuts in police numbers.” can understand why the home secretary has made that statement. there is no direct equation between reduced police numbers and a rise in violent crime, particularly the type of crime we are seeing, which is interpersonal violence. in many ways, for yong gang affected or gang affiliated young men, who are out to ta ke affiliated young men, who are out to take revenge or retaliation, they are probably going to commit that offends order that regardless —— young gang affected. regardless of
whether or not there are police on the streets. so visible policing is perhaps incidental to them, perhaps even irrelevant. public reassurance is what is given by visible policing on the street. it helps to reduce the fear of crime. 0ne on the street. it helps to reduce the fear of crime. one issue, however, is perhaps around community engagement. i think there is a need for neighbourhood policing that engages with the local community, engages with the local community, engages with the local community, engages with young people, and perhaps allows for tension monitoring to take place. i think we need to make sure we keep that. what do you think then is behind this? do you see it as an upsurge in violence in london in particular, and is it down to gangs, and if it is what is driving that? a lot of people speak about social media as a real driving force. it is wider than just gangs and we know this of course. there are issues of fights outside pubs and clubs, betting shops, domestic violence. it is broader thanjust
shops, domestic violence. it is broader than just gang crime, shops, domestic violence. it is broader thanjust gang crime, but shops, domestic violence. it is broader than just gang crime, but we have seen this upsurge before. londoners perhaps might recall 2007, 2008, where we had a particular spike of violent crime in the capital, again largely driven by an upsurge of gang crime. since then, we've seen a upsurge of gang crime. since then, we've seen a number upsurge of gang crime. since then, we've seen a number of changes. the first of which is the evolution of street gangs. in many ways, the people who are involved are getting younger, at one end, and older at the other end of this gang spectrum. so not evolving or maturing out, but getting stuck in the gang, which makes the gang very competitive added many ways more violent. we have also seen changes to drug dealing drug supply, whereas in yea rs dealing drug supply, whereas in years gone by if you had to stop the drugs you would have gone to perhaps a housing estate, hung around until somebody met you —— if you had stopped drugs. at now you can dial a
dealer, 2a hour deals, and someone will drive to your house on a bike 01’ will drive to your house on a bike or mopeds and deliver. these boys will be carrying drugs and money, and knives, so this i think has increased the number of people carrying knives out on the streets. thirdly, we have social media. it is very easy for gangster posture, present themselves online with videos, perhaps provocation to other rival gangs. this has the capacity to widen the net and bring other people not gang involved into the orbit. they make commentary on what they have seen, this brings perhaps further commentary, and are ratcheting up effect. lastly, what about stop and search? we talked about stop and search? we talked about police numbers, but a lot of people say bring back real stop and search, and that could make a difference. i think it does have to be used. as long as it is done in a targeted way, as long as it is done ina targeted way, as long as it is done in a careful targeted way, as long as it is done ina carefuland targeted way, as long as it is done in a careful and respectful way, i think it can help. we have police
officers now wearing body worn cameras, and they will record any interaction with somebody, but what underpins this is the need for the government and the police to connect with the communities and get their support for whatever action it is they are looking to take. very interesting to get your thoughts, thanks very much, simon harding they are, from the university of west london, associate professor of criminology. thank you. you're watching bbc news. it is just approaching half past 11 so let's check out the latest weather forecast with simon king. not quite as warm today. there is some sunshine and this is recently from oui’ sunshine and this is recently from our weather watcher in cornwall, blue skies here and i think many northern and western areas will continue with those sunny spells, a few showers developing particularly
in northern ireland but it is down in the south—east where there is more cloud, significantly cooler committee yesterday. temperatures only about 12 or 13. that sunshine in the north—west with light winds so in the north—west with light winds so it will feel quite pleasant. through this evening and tonight the area of cloud and rain will continue actually into the early hours of monday morning. elsewhere with some clear spells i think there will be a few mist and fog patches developing and temperatures down to about two 01’ and temperatures down to about two or5 and temperatures down to about two or 5 degrees. in the south—east it will remain cloudy on monday, some outbreaks of rain. further north and west, just like today, there will be some sunny west, just like today, there will be some sunny spells. goodbye. this is bbc news — our latest headlines: the pope condemns as unjustifiable use of ‘instruments of extermination' reports of at least 70 people being killed in syria in what appears to be a chemical attack.
washington says russia "ultimately bears responsibility" for the alleged attacks. the home secretary is denying that falling police numbers are to blame for the recent surge in violent crime in london. amber rudd said evidence did not back up claims that cuts to resources were the cause of increased crime. the foreign secretary borisjohnson describes jeremy corbyn as "the kremlin's useful idiot" — the labour leader hits back saying mrjohnson has "made a fool of himself" over russia. now on bbc news — dateline london with shaun ley.