UK & World News
Syria: World Leaders Blame Assad For Attack
The leaders of 11 G20 countries have said they hold Syrian President Bashar al Assad responsible for a deadly chemical attack which is thought to have killed 1,400 people.
The joint statement issued by Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US condemned the "horrific" attack in Damascus and called for a "strong international response".
It came at the end of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, with US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin still at odds over the need for military action.
"The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere," the statement said.
"Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons."
The leaders also criticised the UN's response to the crisis, claiming it was "paralysed" and adding: "The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability."
The attack in Damascus, in which the US estimates 1,429 people were killed, dominated the summit in Russia.
Mr Obama held a "candid and constructive conversation" with Mr Putin but defied pressure to abandon plans for military action, claiming the "world cannot stand idly by".
"I was elected to end wars, not start them," he said, adding that he would address the US on Tuesday as he seeks approval from Congress to launch air strikes against the Syrian government.
Mr Putin described talks with Mr Obama as "meaningful" and "cordial" but refused to support the US President.
He is not alone in opposing military action, with China firmly against an attack on the Assad regime and the European Union sceptical about whether the use of force can be effective.
Even Pope Francis has weighed in, urging leaders to abandon what he called a "futile mission".
The US has ordered the evacuation of all non-essential embassy staff and other American citizens in Lebanon amid security concerns as the debate over military action continues.
"The Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to threats to US Mission facilities and personnel," a statement on the Beirut embassy's website said.
It also reducing its diplomatic presence in Adana in southern Turkey.
Earlier, David Cameron said the international community cannot "contract out" its morality by allowing Russia to block intervention in crises such as that engulfing Syria.
The Prime Minister also announced an additional £52m in aid to help the estimated two million refugees who have fled country's civil war.
The money will be go towards providing both internally displaced people and refugees in neighbouring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq with food, water and shelter.