U.S. concern about reports of chlorine gas use in Syria

Posted February 03, 2018

Syria's main opposition coalition and Kurdish groups boycotted the congress held this week, just days after a ninth round of UN-led talks in Vienna failed to yield progress.

In 2013, Syria said it would give up all of its chemical weapons.

He said Russia, President Bashar al-Assad's sponsor, was in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the USA on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and is helping the Syrian government to breach the CWC. "The regime appears to have weaponized chlorine again", Mattis told Politico, "but we are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use".

A USA official said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces may be developing new types of chemical weapons, which could reach as far as the U.S. unless the global community steps up its pressure on Assad's regime.

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Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that the U.S.is looking for evidence to support the claims. More recent attacks have involved both chlorine, which has nonchemical uses and is easier to acquire, and the more sophisticated chemical sarin, the officials said.

If left unchecked, the United States officials added, Assad could use small chemical attacks in the hopes to redress the power imbalance in rebel-held areas as an "instrument of terror". "Using military force is something that is still considered".

Recent attacks in Syria suggest that new weapons and methods of delivery are being developed, possibly to prevent the origin from being traced. Aside from the threat to Syrian civilians, Washington is anxious that the well-documented chemical attacks - systematically denied by Damascus and its Russian ally - is undermining long-standing taboos on their use.

President Donald Trump's administration is warning Syria that further chemical attacks will be met with a strike like the salvo of 59 cruise missiles that lit up a Syrian air base in April 2017. The officials noted that the underlying chemicals are easy to acquire or produce, and said the US does not believe ISIS has gotten a hold of military stockpiles in either Iraq or Syria.

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There were no indications that the Syrian government, after seven years of civil war, had developed new, deadlier chemicals.

President Bashar al-Assad is believed to have secretly kept part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile despite a US-Russian deal under which Damascus was supposed to have handed over all such weapons for destruction in 2014.

The Observatory said that since the assault began, Turkish troops and their allies have captured 15 villages, and 68 civilians, including 21 children, have been killed.

He said he was not rebutting the reports. On Thursday, the AP reported that rescue workers in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma described a suspected chlorine gas attack that injured a number of civilians.

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"We're looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions", Mattis said. What I'm saying is groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground said that sarin has been used.