Syria Might Be Making New Chemical Weapons

Lucy Bush
February 3, 2018

In April of 2017, Trump ordered an attack on a Syrian airbase after a chemical attack blamed on the Syrian regime in Khan Sheikhun. 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.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has warned the Syrian regime against the use of chemical weapons, telling reporters Friday "you have all seen how we reacted to that, so they'd be ill advised to go back to violating the chemical convention".

"We also continue to be concerned that the Syrian regime maintains chemical stockpiles for use in these weapons and refuses to disclose these stockpiles or its chemical weapons program in violation of the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] and its global obligations", it added. "They just continue to commit really unspeakable atrocities". Rebel forces have been fighting Assad in a gruesome civil war for years.

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"We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, (but) I don't have the evidence", Mattis said.

Mattis said the Pentagon is examining reports from "groups on the ground" to find hard evidence of chemical weapons use.

The officials weren't authorized to speak on the record and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. Instead of the sarin gas used in April, which requires sophisticated assembly and deployment by an air force, the recent attacks have used chlorine gas, which can simply be dumped out of a truck. He agreed to give up his stockpile of chemical weapons as part of 2013 deal after a sarin attack in Ghouta killed about 1,400 people.

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"Russia has not lived up to these commitments", Tillerson said.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russian Federation and the United States.

In the past, former Libyan officials claimed that ISIS and other terrorist groups had gotten hold of the chemical weapons that had remained in Libya from the regime of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi. In the past two years, a joint United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin and several times used chlorine as a weapon.

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A State Department report issued last week outlines the reported use of chemical weaponry in the region. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria via activists on the ground, was unable to confirm the reports.

Other reports by Info About Network

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