Thursday, 14 November, 2019

United States says military action against Syria chemical weapons program still 'feasible'

A Syrian girl holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack A Syrian girl holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack Credit AFP
Patty Aguilar | 02 February, 2018, 20:30

Mattis acknowledged that the U.S. has not seen direct evidence of the use of Sarin gas but pointed to open source reports.

Assad's forces have instead "evolved" their chemical weapons and made continued occasional use of them in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base, the officials told reporters in a briefing.

But the officials said the US believes Assad's government sees chemical attacks as an effective way to terrorize rebels and sympathetic populations into fleeing, therefore altering the demographic balance in the Alawite heartland where Assad is trying to consolidate control.

If necessary, the Trump administration is prepared to take military action against Syrian government forces to deter the use of chemical weapons, senior usa officials said on Thursday.

There have been more than 260 reports of chemical attacks in Syria, some of which have been verified by UN-backed inspectors and attributed to the Assad regime.

The Assad regime may also be producing new kinds of weapons, the officials said, with the goal either to improve military capability or avoid accountability from the global community, the officials added.

"These attacks constitute clear violations of global humanitarian law and the Convention on Chemical Weapons", the report says.

Mattis was referring to the April 2017 military strike when the United States launched Tomahawk missiles against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians. On one day last month, two separate chlorine attacks were reported in rebel-held towns.

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They also say it's "likely" Syria has kept a secret stockpile of chemical weapons, even after it agreed to destroy the stash in 2013.

Syria and Russian Federation have dismissed the conclusions of the Joint Investigative Mission, an expert body set up by the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, that Assad's government used chlorine gas in 2014 and 2015, and sarin in April 2017.

Several children were also affected, the group said.

Does the Trump administration know where the chemical weapons plants and storage sites are? "Since April 2014, there has been mounting evidence that Syria continues to illicitly possess chemical weapons and use them against its own people".

The official was referring to Russia's media offensive to deny its connection to chemical weapons use in Syria.

Yet Syria's government isn't the only chemical weapons threat in the region, according to the officials.

It was unclear whether White Helmets was suggesting the three people who had been killed died of suffocation.

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