U.S. concerned sarin gas used in Syria: Jim Mattis

03 February, 2018, 09:44 | Author: Bert Pena
  • White Helmet civil defence worker breathes oxygen after suspected chlorine attack in Douma

He said Russia, President Bashar al-Assad's sponsor, was in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the U.S. on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and is helping the Syrian government to breach the CWC.

WASHINGTON-The Trump administration warned Syria about an increase in the use of poison gas against civilians, despite last year's cruise-missile strike aimed at deterring the Assad regime from carrying out such attacks.

They emphasized that the United States was seeking a new way to hold users of chemical weapons accountable and wanted cooperation from Russia, Assad's patron, in pressuring him to end the attacks.

In line with the remarks issued by the State Department last week, Mattis suspects that the Syrian government has been negligent in destroying the chemical weaponry after entering into an agreement with Russian Federation.

Tillerson said at a conference last week in Paris that Moscow "ultimately bears responsibility for the victims" of chemical weapons attacks in Syria since it became militarily involved in 2015.

"We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, the likelihood of sarin use, and we are looking for the evidence", Mattis said.

Mr Assad's forces have instead "evolved" their chemical weapons and made continued occasional use of them in smaller amounts since the attacks a year ago, the officials told reporters in a briefing.

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That has made evidence collection more hard, though the USA believes it has a firm understanding of the extent of chemical use in Syria through a combination of intelligence, sample testing by third countries, and social media and other open-source information, the officials said.

Raising the alarm about the continued threat of the chemical weapons, US officials said it was "highly likely" that Assad kept a hidden stockpile of chemical weapons after 2013 that he failed to properly disclose.

Does the Trump administration know where the chemical weapons plants and storage sites are?

Trump administration officials say Syria might be building new chemical weapons, according to several news outlets. "Using military force is something that is still considered".

A war monitor said at least 20 civilians were killed in Syrian government air strikes on rebel-held territory in the country's north on Thursday and three children were killed in artillery strikes on Eastern Ghouta.

Years of efforts by two US presidents have failed to end the reports on chemical-weapons use in Syria.

"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 that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that Sarin has been used", he said.

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