US ‘gravely alarmed’ by Syrian chemical attack

The US expressed serious concerns over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces’ use of chlorine gas against civilians.

By: World Israel News Staff and AP

According to recent reports, a chlorine gas attack occurred last Thursday, injuring over 20 civilians, including children in the Idlib Province near Saraqib.

Accusing the Syrian regime of using the gas to “terrorize innocent civilians,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert noted in a Monday statement that this attack is the sixth such reported instance in the past 30 days in Syria.

“We implore the international community to speak with one voice, taking every opportunity to publicly pressure the Assad regime, and its supporters, to cease its use of chemical weapons and hold those responsible accountable for these brutal attacks,” Nauert stated.

“Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in East Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria,” she said, referring to a siege by Assad forces that has caused a humanitarian crisis.

“By shielding the Syrian regime from accountability, Russia has not lived up to its commitments,” Nauert stated, demanding that all parties in Syria “unequivocally stop” the use of chemical weapons.

“The people of Syria are suffering; the rest of the world is watching,” she concluded.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that “massacres” in Idlib and its countryside have claimed 240 casualties during about 45 days of intensive shelling in the province.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Russia on Monday of protecting Assad from responsibility for what she said were multiple chlorine gas attacks on civilians in recent weeks.

Haley told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that Russia has delayed adoption of a council statement condemning the use of chemical weapons.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia retorted, “It’s completely clear to us the goal is to basically accuse the Syrian government of chemical weapons use where no perpetrators have been identified.”

The US and Russia have been lashing out at each other for months over the issue of accountability for chemical attacks in Syria, which is a close ally of Moscow.

A joint investigation team comprising experts from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded that the Syrian government used chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and used the nerve agent sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun last April that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others.

Russia rejected the experts’ findings as unproven and demanded major changes in the way the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) team operates.

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The US and about 10 other council members insisted that the JIM team must remain independent, but Russia used its veto to prevent its mandate from being renewed.

The result is that there is currently no way to determine responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria.

Haley said the Assad regime must immediately stop using chemical weapons.

“Our goal must be to end the use of these evil, unjustifiable weapons,” she said. “We cannot hope to end the use of chemical weapons if those who use them escape the consequences of their action.”