US Accuses Syria of New Chemical Weapons Use

Cheryl Sanders
January 23, 2018

As the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was accused of another chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration is trying to rally global condemnation of the regime and increase pressure on Russian Federation to rein in its ally.

As Tillerson was speaking in Paris, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley put out a statement directly tying the Eastern Ghouta attacks to the Assad regime, calling them, "yet another demonstration of (the regime's) blatant disregard for worldwide law and cruel indifference for the lives of its own people".

Russia, which has given Assad's government crucial military and diplomatic support throughout the almost seven-year war in Syria, vetoed two UN Security Council draft resolutions proposed by the United States and its allies last year to extend a joint UN-OPCW inquiry into chemical-weapons use in Syria.

Despite its pledge to destroy such weapons, the Syrian regime has been repeatedly accused of staging chemical attacks, with the United Nations among those blaming it for an April 2017 sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun which left scores dead.

"Although chemical weapons had disappeared for some 20 years, their reappearance in Iraq, Syria, and Asia, where they have fallen into the hands of state and nonstate actors, demands a resolute mobilization by the global community", it said.

Rights monitors say 21 people, including children, suffered breathing difficulties Monday after an alleged chemical attack on a besieged rebel enclave outside Damascus. "We've been firm in our determination to hold parties accountable for the use of chemical weapons, which have killed far too many Syrians". The President blamed Mr Assad for the chemical attack at the time.

Still, the USA is hoping it can persuade the Russian government - Syria's most important ally - to bring the long-beleaguered but still-determined Assad to the negotiating table. Tillerson said the USA strategy would focus on diplomatic efforts.

At the meeting on chemical weapons 29 countries are expected to agree to work more closely on targeting those behind chemical weapons attacks and imposing necessary sanctions on them.

"The facts are known and documented", French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

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