The United States sees signs the Syrian government may be using chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack on May 19 in northwest Syria, the US State Department said on Tuesday.
“We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
“The May 19 alleged attack in northwest Syria is part of a violent campaign by the Assad regime that violates a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area. This renewed Syrian regime offensive has targeted the communities of that area, which include a large number of Syrians who were already displaced from violence in others parts of Syria, and has destroyed known health facilities, schools, residences, and internally displaced person camps,” Ortagus added.
President Donald Trump’s administration has twice bombed Syria over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, in April 2017 and April 2018. In September, a senior US official said there was evidence showing chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
The State Department statement accused Russia and Assad’s forces of “a continuing disinformation campaign ... to create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks.”
“The facts, however, are clear,” the statement said. The Assad regime itself has conducted almost all verified chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in Syria - a conclusion the United Nations has reached over and over again.”