Syrian soldiers guard a checkpoint in Suran, Syria province of Hama, 25 September 2019 | Photo: Maxime POPOV / AFP
- (09/26/2019) (19:35)
The US government concluded that the Syrian regime used chlorine as a chemical weapon in an attack on opposition forces on May 19 this year. The conclusion of the US intelligence analysis was released by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference on Thursday.
"The regime (of Syrian dictator Bashar) Assad is responsible for numerous atrocities, some of which are war crimes and crimes against humanity," Pompeo said. "This attack is the latest instance of a long pattern of Assad chemical weapon attacks that killed or wounded thousands of Syrians."
The United States said it received several reports pointing to chemical exposure following a Syrian regime attack in Idlib province in northwestern Syria in May.
As part of the US government's "maximum pressure" campaign, the US Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned Russian supporters of the Syrian regime, "facilitating jet fuel shipments to Russian military forces in Syria."
With Russian military support, Assad's forces have taken back large areas of Syria from rebels since 2015, and now control about 60% of the country. Russia often refers to its soldiers sent to Syria as military advisers, although its forces and warplanes are also directly involved in battles against jihadists and other rebels, according to AFP.
Following the conclusion that the Assad regime used chemical agents this year, the US government has decided to provide another $ 4.5 million to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to assist with ongoing investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
This would be Syria's first chemical weapons attack confirmed since April 2018, when the government used a gas attack on the city of Douma, causing several deaths. The US, France and the United Kingdom responded with coordinated missile attacks on what countries described as Syrian chemical weapons targets.