Published: Sat, February 03, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

UN Security Council experts discuss Russia's proposal on Syria chemical probe - chairman

UN Security Council experts discuss Russia's proposal on Syria chemical probe - chairman

The U.S.is in the midst of investigating what was launched, Mattis said.

The comments came a day after Washington warned it was prepared to consider military action if necessary to deter chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government.

The regime appears to have weaponized chlorine again, Mattis said, but "we are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use".

A United Nations report from September determined that Assad's forces had used chemical weapons dozens of times during the civil war, including a deadly toxic gas attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in April, which killed at least 80 civilians.

Two senior USA officials warned on Friday that Syria's continued chemical warfare continue could serve as an opening to a chemical attack on the United States, security website The Cipher Brief reported Friday.

"Russia has not lived up to these commitments", Tillerson said.

US officials on Thursday said the Syrian military was shifting tactics to try to hide its role in using such weapons.

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But there have been repeated reports of smaller chemical attacks on civilian areas.

Bashar al-Assad's forces have instead "evolved" their chemical weapons, and used them in smaller amounts. He blamed Russian Federation as a guarantor of the 2013 disarmament agreement for failing to enforce it. Assad did not have to relinquish chlorine as part of the agreement, though its use as a weapon violates the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"They know what we know", one of the officials said.

The US officials also said Islamic State militants have sporadically used chemical weapons, such as sulfur mustard and chlorine, some via improvised explosive devices. "We reserve the right to use military force to prevent or deter the use of weapons of mass destruction".

There were no indications that the Syria government, after seven years of civil war, had developed new, deadlier chemicals. On Thursday, the AP reported that rescue workers in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma described a suspected chlorine gas attack that injured a number of civilians. "What I'm saying is that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that Sarin has been used", he said.

In a recently released annual report, the White Helmets said that as many as 1,337 civilians had been killed in Eastern Ghouta last year amid ongoing regime attacks.Home to some 400,000 residents, Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for five years, and humanitarian access to the city has been completely cut off. Hundreds are in urgent need of medical attention.

Syria's war has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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