Assad's regime may be developing new types of chemical weapons

Katrina Barker
February 2, 2018

They emphasized that the United States was seeking a new way to hold chemical weapons-users accountable and wanted cooperation from Russia, Assad's patron, in pressuring him to end the attacks.

"We will continue to seek accountability through all available diplomatic mechanisms, including the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for the confirmed use of chemical weapons by any party", the State Department said in a statement.

Characteristics of some of those recent attacks suggest Syria might be developing new weapons and methods for delivering poison chemicals, possibly to make it harder to trace their origin, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity, but they declined to provide specifics.

Barrel bombs used earlier in the war to disperse chemicals indiscriminately, for example, have been replaced by ground-launched munitions, officials said. Syria's chief ally, Russia, has claimed that the reports are false attempts to pressure Syria's government or provocations perpetrated by opposition groups.

The official was referring to Russia's media offensive to deny its connection to chemical weapons use in Syria.

Assad's forces have instead "evolved" their chemical weapons and made continued occasional use of them in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a USA missile strike on a Syrian air base, the officials told reporters in a briefing.

Facing the likelihood of renewed chemical attacks, senior US officials called on worldwide allies to intensify pressure on the Assad government.

The officials' statements to The Cipher Brief follow Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statements that Russian Federation "bears responsibility" for the chemical warfare still unfolding in Syria.

Several children were also affected, the group said. The officials noted that the underlying chemicals are easy to acquire or produce, and said the USA does not believe IS has gotten ahold of military stockpiles in either Iraq or Syria. After another alleged attack in April 2017, President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory missile strike, but 10 months later, the USA and worldwide observers say the weapons are still used.

Western officials have cast suspicion on the Syrian government for a chlorine gas attack on a rebel-held enclave east of Damascus last week that sickened at least 13 people.

If the worldwide community does not act quickly to tighten the screws on Mr Assad, Syria's chemical weapons could spread beyond its borders and possibly even "to U.S. shores", the second official claimed.

The Britain-based war monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground across Syria, said shelling killed another eight civilians, including in Ghouta's main town of Douma.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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