The United States sees signs the Syrian government is using chemical weapons. This includes an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday in northwest Syria, the State Department said on Tuesday. Pompeo warns Assad that Washington and its allies would respond “quickly and appropriately” if he used chemical weapons.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement:
Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19. 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.
Ortagus said the alleged attack was part of a violent campaign by Assad forces who are violating a ceasefire. The ceasefire is protecting several million civilians in the greater Idlib area.
The statement said:
The regime’s attacks against the communities of northwest Syria must end. The United States reiterates its warning, first issued by President Trump in September 2018, that an attack against the Idlib de-escalation zone would be a reckless escalation that threatens to destabilize the region.
WEAK BOMBINGS LEAD TO MORE CHEMICAL ATTACKS
The Trump administration has twice bombed Syria over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. In April 2017 and April 2018. In September, a senior U.S. official said there was evidence showing Assad was preparing chemical weapons for use in Idlib.
For its part, Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement:
The Assad regime must not repeat the use of chemical weapons in Syria. There should be no doubt as to our determination to act strongly and swiftly should the Assad regime use these weapons again in the future.
RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGNS
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.”
A U.S. official, speaking anonymously, said the Syrian government had a history of chemical weapons attacks when fighting intensified.
In January, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton warned the Syrian government against using chemical weapons again.
There is absolutely no change in the U.S. position against the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and absolutely no change in our position that any use of chemical weapons would be met by a very strong response, as we’ve done twice before.
Reuters contributed to this article.