Tillerson Says Russia Is Responsible for Syrian Chemical Use

Lester Mason
January 23, 2018

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday denounced the recent suspected chemical attack in Syria and said "Russia ultimately bears responsibility" for the victims because it has enabled President Bashar Assad.

"Only yesterday more than 20 civilians, majority children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack", Tillerson said of the reported attack in Eastern Ghouta that left its victims struggling to breathe.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement Thursday that there are reports that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chlorine gas against civilians during recent fighting in Eastern Ghouta, scene of a previous gas attack in 2013 that nearly led to U.S. and French air strikes, which were called back after Syria agreed to a U.S. -Russia accord to transfer all its chemical stocks out of the country.

Most recently, Tillerson said more than 20 civilians, majority children "were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack" on Monday in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, Syria. Most notably, the Trump administration launched Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase last April over reports of a chemical weapons attack in northwestern Syria.

Monday's attack in eastern Ghouta - a rebel-held area suburb near Damascus - came as the government's bombing campaign in the area escalated, according to monitoring groups.

As a first step, France on Tuesday imposed unilateral sanctions on 25 people and entities, including from China, Lebanon and France, and among them importers and distributors of metals, electronics and lighting systems.

Now, the U.S. is increasing pressure on Russian Federation to reign in its ally. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people were suffocated by what appeared to be chlorine gas.

"Let's be clear: Russia's unwillingness or inability to restrain the Assad regime is costing innocent Syrian lives", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert tweeted Monday.

While the U.S. has long criticized the Assad regime for its brutal tactics, including the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians, it has only taken limited action against his government.

Tillerson was addressing a meeting of high-ranking diplomats in Paris as part of a new global effort to address the use of chemical weapons. If it could not do that, Mr Tillerson said, it should abstain.

At the meeting on chemical weapons 29 countries are expected to agree to work more closely on targeting those behind chemical weapons attacks and imposing necessary sanctions on them. The group is expected to put pressure on both Syria and Russian Federation.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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