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Syria Might Be Making New Chemical Weapons

Syria Might Be Making New Chemical Weapons”

But with Russian and Iranian influence growing in Syria and posing a direct threat to U.S. foreign policy interests, it's possible that the Trump administration may look to make a statement that it's not buying Russia's excuses anymore.

Syria's main opposition coalition and Kurdish groups boycotted the congress held this week, just days after a ninth round of UN-led talks in Vienna failed to yield progress.

Assad's chemical weapons could spread to "US shores" the official said, should the global community not respond quickly to limit Assad, warning that "it will spread if we don't do something".

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be developing new chemical weapons in addition to keeping some of the country's stockpile that was supposed to be handed over and destroyed under a 2014 deal brokered by the United States and Russian Federation, senior USA officials told reporters on Thursday.

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He said the U.S.is "even more concerned" about the possible use of the nerve agent sarin.

The Pentagon chief cited reports from NGOs and rebel groups in the battlefield who say the chemical weapon has been used, although he stressed that the United States now has no evidence to support those claims. He said that while he had not yet seen evidence of the nerve agent sarin used by the Syrian government, the USA was looking into reports about its use and was concerned.

Mattis's remarks come a day after senior administration officials said Washington was not ruling out fresh military action against the Syrian regime in the wake of suspected sarin and chlorine attacks.

If left unchecked, the U.S. officials added, Assad could use small chemical attacks in the hopes to redress the power imbalance in rebel-held areas as an "instrument of terror". "We reserve the right to use military force to prevent or deter the use of weapons of mass destruction".

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The Syrian regime denies having any connection to that attack and, in general, to any chemical weapons attacks that have occurred in Syria since the start of the civil war there.

The US officials also said Islamic State militants have sporadically used chemical weapons, such as sulfur mustard and chlorine, some via improvised explosive devices. And previous year, the United Nations and others blamed regime forces for an April 2017 sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun that left scores dead.

But while the Trump administration has resolved to punish Syria's use of chemical weapons with military force, a change in tactics from Damascus may complicate things. 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.

"We are on the record and you all have seen how we reacted to that, so they would be ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical (weapons) convention", Mattis said. What I'm saying is groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that sarin has been used.

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