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Old 05-07-2015, 03:12 PM
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Default Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Maybe Obama needs to draw another fictitious red line. That'll show 'em.

Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear | Fox News

Allegations are mounting that the Assad regime has returned to using chemical weapons against Syrian rebels and civilians, nearly two years after the government agreed to dismantle their stockpile.

The suspicions have the Obama administration calling for an immediate U.N. investigation into the "abhorrent acts" -- though it remains unclear what, if any, punishment Bashar Assad might face if formally blamed for the string of alleged chlorine gas attacks.

One western U.N. diplomat told Fox News the situation has become "unacceptable" in Syria.

"There is mounting evidence of repeated chlorine attacks," the diplomat said.

Civilians, including children, allegedly have been injured and killed in the latest attacks. In a letter sent this week to the U.N. Security Council from the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, the group cited reports of chlorine gas attacks in the Idlib and Hama areas and urged the creation of a no-fly zone to protect the Syrian people.

"In the past two weeks alone, witnesses and medics on the ground in Idlib and Hama governorates reported at least nine separate instances of toxic chemical attacks -- several of them deadly," the group wrote. "... in each instance, barrel bombs loaded with poisonous chemical substances were deployed from Syrian regime helicopters."

The allegations have U.S. and other western diplomats scrambling for answers, while making clear they expect the United Nations to probe the charges. The U.S. has submitted a preliminary draft Security Council resolution that aims to set up a mechanism for determining who is to blame and to hold them accountable.

A U.S. official told Fox News the Security Council is overdue in addressing "the need to determine who is responsible" for the attacks. "Doing so is critical to getting justice for the Syrian people," he said.

The U.S. proposal envisions the creation of a team of experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that would have the know-how and support to get the access to investigate and then report its findings.

Yet it's unclear what consequences the Assad regime might face if found responsible. Assad's veto-wielding ally on the Security Council, Russia, has historically blocked efforts to hold the Syrian government accountable for war crimes.

Last week, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said officials are seeking more information about chlorine gas allegations but could not give specifics when asked repeatedly about potential consequences. "I don't have specific steps to announce now," he said.

A State Department official told FoxNews.com on Thursday they are still seeking more information about the allegations.

"We continue to look very closely into this matter and are considering next steps. ... if true, these attacks would be only the latest tragic examples of the Asad regime's atrocities against the Syrian people," the official said, adding that the international community "cannot turn a blind eye" to these actions.

The official said the U.S. is "actively engaged" with U.N. colleagues and urged an investigation "as quickly as possible" -- while putting the onus on the U.N. Security Council to "address the need to determine who is responsible and to hold them accountable."

In 2013, the U.S. and its allies engaged in a stand-off with Syria after Assad was accused of crossing President Obama's "red line" and deploying chemical weapons against the Syrian people. But Assad agreed to relinquish his chemical weapons program under a U.S.-Russian-brokered deal, averting threatened American strikes.

While inspectors have since chronicled the successful destruction of tons of sarin and other deadly toxic stockpiles, however, chlorine was not part of the U.S.-Russian agreement.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has since concluded "with a high degree of confidence" that chlorine was used on three rebel-held villages in Syria last year, killing 13 people. The OPCW said chlorine had been used "systematically and repeatedly" in Syrian villages and that eyewitnesses claimed that helicopters were used to drop bombs containing chlorine gas.

The report did not assign blame since it lacks the authority to do so.

It is widely known, however, that only the Syrian government is using helicopters in the conflict.

One rescue worker underscored this point to The New York Times, which on Thursday detailed the recent allegations. Regarding witnesses who claimed helicopters dropped chlorine bombs, the worker said: "Nobody has aircraft except the regime."

The Times reported that attacks, according to rescue workers, have picked up lately in areas like Idlib Province.

One such attack involving chlorine gas bombs is alleged to have occurred on March 16, killing several people in the town of Sarmin.

Videos posted online showed people struggling to breathe, and the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said symptoms described by medics in contact with the group clearly indicate the presence of chlorine poisoning.

At the time, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was "deeply disturbed" by the reports and was "looking very closely" at the matter.

The situation in Syria is even more complicated and dangerous than it was in 2013. Now, the Islamic State has gained ground and the U.S. military is launching airstrikes against the terror network in both Syria and Iraq. Yet, while ISIS opposes Assad, the Obama administration still wants Assad to go -- and is gradually trying to boost moderate rebels in the country.

Now, as the administration seeks answers on the chemical attacks before the U.N., Russia, Assad's ally on the Security Council, has resisted efforts to place blame on the Syrian regime -- saying there is no proof and sometimes blaming opposition forces for the attacks. Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin has sent the U.S. draft resolution to Moscow for review.

In April, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power organized for Syrian doctors to present evidence of chlorine attacks to Security Council diplomats.

The doctors showed a graphic video of medics desperately trying to save children after a chlorine bomb attack on a village in Idlib Province. The images were so horrific that several council members were brought to tears.

Kerry, in his March written statement on the Sarmin attack, hinted at potential consequences for such attacks. He said a chemical weapons attack through the use of chlorine would be a violation of U.N. Security Resolution 2209, which he said makes clear "such a violation would have consequences." Indeed, that resolution calls for "Chapter VII" action if such weapons are used -- a broad category that can include everything from economic and diplomatic penalties to military action.

Assad, meanwhile, has denied the charges. In March, he called the accusations "malicious propaganda," and suggested the rebels were behind the latest attack at the time.

In the interview with CBS News, the Syrian leader also said that he would be open to a dialogue with the United States, but that it must be "based on mutual respect."

Meanwhile, nobody has yet been held accountable for the attack that led to the 2013 stand-off.

Fox News' Jonathan Wachtel and FoxNews.com's Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:35 PM
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Angry Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Guess Obama didn't get all of Syria's chemical weapons...

Syrian military used chemical weapons in Aleppo, Human Rights Watch alleges
Tuesday 14th February, 2017 - International watchdog Human Rights Watch in its latest report published on Monday said the Syrian military pounded parts of eastern Aleppo with chemical weapons during its offensive to retake the city at the end of last year.
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According to the findings of the watchdog, the military's helicopters dumped canisters of chlorine gas, a banned weapon, on opposition controlled residential areas, playgrounds and clinics of the city at least eight times late last year. These attacks came during the final stages of the battle to retake the city from rebels. HRW based its assertions following interviews with several witnesses and an analysis of video footage, photographs and social media posts. Nine people were killed and some 200 injured in the attacks that took place between November 17 and December 13, 2016.

One of the deadliest bombings took place in the neighborhood of Sakhur on November 20, killing six members of the same family including four children whose bodies were shown on a video taken by the Shabha press agency. "The pattern of the chlorine attacks shows that they were coordinated with the overall military strategy for retaking Aleppo, not the work of a few rogue elements,” Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said in the report.


Louis Charbonneau, the UN director at HRW, told Al Jazeera that the senior military officials who would have been monitoring the Aleppo siege had to know chemical weapons were used. "This is industrial strength. People get a burning in their throats, their eyes tear up. Their lungs fill with fluid. Your body simply will not let you bring in air. You can actually see the yellow-green gas as it is moving through," he said. The use of chemical weapons is banned by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Under a treaty, the Bashar al-Assad government signed in 2013 under pressure from Russia, the Syrian president promised not to use chemical weapons.

However, a United Nations panel concluded last year that government forces had used them at least three times in 2014 and 2015. The international watchdog said there was no evidence of Russian involvement in the chemical weapon attacks. "We don't have any evidence that Russia was directly involved in any of these attacks or that it was aware", said Charbonneau. "What we do know is that Russia is a close military ally of the Syrian government. It is involved on the ground. It was involved in the battle for Aleppo." "At the very least, they needed to take measures to ensure that these weapons were not being used," Charbonneau told a news conference.

Syrian military used chemical weapons in Aleppo Human Rights Watch alleges
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Old 06-27-2017, 11:04 PM
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Angry Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Granny says, "Dat's right - The Donald callin' `em out on it...

U.S. Has Seen Chemical Weapons Activity in Syria, Pentagon Says
JUNE 27, 2017 | WASHINGTON — President Trump has drawn a new red line for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, with American officials describing preparations at a Syrian air base for a chemical weapons assault as they sought Tuesday to bolster Mr. Trump’s threat to deter an attack.
Quote:
But the administration elaborated little on the president’s unexpected, 87-word statement a night earlier that warned that Mr. Assad would “pay a heavy price” if he again released toxic gas on rebel-held territory, leaving lingering questions in Washington and in the Middle East about Mr. Trump’s intentions in Syria. American officials have declined to rate their level of confidence about whether a chemical attack is imminent or to say whether the administration has pursued diplomatic channels to stop it. Military officials, who were initially caught off guard by Monday night’s White House statement, would not discuss what options they were considering. Conversations with allies about the chemical weapons intelligence have been kept largely secret.

In previous administrations, debates about how best to deter atrocities have played out publicly around the world. President George W. Bush took months to argue his case — later proved to be flawed — about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. President Barack Obama offered detailed explanations about his deliberations on how to respond when Mr. Assad used chemical weapons to kill 1,400 people in 2013. On Tuesday, White House officials said only that Mr. Trump’s statement spoke for itself. That silence added to the uncertainty about whether a new military confrontation with Syria was looming just two months after Mr. Trump fired dozens of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian base, Al Shayrat airfield, after a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens.

Mr. Assad’s government vigorously denied the accusation of preparations for an attack, calling Mr. Trump’s statement a provocation. And in Russia, a close ally of Syria’s, a senior lawmaker accused the United States of using the declaration about chemical weapons to plan an attack on Syria. As if to punctuate his contempt for the Trump administration’s warning, Mr. Assad visited a Russian air base near Latakia in the western part of the country on Tuesday, accompanied by Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the Russian military’s chief of staff. The Syrian news media, which reported the visit, distributed a video clip of Mr. Assad climbing into the cockpit of a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 parked at the base, where Russia has conducted many of its bombing operations to support the government’s side in the six-year civil war.

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Chemical Attack Warning Comes After Russia Laid Down Its Own Red Lines on Syria
June 27, 2017 – A White House warning late on Monday night about “potential preparations” by the Assad regime for a chemical weapons attack comes at a particularly tense time in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s Russia ally a week ago effectively warned that it could shoot down U.S. aircraft there.
Quote:
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement, adding that the activities were similar to those taken by the regime before a deadly toxic gas attack in Idlib province on April 4. Spicer reiterated that U.S. forces are in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” he said. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in a tweet added that Assad’s allies would be responsible too. “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people,” she tweeted.

In response to queries, Combined Joint Taskforce–Operation Inherent Resolve – the U.S.-led mission to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria – told CNSNews.com it had “nothing to add to the WH statement.” There was no immediate reaction from the Assad regime or Moscow, although Russian state media reported briefly on the White House statement. Iran’s state-funded Press TV commented that the U.S. warning “risks sparking a major confrontation between parties to the Syrian conflict and complicating efforts aimed at resolving it.” “White House Threatens to Murder More Syrians Over Imaginary ‘Chemical Weapons Attacks’” ran a headline on a piece on Russia Insider, a site run by western expats in Russia.

Last April Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase after accusing the regime of a chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province that killed more than 70 people. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was,” the president said before the airstrike. “That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines.” The regime denied responsibility for the toxic gas attack, and Russia also disputed the claim. Both suggested other scenarios, including that the gas was released after a rebel chemical weapons storage facility was bombed, or that it was a false-flag operation designed to provide justification for U.S. military intervention. For its part, the Trump administration said it had high confidence that at least one munition containing sarin, a lethal gas, had been dropped from a regime Sukhoi Su-22 warplane.

Four days after two U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean targeted the Syrian airbase with 59 Tomahawks, Spicer warned that fresh atrocities could bring further retaliation. “The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action,” he told reporters on April 10. After the airstrike, Russia and Iran warned that any further such action against their ally in Damascus would cross their own “red lines,” according to a Reuters report. “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines,” the pro-Assad alliance said in a joint statement. “From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.” More recently, Russia laid down another red line in Syria.

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Old 06-30-2017, 09:37 PM
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Angry Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Syria used sarin in deadly chemical attack...

Weapons watchdog finds sarin used in deadly attack in Syria
Saturday 1st July, 2017 - An investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly April 4 attack on a Syrian town
Quote:
An investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog confirmed that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly April 4 attack on a Syrian town, but a report released Friday stopped short of saying who was responsible. The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province killed more than 90 people, including women and children. It sparked outrage around the world as photos and video of the aftermath, including quivering children dying on camera, were widely broadcast. "I strongly condemn this atrocity, which wholly contradicts the norms enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement. "The perpetrators of this horrific attack must be held accountable for their crimes." The U.S. blamed the Syrian military for the attack and launched a punitive strike days later. Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied using chemical weapons.

A Syrian lawmaker questioned the results and described the report as part of a campaign of "political exploitation" against his country. The findings of the investigation released Friday will be used by a joint U.N.-OPCW investigation team working to assess who was responsible for the attack. The team is expected to issue its next report around October. The OPCW has scheduled a July 5 meeting of its executive council to discuss the matter. The U.S. State Department said in a statement Thursday night, after the report was circulated to OPCW members, that "the facts reflect a despicable and highly dangerous record of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime." Only some details of the report were released to the public. Assad's staunch ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, said earlier this month that he believed the attack was "a provocation" staged "by people who wanted to blame" Assad.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the report doesn't back claims by the U.S. and its allies that the sarin was dropped from aircraft. "They don't know how the sarin ended up there, yet tensions have been escalating for all these months," Lavrov said in Moscow. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that while the report did not apportion blame, "the U.K.'s own assessment is that the Assad regime almost certainly carried out this abominable attack." Both the U.S. and the OPCW defended the probe's methodology. Investigators did not visit the scene of the attack, deeming it too dangerous, but analyzed samples from victims and survivors as well as interviewing witnesses. Mohammad Kheir Akkam, a member of Syria's parliament, said that the lack of on-site investigations undermined the findings. "We should ask how did they get to these results," Akkam said. "Let us ask those who carried out this investigation. How did they reach those results without taking samples from the same area?"

He said the timing of the report "points to political exploitation," adding that it appeared linked to the U.S. warnings this week that the Syrian government is preparing to use chemical weapons. Syria joined the OPCW in 2013 after it was blamed for a deadly poison gas attack in a Damascus suburb. As it joined, Assad's government declared some 1,300 tons of chemical weapons and precursor chemicals that were subsequently destroyed in an unprecedented international operation. However, the organization still has unanswered questions about the completeness of Syria's initial declaration, meaning that it has never conclusively been able to confirm that the country has no more chemical weapons. The investigative team responsible for the report has previously concluded "with a high degree of confidence" that chlorine and sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas, had been used as weapons in Syria.

KTVB.COM | News | Idaho News on Demand
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:38 PM
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Granny says, "Dat's right - dey in cahoots together...

Official: Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming
Apr. 11, 2017 | WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week, but has no proof of Moscow’s involvement, a senior U.S. official said Monday.
Quote:
The official said that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons. The U.S. official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity, didn’t give precise timing for when the drone was in the area, where more than 80 people were killed. The official also didn’t provide details for the military and intelligence information that form the basis of what the Pentagon now believes. Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russia knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used. That official wasn’t authorized to speak about internal administration deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. The allegation of Russian foreknowledge is grave, even by the standards of the currently dismal U.S.-Russian relations.

Although Russia has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and they’ve coordinated military attacks together, Washington has never previously asserted that Moscow was complicit in any attack that involved the gassing of innocent civilians, including children. The former Cold War foes even worked together in 2013 to remove and destroy more than 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapons and agents. Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure whether Russia or Syria operated the drone. The official said the U.S. is now convinced Russia controlled the drone. The official said it still isn’t clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital, because the Syrians also fly Russian-made aircraft.

U.S. officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated. U.S. officials say the chemical weapons were stored there and that those elements add to the conclusion that Russia was involved. Last Thursday 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired on the government-controlled base in the United States’ first direct military action against Assad’s forces. The U.S. has been focusing its military action in Syria on defeating the Islamic State group. On Monday, Col. John J. Thomas, a U.S. military spokesman, said the U.S. has taken extra defensive precautions in Syria in case of possible retaliation against American forces for the cruise missile attack.

Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon that the increased emphasis on defensive measures to protect U.S. troops on the ground in Syria led to a slight and temporary decline in offensive U.S. airstrikes against IS in Syria. There has been no Syrian retaliation so far for the cruise missile attack, which destroyed or rendered inoperable more than 20 Syria air force planes, he said. Thomas said the U.S. intends to return to full offensive air operations against IS as soon as possible.

https://apnews.com/19772be1238e49fbb62c509a5b659b3d
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Old 11-17-2017, 05:37 AM
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Angry Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Russia blocks U.S. resolution to probe chemical attack in Syria...

Russia vetoes U.S. resolution to probe chemical attack in Syria
Nov. 16, 2017 -- Russia used its U.N. Security Council veto power on Thursday to stop a U.S.-drafted resolution that would have extended an investigation into allegations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people earlier this year.
Quote:
Russia's veto came hours after President Donald Trump encouraged the U.N. Security Council to pass the resolution. "Need all on the UN Security Council to vote to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism for Syria to ensure that Assad Regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again," Trump tweeted. The vote would have prolonged a U.N. investigative panel that released a report Oct. 27 blaming Assad's forces for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians on April 4.

But Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said the U.N. panel has "extremely systemic flaws" and denounced the effort to prolong it. "There was nothing balanced in the U.S. resolution," Nebenzia said, according to The New York Times. He later told reporters that Russia "condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone" but that the panel's reporting thus far was "a joke -- complete nonsense."


Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia arrives for Security Council consultations at U.N. headquarters in New York City on September 15. On Thursday, Nebenzia vetoed a U.S. resolution to further investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted Russia for the veto. "The message to anyone listening is clear: In effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria," she said, later telling Russia officials, "The next chemical weapons attack is on your heads." The resolution would have passed with 11 votes in favor of it and Bolivia against it. China and Egypt both abstained. According to Bloomberg, Russia's veto marked the 10th time it has used its veto power to defend Assad since a civil war broke out in Syria six years ago.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-N...l&utm_medium=2
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

Trump has done nothing. In fact he warned NK about fire and fury. Then went back to tweeting
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Old 11-17-2017, 08:50 AM
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Default Re: Assad using chemical weapons again? US eyes new allegations, consequences unclear

So, is the King of the Ignore List displeased because Trump hasn't invaded Syria or North Korea or both or just whining about Trump for no reason again?
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