United States concern about reports of chlorine gas use in Syria

A Syrian boy holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma

They also came as U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis said America is concerned about the potential use of sarin gas in Syria.

Senior US officials reported that the Syrian regime might be developing new types of chemical weapons, and that if necessary, President Donald Trump will take military action.

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". Aside from the threat to Syrian civilians, Washington is anxious that the well-documented chemical attacks - systematically denied by Damascus and its Russian ally - is undermining long-standing taboos on their use.

US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that reports of chlorine gas being used against civilians in Eastern Ghouta were "very concerning".

He warned that Russia's repeated vetoes of the United Nations chemical weapons resolution in Syria "risk sending a unsafe signal to the Syrian regime that it can use chemical weapons with impunity".

Two senior USA officials warned on Friday that Syria's continued chemical warfare continue could serve as an opening to a chemical attack on the United States, security website The Cipher Brief reported Friday.

Raising the alarm about the continued threat of the chemical weapons, USA officials said it was "highly likely" that Assad kept a hidden stockpile of chemical weapons after 2013 that he failed to properly disclose.




The US and Russian Federation agreed in 2013 to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by 2014. They said the jihadists were using shells or improvised explosive devices to deliver the chemicals.

"It will spread if we don't do something", the official warned.

Mr Burt referred to three specific reports of chlorine attacks by Syrian regime forces in Eastern Ghouta so far in 2018. "Using military force is something that is still considered". Rebel forces have been fighting Assad in a gruesome civil war for years.

And they said the Trump administration wouldn't rule out another military strike against President Bashar al-Assad's military if he doesn't stop the attacks.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that chlorine gas was known to have been weaponised "repeatedly" in attacks in Syria lately. The Islamic State militant group continues to use them, they said, although the militants' arms are said to be more rudimentary. "Since April 2014, there has been mounting evidence that Syria continues to illicitly possess chemical weapons and use them against its own people".

Syria's war has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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