U.S. ready to hit Syrian chemical weapons

Courtesy MGN

Mr Trump ordered missile strikes against a Syrian air base last April in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks on rebel areas.

The Trump administration on Thursday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad's government of producing and using new chemical weapons despite committing to abolish its program in 2013, and insisted the world must find a way to stop it.

If the worldwide community does not act quickly to step up pressure on Assad, Syria's chemical weapons could spread beyond Syria and possibly even to the United States, one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russian Federation recently has been singled out for allowing Syria room to maneuver.

The officials weren't authorized to speak on the record and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Previous attacks on January 22 and January 13 caused symptoms consistent with chemical exposure in more than two dozen civilians.

"Deterrence is something that you have to continually work at", said the second official.

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The weapons are also a means, the officials said, to strike fear among residents of opposition-controlled areas, possibly with the goal of reshaping the demographic makeup of those zones and deterring the return of refugees who may oppose the government.

The news came shortly after scientists for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said they had linked samples from the 2013 attack to the Assad government's stockpile, suggesting the government had been behind the attack all along.

If substantiated, the attacks would provide proof that Syria has retained a stockpile after an global deal, reached in 2013 after a chemical attack, to remove banned munitions from Syria.

The Assad regime on Thursday attacked a residential suburb of Damascus with chlorine gas, according to the White Helmets, a pro-opposition Syrian civil defense agency.

More recent attacks have involved both chlorine, which has non-warfare uses and is easier to acquire, and the more sophisticated chemical sarin, the officials said. The officials say the militants are using shells or improvised explosive devices to deliver the chemicals.

Barrel bombs used earlier in the war to disperse chemicals indiscriminately, for example, have been replaced by ground-launched munitions, officials said.

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