US urges world to ‘speak with one voice’ on Syria chemical attacks

An injured boy receiving treatment at a hospital in Hazeh in eastern Ghouta, the only remaining rebel stronghold near the capital, Feb. 5, 2018.

:: The US on Monday urged that the international community to demand that Syria not use chemical weapons any longer, following the sixth reported incident of chlorine gas use in the past 30 days.

“The United States is gravely alarmed by continued allegations of the use of chlorine gas by the Syrian Regime to terrorize innocent civilians, this time in Idlib Province near Saraqib,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We implore the international community to speak with one voice, taking every opportunity to publicly pressure the Assad regime, and its supporters, to cease its use of chemical weapons and hold those responsible accountable for these brutal attacks.”

The Secretary noted last month in Paris that Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in East Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria.

“By shielding the Syrian regime from accountability, Russia has not lived up to its commitments. The use of chemical weapons by all parties in Syria must unequivocally stop. The people of Syria are suffering; the rest of the world is watching,” the statement added.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Russia on Monday of protecting Syrian President Bashar Assad from responsibility for what she said were multiple chlorine gas attacks on civilians in recent weeks. Haley told the UN Security Council that Russia has delayed adoption of a council statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, including a reported chlorine gas attack Thursday in the opposition-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta that injured over 20 civilians including children.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia retorted, “It’s completely clear to us the goal is to basically accuse the Syrian government of chemical weapons use where no perpetrators have been identified.”

Russia proposed a rival press statement eliminating references to Thursday’s attack and to “the unacceptable level of violence in Syria, particularly in eastern Ghouta.” He proposed adding language about a new investigative body to determine responsibility for chemical attacks that is unacceptable to the U.S. and its allies.

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