US vows to ‘seek accountability’ for Syria chemical attacks

National Security Council head says ‘impossible to deny’ regime’s use of chlorine in assaults against civilians, after UN report finds chemical weapons used by both Assad forces, Islamic State

A man being treated at hospital after a suspected chemical weapons attack in Idlib province in Syria, August 1, 2016. (Screenshot/YouTube)
A man being treated at hospital after a suspected chemical weapons attack in Idlib province in Syria, August 1, 2016. (Screenshot/YouTube)

After a scathing UN investigation, the White House said Wednesday it was “impossible to deny” that Syria had launched chemical weapon attacks, while calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to be held accountable.

“It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

“The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms, including through the United Nations Security Council.”

A UN investigation has established that President Bashar Assad’s forces carried out at least two chemical attacks in Syria and that Islamic State jihadists used mustard gas as a weapon, according to a report seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The panel was able to identify the perpetrators of three chemical attacks carried out in 2014 and 2015, but was unable to draw any conclusions in the other six cases that it has been investigating over the past year.

Price said the findings “present yet another opportunity for all nations to speak with one voice to address these heinous crimes and to make it clear that the use of chemical weapons is intolerable.”

That is likely to be seen as a veiled message to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, among others.

President Barack Obama recently warned Russia it faces fierce international rebuke if it continues to make common cause with Syria’s brutal regime.

The White House is turning up the diplomatic heat as Putin prepares to travel to the G20 in China and UN General Assembly in New York in the coming weeks

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