“It is time for all nations to hold the Syrian regime and its sponsors accountable”
US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Saturday that the Assad regime must be held to account for its chemical attacks in Syria.
“Public accounts and photos clearly show that Assad’s chemical weapons use is continuing,” McMaster (pictured) said at the Munich Security Conference. “It is time for all nations to hold the Syrian regime and its sponsors accountable for their actions and support the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”
French officials, including President Emmmanuel Macron, have stepped up their calls for action over the Assad regime’s assaults with sarin and chlorine since 2012, including sarin attacks that killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus in August 2013 and up to 92 people in Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria in April 2017.
Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Assad regime had carried out chemical attacks since 2013. However, he indicated that while the US would act against another use of the nerve agent sarin, it would not necessarily do over the regime’s numerous assaults with chlorine, including at least four since January 13.
Macron also pointed to a distinction between sarin and chlorine, saying “France will strike” if chemical weapons are employed against civilians in violation of international treaties. Chlorine is not a banned substance under international conventions, because of its common domestic uses.
Mattis’s statement was also distorted by news agencies who misreported that he had said the US had no evidence of any sarin use by the regime. In fact, the Defense Secretary was referring to an unconfirmed claim of a recent sarin attack in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
Pro-Assad activists seized upon the faulty accounts to claim vindication for the regime.
(Reuters repeats the error in its account of McMaster’s remarks, saying Mattis “stressed that the U.S. did not have evidence of sarin gas use”.)
ISIS Claims Killing of Regime General in Eastern Syria
The Islamic State claims it has killed an Assad regime commander in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria.
Brig. Gen. Jamal Razuk died on Saturday when his car crashed on the highway between Deir ez-Zor city and Palmyra. The regime military initially claimed an accident, but ISIS outlet Amaq said the vehicle was struck by an ambush.
Razuk was the chief of military intelligence in Deir ez-Zor Province.