US says Syrian regime used chlorine in May attack


U.S. intelligence indicates Syrian regime forces used chlorine as a chemical weapon in a May 19 attack on Latakia province, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday. 

“This attack was part of the Assad regime’s ongoing violent campaign in Idlib, which has killed more than 1,000 innocent Syria and displaced thousands more,” Pompeo said on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York City.

“Assad has used chemical weapons every year since Syria’s ascension to the chemical weapons convention in 2013. The United States will not allow these attacks to go unchallenged, nor will we tolerate those who choose to conceal these atrocities,” he added.

Additional details on the alleged chemical attack were not immediately available.

Pompeo announced the U.S. would be providing the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon with an additional $4.5 million to fund investigations “of continued chemical weapons use in Syria.”

The Treasury Department also announced the U.S. is sanctioning one Russian business, three Russian nationals, and five Russia-flagged ships for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to deliver jet fuel to Russian forces operating in Syria in support of the regime.

“Assad’s despotic regime is under an international spotlight for using chemical weapons and committing atrocities against innocent Syrian civilians, and they rely on these types of illicit networks to stay in power,” Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s top terrorism official said in a statement announcing the blacklistings.

The sanctions are a result of a joint FBI and the Justice and Treasury departments investigation, and the three people who were sanctioned — Ilya Alekseyevich Loginov, Ivan Okorokov and Karen Stepanyan — were indicted June 12 on sanctions violations charges.
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