UN investigators are looking into reports the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on at least two rebel-held towns in recent days. The reports mark at least the sixth time the regime of President Bashar Assad has used such weapons against civilian population centers.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Tuesday it had received multiple reports “that bombs allegedly containing weaponized chlorine have been used in the town of Saraqeb in Idlib and Douma in eastern Ghouta.” The allegation is likely to further increase tensions between the U.S. and Russia at the UN Security Council, where both countries are permanent, veto-wielding members. The U.S. complains that Russia, which backs the Assad regime, blocks any meaningful action against the Syrian leader’s use of internationally prohibited weapons.
“It’s a true tragedy that Russia has sent us back to square one in the effort to end chemical weapons use in Syria,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN said Monday at the Security Council. “But we will not cease in our efforts to know the truth of the Assad regime and ensure that that truth is known and acted on by the international community.” The remarks echoed those made by Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, in late January, after another incident in which Assad was accused of using chemical weapons. Tillerson said: “Whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in east Ghouta [the Damascus suburb where the attacks took place] and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria.” Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War in October 2015 decisively tilted the conflict in Assad’s favor.