U.S. intelligence has concluded that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a chlorine attack in May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.
“This attack was part of the Assad regime’s ongoing violent campaign in Idlib, which has killed more than 1,000 innocent Syrians and displaced hundreds of thousands more,” Pompeo said at a news conference in New York. “It is also the latest instance in a long pattern of Assad’s chemical weapons attacks that have killed or wounded thousands of Syrians.”
The intelligence assessment further says that this violation of the international deal barring the use of chemical weapons is the first one since President Donald Trump authorized a military strike on Syria in 2018 in response to the Assad regime’s use of poison gas.
According to a senior U.S. official, the attack took place on May 19, as part of an effort by Assad’s army to subdue resistance in Latakia province. The Syrian government denies carrying out the attack.
In his statement, Pompeo added that the United States will tolerate neither the attacks nor those trying to hide them, announcing for that purpose an additional $4.5 million contribution to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to aid “its investigations of continued chemical weapons use in Syria,” CNN reports.
Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the formation of “a credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee” that the Syrian government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission had agreed on and which will be facilitated by the UN in Geneva.
“I strongly believe that the launch of the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee can and must be the beginning of the political path out of the tragedy toward a solution in line with resolution 2254 that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and is based on a strong commitment to the country’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity,” the Secretary-General said.