The Syrian regime appears to continue to produce and employ banned chemical munitions, the Trump administration said Thursday. U.S. officials laid out what they said were strong indications that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used the munitions repeatedly since the April attack that triggered President Trump’s missile strike on a Syrian military facility, The Washington Post reports.
“We’re certainly seeing the evolution of allegations into new kinds of weapons that suggests an ongoing production capability. They clearly think they can get away with this if they keep it under a certain level.” an official told The Post.
The comments highlight American concern that Syrian authorities may be trying to rebuild their chemical weapons program despite years of international censure, and that support from Russia may be helping them do so.
Senior U.S. officials, speaking to journalists on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said there did not appear to have been any “large use” of banned munitions since April last year.
But there have been repeated reports of smaller chemical attacks on civilian areas. On one day last month, two separate chlorine attacks were reported in rebel-held towns.
State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the U.S. was “extremely concerned” about another report of chlorine gas use Thursday in Eastern Ghouta, an opposition-controlled suburb of Damascus that has been the site of previous chemical attacks.
“We will continue to seek accountability through all available diplomatic mechanisms, including the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for the confirmed use of chemical weapons by any party,” Vasquez said in a statement.