Possible Syria chemical weapons use raises U.S. concern

Nick Wadhams

The U.S. is increasingly concerned about reports of chemical-weapons use against civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

Trudeau was responding to a question about reports from Syrian opposition groups that at least two people were killed in a government airstrike using chlorine gas in Aleppo on Aug 10. Trudeau said the U.S. couldn’t confirm the report, while Syrian military officials have denied the claim.

“We are looking into reports of chemical weapons being used against civilians in Aleppo,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday. We’ve noted the trend, we’re increasingly concerned about it, we continue to gather information about it. It’s something we’re monitoring very closely.”

Amnesty International called the airstrike the third chlorine attack in the last two weeks in Syria. Amnesty researcher Diana Semaan told AP Television that a doctor received 60 people who had been exposed in the alleged attack.

Syria has been repeatedly accused of using chlorine in attacks in the three years since it agreed to dismantle its chemical-weapons program and turned over the last of its stockpiles in 2014. That deal didn’t bar Syria from keeping chlorine, a chemical commonly used for purposes such as water purification, although its use in attacks is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.