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Thursday, March 19, 2015

REPORTED CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN SYRIA, SAYS SECRETARY KERRY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Sarmin, Syria
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 19, 2015

The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that the Assad regime used chlorine as a weapon again, this time on March 16 in an attack on the town of Sarmin. We are looking very closely into this matter and considering next steps. While we cannot yet confirm details, if true, this would be only the latest tragic example of the Assad regime's atrocities against the Syrian people, which the entire international community must condemn.

What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism. As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation. The Assad regime must be held accountable for such atrocious behavior.

A chemical weapons attack through the use of chlorine would not only be the latest example of the regime’s brutality towards the Syrian people, but also a direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2209, which specifically condemned the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria and made clear such a violation would have consequences. Any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use, including the use of toxic industrial chemicals, must be investigated, and we continue to support the OPCW Fact Finding Mission in its continuing critical mission.

The Assad regime’s horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Syrian people underscores the importance of investigating this allegation as quickly as possible, holding those who perpetrated such abhorrent acts in violation of international law accountable, and continuing to support the complete elimination chemical weapons in this volatile region.