United States warns of toxic-gas push in Syria

Syrian regime targets E. Ghouta with gas White Helmets

Two senior administration officials warned that the USA could take military action against Syria following a new rash of reports of chemical weapons used against civilians supposedly carried out by the country's government, The Cipher Brief reported.But even bigger than another strike on Syria - which, while eye-catching, changed little geopolitically - the officials said the U.S. was on to Syria's backer and enabler: Russian Federation.

Last April, the US launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in response to what it called illegal Syrian use of chemical weapons.

The US has expressed serious concerns the Syrian regime led by its embattled leader, President Bashar al-Assad, could have come up with a new type of sophisticated chemical weapon to tackle its opponents in the long-running civil war.

On Friday, Mattis said it was clear Syria has weaponized chlorine, but added that he doesn't have evidence of sarin use.

Mattis was referring to the when the U.S. launched Tomahawk missiles against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.

"We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use", said Mattis.

TRUMP administration officials claim the Syrian Government may be creating new kinds of chemical weapons, despite a 2013 agreement to destroy such a program.

Raising the alarm about the continued threat, US officials said it was highly likely that Assad kept a hidden stockpile of chemical weapons after 2013 that he failed to properly disclose. Eastern Ghouta is the last major rebel position close to the capital and was the site of the deadliest chemical attack by regime forces, in 2013.

If left unchecked, the U.S. officials added, Assad could use small chemical attacks in the hopes to redress the power imbalance in rebel-held areas as an "instrument of terror".

Syria would be "ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical convention", Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said, the Washington Examiner notes. "Using military force is something that is still considered".

A State Department report issued last week outlines the reported use of chemical weaponry in the region. The heavily populated civilian town of Douma was hit in a suspected chlorine gas attack leaving over 21 casualties suffering from burns and breathing difficulties, including children.

"We're looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions", Mattis said.

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