The State Department has threatened Syria with sanctions following allegations of chemical weapons by OPCW experts

In the U.S., it was reported that the issue at stake was the diplomatic isolation of the regime and the blocking of any stabilization assistance for the country’s reconstruction.

The State Department has threatened Syria with sanctions following allegations of chemical weapons by OPCW experts

The United States may impose new sanctions against Syria in connection with the publication of the report of the Panel of Inquiry and Identification (PCI) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the alleged use of warfare agents by the Syrian authorities in March 2017 in the locality of Al-Latamna. This was stated on Wednesday at a briefing for journalists by a senior State Department representative.

He was asked what concrete measures Washington could take with regard to Damascus following the publication of the report. According to the diplomat, the U.S. could appeal to the UN Security Council, but it considers it virtually useless. “Unfortunately, this mechanism is not available to us because Russia, which is usually supported by China, blocks all attempts to hold accountable the regime of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and his allies,” he said.

“For this reason, we will have to take other kinds of actions. Those are actions of political, diplomatic and economic nature”, –  the State Department spokesman said. According to him, we are talking about restrictions, too. “They also include sanctions programs, including sanctions under the “CAESAR Syria Civilian Protection Act”, which was recently adopted by an overwhelming majority in our Congress to punish the regime and, frankly, to punish those who support it economically for what they did”, –  said the diplomat.

“They also include the regime’s diplomatic isolation. They include blocking any stabilization assistance to rebuild the country until the country complies with its obligations under the UN”, –  added a State Department official.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Washington shares the assessments contained in the OPCW experts’ report. At the same time, he did not cite any specific facts, condemning on behalf of the U.S. “the use of chemical weapons” and demanding from the Syrian authorities “to immediately stop the development, storage and use of chemical weapons.

The SRI report asserts that the Syrian Air Force is responsible for three incidents that took place in Al Latamn (Homs province) in March 2017. According to OPCW investigators, in two of those incidents, on 24 and 30 March, Syrian Su-22 warplanes assigned to the 50th Brigade of the 22nd Aviation Division dropped bombs containing sarin poison gas in the south of the town. In addition, according to the report, on March 25, a Syrian Air Force helicopter dropped a cylinder of chlorine on a hospital. As stated in the permanent mission of Russia to the OPCW, the document was drawn up with flaws and is not credible.

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