(MEE) — U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Saturday that public reports showed Syria was using chemical weapons and added that it was time for the international community to hold the Syrian government to account.
“Public accounts and photos clearly show that Assad’s chemical weapons use is continuing,” McMaster said at the annual Munich Security Conference.
“It is time for all nations to hold the Syrian regime and its sponsors accountable for their actions and support the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” he said, without specifying which public accounts or pictures he was referring to.
The US has repeatedly accused the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in its long-running civil war. Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine gas, but stressed that the U.S. did not have evidence of sarin gas use.
McMasters also warned that Iran, a close ally of the Syrian regime was building and arming an increasingly powerful network of proxies across the Middle East, including in Syria.
“What’s particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more capable, as Iran seeds more and more … destructive weapons into these networks,” McMaster told the annual Munich Security Conference.
Both Iran and Russia have provided military support to the Assad government in its eight-year conflict with Sunni rebel groups. Diplomatic efforts have made little progress towards ending the war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced half the pre-war Syrian population of 23 million from their homes.
Just heard General #McMaster draw a very thick line on the use of #CWs by the #Assad regime.
Goes further and says he can confirm continued use of CWs.
Asks for collective action to support OPCW but goes no further.
Inevitable conclusion:watch this space (or lose US credibility). pic.twitter.com/3tXUkJzO59
— Salman Shaikh (@Salman_Shaikh1) February 17, 2018
In recent weeks rescue workers and aid groups echoed US claims that Syria was using chlorine gas as a weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib. The two regions are the last major rebel-held areas in Syria and were bombarded earlier this month by Syrian and Russian forces.
The Syrian government has denied the accusations and said it targets only armed rebels and militants.
McMasters also identified Yemen and Iraq as states where Iran was building proxy forces. In Yemen, Tehran has been accused of violating a UN arms embargo by channeling weapons to Houthis militias. The Houthis are fighting the Saudi-backed and internationally recognised Yemeni government. Iran denies the accusation.
Iran has also offered support to various Iraqi Shia militias known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces.
This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.
Since you’re here…
…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us