Tillerson blames Russia for allowing new Syrian chemical weapons attack


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said Russia “ultimately bears responsibility” for failing to stop Syria from its continued use of chemical weapons, a day after reports of a new attack.

“Only yesterday more than 20 civilians, mostly children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” Tillerson said, at a conference in Paris, where roughly two-dozen countries met to discuss ways to prevent further chemical weapon use.

“Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in Eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria,” Tillerson continued.

He also questioned Russia’s role in efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“Russia’s failure to resolve the chemical weapons issue in Syria calls into question its relevance to the resolution to the overall crisis,” Tillerson said.

The secretary accused Russia of violating a 2013 agreement that calls for the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. He pointed to Russian efforts to protect Syria by vetoing two United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that could have held the country accountable. {mosads}

“There is simply no denying that Russia, by shielding its Syrian ally, has breached its commitments to the United States as a framework guarantor,” Tillerson said. “At a bare minimum, Russia must stop vetoing and at least abstain on future UNSC resolutions on this issue.”

Tillerson’s comments come a day after reports that Syrian government forces may have used chlorine gas in an attack Monday in Eastern Ghouta, an area near the capital of Damascus. Activists and rescue teams said they suspected the Syrian government of using poison gas in the attack, killing nearly 20 civilians.

The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons.

France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Turkey, as well as other countries attended the Chemical Weapons Convention on Monday, forming a partnership that aims to punish groups who use chemical weapons.

“Over 25 like-minded countries are here today to ensure that those who use chemical weapons will be held accountable. France, the U.K., Germany, Turkey and many others are here today to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention and its vision of a world free of these heinous weapons,” Tillerson said.

“This initiative puts those who ordered and carried out chemical weapons attacks on notice. You will face a day of reckoning for your crimes against humanity and your victims will see justice done,” he added.

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