U.S. Blames Russia for Continued Syria Chemical Weapons Use

Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Russia is in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the U.S. on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria

File photo: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a press conference in Tehran, February 13, 2019
File photo: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a press conference in Tehran, February 13, 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Russia is ultimately to blame for any use of chemical weapons in Syria.

He said Tuesday that Russia is in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the U.S. on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and is helping the Syrian government to breach the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans their use.

Tillerson told the inaugural meeting of a new organization aimed at ending impunity for the use of chemical weapons that Russia must stop vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions on holding those who use such weapons accountable. If it cannot support a future Security Council resolution to that end, it should abstain, Tillerson said.

The United States and 28 other countries are launching a new plan to better identify and punish anyone who uses chemical weapons, amid new reports of a suspected chemical attack in Syria.

The initiative was announced Tuesday in Paris, where U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and diplomats from the other signatory countries.

The group plans to publish information about chemical attacks to name and shame perpetrators and eventually sanction them. U.N. efforts to punish perpetrators in Syria have failed, repeatedly blocked by Syrian ally Russia.

Activists and rescue teams said the Syrian government launched an attack Monday with suspected poisonous gas that affected nearly 20 civilians in a rebel-held suburb near Damascus. The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.

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