Assad Used Chlorine in May Chemical Weapon Attack on Syria's Idlib, Says Pompeo

Regime is responsible for 'innumerable atrocities,' some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, U.S. state secretary claims

President Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, February 17, 2019.
Handout / Syrian Presidency Face

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the United States had concluded the government of President Bashir Assad in Syria had used chlorine as a chemical weapon in a May attack as part of its battle for Idlib.

"The Assad regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity," Pompeo told a news conference. "Today I am announcing that the United States has concluded that the Assad regime used chlorine as a chemical weapon on May 19."

A few days after the May attack, the U.S. State Department said they saw signs of the regime using chemical weapons in northwest Syria.

"We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. 

Ortagus said the alleged attack was part of a violent campaign by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces violating a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area.