US claim Assad regime may be preparing chemical attack

  • Dominika Jandová
  • 3.7.2017 07:17

On Monday 26 June, the White House announced that according to intelligence agencies Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria could be preparing a chemical attack resulting in a great number of casualties. The Syrian regime, as well as its main ally, Russia, denied such accusations and believe this is a "diplomatic battle" and a justification for another attack on the country. The US, UK and France blame the Syrian regime for April's chemical attack on Khan Shaykhum, where, according to the latest findings by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, sarin or a sarin-like substance was used. The U.S. warning, however, is based on the previous investigation which determined the Syrian regime responsible for attacks using chlorine in 2014 and 2015. According to the U.S. defence secretary, James Mattis, it is undoubtedly clear that Syria remains in possession of certain chemical weapons. Russian representatives stated that this statement by the U.S. about a prepared attack could complicate peace negotiations, and warned that possible steps by the U.S. against Syrian forces will be responded.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), despite the so-called Islamic State's (IS) counter-offensive, are still moving forward in retaking back the city of Raqqa and cleaned out almost 20 square kilometres around the city during last week. According to a statement from Thursday 29 June, Kurdish and Arabic militia fighters took control over the last route into the city, completely surrounding the Raqqa. The international U.S.-led coalition plays an important role in this advance, but its bombing campaigns also result in a large number of civilian casualties, which was the highest in three years during May and June. Just this year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, near 700 civilians were killed during coalition bombings.

The U.S.' support for the Kurds in the fight against the IS is still affecting its relationship with Turkey, who sees the armament of Kurdish militias as a threat, and their advances as causing more instability in the fight in the country. During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday 28 June, Turkish artillery hit the YPG's targets in Syria after the militia started firing against Turkish-supported forces in the north of Syria in previous days. According to latest statements, Turkey intends to react to all threatening steps taken by the YPG and is sending military reinforcements to the area. The YPG plans to liberate the area between the towns of Azaz and Jarabulus, which is currently controlled by Syrian rebels backed by Turkey.

About author: Dominika Jandová


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