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Threat of Chemical Weapons-Related Provocations in Syria Still Remains

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The threat of provocations related to use of chemical weapons in Syria still remains, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, adding that terrorists might possess toxic substances. “There was repeated information about possible provocations with usage of toxic substances. And, of course, making it public was likely to help to avoid such provocations”, Peskov added. On Friday, Putin said at the International Economic Forum in Russia’s St. Petersburg (SPIEF) that Russia foiled planned chemical attacks’ reiteration on the Syrian territory by making public the intelligence data on the plot in early May. The Russia leader also refuted the reports of Syrian President Bashar Assad having stockpiles of toxic substances, and people having allegedly suffered from the chemical weapons and called them a “provocation”.


US defense secretary: Syria still has chemical weapons.

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U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis landed in Israel on Thursday as part of his first official visit to the Middle East. Mattis met Friday with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Tel Aviv, before heading to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Pentagon chief was also scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin. While in the country, Mattis plans to discuss U.S. Israel ties and the challenges facing the Middle East, chiefly Iran and its attempts to consolidate its regional dominance.During a press conference in Tel Aviv, Mattis said Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 agreement to get rid of its entire stockpile. He reiterated the U.S.’s “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and its qualitative security advantage over Iran”, adding that Washington looks forward to increasing its defense ties with Israel and to “strengthen our alliance with Israel as a cornerstone of our cooperation with Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states. My goal is to increase regional cooperation.”Lieberman thanked Mattis for his “friendship, support and understanding of the complexities and challenges Israel faces. There is no doubt that the main problem is the axis of evil from North Korea to Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah in Beirut. The common thread is Iran, which is trying to erode stability throughout the Middle East. We [Israel and the U.S.] share the same positions and values, and we hope that with your support we will be able to overcome the threats and bring stability to the region”. Lieberman went on to say that “on behalf of the Israeli public and myself, I would like to express my appreciation to the Trump administration. We are delighted to see the first visit by a [Trump] cabinet member, and we hope President Donald Trump visits Jerusalem this year as well”.

Tillerson faces tough talks in Moscow amid increased tensions.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow this week will be an early test of whether the Trump administration can use any momentum generated by a missile attack on a Syrian air base to craft and execute a strategy to end the Syrian war. Even before Trump ordered last week’s strike in retaliation for a nerve gas attack, Tillerson’s visit was certain to be dominated by thorny issues, including Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, an apparent violation of an important arms control treaty, and seeing what cooperation, if any, is possible in the fight against Islamic State. Now, Tillerson, a former oil executive with no diplomatic experience, is charged with avoiding a major U.S. confrontation with Russia while exacting some concessions from Moscow. Those include getting rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remaining chemical weapons and pressing Assad to negotiate Syria’s future.

Iran categorically condemns US attack on Syria.

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Bahram Ghasemi, the Spokesperson of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that US unilateral measure against Syria will benefit the terrorists and violates the international law. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as the biggest victim of chemical weapons in the contemporary history, condemns all uses of chemical weapons regardless of their users or victims, and at the same time, considers any unilateral measure with this excuse as dangerous, destructive, and violating of the imperative principles of the international law”, said Bahram Ghasemi, the Spokesperson of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in reaction to US missile attack on an air base in Syria. The Iranian diplomat reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns any unilateral military measure and described the US missile attack on Shayrat air base in Syria as helpful to terrorists.


Iran condemns use of chemical weapons in Syria.

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Foreign Ministry Qasemi remarks a day after deadly use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Idlib. Noting that this catastrophic incident was not the first of its kind in Syria, the spokesman warned against adopting double-standard approaches and making hasty judgments. Despite chemical disarmament of the Syrian government with the full cooperation of the government and under the supervision of a joint representative from the UN and OPCW, failure to pay due attention to disarmament of terrorist groups remains to be an obstacle on the way of Syrian chemical disarmament, the spokesman said, noting that Iran has always voiced concern about the consequences of this issue.  He said that one of the aims behind the attack was to hamper diplomatic efforts in Astana to find a settlement to Syria crisis which had led to a ceasefire in the war-hit country. Iran, as the main victim of usage of chemical weapons, sympathizes and condoles with the families of the victims, Qasemi said, voicing Tehran’s readiness to accept those injured for receiving medical treatment.

White House blames Syria's Assad regime for Idlib chemical attack.

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The White House on Tuesday blamed a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province on the government of President Bashar al-Assad and said the incident was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world”. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the last administration’s weakness and irresolution,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a briefing. “President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing” picer declined to say what the U.S. administration would do about the attack but added President Donald Trump had spoken on Tuesday with his national security team about the issue.

Suspected use of chemical weapons by Sudanese government durign an attack in Darfur,as revealed by Amnesty International

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Today Amnesty International renewed its call for a UN investigation about a suspected use of chemical weapons by Sudanese government durign an attack in Darfur. Amnesty did already report, in september 2016, the evidence that government used chemical weapons in Darfour (between January and August 2016), but the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at that time said that there weren’t enough informations to draw conclusions. Amnesty’s report contained 100 pages, including photos of children with chemical burns, displaced people, destroyed villages, interviews and chemical weapon’s expert’s analysis. President Omar al-Bashir defined Amnesty’s report’s  accusations as “empty lies”. The attack, according to  Amnesty, was a military operation against the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, accused by the government to attack civilians. The conflict in Darfur between ethnic minority groups and Bashir’s government started in 2003. Since then 300,00 people have been killed, and 2.5 million are displaced. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide charges, but he denies the accusations and insists that Darfur conflict has ended.


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