Syria Again Used Chemical Weapons: HRW

Rights group accuses Syria of fresh chemical attacks

The Syrian government has conducted "coordinated chemical attacks" on the rebel controlled portions of Aleppo, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy site] alleged [report] Monday.

Government helicopters dropped chlorine bombs "in residential areas in Aleppo on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016", the New York-based group said. Injuries from the chemical weapons numbered in the hundreds.

Inspectors charged with determining who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria have determined that the Syrian government was behind at least three attacks involving chlorine gas in 2014 and 2015 and Islamic State was responsible for at least one involving mustard gas in 2015.

But Russia, Syria's closest ally, has repeatedly questioned investigators' conclusions linking chemical weapons use to the Assad regime.

Damascus "utterly rejects" a recent Human Rights Watch report that said its military and allied forces had used chemical weapons during their capture of Aleppo past year, Syrian state media reported on Wednesday. HRW emphasized that the pattern of the attacks indicated careful coordination by the military and clearly ruled-out rogue operations by a few. "And it is a strong indication then that senior military officers, the commanders of this military offensive in Aleppo, knew that chlorine was being used", he said.

"The government of the Syrian Arab Republic altogether denies the false allegations made in Human Rights Watch's report", the source said. It is due to issue its next report by Saturday.

Despite lack of conclusive evidence, a number of countries, in particular the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, blamed the Syrian government for the chemical attacks.

Reuters reported in January that leading Syrian officials, including President Assad and his brother, had been identified as possible suspects in the chemical attacks.

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