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Tillerson leaves military response to Syrian chemical attacks on the table

THE bombardment of Syria’s rebel-held eastern Ghouta area near Damascus by pro-government forces has killed 250 people in the 48 hours since Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

By – Max Greenwood

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested a U.S. military response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons remains on the table.

President Trump has already demonstrated that there will be consequences,” Tillerson told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an interview, when pressed about recent alleged chlorine gas attacks carried out by the Syrian government.

“As it was in April last year, we are serious about our demands that chemical weapons not become regularized or normalized as a weapon in any conflict.”

The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has faced allegations in recent weeks of repeatedly using chlorine bombs in rebel-held areas of the country, such as Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel enclave near the capital of Damascus. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied such claims.

In April of last year, the Trump administration launched a military attack on a Syrian base after Assad’s forces allegedly carried out a chemical attack.

The most recent suspected gas attacks have once again sparked an international outcry, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring on Tuesday that his country “will strike” if Assad’s government uses chemical weapons on civilians.

And Tillerson himself blasted Russia in late January following the reports, arguing Moscow “bears responsibility for the victims in Eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria.”

He told “60 Minutes” that Moscow has a “special responsibility” to ensure that the Syrian government cannot conduct chemical attacks.

“We have called them out for the fact that Russia has special responsibilities, in our view, because of commitments they made to destroy chemical weapons and ensure they knew there were none,” he said.

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