A report by United Nations investigators released Wednesday documents three separate chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the report, the attacks were carried out with chlorine gas on January 22 and February 1 on Douma, near Damascus, and on February 4 in the northern province of Idlib, Reuters reports.
It’s not clear how many people were killed and wounded, but the casualties included many women and children.
“To recapture eastern Ghouta in April, government forces launched numerous indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian areas, which included the use of chemical weapons,” the report said.
“The Commission concludes that, on these two occasions, government forces and/or affiliated militias committed the war crimes of using prohibited weapons and launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas in eastern Ghouta.
“The munitions documented were built around industrially-produced Iranian artillery rockets known to have been supplied to forces commanded by the government.”
On February 4, in Idlib “Government helicopters dropped at least two barrels carrying chlorine payloads in the Taleel area of Saraqeb.”
Once again the province is facing bombing raids by the Syrian military as the government attempts to wrench control of the province back from the opposition forces shunted into the region as other areas of the country came under Assad’s control.
The United States is watching the process closely, with Defense Secretary James Mattis having said on Tuesday that Assad was warned against the use of any chemical weapons in the assault on Idlib.
If the Syrian leader chooses to cross that red line, Mattis said action will follow.
“In Idlib we’re watching very closely what the Assad regime, aided and abetted by the Iranians and the Russians, are up to,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “The first time, he lost 17 percent of his pointy-nosed air force planes,” Mattis said, referring to the last time Assad jets were attacked after a chemical attack. “He’s been warned, and so we’ll see if he’s wised up.”