The US State Department has called on the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad to dismantle its chemical weapons programme completely. A statement on the department's website on Thursday stressed the need to ensure that "these weapons will not be used against the Syrian people any more."
The Syrian regime has used chemical weapons several times, killing and wounding thousands of civilians, despite a prior UN agreement not to use such weapons. Many human rights organisations and UN officials have tried to bring the perpetrators, headed by President Assad, to court in order to prove their involvement in such attacks.
The UN Security Council has condemned the Assad regime for using chemical weapons, but Russia has vetoed condemnations on several occasions. Moscow is a close ally of the Syrian president.
An international investigation concluded that the Syrian government used sarin gas in the Khan Shaykhun massacre in April last year, in an area under the control of the opposition in Idlib. More than 100 civilians were killed, with 500 others wounded, most of them children. There was extensive international condemnation, although nobody has been held to account for the crimes.