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US vows to ‘respond swiftly’ if Syria launches chemical attack on Idlib

A Syrian child is being treated in a hospital after being in a chemical attack in Idlib, Syria [Anadolu Agency]
A Syrian child is being treated in a hospital after being in a chemical attack in Idlib, Syria [Anadolu Agency]

The United States and its allies will respond “swiftly and appropriately” if the Syrian army uses chemical weapons against civilians in the war-torn province of Idlib, the White House warned yesterday.

“The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russia and Iran,” the White House said in a statement.

The statement added that the US President Donald Trump “has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”.

Read: Syria, Russia pound Idlib as northern assault begins ahead of peace talks

The US administration pledged that it “will continue to work tirelessly with its allies to find a lasting diplomatic solution to resolve the hostilities in Syria under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254”.

On 30 August the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, called on Russia, Iran and Turkey “to avert an assault in Idlib,” and to secure “a humanitarian corridor” to evacuate the city’s civilians ahead of what he described as “a potential perfect storm” by the Syrian regime on the city.

Syrian forces and its allies have for weeks been massing around Idlib, despite the Astana May 2017 agreement which included the city in the de-escalation zone.

Yesterday, Syrian and Russian air forces shelled sites across Idlib province killing five children from the same family.

There are about 3 million people in Idlib, Syria’s last opposition stronghold.

Read: France FM says Syria’s Assad won war, not peace

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