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U.S. Accuses Syria of New Chemical Weapons Use

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People received medical attention at a makeshift hospital following an alleged chlorine gas attack on the rebel-held part of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on Monday.Credit Mohammed Badra/European Pressphoto Agency

UNITED NATIONS — The American envoy to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, on Tuesday accused Syria’s government of having carried out a chlorine gas attack on civilians in a rebel enclave and rebuked Russia for what she called its failure to stop such assaults, which under international law are considered war crimes.

The attack happened on Monday when Syrian government forces launched rockets loaded with chlorine gas at targets in the rebel enclave, Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict through a network of contacts in Syria. At least 13 people were injured, the group said.

Such an assault, if confirmed, would be among the first in Syria since the dissolution two months ago of the United Nations Security Council’s panel for investigating who is responsible for chemical weapons use in the war.

U.S. Accuses Syria of New Chemical Weapons Use
U.S. Accuses Syria of New Chemical Weapons Use

In a statement, Ms. Haley said that Russia bore some responsibility for the attack because of its decision to veto the renewal of the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism. Russia said the panel had been biased and unprofessional, accusations that the United States and its allies angrily disputed.

By halting the work of the investigative body, Russia sent a “dangerous message to the world,” Ms. Haley said on Tuesday, “one that not only said chemical weapons use is acceptable but also that those who use chemical weapons don’t need to be identified or held accountable.”

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