U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that he has seen “raw data” indicating that the Syrian government has used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon in a “number of instances” in recent months, The Washington Post reports.
“There will be consequences” if evidence of new chemical use is confirmed, Kerry said during a visit to London, but “we’re not going to pin ourselves down to a precise date, time, manner of action.”
Activists said last month that over 100 people were killed in a chlorine gas attack in the town of Talmenes in Idlib province, and the United Nations Security Council has called for an investigation into the alleged attack.
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the Syrian regime is believed to have used chemical weapons, including chlorine, in 14 attacks since late 2013 and also expressed regret that President Barack Obama failed to unleash strikes on the Syrian regime as punishment for a sarin gas attack last summer.
“I have seen evidence...it hasn’t been confirmed, but I’ve seen the raw data that there may have been, as France has suggested, a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war,” Kerry was quoted by The Washington Post as having said in London.
In addition to possible consequences that have been “made clear by President Obama and others,” he noted a French-sponsored resolution being circulated at the Security Council that seeks to hold the Syrian government responsible for “crimes against humanity, atrocities in the course of this conflict.”
On Wednesday, Syria emphatically denied that it had carried out chlorine gas attacks against civilians.
"I assure you 100% that chlorine gas has never been used by the government," Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad told CNN.