In a statement issued to the press, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the massive chemical attack that killed at least 100 people, including women and children, and wounded hundreds of others, “horrific” and cast blame, in part, on Russia and Iran.
The two nations have supported the Bashar al-Assad regime with money and weapons in that country’s ongoing bloody civil war.
“The United States strongly condemns the chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, the third allegation of the use of such weapons in the past month alone,” Tillerson said, adding that a “genuine ceasefire” is needed — something Iran and Russia have touted as their purpose in intervening in the Syrian conflict.
“We call upon Russia and Iran, yet again, to exercise their influence over the Syrian regime and to guarantee that this sort of horrific attack never happens again,” Tillerson said in the statement. “As the self-proclaimed guarantors to the ceasefire negotiated in Astana, Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths.”
The massive chemical attack was followed by a bombing spree targeting hospitals.
According to Fox News and the Associated Press, Syrian’s medical relief organization UOSSM reported that at least 100 people were killed and some 400 more injured.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 11 children were killed in the attack.
The UK Independent reports that an AFP journalist witnessed the destruction at a hospital where medical staff were treating patients and in as-yet-unverified video footage showing an explosion striking a hospital while a reporter was interviewing doctors on-camera.
In August 2012, President Barack Obama warned Assad against crossing a “red line” by using chemical weapons.
“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.
“That would change my calculus; that would change my equation,” Obama said.
Just before leaving office, Obama said he did not regret his red-line remarks in an interview on the CBS news program “60 Minutes.”
“I don’t regret at all saying that if I saw Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons on his people that that would change my assessments in terms of what we were or were not willing to do in Syria,” Obama said.