France sanctions businesses linked to Syria chemical weapons

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France sanctions businesses linked to Syria chemical weapons

"Only yesterday more than 20 civilians, a lot of them children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack", Tillerson said.

"The recent attacks in Eastern Ghouta raise serious concerns that Bashar al-Assad may be continuing to use chemical weapons against his own people".

Diplomats from 29 countries including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were set to meet in Paris later Tuesday pushing for further sanctions and criminal charges against the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria.

The Syrian government said on Wednesday that claims by France and the United States that it was still using chemical weapons were "lies".

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, however, doubted Russia's intentions, noting that Russian Federation used its veto three times in 2017 to stop the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN for chemical weapons use in Syria.

A day earlier, during remarks in London, the top US diplomat said the United States was "concerned" about the offensive against USA -backed Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria. "At a bare minimum, Russian Federation must stop vetoing and at least abstain on future UNSC resolutions on this issue", he said.

The area, known as eastern Ghouta, is an enclave of rebel support in a part of the country that Assad has long dominated during the country's near seven-year-old war. "You don't get to question the findings when they don't go your way", Haley said.

The earlier Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), established in 2015, expired in November after the UNSC failed to expand its mandate. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry gave copious public assurances in 2014 that Russian Federation succeeded in getting "one hundred percent of the chemical weapons" out of Syria.

The Kremlin on Wednesday accused Washington of trying to complicate worldwide efforts to probe the use of chemical weapons in Syria and rejected accusations it was responsible for recent attacks.

"We call on the community of responsible and civilized nations to put the use of chemical weapons to an end".

He hoped the USA officials would cool down and gradually accustom themselves to a more adequate perception of "what is happening around, including the proposals made by the Russian side".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that the situation "cannot continue" as such in Syria.

The meeting agreed to preserve evidence of chemical attacks from Syria and set out plans to prosecute the perpetrators.

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