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Syrian regime used chemical weapons in Syria in May, Pompeo says

U.S. intelligence indicates Syrian regime forces used chlorine as a chemical weapon in a May 19 attack on Latakia province, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

The United States has confirmed that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons in May near the Syrian port city of Latakia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday, vowing a response.

The Assad regime used chlorine on May 19 as part of its deadly offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, Pompeo said.

"The United States will not allow these attacks to go unchallenged nor will we tolerate those who choose to conceal these atrocities," Pompeo told reporters.

"The United States will continue to pressure the insidious Assad regime to end the violence directed at Syrian civilians and participate in the U.N.-led political process," he said.

"The Assad regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity," Pompeo said.

The United States had earlier said that it suspected the chemical weapons attack but had held off on making a clear determination.

International investigators say that the Russian-backed Assad has repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilian targets in his brutal quest to end the civil war.

According to data supplied by Anadolu Agency in April, the Assad regime has used chemical weapons at least 216 times during the last eight years within the country. The regime conducted its first major chemical attack on Aug. 21, 2013, in the Eastern Ghouta region of Damascus.

Former president Barack Obama had called chemical weapons use a red line but ultimately declined military retaliation.

Drawing a contrast, President Donald Trump ordered strikes with 59 cruise missiles in response to a sarin gas attack in April 2017.

But Thursday's finding shows that the Assad regime was not deterred and Pompeo declined to specify what further responses were planned.

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