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Deadly Syria attack shines spotlight on chemical weapons linked to Assad regime, ISIS-inspired terror groups

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Fox News

Hollie McKay

RAQQA, Syria – The Syrian government and its Iran and Russian backers continue to rebuff staunchly any responsibility for chemical attacks in the war-ravaged country — of which there allegedly have been more than 50 since the war began — including last weekend in the city of Douma. Instead, they point the finger at opposition “terrorist” groups at having either “staged” the events or dispersed the chemicals themselves.

And while the U.S. and allied French and U.K. officials collected irrefutable evidence linking the Assad regime to the recent attacks — prompting retaliatory action to take out their stockpiles early Saturday — the showdown has cast a renewed spotlight onto the chemical weapons use of non-state actors in the war-torn country.

According to some experts, this latest development poses a perhaps even more direct threat on U.S. interests.

“There has always been a sneaking suspicion that ISIS and other terror groups in Syria may have overrun several of Assad’s hidden stores of chemical weapons. The challenge, however, is ISIS fighters might not have the ability to use them efficiently, as such weapons would be dropped from the skies or used in artillery-style weapons,” Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, told Fox News. “There is always a danger a terror group could somehow develop chemical weapons and attack our homeland or our allies.”

Last month, the Cipher Brief reported that U.S. intelligence had intercepted “chatter” pertaining to ISIS aspirations to plot chemical attacks on the U.S. homeland.

The sleeper cell threat of ISIS remains, as well, along with concern that the group’s “ideology” could spring a resurgence at any time.

The wartorn Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from the Islamic State terror network last year.  (Fox News)

And at the heart of the group’s nefarious capabilities in Syria was their once black-flag cloaked “caliphate capital” of Raqqa city.

The razed and burned city is slowly coming back to life, having been liberated last October, but remains clogged by pockets of booby traps and bodies numbering around 600 outside of the main roads.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/04/15/deadly-syria-attack-shines-spotlight-on-chemical-weapons-linked-to-assad-regime-isis-inspired-terror-groups.amp.html