State TV says suicide car bombing kills 2 in southeast Iran

TEHRAN, Iran – A suicide car bomber attacked a police headquarters in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar on Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding 15, state TV reported. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though a semi-official news agency blamed a Sunni jihadi group for the assault. State television … Continue reading “State TV says suicide car bombing kills 2 in southeast Iran”

TEHRAN, Iran – A suicide car bomber attacked a police headquarters in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar on Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding 15, state TV reported. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though a semi-official news agency blamed a Sunni jihadi group for the assault.

State television broke into its regular broadcast to report the attack as such assaults are rare in the Islamic Republic.

Rahmdel Bameri, a provincial official, told state TV that a suicide attacker driving a vehicle loaded with explosives drove up to the police headquarters. He said police officers blocked the vehicle and started firing at the driver, who then detonated his explosives.

State TV also aired footage of smoke rising over the city. State television said two police officers were killed, lowering an initially reported death toll of three without explanation.

State authorities did not identify who was behind the attack. No militant group immediately said it was behind the bombing. However, the semi-official Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, blamed the attack on Ansar al-Furqan, a Sunni jihadi group.

Ansar al-Furqan is known to operate in Iran's southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province, which sees occasional attacks by Baluch separatists and drug traffickers. A year ago, the group claimed to have blown up an oil pipeline in Iran's southern Khuzestan province.

Chabahar, near Iran's border with Pakistan on the Sea of Oman, is home to a new port recently built and is an economic free zone for the country.

The attack comes as Iran's economy reels in the wake of the U.S. re-imposing sanctions lifted by Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. While Iran still complies with the accord, President Donald Trump withdrew America over the deal in part due to Tehran's ballistic missile program, its "malign behavior" in the Mideast and its support of militant groups like Hezbollah.

While rare, Iran has been targeted in recent years by militant attacks.

In September, gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, killing at least 24 people and wounding over 60. Arab separatists and the Islamic State group both claimed the assault. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the attack, allegations denied by both countries.

A coordinated June 2017 Islamic State group assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.

Global study: Threat of terror falling worldwide, far-right violence rising in North America, Western Europe

A new global study is showing the threat of terror is falling worldwide.

The Global Terrorism Index reported that deaths from terrorism have decreased by 27 percent in 2017 to 18,814 globally — the third consecutive year of improvement. The fall in global terrorism is reflected in the index: 96 countries improved this year, with 46 countries diminishing — the highest number of countries to improve year-over-year since 2004.

The global economic impact of terrorism was $52 billion in 2017 — a decrease of 42 percent from the previous year.

The study, which ranks 163 countries, and accounts for 99.6 percent of the world’s population, has been conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) for the last 17 years.

The new report noted nearly all terrorist attacks have taken place in countries where political violence by governments is widespread.

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Steve Killelea, IEP’s executive chairman, explained the outcomes in a statement: “IEP’s research finds that conflict and state terror are the principal causes of terrorism — of the 10 countries most impacted by terrorism, all were involved in at least one violent conflict and eight were involved in a major war with at least 1,000 battle deaths. These ten countries accounted for 84 per cent of all deaths from terrorism in 2017. When combined with countries with high levels of political terror, the number jumps to over 99 per cent. Political terror involves extra-judicial killings, torture and imprisonment without trial.”

The 10 countries most marked by terrorism are: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Congo, Central African Republic and India.

However, terrorism is still a global phenomenon with 67 countries recording at least one death in 2017, and there has been an increase in what it identified as far-right terrorism in North America and Western Europe, which in 2017, accounted for 31 attacks and 17 deaths.

Deaths in Europe, likewise, fell by 75 percent. France, Belgium and Germany had significant improvements, however, Spain deteriorated significantly.

Killelea added: “The marked improvements in Europe can be attributed to a number of reasons. ISIL has lost much of its attractiveness due to its military defeats and weakened capabilities to mount attacks in Europe. Increases in counter-terrorism funding, combined with better surveillance techniques, have also contributed to the steep reduction of deaths in Europe from terrorism. However, interestingly, although deaths from terrorism in Europe have decreased, the number of terrorist incidents increased in this period. This highlights that ISIL is losing its ability to plan and coordinate larger scale terrorist attacks, as a result of lessened capabilities and increased counterterrorism measures.”

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The Islamic State remains the world’s deadliest terrorist group, the study noted.

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The report dovetails with the results of an annual report the Trump administration released in September, which highlighted another drop in terrorist attacks worldwide. The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism said the number of worldwide terrorist attacks dropped by 23 percent last year compared with 2016 — a change largely because of gains against the Islamic State in Iraq. The number also had declined in 2016 over the previous year.

The 23 percent drop in worldwide terrorist attacks in 2017 was attributed mainly to fewer attacks in Iraq, where territory once held by the Islamic State was retaken by government forces. Deaths because of terrorist attacks also decreased by 27 percent last year. The report said ISIS alone carried out 23 percent fewer terrorist attacks and caused 53 percent fewer total deaths, compared with 2016.

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Despite the drop in attacks, the Trump administration report described the terrorist landscape as “more complex,” and said the terrorist threat to the U.S. and allies around the world had “evolved.” As ISIS lost territory, the group became “dispersed and clandestine, turning to the internet to inspire attacks by distant followers,” which has made the group “less susceptible to conventional military action,” the report said.

Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Pan Am Flight 103 wreckage lays at scrapyard in English village, nearly 30 years after deadly terror attack

Nearly 30 years after Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew members aboard, the final resting place for some of the wreckage has been revealed in new photos to be at a scrapyard in the English countryside.

In aerial photos obtained by South West News Service, much of the plane's remains can be seen at Windleys Salvage in the village of Tattershall, located about 150 miles north of London.

The classic blue and white Pan Am livery is still clearly visible in the pile of splintered metal, hidden behind a fence and along a wooded area.

Much of the wreckage from Pam Am flight 103 can be seen at Windleys Salvage in Tattershall, England. (SWNS)

Flight 103 was traveling from Frankfurt to Detroit on Dec. 21, 1988, via New York and London when it was downed about a half hour after takeoff by a bomb smuggled aboard.

Of those killed on board, 178 were Americans and 35 were Syracuse University students headed home for Christmas after completing a study aboard program. There were 11 people killed on the ground in the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland by falling debris.

Local resident Robert Love stands by one of the four engines of the ill-fated Pan Am 747 Jumbo jet, 22 December 1988, that exploded and crashed 21 December on the route to New-York, with 259 passengers on board. (ROY LETKEY/AFP/Getty Images)

After the bombing, wreckage from the plane was collected and transported to an army base, while the mid-section where the blast took place was taken to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, according to The Sun.

SENIOR ISIS LEADER INVOLVED IN KILLING OF FORMER US ARMY RANGER KILLED IN DRONE STRIKE, COALITION SAYS

Scottish rescue workers and crash investigators search the area around the cockpit of Pan Am flight 103 in a farmer’s field east of Lockerbie Scotland after a mid-air bombing killed all 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground. (Getty Images)

The rest of the metal from the plane was taken to Windley's Salvage, where it must remain until all investigations and appeals into the terror attack are complete, according to The Sun.

Libyan Intelligence Officer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi became the only person convicted for the bombing and was jailed for life in 2001 on 270 counts of murder, but was released on so-called compassionate leave in 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

His release drew outrage in the U.S. and Europe — and was celebrated in Libya — until he eventually died in 2012 at the age of 60.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Brother of Australian cricket star Usman Khawaja arrested by counter terrorism police

The brother of Australian cricket star Usman Khawaja has been arrested by counter-terrorism investigators over an alleged faked terrorism plot.

Arsalan Khawaja has been charged with forgery and attempting to pervert justice relating to the discovery of a notebook containing alleged concocted plans to carry out terror attacks in Australia.

The 39-year-old, who was arrested in Parramatta, west of Sydney, Tuesday, was allegedly motivated by a jealous dispute with a colleague over a woman, authorities said.

His brother broke his silence on Tuesday afternoon, issuing a statement asking for his family’s privacy to be respected.

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“I won’t be saying much guys. It is a matter for police to deal with. Out of respect for the process it’d be inappropriate for me to make any further comment. I just ask you to please respect my privacy and my family’s privacy during this time.”

Investigators swung into action on August 30 after a handwritten book was found at the University of New South Wales, outlining alleged plans for a series of attacks.

The fake targets allegedly included Australia's former foreign minister Julie Bishop, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and several major landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House.

The alarming find led to the wrongful arrest of Mohamed Nizamdeen, a PhD student and casual IT support employee at the university’s campus in Sydney.

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Investigators sensationally dropped the charge and the 26-year-old was cleared of any wrongdoing, but not before spending four weeks detained at the notorious maximum security Goulburn prison.

Mr Nizamdeen is now suing police. Authorities confirmed they had paid his legal costs but would not comment on any further possible compensation.

“We regret the circumstances which led to him being charged and the time he subsequently spent in custody,” Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing told a press conference.

“We feel very sorry for him and what happened to him.”

An investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team concluded that Khawaja allegedly produced the fake “extremist and threatening” material in a bid to frame Mr Nizamdeen.

“We believe (he was) set up in a planned and calculated matter … motivated in part by personal grievances,” Mr Willing said.

There was no evidence to suggest any “ongoing threat to the community”, he said.

In October, counter-terrorism police questioned Khawaja, who was employed alongside Mr Nizamdeen, and later searched his Westmead home.

Today’s arrest follows an investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, dubbed Operation Moorsel.

The probe had taken up “an enormous amount of resources,” Mr Willing said.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au. For more from news.com.au, click here.

Ariana Grande shares letter to fans about Manchester bombing

Nearly a year-and-a-half after the suicide bombing on her Manchester concert, Ariana Grande is opening up about the attack.

During the fourth episode of Grande’s YouTube docuseries "Dangerous Woman Diaries," which aired Thursday, Grande shared a letter she wrote to her fans following the traumatic event that took 22 lives and left hundreds injured.

"It's been eight months since the attack at our show at the Manchester Arena. It's impossible to know where to start or to know what to say about this part. May 22, 2017, will leave me speechless and filled with questions for the rest of my life," she began the letter.

"Music is an escape. Music is the safest thing I've ever known. Music — pop music, stan culture — is something that brings people together, introduces them to some of their best friends, and makes them feel like they can be themselves. It is comfort. It is fun. It is expression. It is happiness. It is the last thing that would ever harm someone. It is safe."

The "God Is a Woman" songstress, 25, detailed how the event would not only change her life but would also teach her strength in the face of hardship.

"When something so opposite and so poisonous takes place in your world that is supposed to be everything but that … it is shocking and heartbreaking in a way that seems impossible to fully recover from," she continued. "The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us for the rest of our lives. Their love, strength, and unity showed me … not to be defeated. To continue during the scariest and saddest of times. To not let hate win. But instead, love as loudly as possible, and to appreciate every moment."

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Though Grande didn't know initially if she could ever sing again, she went on to co-organize and perform in a benefit concert for Manchester just two weeks later.

"The people of Manchester were able to change an event that portrayed the worst of humanity into one that portrayed the most beautiful of humanity," she added. "'Like a handprint on my heart' … I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life."

This article originally appeared on Page Six.

Nigerian leader: Islamic extremists are now using drones

JOHANNESBURG – Islamic extremists in Nigeria have begun using drones, the country's president says, opening a worrying new front in the region's nearly decade-long fight against Boko Haram and an offshoot linked to the Islamic State.

President Muhammadu Buhari announced the development during a meeting on Thursday of countries that contribute troops to a multinational force combatting the extremists.

This appears to be the first confirmed use of drones by an extremist group in Africa, according to the World of Drones project run by the Washington-based New America think tank. Its section on non-state actors notes that Libyan rebels are reported to have used drones for surveillance in that chaotic North African nation.

Deadly attacks against Nigeria's military are on the rise, with 39 soldiers killed this month alone and another 43 wounded. The extremists' use of drones for surveillance in the country's northeast has proven to be a "critical factor" in the resurgence of attacks, the president said.

Nigeria's military has its own, armed drones, as the United States and others and others increasingly use them in West Africa's fight against groups linked to al-Qaida and IS.

Extremist organizations have been quickly adopting the use of drones. The Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq last year was found to have a formal drone unit, and Houthi rebels in Yemen have used a drone to strike a Saudi warship, according to the New America project.

The assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in August, when two drones loaded with explosives exploded during his speech, set off another round of global fears about the threat of drones in enemy hands.

"Unfortunately, greater commercial accessibility to (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology will make UAVs more attractive as a delivery method for terrorist attacks," U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryan Card wrote in Air & Space Power Journal this year.

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Taliban attack in Kabul killed 6, including British national

KABUL, Afghanistan – A brazen Taliban attack that targeted the Kabul offices of a British security company killed five of its staffers, including a British national, the company said Thursday. Afghan authorities said a sixth person was also killed in the assault.

Charlie Burbridge, the managing director of G4S Risk Management Group, said 32 employees of the company were also wounded in the attack, five of them seriously.

"Our thoughts at this difficult time are with the loved ones of those who have died and been injured, and our brave team in Afghanistan who have lost colleagues and friends," Burbridge said in a statement.

The attack started with a suicide bomber who rammed his explosive-packed truck into the gate of the G4S compound in eastern Kabul on Wednesday evening, followed by an hours-long gunbattle with insurgents armed with grenades and automatic rifles who stormed the compound building.

The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack, said it was in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike in southern Helmand province hours earlier that killed 30 people, many of them civilians.

Afghan officials revised the initial number of 10 reported killed in the Kabul assault to six. The public health ministry spokesman, Wahid Majroh, said four attackers had also died, leading to the confusion, but he did not identify any of the casualties.

The suicide blast left a giant crater in its wake and blew out windows in nearby buildings.

Jan Agha, a police officer at the site of the explosion Thursday, recalled the gunbattle that lasted into the night as ambulances ferried the victims to hospitals amid the chaos.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents had killed 10 foreigners but the Taliban often exaggerate their claims. All the attackers died in the assault.

After the attack in Helmand, a local official, Attahullah Afghan, said most of the civilian casualties there — which included men, women and children — came when an airstrike struck a house in the central Helmand River valley, a Taliban heartland.

U.S. officials said it happened in Helmand's Garmsir district. U.S. military spokeswoman in Kabul, Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson said the airstrike was called in by Afghan special security forces who were conducting an operation with the assistance of U.S. advisers.

"At the time of the strike, the ground force was unaware of any civilians in or around the compound; they only knew that the Taliban was using the building as a fighting position," she said in an email.

A statement from the governor's office in Helmand confirmed that 16 Taliban were killed. It said an investigation was underway to determine the number of civilian casualties.

The statement also said the militants had stockpiled ammunition in the area of the operation, which could have caused civilian casualties. There was also a car packed with explosives that ignited during the strike, the statement added.

The attacks were the latest in a series of brutal and near-daily Taliban assaults throughout the country. The Taliban view the U.S.-backed government in Kabul as a dysfunctional Western puppet and have refused repeated offers to negotiate with it.

The fighting came as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was in Geneva, attending a two-day U.N.-backed conference that ended Wednesday and that focused on development, security and peace efforts in the war-battered country.

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Associated Press writers Kathy Gannon in Islamabad and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

The Latest: Afghan official says at least 1 killed in attack

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Latest on developments in Afghanistan (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

A spokesman for the Afghan Public Health Ministry says at least one person has been killed and 12 wounded in a coordinated attack by Taliban insurgents against security forces in the eastern part of the capital Kabul.

The wounded have been transferred to hospitals from the Wednesday attack site, says Wahid Majroh.

Officials say a suicide bomber detonated his explosives and then other insurgents started a gun battle with forces in the area. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, says security forces have started a clean-up operation and there is no sound of gunfire. The forces are looking around for any other possible attackers, he added.

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8:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Kabul police chief says at least six people have been wounded in a coordinated attack against security forces in the eastern part of the capital Kabul.

Basir Mujahid says the six were transferred to a hospital for treatment.

Officials say a suicide bomber detonated his explosives Wednesday and then other insurgents started a gun battle with forces in the area.

Mujahid says security forces are in control of the area and there isn't any shooting now.

Mujahid says initial reports indicate that the target of the attack was a security company called G4S. He couldn't provide any other details on the company.

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8 p.m.

Najib Danish, spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, says there's been a coordinated attack against security forces in the eastern part of the capital Kabul.

He says a suicide bomber detonated his explosives Wednesday and then other insurgents started a gun battle with forces in the area.

Danish says there are casualties but the number of dead and wounded was not immediately clear.

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7:25 p.m.

An Afghan official has reported a loud explosion in the capital Kabul.

Nasart Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, says there are no immediate details.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Taliban and Islamic State group insurgents are active in Kabul.

The explosion comes after at least 30 civilians were killed, along with 16 Taliban fighters, by government forces battling the insurgents in Helmand province overnight.

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5:15 p.m.

An Afghan official says that at least 30 civilians have been killed, along with 16 Taliban fighters, as government forces battled the insurgents in Helmand province overnight.

Attahullah Afghan, who heads the provincial council, says most of the casualties — including men, women and children — incurred in an airstrike that hit a house on Tuesday night during military operations there.

A statement from governor's office in Helmand confirmed that 16 Taliban insurgents were killed and said an investigation was underway to determine civilian casualties.

It says the militants had stockpiled ammunition in the area of the operation, which could have caused civilian casualties. There was also a car packed with explosives that ignited during the strike.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed all the victims were civilians.

US soldier, 2 Afghan troops killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military said Saturday that a service member has been killed in Afghanistan, while in a separate incident two Afghan soldiers died when their helicopter failed to land properly.

The brief U.S. military statement did not provide further details on the soldier's identity or the time or place of death.

The two Afghan soldiers died Saturday when their helicopter made an "emergency landing" in the southern Kandahar province due to a technical problem, Defense Ministry spokesman Ghafor Ahmad Jawad said. He said two other soldiers were wounded when the helicopter caught fire after landing. The Taliban claim to have shot the helicopter down.

In the capital, Kabul, a senior religious scholar was shot and killed, said Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for the capital's police chief. No one immediately claimed the killing of Abdul Basir Haqqani, but police arrested a man with a pistol near the scene of the shooting, Mujahid said.

Also Saturday, the Islamic States group in statement posted on its Aamaq website claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Friday inside an army base in eastern Khost province which killed at least 27 army soldiers.

"The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosive vest among them (army soldiers)," the IS statement said, without mentioned that the attack occurred inside a mosque at the base.

The attack came just days after a suicide bomber killed 55 religious scholars gathered in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to celebrate the holiday marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The Taliban denied involvement in that bombing, which also wounded 94 people.

The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but still provide vital support to Afghan security forces, who have been struggling in recent years to combat a resurgent Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate. Some 15,000 U.S. soldiers are currently serving in Afghanistan.

International forces have also suffered from so-called insider attacks in recent months, in which Afghan soldiers or police have opened fire on them.

The Latest: Syrian rebels dismiss poison-gas claims

DAMASCUS, Syria – The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

12:45 a.m.

Syrian rebels have dismissed government accusations they used poison gas to attack government-held Aleppo city.

Rebel commander Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razak says the opposition doesn't possess poisonous gases or the capabilities to lob them. Abdel-Razak served in Syria's chemical weapons program before defecting to join the opposition in the early years of the conflict, which began in 2011.

Abdel-Razak tweeted that "These are lies" soon after reports emerged of an attack in Aleppo that injured dozens of people.

Rebel spokesman Mustafa Sejari dismisses the poison-gas claims. He says they came after government shells landed in rebel-held areas, violating a Russian-backed cease-fire. He says the government is trying to undermine the cease-fire.

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12:25 a.m.

A Syrian official says that at least 50 civilians were being treated Saturday following a suspected poison gas attack by Syrian rebel groups on the government-held Aleppo city in the country's north.

Syrian state TV previously said that 21 people had been injured, but people continued to arrive at a hospital in Aleppo where state TV was airing live.

Health official Haj Taha says at least 50 civilians have been injured.

Head of Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman said there was a stench of gas in Aleppo city after projectiles were fired.

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10:30 p.m.

Syrian state media is reporting that 21 civilians have been treated for breathing problems following a rebel attack it said involved projectiles filled with poisonous gas on the government-held city of Aleppo.

Syrian state TV aired footage late Saturday of the injured lying in hospital beds as doctors administered oxygen and other treatments.

State news agency SANA quoted a police officer in Aleppo saying the attack hit al-Khalidiya neighborhood. Syrian state TV later said the attack has also hit two other areas in the city and said a total of 21 people had been injured. State TV interviewed doctors in a hospital who said most people were suffering from breathing problems and blurred vision.

In the past, rebels have accused the government of using chlorine gas to attack opposition-held areas.

A joint team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons accused Syria's government of using chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015, and using the nerve agent sarin in an attack in April 2017 in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed about 100 people.

The UN-OPCW team also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas twice in 2015 and 2016.