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Pilot who launched deadly Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack in Syria promoted to commander

General Mohammad Yousef Hasouri has been promoted to commander [Zaman al-Wasl]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2020

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The military pilot who launched a deadly sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib has been promoted by the Syrian regime.
The pilot responsible for launching a deadly chemical attack on the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed at least 90 people, has been appointed to commander by Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad.

General Mohammad Yousef Hasouri will take up the position in the 70th brigade, which is affiliated to the T-4 airbase, east of Homs, The Syrian Observer reported.

Hasouri was the deputy commander of Shayrat airfield in central Homs province, from which the chemical attack was launched against Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib four years ago.

He is believed to have flown his Su-22 fighter jet and bombed Khan Sheikhoun with sarin gas. 

A list obtained by Zaman al-Wasl, which first reported the news of Hasouri's promotion, reveals that of the 52 officers to have been promoted by the regime, almost all were "military pilots who carried out deadly strikes".

The Russia-backed Assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilian targets over the course of the brutal civil war, international investigators have said.

According to Human Rights Watch, 90 people, 30 of them children, died in the sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, making it the deadliest chemical attack since the attack on Ghouta.

Former President Barack Obama had called chemical weapons use a red line but ultimately rejected military retaliation against the regime after its 2013 chemical attack on the Damascus suburb Ghouta, which killed as many as 1,729 people.

Current US President Donald Trump ordered strikes on Hassouri's airbase with 59 cruise missiles in response to the sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

Read more: As Syria regime inches closer, Idlib city prepares for mass exodus of civilians

In September last year, the United States found that Assad's regime had again used chlorine in the May prior as part of its deadly offensive to retake Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

More than 500,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which broke out following the brutal suppression of anti-Assad protests in 2011.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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