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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, issued the following statement in response to reports that chemical weapons have been utilized in Syria.

“The reports of chemical weapon use in Syria raise grave concerns over the security of this extremely unstable region and the safety of the people of Syria and our allies in the Middle East,” said Shaheen. “There is no question that Syria holds significant chemical weapons stockpiles that present a serious security threat to the region and to the United States. While these reports are still officially unconfirmed, we must remain vigilant and stand ready to act with our allies and partners to ensure these dangerous weapons don’t fall into the hands of terrorists and that those involved in the use of chemical weapons are held accountable.”

Shaheen has long been a leader in raising concerns over Syria’s chemical weapon use and calling for greater vigilance over the security of Syria’s chemical arsenal. She joined a bipartisan letter in February of 2012 to the Secretaries of State and Defense highlighting her concern that a collapse of the Assad regime could lead to the uncontrolled spread of both chemical weapons and shoulder-fired missiles capable of bringing down commercial jets. She reiterated those concerns at a hearing in March of 2012 with U.S. commanders in the region, and again at a second hearing with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.