In March 2011, political conflicts within Syria escalated into a violent and chaotic civil war. Over 100,000 people have perished in the past two years as a result of the ongoing conflicts between the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian rebels. On Fri., Aug. 21, the Bashar al-Assad regime launched the worst chemical weapons attack in the past 25 years. The attack took place in the suburbs of Damascus killing hundreds of people, including women and children.
In a written statement, a senior Obama administration official said that “based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts and other facts gathered by open sources, the U.S. intelligence community, and international partners, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.” He later went on to say, “If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN—five days ago.”
The vicious warfare of the past few days has prompted debates in Washington over whether or not to engage in the Syrian conflict. According to the UN, Damascus and the Syrian government have agreed to a ceasefire while UN forces investigate the area. On Mon., Aug. 26, unidentified snipers shot at a UN team while they investigated the gas attack site. As UN forces and the US military decide on what to do in the upcoming days, the US must be wary of a tentative line.
Last year, President Barack Obama said that if Syria engaged in chemical warfare, they would be crossing a serious “red line.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel stated, “This situation must not be allowed to continue […] The most dangerous regimes in the world must not be allowed to possess the most dangerous weapons in the world. Now the whole world is watching. Iran is watching, and it wants to see what would be the reaction on the use of chemical weapons.”
According to an official of the Obama administration, “We are continuing to assess the facts, so the president can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.”
(Sources: Huffington Post, The New York Times, CNN)