The conflict between rebels and the government in Syria became more violent during this past week, when allegations of chemical warfare were raised by international intelligence agencies.
BBC World News reported on April 26 that Syrian citizens were admitted to local hospitals after exhibiting symptoms of a gaseous chemical attack. Subsequent investigations revealed that the Syrian government may have utilized a nerve agent called sarin on a local scale.
The U.S. government is moving forward cautiously, making it clear that intelligence agencies believe this attack has occurred “with varying degrees of confidence.” Left-wing politicians worry that if the U.S. jumps into military action, the nation could once again become mired in an international conflict similar to the war in Iraq. However, right-wing leaders are calling the alleged attack an obvious war crime and are encouraging President Obama to ready the American armed forces for military movement.
The Syrian government is adamantly denying the truth of these accusations and is refusing to cooperate with investigations from the American and British governments. According to British intelligence, materials taken directly from Syria have tested positive for an air-born sarin attack. The international community has been concerned about Syria’s amazing capacity for chemical warfare for the last year. The U. S., especially, has raised concerns about the safety of Syria’s chemical warfare stockpiles. Furthermore, Anthony Loyd, a journalist for The Times newspaper, is claiming there was another chemical warfare attack earlier this month. Loyd was in the city of Aleppo when citizens began flooding to the hospital with no superficial wounds, but were exhibiting chemical warfare symptoms like foaming at the mouth, dilated pupils and unconsciousness. In the alleged attack on Aleppo, 31 civilians were killed, making it the most violent of the supposed chemical warfare attacks. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon of the U. N. has told Syria to allow the U. N. to launch a thorough investigation of the attacks and civilian deaths. Despite the presence of this evidence, international intelligence agencies are struggling to establish a fool-proof case against the Syrian government due to the untraceable nature of chemical warfare and the defensive position of Syrian politicians.
According to CNN News, Obama has said that if the use of chemical weapons against civilians were to be proven, then the U.S. would need to take action. It is unclear if the U.S. would provide weapons to the rebels in the two-year Syrian civil war or if it would take offensive military action to remove President Bashar Assad from power. After the bombings in Boston, the U.S. is even more concerned that it could become the target of chemical warfare, but to allow a violent attack on civilians to go unpunished would make future attacks on unarmed citizens more likely. The stakes associated with this crisis are even higher because the international community is already in a state of tense negotiations as threats from North Korea and Iran become more frequent. Therefore, many different countries are watching the response of the U.S. carefully, as it will set a precedent for future war crimes committed on the global stage.
Information The Times, CNN, and BBC World News was used in this report.