WAR IN SYRIA ~ What Is the U.S. Position on Syria? Have Chemical Weapons Been Used? (2013)




On 13 June, the United States announced that there is definitive proof that the Assad government has used limited amounts of chemical weapons on multiple occasions on rebel forces, killing 100 to 150 people. Sarin was the agent used with no proof that the rebels had access to such weapons. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes did not confirm whether this proof showed that Syria had crossed the 'red line' established by President Obama by using chemical weapons. Mr Rhodes stated that: "The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has." Tests conducted by France confirmed the United States conclusions, according to the French government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "the accusations of Damascus using chemical weapons put forth by the USA are not backed by credible facts." Russian foreign minister Sergey Larov stated that it makes no sense for Syrian government to use chemical weapons when the government already maintains a military advantage over the rebel fighters.

On 22 June the head of UN human rights investigation, Paulo Pinheiro, said the UN could not determine who used chemical weapons in Syria after the evidence had been delivered by the United States, Britain and France. However, the commission reported that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that chemical agents have been used as weapons".

A chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in the Zamalka district of Damascus was reported by the Syrian Support Group on 24 June 2013.

On 9 July the Russian ambassador to UN state that Russian experts have determined that Syrian rebels used sarin nerve gas outside Aleppo in March and presented the evidence they have collected. The United States White house Spokesmen, Jay Carney, told reporters at a press conference that they have yet to find evidence that backs up the assertion that anyone besides the Syrian government has had the ability to use chemical weapons or has used chemical weapons.

On 5 August, another chemical attack by the Syrian army was reported by the opposition, who documented the injured with video footage. The activists claim up to 400 people were effected by the attack in Adra and Houma of the Damascus suburbs. The content of the chemicals used has not been identified yet.

On 21 August, Syrian activists reported that Assad regime forces struck Jobar, Zamalka, 'Ain Tirma, and Hazzah in the Eastern Ghouta region with chemical weapons. At least 635 people were killed in a nerve gas attack. Unverified videos uploaded showed the victims, many of who were convulsing, as well as several dozen bodies lined up. Experts in chemical weapons stated that the footage showed signs that a nerve agent may have been used. Early sources reported a figure of 213 in a poisonous gas attack. The SNC chief said that the overall death toll stood at an estimated 1300, as only a fraction of the bodies could be collected and many died within their own homes. The Syrian government initially prevented United Nations investigators from reaching the sites of the attacks, despite their accommodations being only a few kilometers away. On 25 August, the Syrian government agreed to allow UN investigators to visit the site of the attacks. The UN inspectors arrived to the site of the attacks, despite being fired upon by an unknown party while underway. UN officials say that inspectors have gathered "valuable" evidence. On 26 August the inspectors reached some sites, but after an hour and a half, were ordered by the Syrian government to return due to 'safety concerns', and the inspectors could not reach the six main sites.
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