Global Affairs

WaPo Editorial: “Emboldened” Syria Continues Chemical Weapon Use

An editorial today in The Washington Post condemns the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for “once again blatantly violating the ‘red line’ drawn by Mr. Obama against the use of chemical weapons” and violating its commitment to abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention it signed last year.

One grim indication that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been emboldened by the U.S. air campaign in Syria is the fresh reports of chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas. The Institute for the Study of War has compiled 18 allegations by Syrian sources of chlorine gas attacks by the regime since U.S. strikes against the Islamic State began in August. The first strike was reported Aug. 19 — the same day that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had completed the neutralization of the chemical weapons stockpile surrendered by the regime. The most recent was reported last week, when government forces allegedly used chlorine gas against rebel positions in the suburban Damascus area of Jobar.

How can the Assad regime still resort to chemical-weapons attacks months after the completion of a U.S.-led disarmament operation that President Obama claims as a success? One reason is that chlorine was not included in the chemicals the regime was obliged to hand over, even though its use in war violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined as part of the Russian-brokered deal. So while handing over stocks of sarin and mustard gas, the Assad forces have been fashioning “barrel bombs” containing chlorine and dropping them from helicopters on neighborhoods held by rebel forces.

In addition to its use of chlorine in September and again in October, the Assad regime admitted to chemical weapons facilities it failed to disclose earlier to the OPCW, as it had been obliged to.

[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube ]