At a State Department press conference on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the Assad regime of Syria is using chemical weapons against its own citizens – a violation of an international treaty which Syria agreed to in 2013.
“I’m absolutely certain…that the preponderance of these attacks have been carried out by the regime,” Kerry said. “I think everybody’s patience is wearing thin with respect to the extraordinary depravity of the weaponry and mechanisms for delivery”.
The Syrian Civil War has been raging for over four years, and this is not the first time that reports of chemical weapons have reached The West.
While the United States has acknowledged abuse of the Syrian people by President Bashar al-Assad, an effort at intervention failed in 2013 when Congress denied authorization of President Obama’s call for air-strikes.
The latest accusations against the Assad regime come from an investigation by Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, which showed evidence that at least three attacks in north-western Syria last March used bombs containing chlorine gas.
Witnesses near the bomb sites said they smelled the chemical and surviving victims of the attack had symptoms including breathing problems, burning in the eyes and throat, and fluid build-up in the lungs.
Gas canisters recovered at the three locations were also found to contain remnants of refrigerants typically used in heat pumps, refrigerators, and air conditioning units.
America’s best chance of influencing the Assad regime may be partnering with Russia, Syria’s closest world-power ally. John Kerry admitted that he has spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the Human Rights Watch report, and expects him to bring the issue of chemical weapons up again with Syrian officials in the near future.
[The Hill] [UPI]
“We are not simply sitting there and allowing this to happen without any efforts to see if there is a way to stop it,” Kerry said. “Thus far, it has not been stopped and it is only increasing the international community’s anger at the Assad regime.”