The #Syrian civil war has taken a significant toll on the Syrian people, but the most horrific experience is the use of chemical weapons by the #Assad government on its people. The international community is continuing its efforts to put pressure on Assad to stop any use of chemical weapons, and several nations have been active in various airstrikes meant to deter chemical weapon use.
On February 14, French President Emmanuel Macron directly confronted the Syrian government, threatening to strike Syria if proof emerges that its government is using chemical weapons against civilians. His comments follow reports of suspected chlorine attacks in Syria, since early January.
Nine people were recently treated for breathing difficulties after a bomb, which is believed to have been filled with a chemical agent, was dropped onto their town that is being held by the rebels. According to the Syrian opposition, a government helicopter dropped the bomb on Saraqeb. The Syrian Civil Defense said that three of its rescue workers were among the casualties of the attack.
However, despite the accusations of the opposition, the Syrian government firmly denies any #chemical #weapons were used and noted that they do not target civilians.
Macron indicated that the French intelligence had not found any proof of the use of chemical weapons. “Today, our agencies, our armed forces, have not established that chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against the civilian population,” said Macron. “As soon as such proof is established, I will do what I said. The priority is the fight against terrorists.”
The position of the French government was made clear last year during conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” said Macron when speaking with reporters. “If we have proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made.”
This is not the first time that the #Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons. In 2013, after chemical attacks near Damascus, the United States and Russia even went so far as to agree to a plan that would remove and destroy the chemical weapons in Syria.
Despite this effort, incidents continue to be documented where toxic chemicals have been released. In April 2017, an attack on a rebel town with chemical weapons resulted in a missile strike by the U.S. against a Syrian air base.
Diplomatic efforts have made little progress towards ending this war, which is now entering its eighth year. The violence has forced half of the pre-war Syrian population from their homes, while hundreds of thousands have lost their lives.
In recent weeks, multiple agencies have accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas as a chemical weapon. This gas is legal, as it can be used in the water purification process.
The United Nations, along with France, have repeatedly called for a ceasefire and the opening of aid corridors to address the humanitarian crisis plaguing the country. However, Russia has indicated that a ceasefire is not possible, and as Assad’s most powerful ally, their support is necessary to bring about a true ceasefire.
Pentagon officials have also claimed that U.S. special operation forces have come under attack from a Soviet tank operated by pro-Syrian government forces. A drone strike was called to destroy the tank, which has been called an act of self-defense by the U.S. forces.
The drone strike marks the second time in a week that U.S. forces have carried out a defensive attack against Syrian forces, and there are some who believe a military confrontation is on the horizon between Assad and the U.S.
Russia has called the U.S. presence in Syria as illegal.
The Russian Ministry of Defense also weighed in, noting the U.S. attacks “once again proved that the true goal of the continuous illegal presence of U.S. forces in Syria is already not the fight against #ISIS international terrorist group, but the capture and control of the economic assets belonging solely to the Syrian Arab Republic.”
While the international community argues among themselves about the future of Syria, the Syrian people are the ones paying the price, and now it seems that chemical weapons may be part of the arsenal of the Syrian government.