News / Middle East

Chemical Weapons in Syria Fit Pattern of Escalation

Chemical Weapons in Syria Fit Pattern of Escalationi
X
May 01, 2013 11:29 PM
President Barack Obama says the United States has evidence chemical weapons were used in Syria, but more proof is needed before he would order an American response. Analysts say if the Syrian government used such weapons, it would fit a pattern of gradual escalation of the attacks against rebel forces during the two-year long civil war. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Meredith Buel
President Barack Obama says the United States has evidence chemical weapons were used in Syria, but more proof is needed before he would order an American response.  Analysts say if the Syrian government used such weapons, it would fit a pattern of gradual escalation of the attacks against rebel forces during the two-year long civil war.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe it is likely the Syrian government has used the lethal nerve agent sarin.

But President Obama says the evidence is not strong enough for the U.S. to take action.

"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them," said President Obama.

Some analysts believe using only a small amount of these weapons is designed to avoid mass casualties and is a strategic decision by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Joseph Holliday is a former intelligence officer in the U.S. Army who is now a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

“And so this careful introduction is designed to ensure that there is not a major reaction, which will allow him to ratchet up the use of the [chemical] weapons in the future," said Holliday.

The commander of the Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idris, said in a letter to President Obama that the Assad government's use of chemical weapons could be a prelude to a larger deployment of such weapons as part of that government's strategy.

The subtle introduction of chemical weapons appears to fit the Assad government’s model for military escalation.

After using heavy artillery to shell rebel-held cities, the government deployed helicopter gunships and then Syrian war planes.

The Syrian military even fired Scud missiles into densely populated urban areas.

“I think that Assad has been able to call our bluff in many respects because there really are not many good options for military intervention in Syria," Holiday said.

The Assad government blames recent bombings in Damascus on terrorists, a term officials use to describe rebel fighters. And it has denied using chemical weapons.

"If they had any proof, any evidence, any tools - credible - they should share it with the secretary-general.  They should share it with us," said Syria’s U.N. Ambassador is Bashar Jaafari:

Analysts say chemical weapons are part of the government’s strategy of forcing civilians to flee rebel held areas without the destruction of infrastructure caused by conventional weapons.

They say this ensures that even when rebels capture territory they lose much of the population.

“I think we are looking at potentially a quarter of the Syrian population has either been displaced within their cities, out of their cities, or even across international borders," Holliday said.

The Free Syrian Army is asking the U.S. to help rid Syria of the Assad government and its chemical weapons.

You May Like

AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa; Ban Ki-moon welcomes decision to form a five-nation force More

Mass Protests Held for 58 Killed in Pakistani Shi'ite Mosque Bombing

Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets across Pakistan Saturday to protest a powerful bomb blast at a mosque in Sindh province during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people More

Williams Wins Australian Open with Straight-Set Victory over Sharapova

The win is Serena Williams' sixth in Australia, and her 19th overall Grand Slam title More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid