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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs