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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.