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(Washington, D.C.)--The deadly war for control of Syria has taken a gruesome turn for the worse with the heinous attack against civilian populations on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21. The available evidence, including credible reports from Doctors Without Borders, strongly suggests that the many injuries and deaths reported were the result of a major chemical weapons attack. In this instance, the use of chemicals was more significant and the casualties were greater than earlier suspected episodes involving chemical munitions--and more brazen given that UN inspectors had just arrived in Damascus.
The U.S. intelligence community has “high confidence” that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on a small scale, the White House said.
Differences over language addressing the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria sharply divided the recent review conference for the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The U.S. intelligence community has tentatively concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, but is seeking further evidence.
Responding to a request from the Syrian government, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is preparing to conduct an investigation into claims of chemical weapons use in Syria.
The current situation in Syria poses severe risks, but it may be creating an opportunity for the international community to put in place important constraints on Syria’s chemical weapons and armory of missiles.
President Barack Obama last month warned the Syrian government that using or moving chemical weapons would be seen as a step that was so serious it could trigger a U.S. military response.