Monday, September 22, 2014

Syria May Have Dangerous Chemical Weapons.

                                       Syria says all chemical weapons handed over
Syria's government said Sunday it has turned over all its chemical weapons and adhered to an international treaty, after US accusations that it had carried out several chlorine gas attacks.
"Syria has fulfilled its obligations by adhering to the Chemical Weapons Convention," the foreign ministry said in a statement published by state media.
"It cooperated fully with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and no longer possesses these weapons," it added.
 The comments come after US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accused Syria's President Bashar al-Assad of violating the convention by using chlorine as a weapon.

"We believe there is evidence of Assad's use of chlorine, which when you use it -- despite it not being on the list -- it is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention," Kerry told US lawmakers.

The United States also had "some questions about a couple of other items" which were being investigated "so he's in violation of the convention," Kerry added.
After an August 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on Assad's government, the regime agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.
Syria was not required to declare any chlorine stockpiles, but the toxic agent can be considered a chemical weapon if used offensively, violating the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The OPCW has reported "compelling confirmation" that a toxic chemical was used "systematically and repeatedly" as a weapon in northern Syria earlier this year.
It said it had a "high degree of confidence" that the chemical in question was chlorine.
Syria's government has always denied responsibility for the August 2013 chemical weapons attack, accusing rebels of carrying it out to spur international intervention.
And the foreign ministry warned Sunday of a similar "conspiracy."
"Syria warns against the possibility of a conspiracy against Syria by regional and Western parties to provide terrorist groups with chemical weapons to be used against our people," it said.

The objective of such a "conspiracy" would be "to accuse the Syrian army and launch an (international) attack against Syria."
The United States threatened military action against Syria's regime after the 2013 sarin attack, but held off following the chemical disarmament agreement.Washington is now weighing air strikes inside Syria against the Islamic State jihadist group as part of a coalition effort.
Syria has said any unilateral military action against jihadists on its territory would be a violation of its sovereignty.

As the Times reported:  Syria May Still Have Chemical Weapons
The assertions by Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Security Council, were made after the Council received a private briefing on the Syria chemical weapons disarmament effort from Sigrid Kaag, the United Nations official appointed last year to coordinate it. Under Ms. Kaag, 96 percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile, including all of the most lethal materials, have been destroyed.

The shipping out and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal was perhaps the lone bright spot in the Western efforts to contain the humanitarian crises born of the three-year-old Syrian civil war. Millions of Syrians have been displaced and nearly 200,000 people have been killed, according to recent estimates.

Last summer, a Russian-brokered deal spared Assad from the infamous red line set forth by President Obama following reports of chemical weapons attacks by the government forces on population centers. The deal meant all of Syria's chemical weapons would be gone. But as the process was mired by delays and limited by the raging civil war, there remained other reasons for skepticism:

What's particularly distressing about this revelation is that Assad, whose grip already seemed tenuous at a few points in the past three years, is facing off against a consortium of militias that are gaining momentum.
In some unsettling news, the United States reportedly fears that embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad didn't get rid of all of his country's chemical weapons after all.
ISIL's exploits in Syria have been well-documented and last week, rebels from the al-Nusra Front captured the border posts near the Syrian-Israeli border and quickly kidnapped dozens of United Nations peacekeepers. As the war continues to rage, the (re)introduction of chemical weapons into the equation has terrifying ramifications.

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