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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In spite of UN deal Assad continues to make & use chemical weapons

After the biggest chemical weapons attack the world had seen since Saddam Hussein in the 1980's, much of the Left opposed the military response that US President Barack Obama had promised the year before. Many of these same people denied Assad regime responsibility for this attack and curiously, they focused exclusively on this attack. They didn't weigh in on the question of responsibility for the months-long siege that proceeded the attack, or the many smaller CW attacks that had taken place in Syria to that point.

Obama never planned to carry out his red-line threat, and so this Left opposition was helpful. Instead he supported a Russian program that required Assad to give up all the CW weapons and production facilities he was willing to admit to having. There was no independent inspection routine like the one imposed on Iraq. Still, he did give up quite a bit and with the likely exception of an incident in Darayya 15 February 2015 in which the United Nations said "that there is a high degree of probability" of sarin exposure, sarin attacks ceased to be a part of the Syrian Civil War landscape.

However, chemical attacks with other agents, including Chlorine and Mustard gas have continued with little notice and less protests. Now we have demands from the UN for Assad to give up the chemical weapons he held back. Charles Liser says that its been known for a long time in high government circles that Assad held back 20% of his CW in the bargain. Probably he had enough to kill everyone in Syria five times over to begin with.

The Daily Star is reporting:
Syria must explain chemical warfare agents: watchdog

Agence France Presse
13 July 2016
THE HAGUE: The world's chemical weapons watchdog is pressing Syria to explain why it has four undeclared warfare agents, its head said Wednesday, after a U.S. official accused Damascus of continuing to hoard a toxic stockpile.

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Uzumcu said despite previous declarations by Syria, OPCW teams have found indications of five additional chemical agents.

After recent consultations with The Hague-based OPCW's secretariat, Syria "declared research and development of one more chemical agent," Uzumcu said in a report released last week, of which AFP was given a copy on Wednesday.

But "at present, Syria has not yet adequately explained the presence of indicators of four chemical warfare agents," Uzumcu said.

The OPCW chief added that "new information" offered by Damascus has failed to resolve outstanding issues on Syria's chemical warfare program.

"In many instances, such new information presents a considerable change in narrative ... from previous information – or raises new questions," Uzumcu said. More...

The BBC reported on another chemical attack on Syrian civilians more than two years after the 21 August 2013 sarin attack on East Ghouta:
Syria civilians still under chemical attack

By Ian Pannell
10 September 2015
The video is painfully difficult to watch. The pale, wet, listless bodies of young children are carried into a hospital as doctors frantically try to save lives. Men choke and vomit and cry out and a grandmother lies peacefully on a gurney. She is dead.

Five others died in the same attack on Sarmin, about 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Aleppo, in March this year - including three small children. None of them had a scar on their bodies.
For the children of Syria, it is not the high seas they must fear but death on dry land.
The footage was apparently taken in the aftermath of a chemical attack.

When it was shown to the UN Security Council it reportedly moved delegates to tears, and is just one of more than 60 incidents in which toxic agents are alleged to have been deployed.
The Syrian government has been repeatedly accused of perpetrating many of these attacks, something it vehemently denies.

But when Sarmin was attacked, witnesses say they heard a helicopter overhead and only government forces have helicopters in Syria.

Then people say they heard a roaring sound, like thunder but there was no explosion, just casualties.

Two years ago the UN voted unanimously in favour of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. It was perhaps the only threat that civilians were supposed to be protected from.

But there have been growing allegations that chemicals, in particular chlorine gas, have been used, mostly against civilian populations in dozens of attacks.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) looked at three of these alleged attacks and reported to the UN they have "a high degree of confidence that chlorine has been used repeatedly and systematically as a weapon" in Syria. More...
Aljazeera reported:
Tracking Syria's deadly toxic chemical attacks

By Diana Al Rifai
18 April 2015
Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights monitor, has released a report with evidence that strongly suggests Syrian government forces used toxic chemicals in several barrel-bomb attacks in Idlib province beween March 16 and 31, 2015.

Rescue workers reported that the attacks affected 206 people, including 20 civil-defence workers. One attack reportedly killed six civilians, including three children.

In a closed-door meeting on April 17, the UN Security Council heard first-hand accounts from Syrian doctors of the same attack.

Evidence presented during the meeting included a video showing doctors trying to save the lives of three childrens  following the attack as they coughed and struggled to breathe due to liquid accumulation in their lungs.

The attacks violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria ratified in October 2013, and a UN Security Council resolution, Human Rights Watch said.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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