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Chemical weapons in Syria - Did they or didn't they?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Did they or didn't they? That's the question experts are trying to resolve as they study evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Claims have been exchanged accusing both sides of crossing one of President Obama's "red lines"  in the bloody civil war that has been ongoing since March 2011.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both Britain and Turkey are conducting their own investigations into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. That the weapons have been used, there is no doubt. What remains to be determined is who was responsible.

While claims have recently come to light suggesting the weapons have been used by the opposition, British Prime Minister, David Cameron said, "Our assessment is that chemical weapons use in Syria is very likely to have been initiated by the regime. We have no evidence to date of opposition use."

Turkish investigators are also conducting their own study. Eight experts have gone to the border with Syria to test alleged victims of a government chemical attack. They seek to learn if the victims were exposed to, and survived, a sarin attack. Sarin gas is a powerful nerve agent that causes paralysis and death. 

Turkey has also positioned detection equipment and personnel near their border, to know if such weapons are used.

Chemical weapons are considered a weapons of mass destruction, and the United States has issued a stern warning against the Assad regime. Although Obama has not elaborated on the actual consequences for such an attack, it is believed a response would be substantive.

However, so far, Obama has done very little to aid the rebels, even with evidence of a chemical attack. Obama has called for more confirmation of the attacks before pledging any new action.

Even if evidence were found that confirms the regime has used such weapons, Obama's options would be unsavory at best. The consensus seems ot be that any American military involvement in Syria would only exacerbate the problems there and embroil the U.S. in a protracted, increasingly sectarian conflict, from which it would not emerge unscathed.

In a sign of increasing conflict, Israel and Hezbollah are now thought to be engaged in a proxy war in Syria, particularly over the Golan Heights.

France is also doing what it can to protect its interests in the region, which are substantial. The French have asked the U.N. to recognize the opposition, but without recognizing Islamist rebel elements within the movement.

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