Chemical attacks must be stoppedLeading Western nations - notably the United States, Britain and France - are readying military action against Syria in the firm belief that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons against hundreds of civilians. In a desperate measure to stop advances by revolutionaries, Assad’s forces last week bombarded towns near Damascus with rockets suspected of carrying chemical weapons. Warships and other U.S. naval assets armed with cruise missiles, along with British jets, are moving closer to Syria. With a joint front forming among Western states, the civil war in Syria, which has already killed more than 100,000 people over the last two years, has reached a tipping point.
Opposition groups say that more than 1,300 people, including children, were killed by the chemical bombardment of Ghouta last week. Human rights groups and foreign doctors in the area also testify that more than 300 died from chemical exposure. The Assad regime vehemently denies these accusations and claims the attacks were done by opposition rebel groups. But repeated attacks in rebel-held areas outside Damascus raise suspicions that the government wanted to wipe out evidence of its use of deadly chemical weapons. Syria, which is not a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention, is known to have a stockpile of chemical arms and has already used them.
If Syria unleashed these weapons against its own people, it has committed a serious crime and broken international standards. U.S. President Barack Obama, who has so far hesitated on intervention despite the mass killings in Syria, won’t be able to avoid military action. If solid evidence is available, Russia also won’t be able to oppose a United Nations Security Council endorsement of military action. The use of chemical weapons is an obscene crime against humanity that must be stopped and punished.