Europeans, Turkey Demand Action After Syrian Gas Attack

Britain and Turkey insist chemical weapons were used in Syria. France urges the world to respond.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius leaves the Elysée Palace in Paris, May 15, 2012
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius leaves the Elysée Palace in Paris, May 15, 2012 (Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey urged the United Nations Security Council on Friday to take “concrete action” after an alleged chemical weapons attack in neighboring Syria, a day after France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius had called on the world to respond with “force.”

Fabius immediately cautioned against “sending troops” in an interview with BFM television but France has repeatedly called for intervention in Syria’s civil war through the last three years, suggesting, like Turkey, that “humanitarian corridors” be erected to deliver food and medicine to victims of the conflict.

Syrian opposition activists accused the regime of President Bashar Assad of gassing hundreds of civilians on Wednesday. Amateur videos purporting to show victims of the attack were published online. Neither foreign journalists nor independent observers were able to corroborate the claim.

Previous accusations of chemical weapons use could not be decidedly proven either. In April, American officials said they believed with “varying degrees of confidence” that sarin had been used by Assad’s army. However, they noted that “the chain of custody is not clear,” suggesting that an order to deploy the gas might not have come from the top.

There is also the possibility that nerve gas was used by rebels emboldened by American president Barack Obama’s insistence one year ago that the use of such weapons would cross a “red line.” While he failed to explain why or what action the United States would take if chemical weapons were used, his administration did announce in June that it would start providing opposition fighters with small arms.

The United States were previously reluctant to arm rebel fighters for fear of propping up a jihadist insurgency. Most of the communications equipment and weapons supplied by the United States and its allies in the region, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have ended up in the hands of religious extremists who now appear the most effective fighting force in the opposition.

The timing of this week’s alleged gas attack raises more doubts. On Sunday, United Nations inspectors arrived in Syria to investigate previous allegations of chemical weapons use. Would the regime deploy nerve gas, close the capital Damascus moreover, less than three days after letting international monitors into the country?

Turkey and the United Kingdom were certain it did. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a television interview late on Thursday that it was “very obvious” chemical weapons had been used. “It is now time for actual concrete action,” President Abdullah Gül told reporters the next day when Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague argued that the chances of the Syrian opposition having deployed the gas were “vanishingly small. And so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”

Comments

  • I’m new to the blogging sphere and the crisis in Syria is a horrific subject which I’ve been following for a while. In regards to the details of the crisis, I’m not highly knowledgeable. Hopefully, discussing issue on this platform would help a little more.

    When the crisis started several years ago, it quickly became apparent the events taking place in Syria would be devastating to the local population and the very way of life of the Syrian people. As the civil war became more violent as well as the failing attempts from the United Nations to defuse the situation through peaceful and diplomatic means, this demonstrated to me the war in Syria wasn’t going to be settled without increasing violence pressing to a unnecessary new level.

    The recent use of chemical weapons against a civilian population by what looks like the Syrian regime is an action too far in a war which has already seen a countless misuse of military action. Following the French and the American response to these events a red line has been well and truly crossed in a war which has already claimed the lives of close to 100.000. More aggressive interaction needs to be taken if this conflict is ever going to come to an end.

    Obviously, outside military action should take into account the risk to the civilian population, particularly seen as millions of people have been affect by this war. But if no action is taken millions more many suffer.

    It’ll be interesting to see what people think. Please reply if you wish to do so.

  • I’m really suprised that the Top man in Turkey to be against the use of Chemical
    weapons.Have they forgotten all ready that in 1964 they used Napalm Bombs against innocent people in Cyprus (Tylliria area) and still there are evidence to prove this
    inhumane attack by Turkey and nobody call Turkey to face the Court of Human Rights and ironoically Britain as aguarantor with the London-Zurich Agreement of Cyprus has done nothing about it either and now the Prime Minister stoot up for action against Syria.Why there are allways two weights and measures

    anything to bring Turkey to the Human Rights Court and the ironic

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