Syria in the eye of the hurricane

Rescue groups and the international community blame Bashar al-Assad's regime for the chemical attack of April 7

Syria in the eye of the hurricane

On Saturday April 7, dozens of Syrians were suffocated after a suspected chemical attack hit the suburb of Douma, east of Damascus. Rescue groups blame the government of President Bashar al-Assad for the attack and Western governments express outrage, and demand a response, which does not necessarily involve military measures.

Leer en español: Siria en el ojo del huracán

The workers of the rescue groups in Syria have reported that at least 42 people died in their homes by apparent asphyxia. Anti-government activists distributed videos of men, women and lifeless children lying on the floor and on the stairs, many with white foam coming out of their mouths and nostrils.

The media, allied to the Syrian regime, denied that government forces used chemical weapons and accused the Islamist rebel groups, which control Douma, of making the videos to request international support as the defeat of them approaches at the hands of Syria, and its allies Russia and Iran.

For its part, the government of the United States said it was working to verify whether chemical weapons had been used. A new chemical attack confirmed in Syria would pose a dilemma for President Trump, who ordered military strikes against a Syrian air base after a chemical attack last year to punish Assad. In addition, recently the president said he wanted to remove the military forces that were present in the country.

What is the response of international community?

Trump, through the social network Twitter, condemned the attack, blaming Iran and Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting the Syrian government and warning of the consequences. White House officials did not rule out a military response. However, they clarified that the use of chemical weapons and their origin must be confirmed first.

The international community also demonstrated its outrage at the attack and requested an investigation, as well as an answer to this atrocity. The British Foreign Ministry, in a statement, described the attack as "further evidence of Assad's brutality" and called for accelerating the work to produce a strong response.

"The evidence points to another chemical attack by the regime," said Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. "Almost a year after the day of the terrible attacks in Khan Sheikhoun, it is a matter of serious concern that chemical weapons continue to be used, especially against civilians".

France called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the weekend's attack, and eight other nations joined the request, including the United States and Britain.

The Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Russia, for their part, denied that chemical weapons had been used. As well as they rejected its authorship and together with the Government of Assad they blame the rebels to provoke the international community.

According to the official Syrian news agency, there were air strikes against the regime, although initially the United States was blamed, in a statement, the Pentagon denied the report: "At this time, the Department of Defense is not carrying out air strikes in Syria, however, we continue to monitor the situation closely and support ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons in Syria and in other circumstances accountable". The Assad regime also blames Israel for the subsequent air strikes, a country that has so far not ruled on.

One year after the attack with Gas Sarín

The attack came almost exactly a year after deadly sarin gas was used in the city of Khan Sheikhoun, prompting Trump to approve the launch of US Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base.

The Syrian government and its allies - Russian military and Iranian-backed militias - surrounded and bombed the area, killing more than 1,600 people and forcing tens of thousands to flee, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which oversees the conflict since the Great Britain through contacts in Syria.


Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Translated from “Siria en el ojo del huracán”

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