Chemical Attacks in Syria Continue


The evolution of warfare has become extremely controversial. Armies have changed their way of fighting from soldier-to-soldier combat to a dismissive attitude toward civilian lives. This type of indiscriminate warfare is no more visible than in the case of civil war, where the lines between civilians and military persons are heavily distorted, even invisible. Last month, on March 16th, a series of chemical weapons were unleashed in the areas of Sarmin and Idlib, Syria.

As in the case on August 2013, the Syrian government was blamed for the chemical attacks of Sarin in the Ghouta area. The result was an international resolution that required the government to hand over its stockpile of chemical weapons under the threat of foreign military intervention. Now, in 2015, the same crime has been committed again, this time with the use of chlorine gas. While Sarin (the chemical used in 2013) has been banned, chlorine has not been designated or banned, however, its use specifically as a weapon has been banned by the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention). The Syrian government has consistently denied responsibility for these attacks and has been supported by UN Security Council member Russia. The international community has strongly urged for a more in-depth investigation to identify the perpetrators of the chemical attacks.

The political climate in Syria is a total mess – and perhaps this is an understatement. Here, we see a state that is fighting for peace on three fronts. The first front would be the rebel groups fighting the autocratic Syrian government, led by Bashar-al-Assad. The second front is the influx of ISIS fighters aiming to take control of the region and lastly, the threat of international military intervention.

Back in August 2013 after the Sarin attacks the evidence that was collected by the UN investigative team was limited. Firstly, it is extremely difficult to collect any form of evidence from warzones. Secondly, in the conclusion of the UN Secretary General report, no evidence was brought forth to identify those responsible for the attacks. The lack of sufficient evidence has also allowed for the Syrian government or rebel groups to evade responsibility for their crimes.

Over the course of the civil war, Syria has also been tormented by the influx of ISIS militants. It is believed that there is a chance that ISIS is responsible for the chlorine attacks, for Iraq has also blamed them for a chlorine attack earlier this year in January. This war has caused the mass destruction of homes and displaced many families. The threat of foreign military intervention looms since neither party – the rebel groups or the Syrian government — are willing to come to a diplomatic peace deal through dialogue. There is a severe lack of trust, but will also bring no end to the conflict through fighting. Perhaps through more in-depth investigation, those responsible for the crime can be brought to justice peacefully. Peace will bring peace; violence will bare more violence.

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