French Report Of Sarin In Syria Increases Prospect Of International Conflict
June 5, 2013 by Sam Rolley
On Tuesday, French investigators indicated that there was no doubt the Syrian fighters are using deadly sarin gas in the nation, increasing calls from some hawks and liberal humanitarians for U.S. military intervention in the conflict.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he revealed the evidence of chemical warfare in the country to U.N. officials this week.
“These results show the presence of sarin in the samples that are in our possession,” Fabius said. “In view of these elements, France now has the certainty that the sarin gas was used in Syria several times and in a localized manner.”
And in a draft report, the U.N. Human Rights Council notes on its website: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that chemical agents have been used as weapons. The precise agents, delivery systems or perpetrators could not be identified.”
While the presence of chemical warfare agents has been detected in the war-torn country, investigators still have no idea whether they have been used by rebel factions or by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Responding to the French reports, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said more evidence about the chemical weapons is needed.
“We need to expand the evidence we have,” he told reporters. “We need to make it reviewable; we need to have it corroborated before we make any decisions based on the clear violation that use of chemical weapons would represent by the Syrian regime. So, we will continue in that effort.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined the ranks of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other vocal supporters of American involvement in the conflict, saying U.S. intervention is a must.
“Well, there is no doubt that it’s time for the United States to make clear that it is going to engage in this effort to stop the difficult situation in Syria and to prevent its further spread,” she told CBS News. “It’s already spreading across the region. So the United States doesn’t have an option of no action. A no-fly zone is an actual military operation. And the President of the United States is going to have to decide whether he is willing to apply American military power to this conflict. But a no-fly zone is clearly an option.”
For his part, McCain wants to supply Syrian rebels with heavy artillery to aid them in the fight against Assad. But remarks from other international actors, namely Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, make clear that aiding the rebels will put the U.S. in a state of proxy-war with Assad’s allies.
“Any attempts to influence the situation by force through direct military action is doomed to fail and would unavoidably bring about large humanitarian casualties,” Putin said this week.
Russia has previously sold the Syrian regime heavy artillery, such as an S-300 air defense system which Putin said was bought through contract before the conflict. The Russian leader said his country has held off on delivering the weapons to the regime to avoid further destabilizing the region, but intends to do so to dissuade “hotheads” from intervening in the Syrian conflict.