While there is an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (clearly an oxymoron in this case!), reports depicting their deployment in Syria could be either confirmation of the desperation of either side in this slaughter, or another propaganda weapon used by either or both sides to ramp up both the rhetoric and thereby the need for international intervention to bring this most recent human tragedy to an end, or both.
Any end to the conflict, however, will be too late for the already slaughtered 70,000 innocents, men, women and children.
And while fingers of blame are pointed in all directions, at Assad, at the Syrian rebel forces, at Russia and Iran for standing with Assad, at the 'west' for holding back, suffering itself from the fatigue of war, obviously at the UN for failing to reach a consensus on behalf of "humanity" generally, this cancer continues and potentially grows.
What is the role of "terrorism" in this debacle? Are they fighting on both sides? Are they making the discernment of "rebel forces" so difficult that they are in fact exacerbating the conflict while in effect preventing the international community from intervening, thereby leaving them free to kill at will, and to change the nature of the conflict, from one between two different and discreet opponents to one in which fighting can and does erupt anywhere, anytime, rendering all forces unsafe, insecure and vulnerable to many opponents and to any real opportunity for either victory or defeat.
Just as terrorists, and terrorism have morphed how war is conducted, now without state actors, without formal declarations against nations and now against individual people, and against a culture and possibly one or more religions, is the Syrian conflict the next generation of multiple combatants representing multiple sectarian perspectives and hatreds leaving the previously clear military options confused and thereby unprepared?
Is this more of an internal civil war, for which there needs to be an international equivalent of the CIA, the MGB, MI-5, to take out the various "heads" of the various factions, in order to emasculate the obsessive commitment to slaughter, presumably originally for some identified purpose and goal, on the part of all combatants, and now a conflict serving different, merged and enmeshed goals and purposes...none of them individually or taken together worthy of the best of any human society, culture and faith.
UN to probe chemical weapons in Syria
By Edith M. Lederer The Associated Press, in Toronto Star, March 21 2013
The United Nations will investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, which would amount to a crime against humanity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Thursday.
The investigation could be broader than the Syrian government's request for an independent probe of a purported chemical weapons attack on Tuesday. Ban said he was aware of other, similar allegations and hoped the probe would ultimately help secure Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
Syria is widely believed to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons. The government has not confirmed it, saying only that it would never use chemical weapons against its own people.
“My announcement should serve as an unequivocal reminder that the use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity,” the secretary-general said. “The international community needs full assurance that chemical weapons stockpiles are verifiably safeguarded.”
Western nations fear President Bashar Assad would use chemical weapons if he sees the two-year civil war turning against his government. But they are equally concerned that rebel forces, including some linked to Al Qaeda, could get their hands on unguarded chemical weapons or the materials to make them.
Ban said investigators would look into Syria's allegation that rebels carried out a chemical weapons attack on Khan al-Assal village in northern Aleppo province.
The rebels denied the attack and blamed regime forces. The Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group, also demanded an international investigation.
The secretary-general said he was aware of “other allegations of similar cases involving the reported use of chemical weapons,” but did not make clear whether these would be part of the UN investigation.
France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud said Wednesday that the Syrian National Coalition had reported a second chemical weapons attack Tuesday in the Damascus area. France and Britain said they would ask Ban to have the UN investigate both incidents.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States “supports an investigation that pursues any and all credible allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.” She said the U.S. will continue to work closely with its partners to obtain further information on allegations of potential or actual use, and underscored the importance of launching the investigation swiftly.
“President Obama has been clear that the use or transfer of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable,” she said. “If Bashar Al-Assad and those under his command make the mistake of using chemical weapons, or fail to meet their obligation to secure them, then there will be consequences. Those responsible will be held accountable.”
Ban said his senior advisers are working to set up an investigation in close consultation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as the OPCW which oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the World Health Organization. He said issues to be decided include the overall mandate, the composition, and operational conditions, including safety and security.
The investigation will start “as soon as practically possible,” Ban said, but “will not happen overnight.”
The OPCW said in a statement that it was ready to work closely with the UN in setting up and conducting the mission.
“While allegations of this nature are not new to conflict situations, they are nonetheless serious, especially in the context of Syria which is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the OPCW said. “This remains a matter of serious concern.”
Ban said full co-operation from all parties will be essential and stressed that this includes “unfettered access.”
As the situation in Syria worsens, Ban said, “the international community's concern about the safety and security of chemical weapons stockpiles as well as possible use by all parties has increased.”
Ban said he has spoken out repeatedly on the Syrian government's primary responsibility to ensure the safety and security of any chemical weapons and sent two letters to President Bashar Assad “to remind him of this solemn duty.”
“It is my hope that the mission would contribute to ensuring the safety and security of chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria,” he said.
With more than 70,000 people killed and no end to the violence in sight, the secretary-general reiterated that “the military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria.”
He called on the deeply divided region and international community to find unity and support efforts by the joint UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to help the Syrian people reach a political solution and end the conflict.