Syria Using Chemical Weapons: How Many Red Lines Can We Draw? [Video]

Shawn Bailey

Bashar al-Assad's regime is accused of once again using chemical weapons.

After a similar chemical weapons attack last year in August, the U.S. gathered enough evidence that Assad had used sarin to call for air strikes as punishment. President Obama referred to the use of chemical weapons as a red line that couldn't be crossed without consequences. But Assad's regime was not bombed, thanks to a deal brokered by Russia and the U.S. for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. Syria missed its February deadline this year for destroying the chemicals, so another red line was drawn for April 27.

With only six days before another possible red line, The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) states that Syria has handed over 80 percent of their chemical weapons. But according to videos filmed by Syrian rebels, Assad continues to use chemicals against rebel-occupied cities. The videos show a helicopter dropping a bomb that emits a large, gray cloud when it explodes. The latest chemical attack was in the Hama Province in the rebel village of Kafr Zeita. Rebel sources report that Assad has used chemicals nine times within a two month period.

France also appears to be backing the allegations of chemical use. French President Francois Hollande reported that France has information, but no proof yet.

Responding to the attack that happened approximately 125 miles north of Damascus, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said:

"We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical, probably chlorine, in Syria this month."

Psaki is also quoted as saying "We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat use very seriously."

At the same time, Reuters reported that Psaki said chlorine was not priority one or two chemicals Syria had to report to the OPCW. Perhaps the Assad regime will have another red line drawn based on a technicality; that you can use chemical weapons to kill your own people, but only certain types.

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC that the attacks were "unsubstantiated."

In a strange turn, instead of denying the attack, the Assad regime also reported the gas attacks that happened on April 11. FOX News reports that State-run Syrian TV blames the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. Assad has said that the civil war is turning in his favor. And indeed, if Assad is correct and the rebel-held cities have begun bombing themselves with chlorine gas, they won't stand a chance. So far, two have been confirmed dead from the attacks and over 100 people have been injured.

In the midst of civil war, chemical attacks, and widespread chaos, Bashar al-Assad has done what any leader in his position would do: call for presidential elections on June 3. With over two million refugees living in other countries and several areas still under the control of Syrian rebels, it's uncertain as to how Assad will handle the logistics of voter registration.

One wonders if the marker used to draw red lines will ever run out of ink.

Concerning the recent chemical attacks, the OPCW told the Guardian that it would "not investigate the new claims unless they were referred to it by a signatory state."

The OPCW won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons."

Image via Huffington Post

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