Viewpoint: Chemical weapons ‘threat to West’

150109-N-TR763-011 ARABIAN GULF (Jan. 9, 2015) Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Weston Dimeo, right, instructs chemical, biological and radiological decontamination training during Damage Control Olympics aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson is deployed to the area supporting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nick Brown/Released)

Reports of attacks using chemical weapons in Syria are occurring with alarming frequency, despite international warnings that such acts cross an intolerable red line.

Here, chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon argues that the world is becoming too passive on this issue, and could end up paying the price.

Presentational grey line

There have been at least six documented chemical attacks in the Ghouta region and Idlib province, allegedly by the Syrian government, in the last two weeks.

These have predominantly been chlorine, dropped, witnesses say, as barrel bombs or fired in rockets – though the most recent attack on the town of Saraqeb on 4 February appears to be the deadly nerve agent, Sarin. Three children are reported to have been killed.

As we approach the seventh year of the shockingly violent conflict, this war has become synonymous with two distinct and irrefutable crimes against humanity: the use of chemical weapons, and – aid agencies say – the direct targeting of hospitals and medical personnel. Continue reading.