Does Syria Have Chemical Weapons?
A volley of accusations
There's a fresh round of allegations of chemical weapons in Syria's two-year-long civil war, with the Syrian government and Syrian rebels in Aleppo accusing each other of using the same in the region. The White House says there's no evidence the rebels are using chemical weapons, while Russia said the rebels have. Israel said it was "apparently clear" the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, and Syria's main rebel group is demanding an investigation. The Syrian regime claimed in January that it was the rebels who could turn to chemical weapons in the conflict.
President Obama warned Syria about the use of chemical weapons last summer, and maintains there's no reason to think Syria is using chemical weapons, even as the Pentagon has previously planned how a pre-emptive strike on Syria's chemical weapons stockpile might look. Israel may have hit a chemical weapons site in January, and last month U.S. intelligence sources suggested the Syrian regime was consolidating its chemical weapons stockpile. A Syrian defector said the regime would likely only use chemical weapons as a "last resort."
France has cited the potential use of chemical weapons as a reason to intervene in Syria since at least last summer. One theory has Syria receiving all these chemical weapons in advance of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, hinged on Iraq's possession of WMDs. Ten years ago France wouldn't follow to where the U.S. was leading in Iraq, now some ask whether the U.S. is following where France is leading on Syria.