Category Archives: Assad and WMD

Trump’s Syria Strike Upheld an Important International Norm, But Did No More

A version of this article was published at The Sunday Express

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 April 2018

Britain joined the United States and France in a round of punitive military strikes in Syria on Friday night. The Coalition was retaliating for a poison gas attack by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Duma area of Damascus on 7 April. The three targets the Allies went after were related to his chemical weapons program. This was a just operation that upheld the norms of the international system, but there are disturbing signs that it will not be linked to a course correction in Syria. Continue reading

Trump Should Not Fear Russia In Responding to Assad’s Chemical Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 10 April 2018

A child receiving oxygen after a poison gas attack in Douma, near Damascus, Syria || SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENSE WHITE HELMETS VIA AP

A year to the day after the United States struck at a Syrian airbase to punish Bashar al Assad for a chemical weapons attack, the regime has suspectedly carried out another devastating chemical atrocity. Signs are that the United States will, again, respond with force, attempting to rescue some part of the fraying international taboo against the use of poison gas. The larger question remains how Assad has gotten away with this for so long—and why murder only with certain categories of munitions prompts retaliation. Continue reading

Syria’s Regime Conducted the Khan Shaykhun Chemical Attack, United Nations Concludes

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 September 2017

United Nations Security Council (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

After the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in April, American and French intelligence publicly assessed that the perpetrator was the regime of Bashar al-Asad, and President Donald Trump acted swiftly to punish the atrocity. The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released a report on 6 September that ratifies these findings, concluding that Asad attacked the population of Khan Shaykhun with chemical weapons. Continue reading

France Presents Evidence Assad Committed Chemical Weapons Atrocity

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 26 April 2017

The French government has released its assessment of the 4 April chemical weapons attack in Syria, and “independently and categorically confirms that sarin was used”. France “deployed the required resources to obtain its own samples,” the report notes, and “collected biomedical and environmental samples and munitions and pieces of munitions” from this attack site and several prior. Continue reading

America Officially Blames Assad for the Chemical Attack in Khan Shaykhun

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 12 April 2017

Aftermath of the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack (source)

The United States’ cruise missile strikes in Syria in the early hours of 7 April devastated the Shayrat airbase from which, U.S. intelligence assesses, the regime of Bashar al-Assad launched the nerve agent attack on Khan Shaykhun on 4 April. The U.S. has now released its fuller assessment of the chemical attack, which includes a record of Assad’s routine use of chemical munitions since 2013. This comes amid ongoing gridlock at the United Nations Security Council, where, during a volatile session yesterday, Russia’s deputy representative, Vladimir Safronkov, accused Britain supporting the Islamic State—before vetoing the proposed resolution to have an international investigation into this latest chemical attack, a fairly strong indication that Moscow knows its client regime in Syria would be found guilty. This is the eighth time Russia has used its veto to shield Assad, though this time it was notable that China abstained, rather than join Russia in a double-veto.
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Chemical Weapons, Syria, and Trump

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 April 2017

President Donald Trump launches cruise missiles against the Syrian regime in retribution for its chemical attack (image source)

This week, the regime of Bashar al-Assad struck the town of Khan Shaykhun with chemical weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), massacring more than eighty people. The atrocity took place around dawn local time on 4 April. At 20:40 Eastern Standard Time on 6 April (2:40 on 7 April, British time; 4:40 on 7 April, Syrian time), President Donald Trump ordered a barrage of cruise missiles against the Shayrat Airbase from which the Khan Shaykhun attack had been launched.  Continue reading

International Taboo on Chemical Weapons Frays As U.S. Steps Back

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 13, 2017

Yesterday, the United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions on eighteen senior officials in the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The sanctions come in response to reports in August and October 2016 by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the United Nations investigative body, which found that found “the Syrian government, specifically the Syrian Arab Air Force, was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in Talmenes on April 21, 2014, and in Qmenas and Sarmin on March 16, 2015.” This is three years after the Assad regime was spared punitive military strikes for its use of chemical weapons under a Russian-orchestrated “deal” that ostensibly disarmed Assad of such weapons. Continue reading