Use of Chemical Weapons by Syria Would Be 'War Crime'

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Use of Chemical Weapons by Syria Would Be 'War Crime'


Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

CHEMICAL weapon attacks feared to have been unleashed by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's troops would be a "war crime", David Cameron warned today.

The Prime Minister backed US President Barack Obama's stance that the use of chemical agents would cross a "red line" in the gruesome civil war in which at least 70,000 people are believed to have died.

Harrowing stories are now emerging of families reportedly being attacked with chemical weapons -- with children and women dying in excruciating pain, foaming at the mouth and being suffocated by deadly poisons.

"There is growing evidence that we've seen the use of chemical weapons, probably by the regime. It's extremely serious, this is a war crime and we should taking it very seriously," Mr Cameron told BBC Breakfast.

"What President Obama said was absolutely right, that this should form for the international community a red line for us to do more."

Chemical weapons have reportedly been used in small-scale attacks in Aleppo, the capital Damascus and Homs.

But Mr Cameron, keen to avoid the mistakes over the flawed reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003, stressed that currently there is only "limited" evidence of chemical weapon use in Syria.

The lethal agent sarin was detected in samples, believed to have been smuggled out of Syria, which have been tested at the Defence Science Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. Sarin is a colourless and highly toxic nerve agent which can cause convulsions, paralysis and kill people within minutes if absorbed through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin or eyes. The White House announced yesterday that US spy agencies believed "with varying degrees of confidence" that Syria had used the nerve agent sarin. …

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