Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is brazenly challenging the latest U.S.-led effort to stop him from using chemical weapons, and the Barack Obama administration has yet to say if it will do anything about it.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. got the United Nations Security Council toadopt a resolution calling on the Syrian regime to cease dropping barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas on civilians. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the resolution, which passed 14-1 and was endorsed by all the permanent members including Russia, “made it crystal clear that the use of chlorine weapons was no less evil than that of chemical weapons.”
Yet on Monday, Assad’s military killed at least six civilians, including three children, and injured dozens with a chlorine gas bomb attack in the northwestern city of Sarmeen, according to activists on the ground and independent monitoring groups such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian government denied the claims.
“Assad is testing the new red line,” Noura al-Ameer, a leader of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, told me Wednesday. Until this year, she was vice president of the group, which Obama has recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
To the Syrian opposition, the attack was reminiscent of events of 2012 and 2013, when Assad used Sarin gas against his own people, according to a UN investigation.
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