On Wednesday, Syria’s government said that rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad had attacked two storage sites storing some of the deadly chemical weapons components that he has agreed to give up, Nick Cumming-Bruce and Rick Gladstone of The New York Times report.
A European diplomat told The Times that Bassam Sabbagh, the Syrian representative to the group overseeing the destruction of the Syrian arsenal, reported attacks on a storage site near the city of Homs and a second site outside Damascus at the group’s executive council meeting.
It’s the first reported assault threatening Syria’s chemical stockpile since the U.S. and Russia struck a deal on September 14. The U.S. had been threatening an attack on Syria in retaliation for the August 21 chemical weapon gassing that killed as many as 1,400 people in the Damascus suburbs. The gassing was reportedly carried out by the Assad regime.
The United Nations Security Council resolution mandates that the entire arsenal be destroyed by June 30. However, Syria is responsible for security, which means that the deal relies on the same government that amassed and deployed the toxic chemicals.
As Michael Weiss explained in December:
“It was never any mystery that Bashar al-Assad was re-legitimized by the chemical disarmament accord agreed to last September between the US and Russia, which was then certified by the only UN Security Council resolution ever passed on the Syria crisis. But recent events have proved that Assad is now also a necessary military partner for overseeing the safe conduct of chemical agents out of Syria. The humanitarian implications of this fact are dire and already in evidence.”
Russia and China continue to block U.N. Security Council statements condemning Assad’s relentless airstrikes on the city of Aleppo — which include dropping steel barrels packed with explosives and shrapnel — so the brutal ruler is free to use rthe more conventional weapons at his disposal as he attempts to clear the way.
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