Toronto, February 18: The world has seen horrific photos of children struggling to breathe, their bodies convulsing and foam coming from their mouths – all attributed to the chemical weapons that Bashar Al-Assad’s forces unleashed on rebel-held territories in Syria’s eight-year long civil war. But Bashar Al-Assad has denied these reports and even called them fabrications.
A new study released by a German institute confirms that the Assad regime resorted to repeated use of chemical weapons to target rebel-groups across various cities. The findings by the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) said it had “credibly substantiated” 336 instances when chemical weapons were used, from nerve agents like sarin and sulfur mustard gas to dangerous chlorine bombs.
The GPPI tracked bombings from December 2012 when news began to come in of the use of chemical weapons to quell rebellion spreading across Syria’s various districts. It also notes that a vast majority of the chemical bombings came after then-President Obama’s 2012 declaration that use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians would be his administration’s red line.
“The Assad regime did not merely ‘get away’ with its use of these banned weapons,” said the report. “It succeeded in using them for strategic ends.”
“The more we looked at the patterns associated with their use, the more we came to understand chemical weapons not as some special, separate evil, but as a key capability of the Syrian military as part of its broader campaign of indiscriminate violence,” said Tobias Schneider, who led the GPPI research team.
This report comes just a month after the U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would withdraw troops from Syria after the defeat of ISIS which is now imminent. President Trump announced via tweet in December, "After historic victories against ISIS, it's time to bring our great young people home!" However, Trump did order two bombings after a chemical weapons attack by Assad's forces in Douma in early 2018.
After eight-years of war which has left countless Syrians dead, Bashar Al-Assad’s campaign seems to have worked as his forces with the help of Russia and Iran have managed to seize back most of the territories captured by rebel groups as well as ISIS.