Syria: Cameron and Obama step up pressure on Assad amidst chemical weapons fears

David Cameron and Barack Obama have warned any move towards the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad “would force them to revisit their approach so far”.

David Cameron and Barack Obama have warned any move towards the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad “would force them to revisit their approach so far” and seriously countenance military intervention in Syria.

PA reports:

Prime minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama have agreed that the use of chemical weapons in Syria or even a threat to deploy them would be “completely unacceptable”.

In a phone call the two leaders said if President Bashar Assad made such a move it “would force them to revisit their approach so far”. The two leaders said there was “much more to do” to stop the brutal killing of civilians in the Middle East state.

Earlier this week President Obama warned that any movement of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons would be a “red line” which would have “enormous consequences”.


Downing Street said Mr Cameron and President Obama “both agreed that the use – or threat – of chemical weapons was completely unacceptable and would force them to revisit their approach so far”…

They also “firmly agreed that there was much more to do in order to stop the brutal killing of civilians and help put Syria on a path towards peace and stability” and they discussed how to build on the support both nations had offered to the opposition in Syria “to end the appalling violence and bring about stability”.

As the Irish Times reported yesterday, Syria is believed to have the “most advanced chemical weapons stash in the Middle East, capable of being delivered to target by a variety of means”; these include:

Mustard gas; sarin and tabun, both colourless nerve agents; VX, an odourless liquid nerve agent with the consistency of oil; and cyanide, according to unclassified reports by the Central Intelligence Agency and Jill Dekker, a bio-defence consultant based in Brussels and formerly a consultant to the Nato Defense Establishment in bio-warfare and counter terrorism.

The report adds:

In December 2007, Dekker was in no doubt but that Syria was a serious player when it came to chemical weapons.

“Contrary to how the US State Department and other agencies tend to downplay the sophistication of the Syrian biological and nuclear programmes, they are very advanced,” she said in an interview. “Syria has always had the most advanced chemical weapons programme in the Middle East.”

She added: “The Syrians run their biological programmes out of the Syrian Scientific Research Council in Damascus. They have separate wings for separate pathogens. They also have a number of programmes running in Aleppo. The Syrians are 100 per cent committed to deniable operations as their modus operandi.”

In a report to the US Congress last year the CIA, referring to chemical weapons, said, “Syria has had a CW [chemical weapons] programme for many years and has a stockpile of CW agents, which can be delivered by aerial bombs, ballistic missiles, and artillery rockets.

“We assess that Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its CW programme, including precursor chemicals.”

In a similar report for 2006, the agency said Syria’s arsenal included “the nerve agent sarin, which can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missile”. The report also said that Syria “is developing the more toxic and persistent nerve agent VX”.

However, as Left Foot Forward has reported again and again, Assad has long been massacring and torturing men, women and children by the thousand using conventional weapons – here is a small selection of the brutality in the last three months alone:


Syria: “They raised my toenails, stuck electrical wires under them and gave me electric shocks” 1 Aug 2012

Syria: Chilling scale of Assad’s state-sponsored torture revealed 3 Jul 2012

‘The UN just arrive after the massacres and film the corpses… They are just watching us die’ 7 Jun 2012

‘They made them chant slogans in praise of the regime then executed them’ 1 Jun 2012

“They were murdered one by one… executed with a bullet to the head or a knife to the throat” 30 May 2012

Syria: Assad’s forces “using rape as a weapon” 29 May 2012

Houla massacre: Assad death squads slaughter 32 children and 60 adults 27 May 2012


And the killing at the hands of the regime goes on, and on, and on – 43 people were confirmed killed in Damascus yesterday, including 24 “executed in front of their families” in Kfar Sousseh; six people were killed by “summary execution” in Nahr Aisha, three killed as a result of a car bomb in Dumma and three killed by shelling in each of Harasta and Darayya, with one person killed in each of Jobar, Arbeen and Zamal.

Nizar Hazim, a resident of Kfar Sousseh, told The Guardian:

“The shelling against Kfar Sousseh started at 6am in the morning today. The shelling was coming from tanks based at Damascus highway called al-Mutahelq al-Janoubi. The tanks were shooting also at Nahr Aisha, which is a neighbouring district and al-Qadam district.

“The shooting lasted for almost two hours, it included mortars which were coming from Mezzeh airport. Soon afterwards, the Syrian army started a big campaign of raids against the house in Kfar Sousseh. As a result of the raids, people in Kfar Sousseh found 24 bodies.

All these bodies were executed by gunshots to the head from close distance. We still have some missing people whom we can’t find. We were targeted by the Syrian army because Kfar Sousseh is the front for Darayya and al-Mouadamiyeh districts. These two districts are the base for the FSA.

“When they want to do any attack against the Syrian army in the heart of Damascus, they come to Kfar Sousseh to launch their attack and then pull out soon after to the groves al-Bassateen. The Syrian army is taking revenge on us but I can assure you all these people who have been executed today are civilians, none of them are FSA.”

He continued:

“I live in Kfar Sousseh with five other members of my family, everything is available here when it comes to food and water but the problem is the high prices. Also people whose houses were destroyed are homeless now as they can’t afford to pay a rent. They are living now in the mosques and public parks. A lot of people here can’t get a single meal…

“All the bodies of the martyrs are in a mosque in Kfar Sousseh now, I can’t tell you its name in fear that the Syrian army would come and take the mourners and the families. We can’t bury them now, we are waiting for the situation to get less tense and then we will take them to the cemetery. Now, it is impossible to reach the cemetery.

“People in Kfar Sousseh were able to identify all the bodies, except two, we still can’t identify them. All the bodies are for men, young and old, none of them are children or women.”

When the West finally does intervene, as surely it will and most definitely must, it’ll be too late for the dead, but not a moment too soon for the living – and not a moment too soon for Assad to feel the hand of justice, be it from newly liberated Syrians or in the Hague; his time will surely come.

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