US delineates 'red line' for Syrian intervention


11:38 - The 'red line' has been set forth, but it is as blurred as ever.

The use or movement of chemical weapons in Syria may eventually trigger US intervention, President Obama told reporters today. “We cannot have a situation\" he announced, \"where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We’ve been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is if we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised.”

On the 23rd of July, 2012, Syria declared that it was in possession of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, tabun, sarin and VX, and would use them against foreign military intervention if necessary (see CBRNe World, \"Syria makes landmark threat against foreign intervention\"). The US, along with a number of other countries, was quick to denounce the claims and have since sought assurances from the Assad regime that chemical weapons will not be used, either against the Syrian people or against foreign intervention.

The assurances have not been forthcoming however and, as the US presidential race enters it most pivotal stages, the Obama adminstration is under evident pressure to take a firm stance on Syria, make clear indications of support to Syria's neighbours, particularly Israel, and also to not immediately commit more US troops to the Middle East. Consequently, the 'red line' anncounced today is a very blurred one indeed.

Current US government efforts continue to focus on humanitarian relief and the development of plans for a post-Assad Syria, but those efforts may soon prove to be inadequate. With reference to Assad, Obama summed the situation up well today when he said: \"So far he hasn't gotten the message, and instead has doubled down in violence on his own people. The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war, he should move in the direction of a political transition. But at this point the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant.\"

Last week, Israel held a mock, chemical attack at a shopping centre in the city of Nazareth. Demand for gas masks in the country is also at an unprecedented level (see CBRNe World, \"Got gas?\").



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