chemical and conventional weapons in Syria

FT chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman writes that destruction of chemical plants and deposits will have little effect on the war in Syria, even if the Assad regime refrains from using chemical weapons,  it is free to use conventional weapons against rebels and the civilian population.

“Mission accomplished” was Donald Trump’s terse, if unoriginal, message, after the strikes on Syria last week. But America’s “mission” in Syria is hard to define, let alone deliver. ….

[E]ven if chemical weapons do deserve to be elevated above all the other horrors used in Syria — barrel bombs, torture chambers, conventional artillery — it is not clear that this weekend’s military action will stop their use. The Trump administration’s strikes last year failed to achieve that aim.

Gideon Rachman, “The realities of Syria’s war remain unchanged by western strikes“, Financial Times, 17 April 2018 (gated paywall).

A recent report from Syria suggests that, indeed, this has happened. Government forces continue to shell and bomb villages and towns in Syria held by rebels.

Adham Radoun, a spokesman for the Syrian Liberation Front, a rebel group operating in the Hama countryside, said Saturday’s strike had no effect on the government’s military operations in the area.

“The regime’s aircraft and its Russian ally continue to bomb the villages and towns of Hama and Southern Idlib,” he said, “not to mention the artillery bombardment of villages and towns.”

Katrina Manson and others, “US considers fresh sanctions as Russia stands by Assad“, Financial Times, 17 April 2018 (gated paywall).


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