No Proof of Who Was Behind Gas Attacks

Any moves to bomb Syria risk further American involvement in a brutal civil war that has spiraled out of control.

Photo Credit:

August 26, 2013  |  ALTERNET
The U.S. is giving all signs of preparing for a unilateral military strike on Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack last week.  Any move to attack Syria could entangle American involvement in a brutal civil war that has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

The American people are strongly opposed to U.S. military involvement in Syria. A recent poll conducted by Reuters showed that 60 percent of Americans are opposed to intervention in Syria.

Last week, reports emerged that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked the Damascus suburb of Ghouta with nerve agents. Doctors Without Borders, which operates aid centers near Ghouta, said that the victims they treated came in with symptoms consistent with a chemical attack, including breathing problems, foaming at the mouth and damaged vision. Western governments over the weekend also said that there was little doubt that chemical weapons were used. Still, no firm proof has emerged as to who exactly was behind the attacks. Russia has suggested Syrian rebels could have perpetrated the attack, though they also offered no proof. Hundreds of people are estimated to have died in the alleged attack, and thousands more injured.

After the attack was reported, the U.S. began deliberations over a response to what may have been the crossing of the Obama administration’s “red line” on Syria. The U.S. military appears to be weighing a military response to the attack. The military maneuverings near Syria are being made despite the Assad regime allowing United Nations inspectors to investigate the attack, though that move came days after the chemical weapons were allegedly used. A U.S. official said the UN investigation would be “too late to be credible,” and that evidence has been corrupted by the Syrian army’s attacks on the area. The UN team came under snipre fire today as it made its way to Ghouta.

The U.S. is now looking at the possibility of launching cruise missile strikes from the sea at Syria. Top U.S. lawmakers, like Rep. Eliot Engel and Senator Bob Corker, have voiced support for the idea.

There are some members of congress opposed to U.S. military action in Syria who say they want a vote to take place before any U.S. military response. “R ather than being solely concerned with U.N. approval, the President must come first to our own Congress for authorization, and I urge him to do so,” said Republican Rep. Chris Gibson in a statement to BuzzFeed. But as the example of Libya showed, the Obama administration has taken action without Congressional approval.

In an interview with CNN, Obama said: “ If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it.” But given Russian opposition to a U.S. strike on Syria, a UN mandate would be hard to come by.

Alex Kane is AlterNet‘s New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor forMondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Enhanced by Zemanta