Evidence grows that Syria has used chemical weapons
Prime minister David Cameron has said that there is “limited but growing” evidence that chemical weapons have been used by Syrian government troops.
Mr Cameron, speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, said: “It is extremely serious, this is a war crime, and we should take it very seriously.”
The prime minister’s comments come after the White House revealed on Thursday that US intelligence agencies believe chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
In a letter to senior US senators, Miguel E. Rodriguez, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, said: “Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin.”
Sarin is a colourless and odourless liquid and has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN.
US president Barack Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red-line” triggering possible military action.
The president is under pressure from other US politicians to follow through with action.
According to senator John McCain: “The problem is that the president has consistently said that’s a red line, so the question is, will the president act in a way that I have advocated for a long time?”
“[This involves] providing a safe zone for the Syrian resistance, provide proper weapons and have operational capability to secure these chemical weapons caches,” he added.
Syrian officials have dismissed the accusations, with pro-government writer Sharif Shehadeh telling the Associated Press that the US allegations were “lies” and likened them to the accusations made against Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction, which later proved untrue.
Shortly after the announcement on Thursday by the US, a video, said to have been shot in a hospital in the Syrian town of Afrin, emerged showing patients frothing at the mouth and choking whilst doctors attempt to treat them.
Anthony Loyd, a journalist for The Times who travelled to the hospital, told the BBC that the video “showed pretty clearly that [the patients] had been gassed”.
The source of the video remains unknown. However, it is believed that the patients are victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack on 13th April in the rebel-held Sheikh Maqsood area of Aleppo.
According to the UN, at least 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict over the past two years and fighting continues throughout the country.