There are more alarms raised as to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. The UN is currently investigating the new claims. Currently the UN is able to investigate outside Syria but the UN has requested permission to investigate inside Syria, that will be interesting if that is allowed.
It was only last month that both the Syrian government and the rebels accused each other of using chemical weapons so we can see how complicated this gets in deciding and investigating the use of chemical weapons. The weapons apparently were used on the village of Khan al-Assal outside Aleppo.
Weapons inspectors when checking for chemical weapons need to check for tissue, urine, blood and soil samples amongst other samples needed, which means they need to be able to have permission to enter the areas concerned. The samples then need to be assessed in a certified laboratory.
The US is talking “red lines” as are the Israelis, I talked about “red lines” in a previous blog. I would imagine all the major western style democracies are wary of the “weapons of mass destruction” mess that has never gone away and are now more careful of verifying before real solid proof appears.
We now seem to be in another time view whereby western democracies are providing reasons or at least putting the idea in our heads that 70,000 people may have died in Syria over the last two years but chemical weapons is the point where we say no.
The Russian troop movements have always been interesting in this war. Tartus, a base I talked about in a blog last year and Russia’s only mediterranean base is reportedly expecting at least three more Russian ships and hundreds of troops. With the already significant presence of Russian marines and more special forces on their way this has to have been a deterrent to US and other western democracies involvement, apart from minor aid (flak jackets etc), to the rebels. On the other side of this the US is more wary of stepping into conflicts as in Libya where weapons seem to have landed in the wrong hands.
What Russia troops and ships are heading to Syria?
It is reported that three Russians warships have called into Beruit on the way to Tartus. They apparently have hundreds of marines and missile systems on board.
Russian sources have apparently been quoted in the “London Times” as saying that the arrival of 300 special forces (other quotes say 700 maybe this includes counter terrorism “Spetsnaz” units) plus those 500 marines who arrived apparently in January, will be there as a deterrent to those who wish to overthrow the Bashar Assad regime.
If you read my earlier blog on the Syrian crisis you would have read about the main role of the Russian special forces troops in Tartus. The Russian line is that they are there to evacuate Russians workers and their families should the situation get worse, how worse does it have to get? Not exactly a special forces role but there are possibly Spetznaz units on the ground already who would be involved in safe evacuations.
The bottom line here is that Russia is not about to let there only mediterranean base go and Syria, an ally good or bad, come under the control of the US, Israel and other western democracies. The US and allies may wish to arm the rebels eventually, the sending of more troops by Russia to Syria indicates that the Russian leadership is possibly losing patience.
The Russian special forces as I talked about in another blog of mine, are from what we can gather highly trained to secure Syria’s chemical weapons should they look like they will fall into the wrong hands. The US and Israel have their versions of wrong hands but think Chechnyan rebels when you think of Russian wrong hands.
Whether chemical weapons have been used or not is still to be confirmed but my feeling is that the Russians have control at some level of these weapons and it would be difficult for chemical weapons to be used by the Syrian government. However this is a country in chaos and control of key areas is split.
The US, Israel, Turkey and other western powers have a lot in common with Russia and Iran in the Syrian crisis. A new Syrian leadership that is acceptable to them all. I bet a lot of talking is going on behind the scenes.
Obviously they haven’t agreed on a replacement for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad just yet.
Meantime people die. An estimated 70,000 in the last two years with over an estimated 1,000000 refugees.