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An almost sure sign that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has unleashed his chemical weapons for use against rebels is his regime’s claim on Saturday that rebels are preparing to use chemicals in their uprising. Assad systematically has accused opposition forces, which he labels as “foreign terrorists,” of carrying out attacks and murders for which his own loyalists are responsible.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday there was evidence the Damascus government could actually employ chemical weapons stocks in the conflict which a rights group says has killed at least 42,000 people in nearly 21 months.
The Obama administration is bound to be tested this week on its treat to intervene militarily if signs continue to show that chemical weapons are already being used in Syria.
If President Barack Obama thought that his warning would be enough to stop Assad, he apparently is mistaken. Assad knows that if he does not defeat the opposition, his fate is death, and probably in a way no more humane than his brutal suppression of the uprising if not in a way similar to that of his old friend, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Military intervention would have far-reaching repercussions especially, in Iran, a last holdout in Assad’s collapsing support.
Tehran’s fears of the fall of Assad were reflected Saturday in an article in Fars News Agency, an Iranian regime mouthpiece. It misquoted the London Guardian, which reported Hague’s statements on Assad’s preparations to use chemical weapons, and said that the newspaper reported, “The U.S. is spreading rumors about the use of chemical weapons in Syria to find an excuse for launching military strike on Damascus.”