Chemical weapons and “Basma” Syria…
Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin published a revealing scoop Tuesday regarding the United States government’s supposed “red line” with the regime of Bashar Al Assad.
Following an investigation by US diplomats in Turkey, Washington was informed that Syrian regime forces likely used a chemical weapon in the city of Homs last December.
The Obama Administration has said that the use of chemical weapons is the “red line” that it will not tolerate from the regime. If Washington knew the regime used such weapons and did not take action it is an illustration of the lack of will regarding Syria and how unclear the administration’s policies are towards the crisis. It also gives the regime the impression it can get away with more brutal tactics without serious repercussions.
The US investigation was facilitated by Basma Syria, a Syrian activist outfit. I wrote about Basma for Foreign Policy last fall. The group appears to be making use of its network of opposition activists in Syria to provide information to the US on what they think happened with the alleged attack.
So far the White House has played down the story. While it is is not clear who leaked the information it may have been someone who disagreed with the administration’s current policies toward Syria, or the lack of them.
It should also be noted that the type if weapon used in Homs has not been verified, though it appears to be something called “Agent 15” or 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate , a low grade chemical weapon.