THE ROAD TO ATTACK ON DAMASCUS
MARCH: Protests erupt in the city of Daraa over security forces’ detention of a group of boys accused of painting antigovernment graffiti on the walls of their school. Security forces open fire on a protest, killing four people in what activists regard as the first deaths of the uprising. Demonstrations spread, as does the crackdown by Assad’s forces.
AUGUST 18: Then US President Barack Obama calls on Assad to resign and orders Syrian government assets frozen.
AUGUST 20: Mr Obama says the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that would change his thinking on intervening in the civil war and have “enormous consequences”.
AUGUST 21: Hundreds of people suffocate in rebel-held suburbs around Damascus, with many suffering from convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and foaming at the mouth. UN investigators determine that ground-to- ground missiles loaded with sarin gas were fired on civilian areas while residents slept. The US and others blame the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to have sarin gas.
SEPTEMBER 27: The UN Security Council orders Syria to account for and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, following a surprise agreement between Washington and Moscow, averting US strikes. The Security Council threatens to authorise the use of force in the event of non-compliance. OCTOBER 14: Syria becomes a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from producing, stockpiling or using chemical weapons.
JUNE 23: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has removed the last of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons. Syrian opposition officials maintain that the government’s stocks were not fully accounted for, and that it retained supplies.
AUGUST 7: The UN Security Council authorises the OPCW and UN investigators to probe reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, as reports circulate of repeated chlorine gas attacks by government forces against civilians in opposition-held areas. Chlorine gas, though not as toxic as nerve agents, can be classified as a chemical weapon depending on its use. The panel determines the Syrian government deployed chlorine gas against its opponents, in civilian areas in 2014 and 2015.
FEBRUARY 28: Russia, a stalwart ally of the Syrian government, and China veto a UN Security Council resolution authorising sanctions against the Syrian government for chemical weapons use.
APRIL 4: More than 90 people are killed in a suspected nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province. Victims show signs of suffocation, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and pupil constriction. Witnesses say the attack was carried out by either Russian or Syrian Sukhoi jets. Moscow and Damascus deny responsibility.
APRIL 5: US President Donald Trump says Assad’s government has “crossed a lot of lines” with the suspected chemical attack in Syria.
OCTOBER 26: UN and chemical weapons watchdog experts blame the Syrian government for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. The report supports the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain that a Syrian plane dropped a bomb with sarin on the town.
APRIL 7: Syrian activists, rescuers and medics say a poison gas attack on the rebelheld town of Douma killed at least 40 people. The Syrian government and Russia reject the allegations.
APRIL 9: Mr Trump says he will decide on a US response to the Douma attack “probably by the end of today”.
APRIL 10: Syria says it has invited the OPCW to send a fact-finding mission into the country, as government forces across Syria go on high alert in anticipation of a possible US strike. LEBANON TURKEY
*Centre D’Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques (Scientific Studies and Research Centre) Sources: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Stratfor, AFP © GRAPHIC NEWS
APRIL 13: Mr Trump puts off a final decision on possible military strikes after tweeting earlier that they could happen “very soon or not so soon at all.” The White House says he would consult further with allies.
Source: AP JORDAN