THE ROAD TO AT­TACK ON DA­M­AS­CUS

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

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

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