Claim: Syrian Government Gassed Hundreds
Sickening if true.
BEIRUT — Syrian activists accused the government Wednesday of launching a massive chemical weapons attack that killed scores of people in the Damascus suburbs and left makeshift hospitals packed with victims gasping for breath.
The death toll from the alleged attack — which the government strongly denied — varied vastly. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 100 people were confirmed killed, but that the number was likely to rise, while the Syrian Opposition Coalition claimed that at least 1,300 died. The opposition Damascus Media Office also put the toll at more than 1,000.
Given the nature of the opposition in Syria -- its spine is al Qaeda -- skepticism is warranted. After President Obama made chemical weapons his blurry "red line," it was only a matter of time before claims that the Syrians had used chemical weapons would start coming in. Similarly, the Syrian government is a safe bet to accuse the rebels of using them too. Basically, it's unwise to believe anyone involved in that war. There are very few true good guys.
But while we're waiting for corroboration, maybe we should denounce the chemical weapons culture that pervades Middle Eastern despotisms. Like guns in our culture, chemical weapons must be capable of sprouting legs and ambling toward crowds of people all on their own.