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Flag of Syria
  1. Syria Main Page
  2. Regional Conflicts Continue Through the End of the Century
  3. Syria is Repeatedly Accused of Supporting Terrorist Groups
  4. Syria and Israel Begin Negotiating, but Terrorism and Conflict Continue
  5. Government Forces Crack Down on Protesters
  6. Diplomatic Effort to End Violence Stymied by Security Council Vetoes
  7. Syria Sinks into Civil War
  8. Opposition Forms New Governing Body
  9. Several Countries Accuse Assad of Using Chemical Weapons
  10. Gains by Government and Splintering of Opposition Signal Staying Power of Assad
  11. Assad Accused of Launching a Chemical Attack
  12. Diplomacy Trumps Force Over Chemical Weapons Issue
  13. Splintering of Opposition Causes Concern
  14. UN-Led Negotiations Begin in Geneva; Rebels Suffer Setbacks
Assad Accused of Launching a Chemical Attack

On Aug. 21, 2013, opposition groups accused the government of attacking rebel areas in Zamalka, Ein Terma, and Erbeen, suburbs east of Damascus, with chemical weapons. Gruesome, graphic images in the media showed victims foaming at the mouth and twitching and lines of covered corpses. The opposition said as many as 1,000 people died in the attack. The government denied it launched a chemical attack. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack a "moral obscenity" and an "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians." The alleged attack coincided with the arrival of UN inspectors to Syria to investigate earlier allegations of government use of chemical weapons. Inspectors were cleared to investigate the site, and their convoy was fired on by snipers en route. They did gain access to the affected areas and took samples for testing.

Because Russia and China vowed to veto any UN Security Council resolution authorizing retaliation on Assad, the U.S. and allies hoped to form a coalition to support an attack. President Obama said on Aug. 27 that he was considering a limited strike on the military bases and the artillery that he believes were responsible for the chemical attack, and French president Francois Hollande and British prime minister David Cameron backed Obama's plan. However, on Aug. 29, the British parliament voted down Cameron's request for authorization to attack Syria—a stunning setback to Cameron. On Aug. 31, the Obama administration released an intelligence summary that it said provided evidence that the Syrian government ordered the chemcial attack and that the assault killed 1,429 people. The intelligence summary reported that the military had been preparing for the attack for three days prior to the launch.

Next: Diplomacy Trumps Force Over Chemical Weapons Issue
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