Has US ‘Red Line’ On Syria Been Crossed?

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Four days after House Intelligence Committee Chairman (and former FBI  agent) Mike Rogers reiterated in the Washington Post that the US “red line” for military intervention in Syria would be that government’s use of chemical weapons, the US-allied opposition fighters have apparently used some sort of chemical device in Aleppo, killing at least 26, including 16 Syrian Army soldiers.

The Russian foreign ministry has issued a statement:

“Information coming from Damascus indicates that the use of chemical weapons by the armed opposition was recorded in the Aleppo province early on March 19. We are extremely, seriously concerned by the fact that weapons of mass destruction have gotten into militants’ hands, which is worsening the situation in the SAR even more and brings confrontation in this country to a new level.”

Three thoughts:

1) If confirmed, the timing of this use of chemical weapons is quite curious. Four days after Rogers’ article and on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Israel, where the press informs us that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will “press” Obama to attack Syria.

2) Does the “red line” count if it is the US allies using the weapons? In other words, does the US attack the Syrian government anyway now that the line has been crossed even though government troops and innocent civilians are the victims of the attack? That would make most sense in the logic of US interventionist foreign policy: “if the government uses chemical weapons we have to intervene, if the rebels use chemical weapons we have to intervene.”

3) How much help did the armed opposition have in getting these weapons, and from whom?

On Twitter @DanielLMcAdams

1:11 pm on March 19, 2013
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