Chemical weapons used on Homs
Syria's military police defector tells of nerve gas attack

The head of Syria's military police defected to the opposition, accusing the Assad regime of systematic "murder" and claiming that reports of chemical weapons being used against rebels in the restive city of Homs were true.
From The Independent, no less. Will this cause the progressives in the western world to pay attention to Syria now? Condemn Assad? Do anything other than the most mild 'tsk-tsk'?

Oh, I already know the answer.
Maj-Gen Abdul-Aziz Jassim al-Shallal became one of the highest ranking Syrian military officers to throw their support behind the rebels, accusing forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of turning their weapons on innocent civilians in the now 22-month-long civil war.

"I declare my defection from the army because of its deviation from its fundamental mission to protect the nation and [its] transformation into gangs of murder and destruction," he said in a video message posted online, reportedly from the Turkish border.

He accused the military of "destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom." General Shallal suggested in his message that he had been working with the opposition for some time before he formally defected to the rebel cause.

He becomes the latest in a string of leading military advisers to abandon the government and join the disparate rebels. But it is his claim that chemical weapons were used in Homs during a deadly attack on Christmas Eve that is likely to be of greater interest to the Syrian opposition and their foreign backers.

Reports from Homs had suggested that a type of nerve agent was used by the Syrian forces in the attack, a point that General Shallal appeared to verify yesterday. Al Jazeera reported at the time that at least seven people had died after inhaling a poisonous gas "sprayed by government forces in a rebel-held Homs neighbourhood".

It is not clear that the substance used in Homs was banned by international law, even the though the General yesterday specifically referred to a "chemical weapons" attack. Nonetheless, the use of non-conventional weapons is considered a "red line" by some in the international community who have been reluctant to intervene directly.
But not by our president, apparently, even though he said a month ago that it would be...
The issue of chemical weapons and their security is likely to form the basis of discussions when the UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visits Moscow on Saturday.
Only so the Rooskies can remove the 'Made in the Soviet Union' labels from the stash...

Posted by: Steve White 2012-12-28