August 27, 2013 | Quote

Kerry: Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons ‘Undeniable’

A limited military strike against Syria might convince the Assad regime not to use chemical weapons again but it won't change the balance of power in the Syrian civil war or bring about President Obama's stated goal of regime change, analysts and rebels say.

Syrian President Bashar Assad “has used all kinds of weapons, chemical and cluster bombs during massacres in Syria,” said Abu Jaafar al-Mugarbel, an activist based in Homs, in western Syria.

“There is nothing that can stop the regime from doing that except military intervention. It is not the best way forward but there is nothing else after all that has happened,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it is clear the Assad regime used chemical weapons last week and that Obama believes such action should lead to consequences. He made his remarks from Jordan as United Nations inspectors were investigating the site where the alleged chemical weapons massacre happened outside of Damascus.

“President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use chemical weapons,” Kerry said. “Nothing today is more serious.”

The attack should “shock the consciousness of the world,” Kerry said. “This is about the large scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago agreed should never be used.”

U.S. officials have said Obama is considering military options after the gas attack last week left as many as 1,300 people dead. French and British officials have said a limited, punitive strike is under consideration.

A limited strike would allow Obama to say he's following through on his warning a year ago that Assad would incur U.S. “game changing” action if he used chemical weapons, but it would also allow Assad to continue prosecuting a war that has already cost more than 100,000 Syrian lives, caused radicals to stream into Syria and spread violence into neighboring countries, said Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“The casualty toll, the ability of unsavory actors to further entrench themselves, the ability of Assad to consolidate a part of the country under his control and continuing to destabilize neighbors — all that stuff continues to play out,” under a limited strike, Badran said.

Badran says how effective the strike by the USA and its allies is depends on the list of targets.

“The question is whether your intervention will have the broader goal of removal of this regime,” Badran said. “Based on how they're talking about it – punitive strike related to this issue of chemical weapons – they're defining it very narrowly, as a slap on the wrist, don't do that again. If you do there will be a more serious response.”

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