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Another Chemical Attack In Syria, Still No Accountability

Victim of April 4 chemical attack
Victim of April 4 chemical attack

Members of the U.N. Security Council will gather today for an emergency meeting following reports of a chemical attack in Syria that may have have killed between 50 and 100 people, including children.

The appalling story is front-page news today in many of the world's newspapers. The chemical attack is considered the deadliest in Syria since August 2013.

France, Britain and the United States have all blamed the Syrian regime. Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, spoke of "a disgusting act," while his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, said "all the evidence I have seen suggests this was the Assad regime ... using illegal weapons on their own people." And Donald Trump described "heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime."

The accused Syrian regime, meanwhile, denied all responsibility.

The three countries drafted a resolution that will likely be put to a vote at the Security Council meeting. But if past experience teaches us anything, Assad's ally Russia (and perhaps even China) will likely answer with a veto.

Commenting on yesterday's attack on a rebel-held town in the northwestern Idlib province, Russia's Defense Ministry rejected accusations of a deliberate chemical attack by government forces. It claimed instead that Syrian airstrikes in the area had hit "a large terrorist ammunition depot and a concentration of military hardware" including "workshops which produced chemical warfare munitions' similar to those used last fall in Aleppo, ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov said. The accused Syrian regime, meanwhile, denied all responsibility.

Unsurprisingly, all sides are sticking to their narrative. As the ancient and famous saying goes, the first casualty in a war is the truth. And that is all the truer in a total war like the one that's been unfolding for more than six years now. What yesterday's attack and the reactions it sparked brutally remind us is that the Syrian war won't end until all sides agree to put aside their differences and work together on the country's future. Or until one camp annihilates the other.

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