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2013年8月29日 (木)

シリア内戦 化学兵器疑惑の徹底解明を

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 29, 2013
Uncover the full truth about alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria
シリア内戦 化学兵器疑惑の徹底解明を(8月28日付・読売社説)

The death toll in the Syrian civil war has already exceeded 100,000. With last week’s alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces in mind, it is all the more imperative that the country’s bloodshed be stopped without further delay.

President Bashar Assad’s regime forces fired rockets loaded with chemical gas on the suburbs of Damascus last Wednesday, killing and injuring a large number of civilians, according to the opposition Syrian National Coalition. Video footage of children injured in the attack has also been released on the Internet.

The Assad government adamantly denies using chemical weapons, and insists the attack in question was perpetrated by rebel forces.

Using chemical weapons is a clear violation of international law. If it is established that regime forces used chemical weapons, the Assad government must be sternly brought to task.

A U.N. investigation team in Syria has started trying to confirm whether chemical weapons were used. However, the U.N. team is experiencing difficulties in probing the incident. One of the mission’s vehicles was fired on by unidentified snipers.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a visit to Kuwait, had every reason to say, “I hope the U.N. investigating commission’s on-site probe will be conducted without disruption, and that all the facts will be established at an early date.”

Results of the investigation will likely be referred to a session of the U.N. Security Council. The council should implement necessary measures toward Syria after establishing the facts about the alleged use of chemical weapons, based on the U.N. team’s findings.

Military response looming

The United States has started discussions with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including Britain and France, regarding whether to launch a military strike on Syrian government targets. Washington has concluded that Assad regime forces used chemical weapons during last week’s attack. Its talks with NATO allies over possible military action came before the U.N. team produces its report.

U.S. President Barack Obama had initially been cautious about becoming directly involved in the Syrian civil war. However, he is shifting to a hard-line approach.

This is presumably because the alleged chemical weapons attack took place despite his repeated warnings to the Assad government that the use of deadly gases would cross “a red line.” Overlooking the latest incident would tarnish the national prestige of the United States. It could also encourage the use of chemical weapons in other parts of the world.

However, it should be noted that the U.S. State Department has emphasized the importance of seeking “a political solution” to the Syrian problem. Needless to say, further diplomatic efforts must be made to resolve the armed conflict before the United States and NATO nations possibly decide to launch a military operation.

Another important task that must complement efforts to uncover the truth about the alleged chemical weapons use is to renew efforts to end the Syrian civil war, a challenge that will require shoring up international pressure on the Assad regime, which has relentlessly attacked the people of its own country.

This year’s Group of Eight summit meeting in June agreed that the Syrian government, rebel forces and nations with a stake in the problem would hold an international conference aimed at ending the civil war. Such a meeting would ideally be convened as early as possible.

We will be closely watching how the United Nations and the international community handle the Syrian situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2013)
(2013年8月28日02時13分  読売新聞)


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