Turkey gives UN evidence on Syrian chemical use
Turkey has been giving all its information and evidence to the United Nations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces against civilians, according to information provided by a Turkish source who asked not to be named. “We have absolutely no doubt that the Syrian military has used it, and a number of times,” the source continued. “We know the dates, the exact places, which units fired them at which point. We have passed all the information immediately to the U.N. officials who are carrying out the investigation in the field.”
The U.N. started its investigations into the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, ongoing for more than two years, even before the alarming attack of Aug. 21.
The source smiled with sarcasm when a journalist among the briefed group asked about the Russian objection to claims that chemical weapons were used by military loyal to Bashar al-Assad. “Russia does not acknowledge the use of chemical weapons in Halabja by Saddam Hussein even today,” the source said, recalling the 1988 attack against the Kurdish populated town in Iraq that killed 5,000 civilians.
That attack triggered a massive migration into Turkey and Iran and later on was considered a key step toward the U.S.-led war in 1991.
However, Ankara believes that Moscow has been and is going to act “rationally” if and when there is another U.S.-led operation, this time in Syria. Despite all the backing of the al-Assad regime, Russian top officials have made it clear that Russia would not get into a war over Syria.
Ankara sees the reason in the hesitation of the U.S. administration regarding an operation against the Syrian regime. Once the U.S. makes its decision for the operation, Ankara believes that Russia and almost all other actors trying to stop such an intervention would step aside, perhaps with the exception of Iran and groups close to Iran in other countries of the region.
U.S. President Barack Obama said that such a possible operation, following approval by the Congress would not target the al-Assad regime, but would be a punitive act against the use of chemical weapons. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan reacted to that by saying that with or without chemical weapons there is an ongoing massacre in Syria, and the target should therefore be al-Assad and his regime. According to technical assessments in Ankara, any move by the U.S.-led operatives to destroy the air strips providing superiority to al-Assad’s forces over rebels and to destroy the heavy weaponry in his arsenal will break the asymmetry between the fire powers of the government and the rebel forces and would eventually lead to fall of al-Assad anyway. So, Ankara is trying its best to convince the U.S. and other allies in order not to leave the job unfinished if an operation starts.
Will Turkey take part in an operation, even if it doesn’t totally match up with its political line? The answer is “yes.” If Turkey’s assistance is requested by the U.S. to take part in a “coalition of the willing,” Turkey would like to take part. There is no need to mention that this already applies to any decision by the U.N. or NATO.
“We want the whole region to get out of this wave of instability as soon as possible,” the source said. “Turkey has security, political and economic interests in an immediate end to the civil war in Syria.”