Developments surrounding chemical weapons in Syria
Below is an account of the main developments surrounding accusations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, after France said Tuesday it has proof sarin gas has been used there.
- July 23: The Syrian regime acknowledges for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in case of a Western military intervention, but never against its own people.
- August 20: US President Barack Obama warns Syria of "enormous consequences" if it resorts to chemical weapons, and says the United States would regard any recourse by Damascus to its deadly arsenal as crossing a "red line" which would result in US action.
- December 3: NATO and the United States warn Syria against using its chemical weapons, as a US official says that Syria has begun mixing chemicals that could be used to make sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent.
- December 24: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it would be "political suicide" for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if it used chemical weapons against the armed opposition, but that "I do not believe Syria would use chemical weapons."
- January 30: the Israeli air force bombards a site of ground-to-air missiles and an adjacent military complex near Damascus suspected of holding chemical agents, with Israel saying it feared the transfer of weapons to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, according to a US official.
- March 19: The government and rebel forces accuse each other of using chemical weapons for the first time, but the United States says it has seen "no evidence" of such action.
- March 20: Obama warns the Damascus regime it would be held accountable for any use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, which he said would be a "grave and tragic mistake" and a "game-changer".
- April 8: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the UN inspection team is in Cyprus and ready to deploy. Syria rejects the mission as proposed by Ban.
- April 25: The White House says that Syria has likely used chemical weapons against rebel forces on a "small scale" during the conflict, while emphasising that US spy agencies are still not 100 percent sure.
- May 10: US Secretary of State John Kerry says there is "strong evidence" that the regime has used chemical weapons against rebel forces.
- May 18: Assad denies that his government has used chemical weapons against civilians.
- May 27: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says there are "mounting suspicions" that chemical weapons are being used in Syria.
- May 29: Britain informs the United Nations of "new incidents" of apparent chemical weapons use in Syria, diplomats say.
- June 4: UN investigators say they have "reasonable grounds" to believe that both sides in Syria have used chemical weapons, on four occasions in March and April, adding that "the majority concern their use by government forces".
France says it has proof that Assad's regime is using sarin gas, adding that "all options", including armed intervention, are on the table.
The White House says it needs more evidence.
© 2013 AFP