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Trump threatens Syria over chemical attack

The US president warned that Syria would “pay a heavy price” if it launched another chemical attack against civilians. But is that so much worse than killing them with bullets and bombs? The warning appeared to take even the US military by surprise. Late on Monday, the White House issued a statement. If Syria’s President Assad “conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons,” it said, “he and his military will pay a heavy price.” The threat was prompted by intelligence showing possible preparations for a chemical attack similar to one that killed at least 80 people in April. That attack provoked President Trump to launch a missile strike on a Syrian airbase, marking America’s first military action against Assad in the six-year civil war. Syria denies planning an attack, but international tensions are running high in Syria. Last week the USA shot down a Syrian fighter jet that dropped bombs near American-backed troops fighting ISIS. Russia, which backs the Syrian government, in turn said it would shoot down American planes if they strayed into western Syria. It is a situation which could easily spiral out of control. Chemical weapons were first banned in 1899 at the Hague Peace Conference. But after the Germans deployed mustard gas on the battlefield in 1915, they became widely used in the first world war. Over 90,000 soldiers were killed by chemical weapons in that conflict and many more were injured. The public were horrified and in 1925 most nations signed the Geneva Protocol, banning the use of such weapons once again. However, various countries, including Syria, stockpiled chemical weapons in the 1970s and 80s, and now Assad is allegedly using them against his own people. Reacting to the attack in April, Trump said: “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line.” The scale of suffering in Syria’s civil war can be hard to comprehend. Estimates of the death toll go as high as 470,000. But of those, only around 1,500 are thought to have been killed by chemical weapons. The vast majority of deaths, both civilian and military, have been caused by conventional weapons such as bullets and bombs. Knowing this, is our response to chemical weapons overblown? Chemical reaction Yes, say some. We feel bad about chemical weapons because the media show us pictures of the victims, but not of those of bombs as they are simply too bloody and gruesome. Just because we are sheltered from seeing their effects, conventional weapons are no less brutal. We should care about all civilian deaths. That misses the point, say others. Chemical weapons are indiscriminate, barbaric and cause a prolonged and painful death. If we do not make a stand against them every time they are used, they could become commonplace and many more people, including civilians, would be killed. KeywordsInjured - Hurt.

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