WEAPONS

Syria Stops Chemical Weapons Push

After missile struck building in Aleppo. (AFP/Getty)

Major world powers have often been unable to agree on a course of action during the civil war in Syria. But the discovery in November that Syrian troops appeared to be preparing chemical weapons led to unprecedented international cooperation. A public warning from President Obama combined with more sharply worded private messages from Russia, Iraq, Turkey, and possibly Jordan to Bashar al-Assad and his commanders stopped the chemical mixing and bomb preparation within a week. But there are still fears that Assad may resort to using the weapons as he becomes increasingly desperate. One senior defense official recently said, “I think the Russians understood this is the one thing that could get us to intervene in the war. What Assad understood, and whether that understanding changes if he gets cornered in the next few months, that's anyone's guess.”