At least 13 dead and many more injured, as a bomb explosion decimates a busy commercial district in the centre of Damascus. Meanwhile Obama calls for caution before taking action against the Syrian government’s likely use of chemical weapons.
Yesterday a car bomb explosion targeted the convoy of Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi. He managed to escape unharmed, but according to Syrian state TV
at least 5 others were killed, as well as one of the Prime Minister’s own bodyguards. Today the chaos intensifies as a terrible explosion wreaks havoc in the district of Marjeh, central Damascus.
The aftermath of the bomb explosion has been aired on the Pro-government Al-Ikhbariya television which shows an entire building and many cars being consumed by fire. Amidst the confusion, dead bodies as well as badly injured people are carried from the scene while firefighters attempt to extinguish the sea of flames which was once a bustling place of work.
The violence rages against the turbulent backdrop of chemical weaponry allegations. Both the British Foreign Office and US defence have declared that there is persuasive evidence of the Assad regime having used chemical weapons. This would amount to massive war crimes on the part of Assad’s government. Chuck Hagel, US Defence Secretary states
from the Gulf: “the US intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin. We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have been originated with the Assad regime.”
So will the US be taking action to intervene?
Not yet, seems to be US president Barack Obama’s response
: “the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer”” he states from Washington, “What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don’t know how they were used when they were used, who used them….and when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts.” He continues “and if we end up rushing to judgement without hard objective evidence then we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community to support what we do…so it’s important for us to do this in a prudent way.”
According to the New York Times
there is mixed feeling on American intervention. “While some members of Congress have said the threshold for more active American involvement has been crossed, the administration has resisted.” It also reveals that there “appears to be little American public appetite for a military engagement in Syria, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll.”
So while we wait for the emergence of such evidence that the Assad regime is using Chemical weapons, we remember the people who have been murdered today in this terrible explosion. We also remember the poignant words of today’s Gospel: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” May the Lord’s Peace enter into the hearts of the Syrian fighters, and into the hearts of the loved ones who their victims have left behind.