In some unsettling news, the United States reportedly fears that embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad didn't get rid of all of his country's chemical weapons after all. As the Times reported:
The assertions by Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Security Council, were made after the Council received a private briefing on the Syria chemical weapons disarmament effort from Sigrid Kaag, the United Nations official appointed last year to coordinate it. Under Ms. Kaag, 96 percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile, including all of the most lethal materials, have been destroyed.
The shipping out and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal was perhaps the lone bright spot in the Western efforts to contain the humanitarian crises born of the three-year-old Syrian civil war. Millions of Syrians have been displaced and nearly 200,000 people have been killed, according to recent estimates.
Last summer, a Russian-brokered deal spared Assad from the infamous red line set forth by President Obama following reports of chemical weapons attacks by the government forces on population centers. The deal meant all of Syria's chemical weapons would be gone. But as the process was mired by delays and limited by the raging civil war, there remained other reasons for skepticism:
Who could have possibly predicted a genocidal dictator would lie about disarming? MT @TIME: US worried Assad may still have chemical weapons— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) September 5, 2014
What's particularly distressing about this revelation is that Assad, whose grip already seemed tenuous at a few points in the past three years, is facing off against a consortium of militias that are gaining momentum.
ISIL's exploits in Syria have been well-documented and last week, rebels from the al-Nusra Front captured the border posts near the Syrian-Israeli border and quickly kidnapped dozens of United Nations peacekeepers. As the war continues to rage, the (re)introduction of chemical weapons into the equation has terrifying ramifications.