The above map details the surrounding area of Damascus and the affected areas of the chemical attacks. For the next few days after the attacks, the Syrian regime continued to shell the affected areas with conventional weapons, seemingly in an attempt to cover up their use of chemical weapons. The UN was eventually granted access to the affected areas to conduct research on the use of the chemical weapons; they ended up confirming the use of sarin. Also in the days after, several Western intelligence agencies reported that they have confirmed that the Assad regime was indeed the culprit. After more and more evidence was starting to mount regarding the validity of the use of chemical weapons, the United States considered military action, but eventually backed down in the face of aRussian-brokered agreement to destroy Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles.
The backing down from the United States of military action came in the face of a supposed "red line" set forth by President Obama. In August of 2012, Obama said this of Syria and the Assad regime: " In a situation this volatile, I wouldn’t say that I am absolutely confident. What I’m saying is we’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans. We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly."
A year later and his red line was crossed--and way more than once. And a year on from then, the United States has still yet to either punish the Assad regime or get significantly involved in aiding the Syrian opposition. The consequences of doing so has only exacerbated the situation inside Syria (and one could argue inside Iraq with how the events in Syria allowed ISIS to grow strong enough to take on Iraq), hurt relations with Arab allies (like how the US was allegedly left in the dark about joint Egypt-UAE airstrikes in Libya), and have left us with several possible bad outcomes regarding the war in Syria.
One year on and no one has gone punished for their crimes committed last August. The war in Syria is still at a stalemate. The United States, as of the publishing of this post, has yet to conduct any significant military action inside Syria targeting either the Assad regime or even the Islamic State--although there are reports that the US may strike the latter inside Syria soon.
As we go forward, we should all remember those innocent lives lost on that fateful day in August of 2013. We should all also never forget those innocent lives lost everyday as a result of the chaos in Syria. Innocents are dying every single day at the hands of either Assad or the Islamic State and hardly anything is being done to help the people of Syria. We should also remember that reports of chemical attacks committed by the regime continue to happen.
While everyday, ordinary citizens do not influence military or foreign policy, you can, however, still help those people suffering as a result of the war in the Syria. Below are links to several charitable organizations that directly help those affected by the civil war. Please help and donate to one (or more) of these organizations.
Save the Children
Islamic Relief USA
World Food Programme
Doctors Without Borders
Catholic Relief Services