Monday, April 29, was the U.N.’s Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare. The day has been observed since 2005.
“This year’s observance is especially timely, as the spectre of chemical weapons is once again casting its ominous shadow,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement.
Ban was referring to the recent revelation that Syrian President-cum-James Bond Villain Bashar al-Assad has almost most definitely used chemical weapons, at least on a small scale. This is a truth of which Israel and Britain insist there is solid or growing evidence, and that the U.S. and France are apprehensive to accept.
“As we address these allegations, I encourage all involved to uphold their responsibilities in enabling us to properly police these heinous weapons of massive destruction,” Ban continued.
The Remembrance Day was also an opportunity for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to "reaffirm its commitment … to the elimination of the threat of chemical weapons."
This commemoration is happening just days after a few reports out of Israel claimed the Israeli Air Force struck and destroyed a chemical weapons site in Syria. A report from the Hebrew-language paper Maariv reported that at 6 a.m. local time on Saturday morning, Israeli plans made a pass over Assad's palace in Damascus and "other secure facilities" before striking a chemical weapons storage site, UPI translated. Syrian anti-aircraft guns reportedly fired on the Israeli planes but missed their targets.
Only one other report in Syria corroborated the Maariv story, but the Syrian report did not mention Israeli involvement, Jewish Press reported. Lebanese English-language outlet also mentioned heavy fighting near the Scientific Studies and Research Centre on the outskirts of Damascus, which American experts say is a euphemism for a Syrian chemical weapons site.
Former U.S. naval intelligence officer J.E. Dyer told Jewish Press that she doubted Israeli involvement. Destroying a site like the SSRC would take several sequential strikes, she told Jewish Press, and Israel is not one to leave a job unfinished or unsuccessful. “There’s a lot of industrial square footage to thump," Dyer said. "The IAF would want to put more than a couple of strike fighters over the target.”
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.