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Syrian conflict

Syria’s Assad needs chemical attacks to instil sheer terror, even if he is winning

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 3:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 3:39pm

In his latest column (“If a third world war is coming, it may start from Syria”, April 15), Yonden Lhatoo repeated a common refrain: that there is no rational reason for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to use chemical weapons against his own people.

This is wrong. To deny Assad’s incentive to terrorise is to deny the realities of this conflict.

True, the Syrian army has been gaining ground. But this is a civil war: Assad cannot merely beat the rebels in the field. He must demonstrate absolute power. He must turn the very idea of resistance to dust.

There are few more effective ways of achieving this goal than by using chemical weapons against civilians. These attacks produce sheer terror – and sheer terror will preserve his rule more potently than conventional weaponry ever could.

Behold, Assad’s grim logic.

Jack Wright Nelson, Sai Ying Pun