09/17/2013, 00.00
VATICAN - SYRIA

Nuncio in Damascus : The victims of chemical warfare and Pope's prayer hasten radical change in Syria

For Msgr . Mario Zenari , the " innocent victims " and " Pope's prayer " have led to two miracles : armed intervention has been avoided and the decision to destroy Damascus’ chemical weapons. The need to work for a political solution to the conflict. The UN report confirms the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta but says nothing about the responsibility of the attack. United States, Britain and France accuse Assad , Russia states that one can not exclude the responsibility of the rebels.

Damascus ( AsiaNews) - " The victims of the chemical weapons " and "Pope Francis' prayer" have hastened "a turning point" for  "a radical change " in the tragedy of Syria. So says Msgr . Mario Zenari , apostolic nuncio in Damascus, commenting on the publication of a UN report which confirms the use of chemical weapons in the war that has bloodied the Syrian soil for over two years.

The experts' report comes about 4 weeks after the attack on Ghouta , on the outskirts of Damascus.  It was demanded by the International Community who accuse Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons against his own people, causing hundreds, if not thousands of deaths, and among them many children.

Yesterday evening, the UN secretary general Ban Ki -moon presented the report drafted by experts and inspectors, concluding that "chemical weapons have been used on a large scale in the area of ​​Ghouta , near Damascus [ August 21 ] . The attack caused many casualties , particularly among civilians". Ban said that 85% of the blood samples tested positive for sarin . "This - concluded Ban - is the most significant use of chemical weapons against civilians since the days of Saddam Hussein, who used them in 1988 at Halabia ."

The report does not say who is responsible for the attack, because that was not its mandate . The United States, Britain and France immediately declared that the "technical details "mentioned in the report and the scale of the attack  lead "without a doubt" to the conclusion that the chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime .

Russia , an ally of Syria, through its UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, rejected this conclusion , stating that " the allegations that the opposition also use chemical weapons can not be so easily put aside" . Churkin also notes that there were no rebels among those who died from the use of chemical weapons. The Syrian regime claims its innocence and accuses the armed opposition .

Faced with this ongoing blame game, Msgr. Zenari points out: "The tragedy that occurred on August 21 marks a turning point . It is an alarm bell that indicates the abyss that we are slipping into.  A complete change attitude is needed. If those innocent victims, those gassed children, help motivate this change, then their death was not in vain . These innocent victims have to force us to change. "

The nuncio appreciates that the tragedy of Ghouta forced the US-Russia agreement for the delivery and destruction of chemical weapons possessed by Damascus. He attributes this to the "innocent victims " and " the Pope's prayer vigil on 7 September" to the avoidance of an imminent threat of armed intervention against Syria - that would have led to a regional and perhaps the world war.

"We received more than we asked for - he says - Two miracles occurred: the first is that armed military intervention has been avoided for now; the second miracle is the choice to destroy the chemical weapons , which were a dangerous threat . The Lord has given us much more than we needed. "

"All this - he adds - is of immense relief to us, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels, we must continue to pray to hasten a political solution to the conflict."

 

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