New Chemical Weapons Allegations against Syria

Reports: Assad government used chlorine against rebels as elections near.
14:01 | 04/22/14

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Transcript for New Chemical Weapons Allegations against Syria
-- In the midst of chaos an election that people say -- all but rigged. Three years into a civil war president Bashar Al Assad expected. Easily to win another term right now the international hot -- Syria hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York. US officials calling the elections in Syria a sham and now new concerns about chemical weapons used in a conflict that's left 150000. People dead. And millions homeless. The BBC's at least -- said has more on the presidential election in June and the current state of Syria from Damascus. -- -- booked on. -- in Damascus this morning to mortar shells struck -- to parliament. Mortar attacks are notoriously inaccurate. -- these shells landed just before an explosive political announcement was made by the speaker of parliament. Some measures to save them -- harsh view yet. Presidential elections will be held on June the third he said. The speaker appealed to citizens inside -- -- Syria to exercise their right to vote for their president. Syria's opposition quickly dismissed it as a parody of democracy. The same condemnation. Came from Washington. The -- mockery. Of his own pretensions. To being a democratically elected leader. A presidential referendum which is what this would be is a parody of democracy. And would have no credibility or legitimacy. Within Syria or outsiders here. The president -- recently spoke at a turning point in the war for the old -- insisted would never oust him. Now we expect to run for a third seven year term in -- On Sunday he toured the mainly Christian town of menu and -- just north of Damascus he's forces recaptured it last week. After a series of -- against rebel held areas. Like many parts of Syria this historic area has changed hands several times over the past year. The government troops backed by -- announced his enough fighters are now in control in the major supply routes around the capital. But in other parts of Syria the fight teen is intensifying. It will be hurt if not impossible. To hold elections in many parts of the country. But that isn't stopping president are -- new baffled at the polls. For much of the past three years this conflict has been defined by opposition demands for president Assad to step down. -- bigotry efforts to topple him none of it worked and now the president is turning to the -- to emphasize again he's not going anywhere. But he will still be the issue and it will steal -- war. -- -- said BBC news Damascus. For more on Syria Bashar Assad and chemical weapons allegations I want to bring an ABC news chief foreign affairs anchor Terry Moran in London Terry. The -- -- -- the previous elections by some nine 7% of the vote Howard elections viewed by voters. And the rest of the world. -- voters who get a chance to vote in genuinely free fair open and transparent elections won't see that happen in Syria it's almost. Impossible to achieve. As we just heard nine million people that's one out of every three Syrians is out of their homes -- refugees either inside Syria. Or in neighboring countries vast swaths of that country. Torn by -- day by day stadium holding any kind of an election. In those circumstances is hard enough but one that is as managed as. -- worse of -- control. As -- Baptist election. Campaign is going to be. -- is it a parity. It's it's certainly not anything that would be recognized as a free fair open and transparent election was the focus has been shifted to these elections coming up new chemical weapons claims came into the picture about two weeks ago. US officials have dismissed them until yesterday when the State Department made this comment. You had indications. -- -- but toxic industrial chemical probably chlorine. In Syria this month in the opposition dominated village -- happier they cut. We're examining allegations. That the government was responsible. We take all allegations of the use of chemicals and -- -- very seriously. Our working to determine what it -- and we will continue consulting. And sharing information with key partners including at the -- -- TW. New allegations could this be another line that has been crossed. -- this is this is more than a line that's been crossed Michelle this is a statement to Barack Obama from Bashar Assad come get me. I'm not afraid of you. You back down once you don't mean what you say chlorine which is -- the chemical agent that is believed to have been used. In that attack and in subsequent attacks every three or four days since then it seems up in the north of the country. Is not one of the chemical agents. That Assad has been required to give up under the carry lamb -- agreement reached in Geneva earlier this year. He is proceeding along the path of destroying his chemical weapons agents. About 80% so far according to the Nobel Peace Prize winning group that is destroying those agents. But here's -- wants this is sister. Use of these agents now to be fair. -- government is saying it's not his. Troops that are dropping these chlorine sort ready made chlorine bombs on. Innocent civilians it's the other side it's the it's the rebels especially the jihadist rebels that are taking the lead in the fighting. But there's no question these came from the air -- are reports that this is your Ronnie and chlorine bought from China and assembled at the Damascus airport. And it seems that this is just an act of sheer defiance. And it ended a verdict. From the Syrian side on how much he has to fear. From the west especially president Barack Obama and the answer -- to be zero judged based on what he's doing. So Terry what sort of pressure does this put on the White House -- they ignore all of this after the efforts it took to start removing those chemical weapons and now the use allegations of new. Chemical weapons. You know it is it is such. Difficult. Situation for the president because. His goal was to destroy those. There's -- very very very dangerous chemical weapons. That. -- had. Allegedly and according to many of the independent investigators definitely used on -- -- people. And there about 80% of the way there based on the agreement that was reached in Geneva. Now if he blows the whistle on -- side here and starts operating against him for using chlorine. He could lose the -- the rest of the destruction of the original chemical weapons plus. He could alienate Iran. Which he he has to do do a nuclear deal with in the next couple of months and so. There's no question that -- Barack Obama is in a terrible diplomatic position right now he's got -- cards right across the board with Syria with Iran. And their sponsor. Russia CIS and a good good year in just. Going to get into that complicating matters of course Russia relationship is deteriorated since Ukraine heated up extremely tense these days. How does that affect any action that needs to take place in Syria is this just you now. Oh Russia gets to do this we'll do that and there's so many parts to this. Ticking time bomb things. That there are dead and they're all this is this is not an axis -- -- -- -- an axis of of defiance let's put it that way against. The west against the leadership of president Barack Obama. What Russia's relevance is right here is when Russia said. -- Syria. You've got to come clean and destroy your chemical weapons stocks for the United States is going to lead in the attack against U. Syria had to come clean -- knuckled under it was better than getting attacked and he declared victory which it was seen as such in the region. Without Russia's pressure. On Syria without -- pressure on Iran. US diplomatic goals are impossible. It is impossible to get. Bashar Assad out of power without Russian pressure on and it's impossible to get Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program that the west believes it has. Without Russian pressure on Iran. And there's no way rush is cooperating with -- -- -- President Obama wants to do right now and so. -- is key to this and it's a key that works in favor of bush Charles side and Iran. And then of course you've got more than one million refugees now startling number. -- has Syria been forgotten is that just too complicated for world powers to keep their focus on. You know that is a great point mission when I. Heard about these latest attacks and saw. This very -- US response really I thought Syrian children just don't really matter. -- as much as they would if they were. In Europe or elsewhere you see these terrible videos once again we see the babies with the gas masks on the foaming at their -- once again. We see Syrian civilians. Caught in this in human. Attack. And really that would the world this is not ready to do anything and and to be fair. It's hard to say what to do that would make their lives that much better but doesn't seem like there's much effort at all and part of the reason -- you say. Is Syria is a second order or third order problem right now for the powers of the world we're dealing with so many other things. And here in the beginning of this conflict it seemed like a side was losing power if anything. He has the appearance at least of gaining power the longer the conflict wears on can the US do anything now to. Oust him from power and beyond that even taken military action -- -- diplomacy the only route. Well first. Is that the US job to oust Bashar Al Assad from power. President Obama one of the mistakes he probably made was rather cavalierly declaring that several times a few years ago well it's he would. Just a matter of months before it's he's he's gonna go -- it's time for him to -- Well you're gonna say that. As the leader of the world's most -- country he ought to back it up and and what's happened here is Bashar Assad is undoubtedly more popular today in Syria. -- was when the rebellion began and that's because. The rebellion has now been infected. And in many ways taken over. Much of it by the worst and most dangerous kind of -- -- -- You know people who are from outside of Syria. People who profess of the version of Islam. And Islamic rule that most of the people of Syria wouldn't sign up to. That threatens the minorities of of -- Christian minority Shiite -- white minority druse minority -- -- mosaic state. And so many of those people I've talked to them in Damascus says many people who've come up to me on the street they -- -- they say. I want to Tyson at the beginning this rebellion I -- this guy out of here but now. Seeing who's on the other side I stand with him. So for the United States to push him out of power now with an opposition that is in total disarray much of -- corrupt. And and he would push a lot of power and probably has more support now. That's unlikely to happen in the past that the US can hope for right now is to broker a deal that at least get some opposition voices into the game series that's what I was. Going to ask you -- -- the elements that are now in play in Syria what would be the alternative to aside and do people including. The western countries now see that as a worse option. Well. He had and I think the western countries are willing to say the most important thing right now to stop the suffering. Stop the -- stop the tragedy. Of Syria. And and get peace. In place and if that means that you got to deal with Bashar Assad for a little while while indicting him in the international criminal court if you want to or whatever. Do it to save lives. And tried to structure some kind of of peace agreement that would allow. More space for genuine opposition to emerge there isn't any space and Bashar Al Assad Syria for any opposition to emerge. -- that would be the best case the problem is that the opposition is bankrolled. By Arab gulf states Saudi Arabia and cuts -- most importantly. And they have a religious beef essentially with with by nationalist saudis and -- white he's not a a Sunni Muslim and they've -- longstanding enmity with him they're willing two it to keep fighting to keep flooding money into the fighters who are doing the that the battling against us out on the other side so. Right now -- odds got a united front. He feels he's winning -- can -- deal with the chaos and even run for reelection in the middle of it and on the other side. There's no clear plan or -- forward. ABC's Terry Moran in London thank you for joining us. -- keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and star -- this story for exclusive updates on ago you've been watching international hot spot for now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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