The U.S. ship that was quickly put into service to neutralize Syrian chemical weapons has departed Rota, Spain to take on the arms at an Italian port, Pentagon officials announced on Wednesday. Read More
The following is from the Jan. 14, 2014 Congressional Research Service report: Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response.
Fighting continues across Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, some of whom also are fighting amongst themselves. Since March 2011, the conflict has driven more than 2.3 million Syrians into neighboring countries as refugees (out of a total population of more than 22 million). Read More
Syrian government forces have reportedly launched a new round of chemical attacks against rebel forces outside Damascus, leaving scores dead and wounded. Read More
As negotiators in Geneva, Switzerland work out the final details for an agreement that will allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for relief of some of the economic sanctions on Iran, hawks in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh have come together in opposition to the proposed deal. The P5+1 diplomatic initiative (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) reached an initial agreement with Iran in November. Read More
The first batch of Syrian chemical weapons have been moved out of the war-ravaged country in order to be destroyed, United Nations officials announced on Tuesday. Read More
After a major chemical attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, Syria, the United States and many of its allies struggled to find a response. Attempting to enforce its “red line”, America sought to conduct a series of limited strikes against the Syrian regime to deter future chemical warfare and degrade its capability to conduct it.
Yet steadfast allies such as Britain balked at attack, while the domestic outcry at home force the administration of President Barack Obama into requesting a vote on an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF)—which stood little chance of passing in Congress. Read More
The following is the United Nation’s chemical weapons report on the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons incident in Syria. From the report:
On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale. Read More
From the summary of the U.N. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. The report calls for a suspension of lethal robotic technology until international rules can be drafted:
Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs) are weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention. They raise far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace. This includes the question of the extent to which they can be programmed to comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law and the standards protecting life under international human rights law. Read More
An April U.N. report calling for suspending the use deadly robotic weapon systems singled out two Navy systems, the Phalanx ship protection weapon system and the Navy’s test platform for carrier-based unmanned vehicles as part of a report recommending an international moratoria on so-called “lethal autonomous robotics.”
Report author Christof Heyns, a human rights professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, mentioned the Phalanx and the Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) X-47B as examples of weapon systems with at least some degree of autonomous operation. Read More