The apparent confirmation that sarin, a dangerous chemical weapons agent, has been used by Syrian government forces in Aleppo raises the stakes in a conflict that is already spiralling out of control. On the rebel side, the presence of expatriate jihadist fighters descending on Syria as they once did on Afghanistan is hair raising enough. On the government side, Iranian Revolutionary Guards are reported to be playing a growing role in the brutal suppression of civilians.
The region’s divisions have widened, too: Shia Iran and Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement back the Damascus regime. The Arab League, driven by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, remains a partisan voice for the rebels. Down the road, a regional war beckons if nothing is done to contain the escalating conflict and chaos that has killed at least 70,000 and displaced up to a quarter of Syria’s population.