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American officials now say they are certain that Bashar al-Assad’s government troops have employed chemical weapons in Syria, and the US is now planning a military response. UN inspectors have arrived in areas around Damascus where the gas attacks took place and reportedly killed hundreds of people, many of them children.

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A year ago Barack Obama warned the warring parties in Syria not to ‘cross a red line’ by employing chemical weapons in the course of the war. It’s still unknown which side carried out the attacks. Syria’s ally Russia has said a military strike on the part of the West would be a serious mistake, and Iran is warning that if one occurs there will be consequences. China has also reminded the international community that the US began its war in Iraq with a claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Western governments, however, are now speaking of a moral imperative to act. Along with the US and Britain, France and Turkey might also take part in any military action.

Does Obama - a Nobel Peace Prize laureate - really have no other alternative than mobilization? Would the US lose credibility if it doesn’t respond quickly with a strike? Or would an intervention on the part of the West only benefit radical Islamists? What’s the best way to prevent further casualties? Is the US interested mostly in weakening a resurgent Iran? And would the civil war in Syria really end if Assad’s government fell?

Tell us what you think - Syrian Nightmare: Countdown to Intervention


Our guests:

Fawaz Tello - is part of Syria's secular opposition movement. He has been living in exile in Germany since 2012. Before that, he was a member of the Damascus Spring Movement. As a result of his political activities he was imprisoned by the Assad regime from 2001 to 2006. He is a founding member of the National Dialog Forum the most powerful liberal grouping, and assisted in establishing the National Council of the Damascus Declaration, the most extended movement inside Syria set up to advocate reform of the Syrian political system. He resigned from the Syrian National Council, criticising its lack of democratic reforms and disunity.

Stefan Buchen - Journalist Stefan Buchen studied Arabic and French in before going on to post-graduate studies in Arabic and literature. He began working in 1995 as both a correspondent for AFP in Jerusalem and as a freelance producer in the Middle East. In 2000, Buchen joined German broadcaster NDR, and has been a contributor to the program 'Panorama' since 2001. Buchen has reported from many countries and regions around the world, among them Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Alison Smale - is a British journalist who graduated from Stanford University in the US. In December 2008, she became the first woman to take up the post of Executive Editor at the International Herald Tribune. In an article about the IHT's redesign in April 2009, which Smale oversaw, The Independent called her "the most powerful British female editor overseas." In her reporting days, Alison Smale was AP's bureau chief for Eastern Europe, where she covered the rise of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and changes in Russia. As Deputy Foreign Editor at The New York Times she organized much of the paper's coverage of the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. She is now the New York Times bureau chief in Berlin.