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Syrian chemical weapons attacks have been normalized

first responder sprays water on victim of suspected chlorine gas attack
Civil defense members try to reduce the effects of chlorine gas with water as they carry out search and rescue works after a suspected chlorine gas attack by Assad Regime forces in Idlib, Syria, on April 4, 2017. Photo: Firas Faham / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

As the United States and the international community have drawn a supposed red-line at sarin and other formally outlawed chemical weapons, chlorine gas attacks in Syria have become normalized, allowing President Bashar al-Assad to deploy them with impunity.

Why it matters: The onslaught of Aleppo has desensitized observers, while the fixation on de-escalation zones, the campaign against ISIS and stabilization efforts have created blind spots in places like Douma, where siege and human misery continue. These incidents are symptomatic of broader missteps by the U.S., whose rudderless policy has led to a lack of accountability for these attacks and, indeed, Assad's continued hold on power.