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United States President Barrack Obama has said that the Syrian Army crossed a red line when it reportedly used chemical weapons in its civil war. The term red line comes from an older phrase that refers to crossing a line in the sand. According to the US government, an estimated 1,429 people were killed by a sarin gas rocket attack on August 21st in Syria. United States President Barack Obama had previously warned Syrian leaders that using chemical weapons in its civil war would be crossing a red line. The term red line comes from an older phrase that refers to crossing a line in the sand. One of the oldest accounts of an actual line being made in the sand happened in ancient Rome during an attack that involved the country of Syria, around the year 168 B.C. There are several other references made to making a line on the ground in popular literature and historical journalism. The line in the sand becoming red is believed to have its origins in an article from the London Times about the Battle of Balaclava between the Russian and British forces. Ben Yagoda, a Professor of English and journalism from the University of Delaware who has studied the red line metaphor has found several references to it in modern political journalism including an article about conflicts involving the countries of Chad and Libya.