SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS-WHO CONCERNS

DE FAAKTO INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH OBSERVATORY

SITUATION-CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE IN SYRIA

BACKGROUND-REPORTS SHARED BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HEALTH PARTNERS INDICATE USE OF TOXIC CHEMICALS IN DOUMA CITY-EAST GHOUTA-SYRIA

The World Health Organization Reports

Key Points

  • WHO is concerned about suspected chemical attacks in Syria
  • WHO is deeply alarmed by reports of the suspected use of toxic chemicals in Douma city, East Ghouta, Syria on 10 April 2019
  • Approximately 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Patients presented with signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous system
  • 70 people sheltering in basements have reportedly died
  • 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals
  • Two health facilities were also reportedly affected by these attacks
  • WHO reminds parties to the conflict of their obligation to refrain from attacking medical facilities and personnel as per Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016)
  • Use of chemical weapons to cause harm is illegal under international law  (WHO)

 

De Faakto Intelligence Backgrounder

Syria is thought to have had the largest chemical weapons stockpile in the world. Chemical weapons have been deployed in Syria by the Assad regime, Syrian Government forces and the Islamic State from 2012 through 2019. Categories of chemical weapons used include Nerve agents, Blister agents and Choking agents. Chemical warfare in Syria has caused a significant death toll and is in contradiction of Chemical Weapons Conventions. Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles were thought destroyed in early 2016, however there have been several chemical weapons attacks since, isolated stockpiles likely remain (up to 10%); alternatively chemical weapons production has been restarted by the Assad regime in Syria.

 

Types of Chemical Weapons used in Syria

Nerve agents
• Sarin
• VX

 

Blister Agents

• Mustard Gas
• Sulphur Mustard Gas

 

Other Agents

• Agent-15 (AKA-3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate, or what NATO refers to BZ) (Business Insider, 2012)
• Phosphorus agent [not considered a chemical weapon by Chemical Weapons Convention]

 

Pulmonary Irritants

  • Chlorine Gas

 

Assessment
Syrian Chemical weapon stock piles appear to have been degraded through international reduction agreements. Syria has acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention and a destruction program was implemented by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Additional pressure through diplomatic and military actions has been applied by The United States, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Japan, Israel, Australia and the United Nations. (CNN, 2017) With implementation of the destruction program significant amounts of chemical weapons have been destroyed. In January of 2016 the destruction program was complete. Since, there have been documented chemical attacks in Syria. This is an indicator that some chemical weapons remain and are being used in warfare. A decrease in frequency of chemical attacks may signal that stock piles of chemical weapons have been considerably reduced and that only small isolated chemical weapons stock remains. There is also a possibility that large stockpiles (10% of original stock) have been hidden away by the Syrian regime. The Syrian government retains the capacity for producing chlorine for industrial applications, and possesses the expertise to re-manufacture chemical weapons. (The Guardian, 2018)

 

Recommendations
Any organization operating in Syria and surrounding territories should plan for the strong possibility of isolated chemical attacks. Since the destruction of chemical weapons implemented by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, chemical weapon attacks continue to be documented in Syria. The chemicals used were identified as Chlorine and Sarin nerve agents. Intelligence suggests that there are still chemical agents available in Syria as evidenced by recent attacks. (The Guardian, 2018) Another scenario is that industrial chemicals like chlorine are deployed as improvised chemical weapons.

 

Safety
Organizations operating in Syria or in neighbouring territories at risk for attack should equip and train personnel to counter a broad range of chemical weapons. Chemical agents deployed by forces in the region include Chlorine, Sarin, Sulphur-mustard, Agent-15 and phosphorus. Deployed personnel require, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Warfare training, inclusive donning PPE, decontamination, doffing PPE, administration of antidotes and chemical weapons recognition.

 

 

 

World Health Organization  https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/11-04-2018-who-concerned-about-suspected-chemical-attacks-in-syria

Why does Syria still have chemical weapons?-The Guardian (2018) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/18/why-does-syria-still-have-chemical-weapons

Here’s what The ‘Agent-15’ Chemical Doctors Say Was Used in Syria Does to People-Business Insider (2012) https://www.businessinsider.com/agent-15-chemical-weapon-used-in-syria-2012-12

De Faakto  http://defaakto.com/2018/11/05/chemical-weapons-syria-faaktboard-osint-analysis/

De Faakto http://defaakto.com/2019/03/13/modern-chemical-weapons-a-basic-primer/