Chemical Weapons Syria-Faaktboard-OSINT Analysis

De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory

Chemical Weapons Syria-Faaktboard-OSINT Analysis


Chemical Weapons Syria

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 2018. 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]

Delivery Methods
• Artillery rockets
• Aerial bombs
• Ballistic missiles
(Arms, 2018)

Who is Responsible?
According to the United Nations Joint Investigative Team,
• Syrian Government
• Islamic State
(Arms, 2018)

Timeline Major Chemical Attacks
(Arms, 2018)

December 23, 2012
• Syrian Government-Assad regime employed,
• Chemical Agent 15
• Seven people were allegedly killed in Homs

March 24, 2013
• Syrian forces employed,
• Phosphorus bombs that harm the nervous system
• Adra, northeast of Damascus, alleging two deaths and 23 injuries

April 13, 2013
• Syrian army employed,
• Two gas bombs
• Aleppo, killing two people and wounding 12

April 29, 2013
• Syrian Government-Assad regime employed,
• Canisters dropped by helicopter
• Saraqeb, eight people claimed symptoms such as nausea and breathing problems, one died

August 21, 2013
• Syrian Government Assad regime employed,
• Large-scale chemical weapons attack
• Suburbs of the Ghouta region
• Estimated to exceed 1,000 people
• Symptoms-body convulsion, foaming from mouth, blurry vision and suffocation

April 11, 2014
• Syrian Government-Assad regime employed,
• Chlorine-gas bombs
• Kafr Zita north western Syria

August 21, 2015
• Islamic State employed,
• Sulphur mustard attack
• Marea, in northern Syria

August 10, 2016
• Chlorine gas attack
• Reported by hospital officials
• Aleppo

March 16, 2015
• Syrian regime employed,
• Chlorine gas
• Idlib province

December 13, 2016
• Syrian regime employed,
• Chemical weapons were used
• Islamic State controlled areas of the Hama Governate, northwest of Palmyra

April 4, 2017
• Syrian government employed,
• Sarin gas, a nerve agent
• Khan Sheikhoun, Syria’s northern Idlib province

April 7, 2018
• Syrian armed forces employed,
• Chemical weapons attack
• Douma a suburb outside of Damascus, Syria, killing at least several dozen civilians

February 4, 2018
• Chlorine, released from cylinders through mechanical impact
• Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib

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)

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.

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.



Toxic history: Timeline of chemical weapons use in Syria-The Press Herald (2018)

UN team fired on at suspected Syria chemical attack site-Hawaii Tribune (2018)

Here’s what The ‘Agent-15’ Chemical Doctors Say Was Used in Syria Does to People-Business Insider (2012)

Timeline of Syrian Chemical Weapons Activity, 2012-2018-Arms Control Association-(2018)

Who’s with the US on Syria strike and who isn’t-CNN (2017)

Why does Syria still have chemical weapons?-The Guardian (2018)


Disclaimer-De Faakto Intelligence Research is provided to first responders for situational awareness, advice, guidance and educational purposes. Intelligence is perishable and fluid. Intelligence is updated and reassessed as new information becomes available. Sources are evidence based and multiple sources are used when possible. Sometimes intelligence assessments present gaps in information, this is a reality in intelligence led operations and gaps are filled when information presents. Emergency first responders should always follow best industry practices, organizational policy-procedures and regulatory standards.