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Zuhair Diab and Israeli military analysts suggested that Syria may have planned to use its chemical arsenal only in the event of a total military collapse.

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The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty deprived Syria of an important military ally against the Israeli threat, driving it to pursue greater military self-sufficiency. Zuhair Diab noted that the near-disastrous clashes with Israeli forces during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in exposed Syria's land and air vulnerabilities, and further motivated Syria's military to acquire chemical weapons.

Other regional developments may have motivated Syria's pursuit of a CW capability, including water-sharing conflicts with Turkey over the Euphrates River, and Turkish allegations of Syrian support for Kurdish terrorism. Despite Israeli media reports that Syria began developing an indigenous chemical production capability as early as , most reports indicate that Syria's CW production capability came online sometime in the mids.

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A disclosure by the British government revealed that by Syria had obtained hundreds of tons of precursor chemicals, including trimethyl phosphite, dimethyl phosphite and hydrogen fluoride from the United Kingdom , and other technology for developing nerve agents such as sarin gas. By , both U.

Chemical and Biological Weapons Status at a Glance | Arms Control Association

The United States has banned the sale of sarin and mustard precursors to Syria since the s. In , Russian authorities charged retired Lieutenant General Anatoliy Kuntsevich with shipping kilograms of precursor chemicals to Syria. From to , reports from the U. Director of Central Intelligence repeated that "Damascus already held a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, but apparently tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents.

The outbreak of civil unrest in late raised questions about both the security of Syria's chemical weapons sites and the potential use or transfer of these weapons. On 23 July , Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi stated that Syria would never use "any chemical and biological weapons … inside Syria…that the Syrian army was storing …all stocks of these weapons…" securely, and that such weapons would only be used in the event of "external aggression. As the conflict intensified, the international community became increasingly concerned that Syrian President Assad might use chemical weapons amid Syria's deteriorating security situation and rebel gains.

Between late November and early December , Western intelligence agencies obtained clear evidence that Syrian government units were preparing chemical weapons for potential use, including mixing precursor chemicals and loading chemical weapons onto special military transport vehicles. Civilians were treated for symptoms of chemical exposure such as nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, lack of muscle control, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.

A few months later, on 19 March , allegations arose concerning a chemical weapons attack in the village of Khan al-Assal in the Aleppo province. According to the Assad regime, a rocket spewing toxic gas caused 26 fatalities and more than injuries. Both the Assad regime and Syrian rebels denied responsibility for the alleged attack. Initially, the Assad Government denied the team entrance into Syria, stalling for four months before granting UN inspectors permission to visit the country on 31 July On the morning of 21 August , video footage emerged of a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, just outside of Damascus.

According to initial reports and video footage, the attack involved an organized strike on a large area that utilized rockets as dispersal mechanisms.


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The corresponding bill was introduced to the U. Senate on 6 September In a formal sense, the U. President, as commander-in-chief of the U.


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  • With the involvement of Congress, however, Obama was not only playing for time and as time passed military retaliation became less likely : he was also able to shift responsibility to Congress, while at the same time taking himself out of the line of fire Lewis and Tertrais, p. The world set a red line. But before the bill made it to the U. House of Representatives , the situation changed: on 9 September , the then Foreign Minister John Kerry answered questions from journalists during a visit to Great Britain.

    Asked by journalist Margaret Brennan what the Assad regime could do to avert a U. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. Departement of State, This was not a well-thought out strategy, but a slip by Kerry, which incorrectly spread over the media as an U. This assessment is also underscored by a U. From a humanitarian point of view, this was an ideal solution which, by destroying a large proportion of Syrian chemical weapons, may have prevented things from becoming worse and effectively saved human lives.

    But even this was not enough for Assad to stop himself from using chemical weapons again. Russia was not only able to expand its armaments business in the Middle East: since then they have again been regarded as an influential player in this region. On the international stage, the impression spread that the USA was no longer prepared to intervene decisively on a military level when fundamental international norms were breached.

    Screenshot from a video posted to YouTube on April 11, shows substantial yellow coloration at base of the cloud over Keferzita, Syria, drifting with main cloud, and color intensity appears to quickly dissipate over next 20 seconds. Officially, the chemical weapons declared by the Syrian government were destroyed at the beginning of January However, it is questionable as to whether all chemical weapons had been declared. Although chlorine stocks do not have to be declared , their use as a weapon is contrary to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    Finally, on 4 April , the Syrian Armed Forces deployed Sarin again in the attack on Khan Shaykhun around dead, 27 of which were children, and around injured Hersman, p.

    It was the first such incident that had occurred during the term of U. President Donald Trump. As a power politician, it seemed clear to him that consequences had to follow in order to save the USA from further loss of face. On the morning of 7 April — just three days later — U. Russia was informed in advance of the imminent air strike, which enabled the Syrian Armed Forces to bring some of their aircraft to safety.

    Although Shayrat is the second largest Syrian air force base, the U. Around 10 Syrian aircraft were destroyed, which were presumably mostly defective planes. In addition, 13 toughened aircraft protection structures, 10 weapon depots, 7 fuel tanks, 5 workshops and parts of 5 SA-6 anti-aircraft missile batteries were destroyed.

    August A chlorine gas attack is reported in Aleppo. The report also says that Islamic State militants had used sulfur mustard gas.

    The Assad regime denies responsibility. April 7: Trump orders a missile strike on Syr ia in response to the chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun. The Assad regime is believed to have used the air base to carry out the chemical weapons attack. The US missiles hit Syrian fighter jets, hardened aircraft shelters, radar equipment, ammunition bunkers, sites for storing fuel, and air-defense systems.

    This was the third such attack on the region in a span of three weeks. More than three dozen people are believed to have died in the attack.

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    April 9: Unidentified jets are reported flying over Lebanon and the Syrian news agency says that a missile attack on an air base in central Syria has been thwarted. The Pentagon denies US jets were involved. Ashish Kumar Sen is deputy director of communications, editorial, at the Atlantic Council.