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Syria

Chemical

Last Updated: July, 2017

Syrian efforts to acquire and maintain an arsenal of chemical weapons date to the mid-1970s. Regional security concerns, and most notably Syria's adversarial relationship with Israel, were the motivations behind Syria's chemical weapons program. The Syrian regime’s chemical weapons have been used to devastating effect against both combatants and civilians during the Syrian Civil War.

Until recently, Syria elected not to join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), claiming it could not unilaterally renounce chemical weapons as long as Israel continued to pose a threat to its security. [1] In the fall of 2013, however, following a United Nations investigation into the use of Syrian chemical weapons, the Syrian regime acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). [2] Syria declared its chemical weapons stockpiles to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). According to media reports, the confidential declaration showed that Syria possessed large stockpiles of sulfur mustard, sarin, and VX nerve gas. [3] Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile was removed from the country by June 2014, and destroyed by January 2016. Western officials and the OPCW expressed doubt that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had completely and accurately declared its stockpile. [4] Continuing reports of chemical weapons attacks since that time, including a large attack in Idlib Province on 4 April 2017, suggest that Syrian chemical weapons remain a threat both in, and possibly outside of, the hands of the Assad regime.

History

1972 to 1986: The Israeli Threat and Initial CW Imports

Defensive CW equipment was among the first CW-related imports by Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. Syrian protective capabilities include military vehicles imported from the Soviet Union and fitted with chemical protection systems as standard equipment, as well as a full range of decontamination equipment. [5]. Syria is also known to have purchased more than 11,000 Chinese MF-11 protective masks. [6]

Numerous press and U.S. government sources indicate that Syria first obtained chemical weapons from Egypt on the eve of its attack on Israel in October 1973. [7] Reports that Israeli troops captured stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons supports the view that Syrian combat troops received these weapons during the Yom Kippur war. [8] Notably, although Syrian forces suffered severe defeat, at no point did they deploy chemical weapons. A lack of access to Syrian personnel or records renders all explanations for this restraint speculative. However, Syrian-born security analyst M. Zuhair Diab and Israeli military analysts both suggest that Syria may have planned to use its chemical arsenal only in the event of a total military collapse. [9]

Suboptimal military coordination among Syria, Egypt, and Iraq during the 1973 Yom Kippur War revealed fissures in Arab unity against Israel. The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty deprived Syria of an important military ally against the Israeli threat, driving it to pursue greater military self-sufficiency. M. Zuhair Diab notes that the near-disastrous clashes with Israeli forces during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 exposed Syria's land and air vulnerabilities, and further motivated Syria's military to acquire chemical weapons. [10]

Other regional developments may also 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. [11] Perhaps more directly troublesome to Syrian leadership, the Soviet Union chose to support Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, weakening Syria's partnership with the USSR and further isolating Syria. [12] The combination of increasing political isolation and observed military deficiencies vis-à-vis Israel together provided incentives for Syria to develop a self-sufficient CW capability.

1986 to 2011: Building CW Self-Sufficiency

Despite Israeli media reports that Syria began developing an indigenous chemical production capability as early as 1971, most reports indicate that Syria's CW production capability came online sometime in the mid-1980s. [13] [14] In 1983, a U.S. Special National Intelligence Estimate first identified a Syrian CW production facility. A 2014 disclosure by the British government revealed that by 1986 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. [15] By 1990, both media and statements by U.S. officials indicated that Syria had converted several agrochemical factories into sarin production facilities. By 1997, both U.S. and Israeli sources claimed that Syria's CW program included production facilities in Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo and could produce sarin, mustard, and potentially VX. [16] Reports throughout the 1990s pointed to continuing Syrian work on VX agents, but also indicated a lack of success. [17]

The United States had banned the sale of sarin and mustard precursors to Syria since the 1980s. [18] However, by the early 1990's, numerous reports of illicit trade began to emerge. In 1996, Russian authorities charged retired Lieutenant General Anatoliy Kuntsevich with shipping 800-kilograms of precursor chemicals to Syria. [19] Although these charges were eventually dropped, Israeli press reported that Kuntsevich later admitted to the transfer of nerve agent precursors. [20] The regional security trends driving Syria's CW program continued throughout the next decade. During the 1980s and 1990s, Israel's military superiority over Syria grew, leaving Syria increasingly vulnerable. The distancing of Syria from its Soviet patron in the mid-1980s, combined with the all too apparent inadequacies of Soviet-supplied equipment, required Syria to seek an equalizer. Recognizing the delicate balancing act of maintaining a credible threat without provoking an Israeli attack, Syria likely found it advantageous to adopt an opaque chemical weapons policy, not unlike Israel's nuclear policy, in which it neither confirms nor denies the existence of chemical weapons even as it continues to deploy and improve them.

From 2002 to 2006, reports from the U.S. 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." [21] The 2009 and 2010 versions of this report drew similar conclusions, including that "Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its CW program, including precursor chemicals." [22]

Relatively few open source reports of Syrian tests on CW agents or delivery systems emerged during this time. [23] The most recent publicly described test, a Syrian missile test in July 2001, probably involved the use of a simulated chemical warhead. [24] During the early 2000s, Syria's CW program maintained a very low profile, although Jane's Defense continued to report on foreign support for the development of chemical warheads for Scud missiles and other delivery systems. [25]

2011 to 2013: Outbreak of Civil War and Initial CW Use

The outbreak of civil unrest in late 2011 raised questions about both the security of Syria's chemical weapons sites and the potential use or transfer of these weapons. On 23 July 2012, 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." [26] Subsequently, Makdissi tried to walk back this apparent acknowledgement of Syria's possession of chemical and biological weapons, something Syria had previously denied. [27]

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. On 20 August 2012, President Obama warned, "…a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized." [28]

Between late November and early December 2012, 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. [29] Following a second warning by President Obama in December 2012, Syrian forces appeared to have ceased chemical weapons preparations. [30]

However, on 19 March 2013, 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 a toxic gas in Khan al-Assal caused 26 fatalities and more than 100 injuries. Both the Assad regime and Syrian rebels denied responsibility for the alleged attack. [31] At the request of the Syrian Government, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Åke Sellström, on 27 March 2013, to head a fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. Ultimately, however, the Assad Government denied the team entrance into Syria. [32] Following assertions by the United Kingdom, France, and Israel that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, on 25 April 2013 U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that the "…U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin." [33] In June 2013, Benjamin J. Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security adviser, announced that the White House would extend military support to the Syrian opposition because there was a "high certainty" Assad's forces had used chemical weapons. The White House did not clarify what the military support would encompass, but indicated the operation would be undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency. [34] Countering the West's assertions on 9 July 2013, Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, said Russian inspectors visited the Khan al-Assal site and discerned that the "Bashair-3 unguided projectile" was fired by the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade, an affiliate of the rebel Free Syrian Army. [35] Churkin's claims reinforced the West's allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria, but only added speculation as to who was responsible. Following these events, on 31 July 2013, the Assad government granted UN inspectors permission to visit the country. [36]

On the morning of 21 August 2013, new video footage emerged of an apparent 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. Hospitals and make-shift medical centers reported patients suffering from convulsions, immobilization, breathing difficulties, dilated pupils, cold limbs, and foaming at the mouth. Estimates of the death toll vary greatly, but generally place the numbers of dead somewhere between hundreds to more than a thousand. [37] Doctors Without Borders reported that three hospitals within its network confirmed 355 deaths and approximately 3,600 casualties with neurotoxic symptoms, while a U.S. government assessment placed the number of dead at 1,429 people. [38] The Syrian government eventually granted the UN inspection team access to areas of Ghouta (after stalling for five days), in lieu of the team visiting the originally planned three sites. [39]

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the United States, citing Syrian chemical weapons brigades' actions and communications, tried to rally support to conduct limited military strikes against Assad's forces, but was only able to gain French support. Ultimately, President Obama was unable to convince President Putin to commit Russia to taking action against Syria, maintaining deadlock among the UN Security Council (UNSC) members.

2013 to 2014: Dismantling Syria’s CW Stockpile

As the U.S. Congress prepared to vote on whether to attack Syria, on 10 September 2013 the Syrian Government, following Russian urging, made the unexpected decision to place its chemical weapons stockpile under international control for eventual destruction, and committed to joining the Chemical Weapons Convention. On 14 September Russia and the United States reached a deal on a framework to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. [40] [41] The framework called for Syria to submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons within one week, for inspectors to return to Syria by November 2013 and for the destruction of all chemical weapons to take place by mid-2014. [42] On 21-22 September, Syria met its initial obligations by providing two lists of its chemical weapons. [43] On 16 September 2013, the United Nations released its much-anticipated report, stating that the UN had "clear and convincing" evidence that sarin gas was used in the 21 August attacks outside of Damascus. [44] Subsequently, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the evidence was "overwhelming and indisputable," that sarin was used. [45] While the report did not attribute responsibility to either party in the civil war, report details, such as the use of M-14 and 330m rocket artillery and estimated trajectories, suggested that the Assad regime was responsible for the attacks, as the rebels did not possess the type of rockets used. [46] While the United States, the United Kingdom, and France accepted the UN report as confirmation of the Assad regime's role in the attacks, Russia stated that the report was "distorted" and "one-sided," and maintains that the Assad regime did not conduct the attacks. [47] On 25 September, UN weapons inspectors returned to Syria to continue their investigations into the use of chemical weapons in the civil war. [48] The UN team expanded the investigation to include additional sites where chemical weapons were allegedly used. [49]

On 27 September 2013, the OPCW adopted a decision on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, which called for the destruction of all chemical weapons production and mixing facilities by November 1, 2013, and the destruction of all chemical weapons by mid-2014. [50] [51] On 14 October 2013, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force for Syria, and on 31 October, the OPCW announced that Syria had met the Phase I deadline of eliminating all of its production and mixing capabilities. [52] [53] According to the OPCW's initial findings, the Syrian arsenal included 1,000 metric tons of Category I chemical weapons, 290 tons of Category II chemicals, and 1,230 Category III unfilled delivery systems such as rockets. [54] The OPCW's findings are in line with Syria's chemical weapons declaration.

The OPCW stated that it would not be possible to destroy Syria's entire arsenal on Syrian territory. [55] Denmark and Norway announced that they would aid in the transportation by sea of chemical weapons out of Syria to a destruction location. [56] [57] Ultimately, the United States offered to destroy the majority of Syria's chemical weapons aboard the U.S. Cape Ray, a cargo ship equipped with a hydrolysis system and sent to the Mediterranean Sea. [58] By June 2014, all of Syria's declared chemical weapons had been removed from the country, and all of Syria's declared chemical weapons production facilities were rendered inoperable. [59] On 7 July 2014, the United States began neutralizing 600 tons of sulfur mustard and DF, a sarin gas precursor, aboard the Cape Ray cargo ship. [60] An additional 200 tons of various chemical precursors were sent to the United Kingdom for destruction. [61]

2014 to the Present: Continued CW Use and Probable Undeclared Capabilities

On 4 January 2016, the OPCW announced the complete destruction of Syria’s 1,328 metric tons of declared chemical weapons agents. [62] While the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons was hailed as a great achievement, questions remained over the completeness of Syria’s chemical weapons declaration. In addition to the emergence of multiple U.S. intelligence reports casting doubt on the exhaustive nature of Assad’s declarations, samples taken at the Syrian military research site “Institute 3000” (in May 2014 and January 2016), revealed the presence of DIPAE sulfonic acid and DIPA ethanol, chemicals present in the initial stages of VX breakdown. Additionally, OPCW inspectors found traces of pinacolyl alcohol at the research facility, which is a precursor for the nerve agent Soman and has no peaceful uses. [63][64] These concerns have become especially salient in light of a video posted online by opposition activists that appears to show chlorine gas floating in the village of Kfar Zeita in Hama province in May 2014. [65]

In response to this and other allegations of chlorine use, both the OPCW and United Nations have opened investigations into the use of chlorine as a weapon, with the OPCW’s initial findings showing that chlorine gas was used in a "systematic manner" throughout 2014. [66] [67] [68] The United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) Panel, established under UNSC Resolution 2235 to investigate any “entities, groups or Governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons,” made its first visit to Syria in December 2015. [69] The JIM released its first report to the UNSC in February 2016 claiming it identified seven credible instances of chemical weapons use it would place under investigation. [70] Additionally, in its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” the CIA assessed that “Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)” and “continue[s] to judge that the Syrian regime has used chemicals as a means of warfare since accession to the CWC in 2013.” [71]

In addition to concerns over the use of chlorine in Syria, reports emerged in August 2015 involving the alleged use of mustard agent by ISIS against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Northern Syria, as well as against civilians near the Syrian city of Aleppo. [72] According to an anonymous OPCW source, 35 samples taken from Kurdish forces in August 2015 have come back positive for sulphur mustard, confirming the use of mustard agent against the Peshmerga forces in Iraq. [73] OPCW sources also confirmed in October 2015 that mustard agent had been deployed in Syria. [74] On 9 February 2016, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that ISIS had deployed sulfur mustard agent in Syria. Referring to the alleged August 2015 attack, Clapper stated that “We assess that non-state actors in the region are … using chemicals as a means of warfare." [75] According to Clapper, the U.S. "continue[s] to track numerous allegations of use of chemicals [by ISIS] in attacks in Iraq and Syria.” [76]

Reports suggest that members of ISIS may have obtained the mustard from clandestine Syrian government chemical weapons caches, casting serious doubt over whether the entirety of the Syrian regime’s chemical arsenal was declared and destroyed. [77]

On 3 August 2016, there were two alleged chemical gas attacks in northern Syria. In the first attack, cylinders suspected of containing chlorine gas were dropped on residential areas in the city of Saraqeb. In the second attack, the Syrian Government reported that terrorist groups had launched a gas attack against citizens in the city of Aleppo. [78] On 7 September 2016, the Director General of the OPCW released a statement expressing concern at the most recent reports of toxic chemical use in Aleppo, and stated that the allegations are being taken seriously. [79] On 2 November 2016, letters and an accompanying report between the President of the UN Security Council and the UN Director General regarding current progress of the destruction of chemical weapons facilities in Syria were published.

On 2 November 2016, letters and an accompanying report between the President of the UN Security Council and the UN Director General regarding current progress of the destruction of chemical weapons facilities in Syria were published. The report revealed that three Syrian CW facilities had not yet been destroyed. The Syrian Government cited “poor security on the ground” as the cause for their non-destruction. The letter from the Director General calls on the Syrian Government to provide “scientific and technically plausible explanations on all outstanding issues” regarding chemical weapons, and calls attention to the Director General's alarm at the normalization of the use of chemicals as weapons in Syria's borders. [80] Only nine days later on 11 November 2016, the OPCW Executive Council adopted a decision condemning “in the strongest possible terms” any use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling on “all parties identified in…the Joint Investigative Mechanism to desist immediately,” and authorizing additional inspections at sites and facilities of interest in Syria. The Executive Council then specifically noted two groups, the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and ISIS, as known users of chemicals as weapons in Syria. [81]

On 13 December 2016, it was reported that an alleged chemical gas attack killed at least 93 people in villages located in ISIS-controlled territory, west of Palmyra. Witnesses claimed that the smell of the gas “was distinct from the smell of chlorine.” [82] A statement from the OPCW Director-General said that the allegations were of serious concern and it would continue to examine all reports through its ongoing fact-finding mission. [83]

On 21 December 2016, the UN General Assembly voted to establish an independent panel to assist in the investigation of individuals possibly responsible for war crimes in Syria. It will work with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of human rights abuses and violations. [84]

On 12 January 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned eighteen senior Syrian officials in response to the findings of the Joint Investigative Mechanism that the Syrian regime used chlorine as a weapon against civilians. This is the first set of U.S. sanctions specifically related to the regime's use of chemical weapons. [85]

On 13 February 2017, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting coordinated chemical attacks on Aleppo, conducted by Syrian government forces between 17 November and 13 December 2016. The OPCW did not comment on the contents of the report. [86]

On 28 February 2017, the UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution to impose sanctions on entities involved in the production or use of chemical weapons in Syria. China, Bolivia and the Russian Federation vetoed the draft resolution. The Russian representative slammed the resolution and the most recent report of the JIM as politically motivated and “laying the groundwork for regime change” in Syria. [87]

On 4 April 2017, there were reports of a suspected chemical attack on the village of Khan Sheikhoun, 30 miles south of the city of Idlib. Hospitals and clinics treating victims of the alleged chemical attack were subsequently bombed. The Syrian regime denied responsibility. However, a declassified U.S. National Security Council report claimed Syrian government forces launched the attack, which killed between 50 and 100 people, many of them children. [88] The day after the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration had previously softened U.S. policy toward Bashar al-Assad, said that the attack “[crossed] a lot of lines for me.” [89] [90] The next day, April 6th, the United States launched a Tomahawk missile strike at Al-Shayrat Air Base, from which the chemical attack had been launched, severely damaging it. [91]

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[60] Jim Garamone, "Cape Ray Begins Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Materials," DoD News (Washington), 7 July 2014, www.defense.gov.
[61] "UK to Destroy More Syria Chemical Weapons," Al-Jazeera, 9 July 2014, www.aljazeera.com.
[62] OPCW, “Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons Completed,” 4 January 2016; OPCW, “Disposal of effluents from neutralized Syrian chemical weapons completed,” 17 June 2015.
[63] "U.S. Skeptical of Syria chemical arms declaration: U.N. envoy," Reuters, 5 November 2013, www.reuters.com.
[64] Smithson, Amy, "Chemical Weapons in Syria: Will There Be Justice for a Serial Offender?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 29 September 2016, http://thebulletin.org; Adam Entous and Naftali BenDavid, “Mission to Purge Syria of Chemical Weapons Comes Up Short,“ The Wall Street Journal, 23 July 2015.
[65] Oliver Holmes, "Syria Video Shows Chlorine Gas Floating in Streets: Activists," Reuters (Beirut), 23 May 2014, www.reuters.com.
[66] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW to Undertake Fact-Finding Mission in Syria on Alleged Chlorine Gas Attacks," OPCW News, 29 April 2014, www.opcw.org.
[67] Anne Gearan, "Syria Probably Used Chlorine Gas in Attacks This Year, Weapons Inspectors Say," The Washington Post, 18 June 2014, www.washingtonpost.com.
[68] United Nations, “Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2235,” 7 August 2015. www.un.org.
[69] United Nations, “Joint Investigative Mechanism Panel Visits Syria,” 21 December 2015. www.un.org.
[70] United Nations, “Joint Investigative Mechanism Presents Its First Report to Security Council,” 26 February 2016, www.un.org.
[71] James R. Clapper, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Armed Services Committee,” Central Intelligence Agency, 9 February 2016.
[72] Adam Entous, “Islamic State Suspected of using Chemical Weapons, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal, 13 August 2015; www.reuters.com; Helene Cooper, “ISIS Is Suspected of A Chemical Attack Against Kurds in Syria,” New York Times, 14 August 2015; Kareem Shaheen, Spencer Ackerman and Ian Black, “Mustard gas ‘likely used’ in suspected Islamic State attack in Syria,” The Guardian, 26 August 2015.
[73] “Tests show Isis used mustard gas in Iraq, says diplomat at chemical watchdog,” The Guardian, 15 February 2015; “Samples 'confirm IS used mustard agent in Iraq attack,'” BBC, 15 February 2015.
[74] “Tests show Isis used mustard gas in Iraq, says diplomat at chemical watchdog,” The Guardian, 15 February 2015.
[75] Alexandra Sims, “Isis has 'made and deployed chemical weapons', says US intelligence official,” The Independent, 10 February 2016; James R. Clapper, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Armed Services Committee,” Central Intelligence Agency, 9 February 2016.
[76] Alexandra Sims, “Isis has 'made and deployed chemical weapons', says US intelligence official,” The Independent, 10 February 2016; James R. Clapper, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Armed Services Committee,” Central Intelligence Agency, 9 February 2016.
[77] Adam Entous, “Islamic State Suspected of using Chemical Weapons, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal, 13 August 2015; Helene Cooper, “ISIS Is Suspected of a Chemical Attack Against Kurds in Syria,” New York Times, 14 August 2015; Kareem Shaheen, Spencer Ackerman and Ian Black, “Mustard gas ‘likely used’ in suspected Islamic State attack in Syria,” The Guardian, 26 August 2015.
[78] Dewan, Angela, "Reports of Chemical Gas Attacks in 2 Syrian Cities," CNN, 3 August 2016, www.cnn.com.
[79] "Statement from the OPCW Director-General on Recent Allegations of Toxic Chemical Use in Aleppo," OPCW, 7 September 2016. www.opcw.org.
[80] “Letter dated 2 November 2016 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council,” UNSC, 2 November 2016, http://reliefweb.int.
[81] “OPCW Executive Council Adopts Decision Regarding the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism Reports About Chemical Weapons Use in the Syrian Arab Republic,” OPCW, 11 November 2016, www.opcw.org.
[82] Martin Chulov and Kareem Shaheen, “International concern over claims of chemical weapon attack in Syria,” The Guardian, 13 December 2016, www.theguardian.com.
[83] “Statement from the OPCW Director-General on Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Uqayribat, Hama Governate, Syria,” Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 13 December 2016, www.opcw.org.
[84] “Syria: UN approves mechanism to lay groundwork for investigations into possible war crimes,” UN News Centre, www.un.org.
[85] “Treasury Sanctions Syrian Officials in Connection with OPCW-UN Findings of Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on Civilians,” Department of the Treasury, 12 January 2017, www.treasury.gov.
[86] “Syria: Coordinated Chemical Attacks on Aleppo,” Human Rights Watch, 13 February 2017, www.hrw.org; Anthony Deutsch, “Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in Aleppo: rights group,” Reuters, 13 February 2017, www.reuters.com.
[87] “Double Veto Prevents Security Council from Adopting Draft Resolution Intended to Impose Sanctions for Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria,” UN Meetings Coverage, 28 February 2017, www.un.org.
[88] “Declassified U.S. Report on Chemical Weapons Attack,” reprinted in The New York Times, 11 April 2017, www.nytimes.com.
[89] Michael R. Gordon, “White House Accepts ‘Political Reality’ of Assad’s Grip on Power in Syria,” New York Times, 31 March 2017, www.nytimes.com.
[90] Jessica Taylor, “President Trump: Syrian Attack ‘Crossed a Lot of Lines for Me,” NPR, 5 April 2017, www.npr.org.
[91] Jim Garamone, “Trump Orders Missile Attack in Retaliation for Syrian Chemical Strikes,” DoD News, Defense Media Activity, 6 April 2017, www.defense.gov.

Get the Facts on Syria
  • Found in noncompliance with its international safeguards obligations by the IAEA in June 2011
  • Acceded to Chemical Weapons Convention under pressure in 2013, following strong evidence the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against its own people during the ongoing civil war.
  • Received assistance from Russia, China, the DPRK and Iran for its ballistic missile program

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.