Chemical Weapons Warfare Has Plagued Syria For Years

REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Chemical weapons have played a devastating role in the bloody civil war that has torn Syria apart.

A poisonous gas, believed to be chlorine, left at least 70 people dead in the suburbs of Damascus Saturday. “Animal Assad” has a “big price to pay,” President Donald Trump warned, blaming the Syrian regime.

While Syria is believed to have long been in possession of various chemical weapons, the regime first publicly acknowledged its chemical weapons program in summer 2012. Since then, chemical weapons have repeatedly made appearances on Syria’s blood-stained battlefield. While many attacks have been attributed to the Syrian government, the Islamic State and other regional forces have also used chemical weapons.

December 23, 2012: the first allegation of chemical weapons was a “poisonous gas” attack that killed seven people in Homs. The Syrian government reportedly used an “incapacitating” chemical agent.

March 19, 2013: a chemical weapons attack in Khan al Assel in Aleppo and al Atebeh in Damascus killed 25 people and injured scores more. The Syrian regime and the rebels both denied responsibility.

August 21, 2013: sarin gas attacks allegedly carried out by the Syrian regime in eastern and western Ghouta killed 1,400 people.

Former President Barack Obama considered a limited military strike in retaliation, as Syria crossed his infamous red line, but he ultimately opted for a diplomatic solution that would purportedly eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, agreeing to remove its chemical weapons.

April 10 – August 30, 2014: Syrian opposition and Kurdish forces controlled multiple towns that were hit by more than two dozen chlorine gas attacks that killed a handful of people and injured a few hundred people.

March 16, 2015: Barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas killed six people and injured roughly three dozen others in Sarmin. The Syrian regime denied any involvement in the attacks. Several additional chlorine gas attacks were carried out on nearby towns in the days that followed.

August 21, 2015: the Islamic State launched a mustard gas attack on a section of Aleppo, killing a baby and injuring numerous others.

April 7, 2016: terrorists hit a Kurdish-controlled area in Aleppo with an unknown chemical weapon, killing more than 20 people and injuring over 100 more.

August 1, 2016: a chlorine gas attack on Saraqeb injured around 30 people.

August 10, 2016: a hospital in Aleppo reported a suspected chlorine gas attack in Aleppo.

March 30, 2017: a sarin gas attack in Ltamenah reportedly injured more than 50 people.

April 4, 2017: a horrific sarin gas attack on Khan Shaykhun killed 70 plus people and injured more than 500 others. The total number of fatalities was much higher, some reports suggested.

The attack prompted a military response from Trump, who launched a strike on Shayrat Airbase three days later. The use of chemical weapons in Syria dropped off significantly afterward.

January 13 – February 26, 2018: four chlorine gas attacks on Douma kill four people and injure dozens more.

March 7, 2018: an alleged chlorine gas attack injured 29 people in Saqba, but no casualties were reported.

April 7, 2018: at least 70 people were killed and several hundred more were injured in a chlorine gas attack in Douma.

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