Syria and Chemical Weapons

Going on its 8th year in a Civil War, Syria is seeing an increase in deaths and the unfortunate reality that the Syrian government is close to a victory. In March of 2011, pro-democracy protests took place in the southern city of Derra after “some teenagers were arrested and tortured for painting revolutionary slogans on a school wall” (BBC News, March 2016). By July of 2011, hundreds more joined in the protests against president Assad. By June of 2013 violence escalated, and according to the UN 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. The number increased to 250,000 by August 2015 (United Nations, August 2015).

Both revolutionist and the Syrian government have been accused of war crimes, but in August of 2013, sarin filled bombs were dropped near the capital, Damascus. Since then, the use of sarin, chlorine and other chemical agents have been suspected by the Syrian Government. Sarin is a nerve agent that can essentially cause a person’s nerves to fire all at the same time, leaving them exhausted and unable to breath. Signs and symptoms include weakness, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure usually leading to death. Antidotes for sarin are most effective if distributed as soon possible, however, not only is there a shortage of medical supplies, but the Syrian government bombed nearby hospitals, forcing a long journey to treatment.


The video below contains graphic images.


The civil war has turned into a humanitarian crisis. Most recently…

Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, is the latest victim of chemical warfare from the Syrian government. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, reported over 670 people have been killed in the area since the first airstrike on February 18th. Chlorine gas, suspected to be involved in the eastern Ghouta attacks, typically causes difficulty breathing and a cough. There is no antidote to chlorine poisoning, and it is virtually impossible to predict the outcomes of an exposure. Dose, amount of time exposed and other external factors influence survivorship.


The video below contains graphic images.

UPDATE 04/10/18

Over the weekend, dozens of people were killed in what is believed to be another chemical attack. This attack occurred in Douma, the last rebel-held area near the capital Damascus. Again, the Assad regime is being blamed for the attacks, although the regime has denied involvement. The attack was described as a one-two chemical attack. The first attack is suspected to use chlorine gas. The second attack, however, was much stronger and while aid workers report a chlorine odor, they believe the attack was mixed with other more powerful chemical agents, causing instant death.

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Alexandra Dove

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