The war in Syria has been going on for almost seven years. During this time, reports on the use of chemical weapons by one side or another have appeared more than once. After that, in the media invariably there were active discussions of what had happened, and the diplomats expressed their indignation either by “using chemical weapons” or “a vile provocation with chemical weapons.” The consequences of such incidents, if they existed, were not critical. Until now, the most dangerous for Bashar Assad “response” was the bombing of the air base Shairat from the US. The Americans conducted it after a chemical attack in the village of Khan-Sheikhun, the responsibility for which Washington placed on the official Damascus. However, after the incident in the city of the Douma on April 4, the consequences for the government of Syria were more serious.
Until 2012, Syria denied the existence of a chemical weapon. However, this did not prevent her from joining the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 1993. According to the CIA, in the 2000s, Syria produced several hundred tons of warfare agents a year. Among them – sarin, mustard and VX. The Israeli Air Force repeatedly struck at the facilities and infrastructure on which the development and production of poisonous substances were allegedly conducted.
For the first time official Damascus recognized the presence of “chemistry” already during the civil war. So, on July 23, 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Syria stated that the country possesses chemical weapons, stressing that it will never apply it against its own people. A month later, US President Barack Obama said that the use of such weapons would become a “red line”, the intersection of which would entail a military response from Washington. Subsequently, Obama repeatedly mentioned the “red line”, but he did not dare to direct military intervention.
According to Human Rights Watch, chemical weapons in Syria were used 86 times. Other sources call smaller numbers, but in any case we are talking about more than 70 incidents.
The first to declare a chemical attack in Syria was officially announced by the French government. In March 2013, it sent two letters to the United Nations with reports of chemical attacks: on October 17, 2012, near the Turkish border in the settlement of Salkin, Idlib Province, and December 23 of the same year in Homs province. However, in both cases, the UN mission considered them unreliable. In December 2013, the UN submitted a report investigating 16 cases of using “chemistry” in Syria. Nine of them were recognized by the UN as false.
The first reliable case of the use of chemical weapons in Syria is the attack on Khan el-Asal on March 19, 2013.
Then the opposition fighters from the “Syrian Free Army” stormed the city of Khan el-Asal in the province of Aleppo. On March 19, the rocket with sarin was said to fall in the southern part of the city – it was controlled by government troops. As a result of the attack, 19 civilians and one soldier of the Syrian army were killed, 124 people were injured.
Both sides immediately blamed each other. Damascus said that the militants had manufactured a homemade missile and struck at positions of the Syrian troops. Opponents of Assad dispersed in the testimony. Some claimed that the rocket with sarin was launched by the Elbrus tactical missile system, others claimed that the missile was fired from the plane in front of them.
When it became known about the attack on Khan Sheikhune, the activists began actively spreading the first frames of the consequences of the attack. Any bombing in residential areas is absolutely always accompanied by photographs and video – smart phones with cameras are quite common in Syria. In addition, emergency services immediately arrive at the site, which also have cameras with them. Such reports are published by the so-called “White Helmets” – a rescue team consisting of Syrians who have taken special training courses abroad. Ironically, they are always recruited from areas where Assad traditionally is hated.
In the frames published from the site of the bombardment, the victims who are very choking are seen. Local residents and rescuers who arrived are trying to help them. Victims actively watered with water, trying to conduct an elementary decontamination.
However, most rescuers, with the exception of the White Helmets, do not have personal protective equipment. Their absence causes damage not only to the rescuers, but also to the medical staff, as was repeatedly noted in the reports of the OPCW. It happens that even journalists of opposition groups report using only a paper-gauze respirator.
It is necessary to mention one more case. A few hours after the bombing, a video appeared from hospitals in Binish, located 55 kilometers north of the chemical attack site. On the staff, the victims have symptomatic help, trying to stabilize their condition. The head physician of the hospital says that his institution is completely full of victims.
In general, almost all the bombings in Syria are covered in some detail. In addition to surveying the immediate consequences of attacks, local activists try to interview all witnesses and eyewitnesses of the incident and only then collect the initial evidence of the bombing: photograph funnels, remnants of ammunition, corners of the entrance of shells and so on. At the same time, absolutely all materials are laid out in the network for publicity. The proposed location for the shell with a chemical substance in the city of Dumagu.
During the time of the Syrian war, the targets of chemical bombardment bombings were different provinces of the country, but mostly its western part. Attacks were made on territories controlled by both militants and the government army in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Ham and Damascus. In 2018, three chemical attacks were reported. In January, Rex Tillerson once again accused Russia of covering Syria. Allegedly, on January 22, the government army used chlorine in East Gut. February 5 reported the bombing of Sarakib (Idlib) ammunition with chlorine. And, finally, on April 7, reports appeared on the use of chemical weapons in the Douma, from which 43 people were killed. It is because of this attack that the US is preparing to launch a series of strikes against Syria. And this is despite the fact that the attack was after the victory of Assad’s forces, which the president himself repeatedly stressed.
So who is profitable to poison the Syrians with gas or have they actually been attacked? The White Helmets have been long known as the organization founded by English mercenaries. They were convicted in deceptions more than once as well. The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a convenient topic for speculation. In addition to many human rights organizations working against the Syrian government.
Western politicians use the topic of chemical weapons in their rhetoric. Regardless of the reliability of the evidence presented (if any evidence is in principle presented), the topic of chemical weapons is used to inflame the situation and justify actions by the West. In addition, it is a convenient tool for pressure on Iran and Russia: “If you support Bashar Asada, then you are responsible for all his actions. ” Therefore, often the topic of chemical weapons is being promoted not against the official Damascus (which for a long time has the status of one hundred percent evil), but against its allies. It’s too early to sum up. It is obvious that in the future chemical weapons are used in Syria more than once. Practice shows that the simple bombing by the aircraft of the Syrian government troops, the US-led coalition, and the Russian military security services, which kill dozens and hundreds of civilians in Syria, do not cause much outrage of the “world community.” Serious consequences can only be expected if , when someone uses weapons of mass destruction, in this case – chemical. One gas cylinder leads to the death of dozens of people, like a shot-off bomb, but the media effect is ten times stronger. This is why chemical weapons attacks were conducted throughout the war in Syria to obtain a tactical advantage, or to achieve the necessary effect in the form of headlines in the world media about the atrocities of the opposite side of the conflict. In this light, it is significant that the initiators of chemical attacks in most of the cases described have not been established. And it is unlikely to succeed.