Syria`s chemical weapons: What Assad regime possesses

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 23:47

Zee Media Bureau/Himanshu Kapoor

Washington: As the US plans a military strike in Syria sighting the atrocities by the regime on its own people, beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad agreed to hand over the stockpile of chemical weapons to Russia.

The tension in Syria escalated and prompted a thought that should west intervene after the accusation by the US that the Syrian government used chemical weapons outside Damascus on August 21 in which more than 1400 civilians were killed.

Here’s a look at the weapons of mass destruction owned by Syria: -

Syrian arsenal

According to international observers, the Syrian government has blister agents like mustard gas, which was used in World War I inflicting horrific casualties. It also has nerve gases like sarin and VX which cause convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US intelligence believe that Syria has 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. It also has rockets and shells containing nerve gases like sarin and VX.

Syria in 2012 also admitted to possessing a stockpile of chemical weapons which it claims are reserved for national defense against foreign countries.

What can these weapons do?

Mustard gas was first used the German in World War I and the caused the skin of victims blister, the eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas causes internal and external bleeding and attacks the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. It usually takes a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas poisoning.

Sarin gas, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, kills by crippling the respiratory center of the central nervous system and paralyzes the muscles around the lungs.

VX is one of the most toxic substance and has no other usage except a nerve agent in chemical warfare.

Syrian motive behind having these weapons

Syria adopted the chemical weapon strategy in 1980s –

- To act as a deterrent to Israeli use of nuclear weapons against Syria.

- To compensate for the loss of Egypt as a military ally after the signing of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in 1979.
- After Syria recognised the limitations of its air power against Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War, it adopted an alternative missile strategy, which required a non high-explosive warhead to compensate for lack of missile accuracy.
- To act as a deterrent to its powerful neighbour Turkey in any possible dispute.



First Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 18:41

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