The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil Warhas been confirmed by the United Nations. Deadly attacks during the war included the Ghouta attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the Khan al-Assal attack in the suburbs of Aleppo in March 2013. While no party took responsibility for the chemical attacks, the Syrian Ba'athist military was seen as the main suspect, due to a large arsenal of such weapons. A U.N. fact-finding mission and a UNHRC Commission of Inquiry have simultaneously investigated the attacks. The U.N. mission found the likely use of the nerve agent sarin in the case of Khan al-Assal (19 March 2013), Saraqib (29 April 2013), Ghouta (21 August 2013), Jobar (24 August 2013) and Ashrafiyat Sahnaya (25 August 2013). The UNHRC commission later confirmed the use of sarin in the Khan al-Asal, Saraqib and Ghouta attacks, but did not mention the Jobar and the Ashrafiyat Sahnaya attacks. The UNHRC commission also found that the sarin used in the Khan al-Asal attack bore "the same unique hallmarks" as the sarin used in the Ghouta attack and indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to chemicals from the Syrian Army's stockpile. Those attacks prompted the international community to pressure disarmament of the Syrian Armed Forces from chemical weapons, which was executed during 2014. Despite the disarmament process, dozens of incidents with suspected use of chemical weapons followed throughout Syria, mainly blamed on Syrian Ba'athist forces, as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and on Syrian opposition forces and Turkish Armed Forces. There have been a number of evidence-gathering processes developed at the international level
In August 2016, reportsby the United Nations and the OPCW explicitly blamed the Syrian military of Bashar al-Assad for dropping chemical weapons (chlorine bombs) on the towns of Talmenes in April 2014 and Sarmin and Qmenas in March 2015 and ISIS for using sulfur mustard on the town of Marea in August 2015. Several other attacks have been alleged, reported and/or investigated.
In December 2016, at least 53 people were killed in an apparent nerve gas attack in ISIS-held villages near Uqairabat, marking the first major nerve gas attack since the 2013 accord.The Khan Shaykhun chemical attack on 4 April 2017 drew international condemnation and resulted in U.S. military action against the Syrian government-controlled airbase at Shayrat. The Douma chemical attack on 7 April 2018 also drew a military response from the United States, United Kingdom and France. In June 2018 the OPCW FFM confirmed sarin use in Latamenah while investigating 25 March 2017 chlorine attack. Hexamine was detected with samples, along with HFP, which the OPCW-UN JIM has previously described as being one of the key indicators that the sarin used in Khan Sheikhoun came from the Syrian governments sarin process. On 8 April 2020, the OPCW issued a report determining that the Syrian Air Force was the perpetrator of the chemical weapon attacks in Latamenah.
At the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 concerns were raised about both the security of Syria's chemical weapon sites and about the potential use of chemical weapons. In July 2012, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi stated: "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used... All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression."
A Syrian defector who worked inside the chemical weapons network alleged that in January 2012 two senior Syrian officers moved about 100 kg. of chemical weapons materials from a secret military base in Nasiriyah. The Syrian source also described construction of special trucks, which could transport and mix the weapons. These mobile mixers were constructed inside Mercedes or Volvo trucks that were similar to refrigerator trucks. Inside were storage tanks, pipes and a motor to drive the mixing machinery, the defector said. On 23 July 2012, the Syrian government confirmed for the first time that it had chemical weapons, but stated that they would only be used in instances of external aggression.
On 20 August 2012, President Barack Obama used the phrase "red line"in reference to the use of chemical weapons. Specifically, Obama said: "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."
In September 2012, the Syrian military began moving chemical weapons from Damascus to the port city of Tartus.That same month, it was reported that the military had restarted testing of chemical weapons at a base on the outskirts of Aleppo. On 28 September 2012, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that the Syrian government had moved its chemical weapons in order to secure them from approaching opposition forces. It emerged that the Russian government had helped set up communications between the United States and Syria regarding the status of Syria's chemical weapons. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Syria had given the United States "explanations" and "assurances" that it was taking care of the weapons. On 8 December, it was reported that members of the jihadist Al-Nusra Front had recently captured a Saudi-owned toxic chemicals plant outside of Aleppo. On 22 December 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Syria had consolidated chemical weapons into one or two places to prevent rebels capturing them, and that recent moves that had alarmed Western governments were part of this consolidation. Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, a Syrian army defector, confirmed that most of the chemical weapons have been transported to Alawite areas in Latakia and near the coast. Some chemical munitions remain in bases around Damascus. In December 2012 McClatchy reported various chemical weapons experts' skepticism that Syria was preparing to use chemical weapons, noting their "limited utility" in a civil war situation with fluid battlelines, and Syria's comments that such use would be "suicide" in view of US threats of retaliation.
On 6 September 2013 a bill was filed in the US Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Syrian military, mainly in response to the use of sarin in the Ghouta attack on 21 August 2013.On 9 September 2013, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the air strikes could be averted if Syria turned over "every single bit" of its chemical weapons stockpiles. Hours after Kerry's statement, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Russia had suggested to Syria that it relinquish its chemical weapons. The Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem immediately welcomed the proposal.
In September 2013 the Syrian government entered into several international agreements for the destruction of its chemical weapons that stipulated an initial destruction deadline of 30 June 2014, a deadline apparently achieved in respect of declared chemical weapons.Prior to September 2013 the Syrian government had not publicly admitted to possessing chemical weapons, although Western intelligence services believed it to hold one of the world's largest stockpiles.
On 17 August 2017, Reuters published a report detailing the extent of Syria's failure to abandon chemical weapons, citing information from investigators, inspectors and diplomatic sources.According to a source cited in the report, "There are certainly some gaps, uncertainties, discrepancies" regarding Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. For example, the Syrian government inaccurately or even falsely declared the types, purposes and quantities of chemicals in its possession, and is suspected of continuing to hold at least 2,000 chemical bomb shells that should have been converted to conventional weapons.
In June of 2019, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy stated that the United States “will respond quickly and appropriately,” if the regime uses chemical weapons again. He added that Bashar al-Assad has done more than any other to destabilize the region by "murdering his own people" and that both Russia and the Syrian regime have shown no concern for the suffering of the Syrian people creating one of the "worst humanitarian tragedies in history".
The table below lists the reported attacks and the main points. See the main articles for details.
|Date||Location||Governorate||Impact points||Civilian victims||Soldier/militias victims||CW-agent||Main article||Notes|
|Time of day||Coordinates||Controlled by||Deaths||Non-fatal||Deaths||Non-fatal||Unit|
|17 October 2012||Salqin||Idlib||Reported by the Government of France. (p4)|
|23 December 2012||Al-Bayadah||Homs||Free Syrian Army||5||App. 100||Most likely Agent 15||Reported by the Government of France, UK and Qatar, (p3) and also Haaretz and Foreign Policy.|
|13 March 2013||Darayya||Rif Dimashq||Reported by the Government of UK and Qatar. (p4)|
|14 March 2013||Otaybah||Rif Dimashq||Reported by Le Monde.|
|19 March 2013||Khan al-Asal||Aleppo||Early morning||Syrian Army||19||107||1||17||Syrian Army||Sarin||Khan al-Assal chemical attack||Reported by the Governments of Syria, Russia, France, UK and US. Confirmed by the U.N.|
|19 March 2013||Otaybah||Rif Dimashq||Reported by the Governments of France and UK. (p6)|
|24 March 2013||Adra||Rif Dimashq||Phosphorus||Reported by the Government of UK. (p4)|
|11 April 2013||Jobar||Damascus||Jobar chemical attacks||Reported by Le Monde.|
|12 April 2013||Jobar||Damascus||Jobar chemical attacks||Reported by Le Monde.|
|13 April 2013||Sheikh Maqsood||Aleppo||People's Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdish Front Brigade||3||more than a dozen||Reported by the Government of US. (p4)|
|13 April 2013||Jobar||Damascus||Jobar chemical attacks||Reported by the Government of France. (p5)|
|14 April 2013||Jobar||Damascus||Jobar chemical attacks||Reported by the Government of France. (p5)|
|25 April 2013||Darayya||Rif Dimashq||Reported by the Government of UK. (p4)|
|29 April 2013||Saraqib||Idlib||A:|
|Free Syrian Army||1||10||2||Free Syrian Army||Sarin/Tear gas||Saraqib chemical attack||Reported by the Governments of UK and France. (p4) Allegedly some of the hand grenade–type munitions contained tear gas, whereas other grenades were filled with sarin. Ref. U.N. A French report of 2017 said hexamine was present in the Sarin used in Saraqib, linking it to Syrian regime later attacks in Ghouta and Khan Shakoun. The sarin present in the munitions used on 4April wasproduced using the same manufacturing process as that used during the sarin attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime in Saraqib. Moreover, the presence of hexamine indicates that this manufacturing process is that developed by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre for the Syrian regime.|
|14 May 2013||Qasr Abu Samrah||Hama||Reported by the Governments of US. (p5)|
|23 May 2013||Adra||Rif Dimashq||Reported by the Governments of US. (p5)|
|5 August 2013||Adra||Rif Dimashq||Ref. Human Rights Watch.|
|21 August 2013||Zamalka/Ein Tarma||Rif Dimashq||Between 02:00 and 03:00|| Ein Tarma: |
|734||Sarin||Ghouta chemical attack||Reported by multiple U.N. Member States.|
|21 August 2013||Muadamiyat al-Sham||Rif Dimashq||App. 05:00||Four 140mm rockets impacted next to the Rawda Mosque (). Three 140mm rockets impacted app. 500 meters to the east of the Rawda Mosque ( ).||103||Sarin||Ghouta chemical attack||Reported by multiple U.N. Member States. (p5)|
|22 August 2013||Al-Bahariyah||Rif Dimashq||App. 17:00||Syrian Army||16||Syrian Army||Reported by the Government of Syria. (p5) The U.N. mission investigated the attack, but did not find reliable information to support the allegation that a CW-agent were used.|
|24 August 2013||Jobar||Damascus||App. 11:00||Syrian Army||24||Syrian Army||Sarin||Jobar sarin attack||Ref. U.N.|
|25 August 2013||Ashrafiyat Sahnaya||Rif Dimashq||App. 20:00||Syrian Army||5||Syrian Army||Sarin||Ashrafiyat Sahnaya chemical attack||Ref. U.N.|
|10 April 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||Midnight, night to 11 April||Syrian opposition||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|11 April 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||18:00 – 19:00 hrs||A:|
|Syrian opposition||2||107 affected, 5 seriously (12 patients)||Chlorine||2014 Kafr Zita chemical attack||Ref.OPCW, UNHRC, HRW, SOHR, VDC and SANA.|
|11 April 2014||Harasta||Rif Dimashq||Ref.|
|12 April 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||21:00 – 22:00||Syrian opposition||5 patients||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and UNHRC.|
|12 April 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||22:45||Residential house, 100 m from Western school||Syrian opposition||–||25||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and UNHRC.|
|13 April 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||App. 22:30||Syrian opposition||–||112 affected||Chlorine||Ref. Human Rights Watch|
|14 April 2014||Halfaya||Hama||23:00||4 patients||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|16 April 2014||Harasta||Rif Dimashq||Ref. The Times of Israel.|
|16 April 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||22:00||Al-Zowar region||Syrian opposition||4 patients||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and UNHRC.|
|18 April 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||App. 22:00||Residential house, 150 m from medical unit||Syrian opposition||4||70||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW, UNHRC and HRW.|
|18 April 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||22:30||Syrian opposition||App. 100 affected (35 patients)||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW, UNHRC and HRW.|
|21 April 2014||Talmenes||Idlib||Around 10:30 to 10:45.||Two “barrel bombs” struck two houses 100 m from each other, in the neighbourhood around the big mosque ().||Syrian opposition||3||App. 133 (4 severely)||Chlorine||Talmenes chemical attack||Ref. OPCW, UNHRC and Human Rights Watch. According OPCW investigation the attack was conducted by Syrian Armed Forces helicopter.|
|22 April 2014||Darayya||Rif Dimashq||Ref. The Daily Star.|
|29 April 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||Night to 30 April||Residential house, 20 m from northern school||Syrian opposition||–||35||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and UNHRC.|
|19 May 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||20:00||Syrian opposition||1||130 affected (2 patients)||Chlorine||Ref. Al Arabiya.|
|21 May 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||Chlorine||Ref. International Business Times.|
|21 May 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||20:00||Syrian opposition||4 patients||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW|
|22 May 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||10:00–11:00||Residential house||Syrian opposition||4||12||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|22 May 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||20:00||Syrian opposition||dozens (38 patients)||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and CNN.|
|25 May 2014||Al-Tamanah||Idlib||Night to 26 May||Residential house, 50 m from main road||Syrian opposition||–||–||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|29 May 2014||Al-Lataminah||Hama||Night||17 patients||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|12 July 2014||Avdiko||Aleppo||People's Protection Units (YPG)||3||People's Protection Units (YPG)||Most likely mustard gas||Ref. The Huffington Post and the MERIA Journal.|
|27 July 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||19:00||Syrian opposition||–||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|21 August 2014||Jobar||Damascus||6||Ref. ARA News.|
|28 August 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||21:30 – 22:00||Syrian opposition||–||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW and Channel News Asia.|
|30 August 2014||Kafr Zita||Hama||Syrian opposition||Chlorine||Ref. OPCW.|
|15 February 2015||Darayya||Rif Dimashq||Around noon|
50 to 100 m northwest of the Shrine of Sukayna
|Syrian Army||4||Syrian Army||Possibly sarin||Five to eight government soldiers were allegedly exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance. Ref.|
|21 February 2015||Hayan||Aleppo||Syrian opposition||Noxious gas||Ref. civil defence team.|
|9 March 2015||Mzeireb||Daraa||Syrian opposition||Chlorine||Ref. anti-regime activists.|
|16 March 2015||Qmenas||Idlib||Around 20:30 – 20:45||Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa [ citation needed ]||–||70 affected, 1 seriously||Most likely Chlorine||20 of the victims were from the western neighborhood of Sarmin. The wind allegedly carried the gas from Qmenas to Sarmin. Reported by MESOP. Investigated by Human Rights Watch.|
|16 March 2015||Sarmin||Idlib||Around 22:30 – 22:45||Two barrel bombs were allegedly dropped by a helicopter into the southeastern neighborhood of Sarmin (Kournesh).||Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa [ citation needed ]||6||30 affected, ranged between moderate and severe.||Most likely Chlorine||Sarmin chemical attack||Reported by LCC and SOHR. Investigated by Human Rights Watch. According OPCW investigation the attack was conducted by Syrian Armed Forces helicopter.|
|24 March 2015||Binnish||Idlib||About 19:30||Two barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas were dropped on Binnish.||Syrian opposition||–||At least 30 affected||Chlorine||Ref. The Times. Investigated by Human Rights Watch.|
|23 March 2015||Qmenas||Idlib||Chlorine||Ref. activists. Investigated by Human Rights Watch.|
|24 March 2015||Binnish||Idlib||Early evening||–||30 wounded||Chlorine||Ref. activists. Investigated by Human Rights Watch.|
|31 March 2015||idlib||Idlib||2 p.m.||–||?||Investigated by Human Rights Watch.|
|28 June 2015||Tell Brak||Al-Hasakah||17 projectiles impacted south of the village.||People's Protection Units (YPG)||12||People's Protection Units (YPG)||Mustard gas||Ref. CAR.|
|28 June 2015||Al-Hasakah||Al-Hasakah||7 projectiles impacted in the al-Salehiyah neighborhood.||People's Protection Units (YPG)||People's Protection Units (YPG)||Mustard gas||Ref. CAR.|
|21 August 2015||Mare'||Aleppo||About 19:30||Islamic Front||1 (a baby)||Around 30||Mustard gas||At least 50 mortar and artillery shells were fired at residential areas. At least half of them contained poisonous gas. Ref. According OPCW investigation the attack was conducted by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.|
|7 April 2016||Sheikh Maqsood||Aleppo||People's Protection Units||23||100+||Unknown||A district of Aleppo in Syria controlled by Kurdish fighters have been the target of a chemical attack by Islamic terrorists. Videos show a yellow gas rises above the Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood.|
|15 June 2016||Eastern Ghouta||Damascus||Syrian Army||None||Several||Syrian Army||Unknown||Reported by Syrian Army. [ unreliable source? ]|
|1 August 2016||Saraqib||Idlib||app. 11:00||Syrian opposition||?||28 injured||None||None||-||chlorine||Reported by Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic|
|10 August 2016||Aleppo||Aleppo Governorate||Syrian opposition||3+||22-55 injured||None||None||-||chlorine||Reported by activists|
|25 August 2016||Dandaniya||Aleppo||Around 17:00||Syrian Democratic Forces||Dozens||Unknown||Reported by local sources. </ref>|
|8 October 2016||Sheikh Maqsood||Aleppo||Early morning||People's Protection Units||3||4+||Unknown||Unknown||People's Protection Units||Noxious gas||Local sources reported an attack by elephant rockets loaded with chemical substances.|
|25 November 2016||Sheikh Maqsood||Aleppo||16:35||People's Protection Units||3 patients||Unknown||Unknown||People's Protection Units||Unknown||The Kurdish Red Crescent reported taking 3 patients with chemical wounds after the area was hit by shells suspected to be loaded with poisonous chemicals.|
|8 January 2017||Wadi Barada||Damascus||?||Syrian opposition||?||at least 6 injured||?||?||-||Chlorine||Reported by Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic|
|25 March 2017||Al-Lataminah||Sarin Chlorine|
|30 March 2017||Al-Lataminah||Hama||70+||Syrian warplanes dropping Sarin||Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations report|
|3 April 2017||Hbit||Idlib||"evening hours"||2 children||App. 20 affected.||Chlorine||According to local activists.|
|4 April 2017||Khan Shaykhun||Idlib||06:30||Tahrir al-Sham||58–100+||300–400+||Sarin||2017 Khan Shaykhun chemical attack||On 4 April 2017, the Syrian government bombed a city in the far-north of the rebel-held Syrian territory with what both witnesses and inspectors claim to have been aerosol dispersion munitions containing some form of an organophosphate nerve agent. It is considered the worst chemical attack in the country since 2015 and resulted in Trump implementing a strike against the air-base from which the bombers are believed to have launched. Syrian officials thoroughly denied the accusations and blamed rebel forces for the chemical release, claiming that one of the Syrian ballistic munitions unintentionally struck a factory which the regimes alleges was being used by rebel forces to manufacture chemical weapons which they intended to transport to Iran. In an emergency meeting of the UN, Russia implemented its veto power to prevent unified international retaliation against the regime in response to the re-escalation of the conflict and violating the CWC for the first time since the Syrian government formalized its accession to the treaty in 2015.|
|11 January 2018||Douma||Damascus Governorate||6||Chlorine|
|22 January 2018||East Ghouta||Damascus Governorate||21||Chlorine|
|1 February 2018||Douma||Damascus Governorate||3||Chlorine|
|5 February 2018||Saraqeb||Idlib||9||Chlorine||According to Syria Civil Defence medics.|
|16 February 2018||Aranda, Afrin||Aleppo Governorate||Syrian Democratic Forces||6||Chlorine||SOHR suspects this to be a chemical attack was launched by Turkish Armed Forces.|
|26 February 2018||Douma||Damascus Governorate||1||13|
|7 April 2018||Douma||Rif Dimashq||"at least 42"||2018 Douma chemical attack|
|24 November 2018||Aleppo||Aleppo||Syrian Army||48||Chlorine||Reported by the Government of Syria and the SOHR.|
The United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic was a fact-finding mission to investigate possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. On 16 September 2013 the mission published a report with focus on the Ghouta attacks.On 12 December 2013, the UN mission delivered its final report.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 22 March 2011 to investigate human rights violations during the Syrian civil war. In its report dated 12 February 2014 they confirmed the use of sarin in the case of Khan Al-Assal (19 March 2013), Saraqib (29 April 2013) and Al-Ghouta (21 August 2013). The UNHRC commission also found that the sarin used in the Khan al-Asal attack bore "the same unique hallmarks" as the sarin used in the Ghouta attack and indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to chemicals from the Syrian Army's stockpile.In none of the incidents, however, was the commission's "evidentiary threshold" met in regards to identifying the perpetrators of the chemical attacks.
In its report dated 13 August 2014 they accused Government forces of using chlorine gas in 8 incidents in Idlib and Hama governorates in April 2014.In March 2017, the Commission documented conclusive evidence that Syrian aircraft dropped “toxic industrial chemicals, including chlorine,” between 21 July and 22 December 22, during the final period of the Battle of Aleppo (2012–2016).
The OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria was established in October 2013. The Mission was tasked to oversee the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program. The first OPCW-UN team arrived in Damascus on 1 October 2013. The mission officially ended on 30 September 2014.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said that its Syrian ally had asked Russian experts to look into the Khan al-Assal attack. A Russian team investigated the Khan al-Asal incident on 19 March 2013.The Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin delivered a report with analysis of the samples taken at the site to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 9 July 2013. Churkin said the chemical agent was carried by a "Bashair-3 unguided projectile", which was produced by the Basha'ir al-Nasr Brigade, a rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. However, following Churkin's announcement, Western governments said that they had yet to see any evidence that backs up the assertion that anyone besides the Assad regime had the ability to use chemical weapons. The Russian report was not released.
On 29 April 2014, the Director General Ahmet Üzümcü of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced the creation of an OPCW mission to establish the facts surrounding allegations of the use of chlorine gas for hostile purposes in Syria.The Syrian Government has agreed to the mission.
On 27 May 2014, members of the mission were ambushed and briefly held by gunmen in rebel-held territory as it headed toward Kafr Zita to investigate the alleged chlorine gas attacks.According to the Associated Press, the OPCW said that the captive members of the mission were later "released after the intervention by Syria's main opposition group." The opposition Hama Media Centre said the attack on the convoy was carried out by President Bashar Assad's forces.
In its third report dated 18 December 2014, the mission concluded that chlorine was used in the villages of Talmenes, Al-Tamanah and Kafr Zita, but did not assign blame.
In early 2015 the mission disclosed previously undeclared traces of sarin and VX precursor compounds in a Syrian government military research site, the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, where use of those compounds had not been previously declared.
On 7 August 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2235 (2015) to establish a joint investigation mechanism (JIM) to identify the perpetrators responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The resolution was drafted by the United States, and adopted by all 15 members of the Security Council.The JIM issued its first report on 12 February 2016. The second was released on 10 June 2016, while the third report was issued on 30 August 2016. The third report blamed the Syrian government for two gas attacks in 2015, and accused ISIS of using mustard gas. In October 2016 the leaked fourth report of task force determined that the Syria had conducted at least three gas attacks in 2015.
On 26 October 2017, the JIM delivered the report (37 pages) to the UN.
In late 2017, the JIM released its report on the April Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, attributing responsibility for the incident to the Syrian government.
Reuters reported in 2018 that, according to OPCW and diplomatic sources, an OPCW chemical marker analysis linked the destroyed stockpile samples to sarin samples from 21 August 2013 Ghouta attack and also to interviewees' samples from Khan Sheikhoun and Khan Al-Assal attack sites. These findings were not released because they were outside the OPCW's mandate.
On 8 April 2020, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, set up in 2018, issued its first report, determining that the Syrian Air Force was the perpetrator of the chemical weapon attacks in Latamenah.
In February 2012 a defector from the Syrian Arab Army, a lieutenant who worked in the chemical weapons department, told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News that "BZ-CS, Chlorine Benzilate, which damages people's nerves and makes them fade away, is being used in Bab Amr." He said that some Syrian soldiers had been supplied with gas masks for protection.
In December 2012, the Syrian government claimed that chemical plant SYSACCO 29 kilometers (18 mi) east of Aleppo was taken by rebel fighters from the Al-Nusra Front. The factory produces chlorine among other chemicals. On 5 November 2014, the Syrian UN-ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, said "terrorist organizations stole about 200 tons of [chlorine gas] from" the factory.
In January 2013, US State Department cables showed a US investigation had found evidence that the Syrian military had used a chemical weapon on 23 December 2012, which was the first time an official investigation documented chemical weapon use in the conflict.On 4 June, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius similarly declared certainty that the Syrian government had used sarin on multiple instances.
On 30 May 2013, Turkish newspapers reported that Turkish security forces had arrested Al-Nusra Front fighters in the southern provinces of Mersin and Adana near the Syrian border and confiscated 2 kg of sarin gas. The Turkish Ambassador to Moscow later said that tests showed the chemical seized was not sarin, but anti-freeze. In September six of those arrested in May were charged with attempting to acquire chemicals which could be used to produce sarin; the indictment said that it was "possible to produce sarin gas by combining the materials in proper conditions."
On 1 June 2013, the Syrian Army reported that it seized two cylinders holding the nerve agent sarin in an area it said was controlled by opposition fighters. The Syrian government declared the two cylinders "as abandoned chemical weapons" and told the OPCW that "the items did not belong to" them.On 14 June 2014, the Joint OPCW-UN Mission confirmed that the cylinders contained sarin. On 7 July 2014, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon informed the U.N. Security Council about the findings.
In September 2015 a US official stated that ISIS was manufacturing and using mustard agent in Syria and Iraq, and had an active chemical weapons research team.In February 2016, the CIA Director John O. Brennan said on 60 Minutes that there were "a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield".
On 8 April 2016, a spokesman for the Jaysh al-Islam rebel group said that “weapons not authorized for use in these types of confrontations” had been used against Kurdish militia and civilians in Aleppo (160 killed or wounded).He stated that “One of our commanders has unlawfully used a type of weapon that is not included in our list”. He did not specify what substances were used but, according to Kurdish Red Crescent, the symptoms were consistent with the use of "chlorine gas or other agents". Jaysh al-Islam subsequently clarified that it was referring to “modified Grad rockets,” not chemical weapons.
On 4 May 2017, the BBC reported that, according to a Western intelligence agency, Syria was violating the 2013 disarmament deal by producing chemical and biological munitions at Masyaf, Dummar, and Barzeh.
On 27 June 2017, US officials stated that the Syrian government was preparing at a Syrian base for what seemed another chemical attack. The Trump administration warned that if another attack occurred, President Assad would pay a heavy price. This threat comes as the intelligence community states that the activity is similar to the preparations leading to the attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
Around 16 February 2018, the SOHR and the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG stated that Turkey was suspected of conducting a chemical gas attack in Afrin. Syrian state news agency SANA, citing a doctor in a Afrin hospital, stated the shelling caused choking in six people.
In April 2018, Human Rights Watch published a report based on seven data sources, including the UN investigations, and was able to confirm 85 chemical attacks between 21 August 2013 and 25 February 2018, including 50 perpetrated by the government (including 42 using chlorine and 2 using sarin) and three by ISIS, with the remainder not attributed.
In October 2018, BBC Panorama and BBC Arabic investigated 164 reports of chemical attacks and were able to confirm 106 of them, 51 of which were certainly launched from the air and therefore could only have been perpetrated by the government or its allies.
In February 2019, the German thinktank Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) published a report that “credibly substantiated” 336 uses of chemical weapons in the Syrian war, 98% of them by the government or allied forces (including several attributed to the Syrian Army's elite Tiger Forces) and the remainder by ISIL.
In May 2019, there were reports of a chemical attack on Kabana in Latakia.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control treaty that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. The full name of the treaty is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction and it is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The treaty entered into force on 29 April 1997. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Very limited production for research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes is still permitted. The main obligation of member states under the convention is to effect this prohibition, as well as the destruction of all current chemical weapons. All destruction activities must take place under OPCW verification.
Sarin is an extremely toxic synthetic organophosphorus compound. A colourless, odorless liquid, it is used as a chemical weapon due to its extreme potency as a nerve agent. Exposure is lethal even at very low concentrations, where death can occur within one-to-ten minutes after direct inhalation of a lethal dose, due to suffocation from lung muscle paralysis, unless antidotes are quickly administered. People who absorb a non-lethal dose, but do not receive immediate medical treatment, may suffer permanent neurological damage.
Many nations continue to research and/or stockpile chemical weapon agents despite numerous efforts to reduce or eliminate them. Most states have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, which required the destruction of all chemical weapons by 2012. Twelve nations have declared chemical weapons production facilities and six nations have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. All of the declared production facilities have been destroyed or converted to civilian use after the treaty went into force. According to the United States government, at least 17 nations currently have active chemical weapons programs.
Syria and weapons of mass destruction deals with the research, manufacture, stockpiling and alleged use by Syria of weapons of mass destruction, which include chemical and nuclear weapons.
Chemical terrorism is the form of terrorism that uses the toxic effects of chemicals to kill, injure, or otherwise adversely affect the interests of its targets. It can broadly be considered a form of Chemical warfare.
A chemical weapon (CW) is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "the term chemical weapon may also be applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled, are also considered weapons themselves."
Human rights violations during the Syrian civil war have been numerous and serious, with United Nations reports stating that the war has been "characterized by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law" by the warring parties who have "caused civilians immeasurable suffering". For the background and legal content use the prosecution of Syrian civil war criminals.
Al-Lataminah is a town in northern Syria, administratively part of the Hama Governorate, located 39 kilometers northwest of Hama. Nearby localities include Karnaz to the northwest, Kafr Zita to the north, Murik to the northeast, Suran to the east, Taybat al-Imam to the southeast, Halfaya and Mahardah to the south, Shaizar and Kafr Hud to the southwest and Hayalin and al-Suqaylabiyah to the west. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), al-Lataminah had a population of 16,267 in the 2004 census, making it the second largest locality in the nahiyah of Kafr Zita. Its inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims.
The Ghouta chemical attack occurred in Ghouta, Syria during the Syrian Civil War, in the early hours of 21 August 2013. Two opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs around Damascus, Syria were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin. Estimates of the death toll range from at least 281 people to 1,729. The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran–Iraq War.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 22 August 2011 to investigate human rights violations during the Syrian Civil War to establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to violations and crimes and, where possible, to identify those responsible to be held accountable with a future prosecution of Syrian civil war criminals. The Commission posts regular updates via its official Twitter page.
The Khan al-Assal chemical attack was a chemical attack in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, Syria on 19 March 2013, which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights resulted in at least 26 fatalities including 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians, and more than 86 injuries. Immediately after the incident, the Syrian government and opposition accused each other of carrying out the attack, but neither side presented clear documentation. The Syrian government asked the United Nations to investigate the incident, but disputes over the scope of that investigation led to lengthy delays. In the interim, the Syrian government invited Russia to send specialists to investigate the incident. Samples taken at the site led them to conclude that the attack involved the use of sarin, which matched the assessment made by the United States. Russia held the opposition responsible for the attack, while the US held the government responsible. UN investigators finally arrived on the ground in Syria in August, but their arrival coincided with the much larger-scale 2013 Ghouta attacks which took place on 21 August, pushing the Khan al-Assal investigation "onto the backburner" according to a UN spokesman. The UN report, which was completed on 12 December, found "likely use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal" and assessed that organophosphate poisoning was the cause of the "mass intoxication".
Syria's chemical weapons program began in the 1970s with weapons and training from Egypt and the Soviet Union, with production of chemical weapons in Syria beginning in the mid-1980s. For some time, Syria was believed to have the world's third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons, after the United States and Russia. Prior to September 2013 Syria had not publicly admitted to possessing chemical weapons, although Western intelligence services believed it to hold one of the world's largest stockpiles. In September 2013, French intelligence put the Syrian stockpile at 1,000 tonnes, including Yperite, VX and "several hundred tonnes of sarin". At the time, Syria was one of a handful of states which had not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. In September 2013, Syria joined the CWC, and agreed to the destruction of its weapons, to be supervised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), as required by the Convention. A joint OPCW-United Nations mission was established to oversee the destruction process. Syria joined OPCW after international condemnation of the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack, for which Western states held the Syrian government responsible and agreed to the prompt destruction of its chemical weapons, resulting in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declaring on 20 July 2014: "we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out." The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons that the Assad government had declared was completed by August 2014, yet further disclosures, incomplete documentation, and allegations of withholding part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile since mean that serious concerns regarding chemical weapons and related sites in Syria remain. On 5 April 2017, the government of Syria allegedly unleashed a chemical attack that killed 70 civilians. A suspected chemical attack on Douma on 9 April 2018 that killed at least 49 civilians has been blamed on the Syrian Government.
The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons began on 14 September 2013 after Syria entered into several international agreements which called for the elimination of Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles and set a destruction deadline of 30 June 2014. On the same day, Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and agreed to its provisional application pending its entry into force on 14 October. Having acceded to the CWC, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council on 27 September approved a detailed implementation plan that required Syria to assume responsibility for and follow a timeline for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons and Syrian chemical weapon production facilities. Following the signing of the Framework Agreement on 14 September 2013 and after the OPCW implementation plan, on 27 September the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2118 which bound Syria to the timetable set out in the OPCW implementation plan. The joint OPCW-UN mission was established to oversee the implementation of the destruction program.
The 2014 Kafr Zita chemical attack occurred on 11 April 2014, in the rebel-held northern Syrian town of Kafr Zita during the Syrian Civil War. The attack reportedly wounded around 100 people and killed three. Syria's state television, SANA blamed the attack on the Islamist Al-Nusra Front using "toxic chlorine", while the opposition blamed barrel bombs dropped by government forces.
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria is a mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate some possible cases of the use of toxic chemicals in Syria during the civil war, including chlorine. The 21 August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack used sarin. The OPCW-Director General Ahmet Üzümcü announced the creation of the mission on 29 April 2014. This initial mission was headed by Malik Ellahi. The Syrian Government agreed to the Mission.
The United Nations Security Council adopted United Nations Security Council resolution 2235 (2015) on 7 August 2015, in response to use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War. The resolution condemned "any use of any toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic" and expressed determination to identify and hold accountable those responsible for such acts. The resolution established a Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Security Council renewed the JIM's mandate in resolution 2319 (2016) on 17 November 2016, for a further period of one year. The mandate of the JIM lapsed in November 2017, after Russia blocked the renewal of its mandate.
The Khan Shaykhun chemical attack took place on 4 April 2017 on the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate of Syria. The town was reported to have been struck by an airstrike by government forces followed by massive civilian chemical poisoning. The release of a toxic gas, which included sarin, or a similar substance, killed at least 89 people and injured more than 541, according to the opposition Idlib Health Directorate. The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war since the Ghouta chemical attack in 2013.
The Talmenes chemical attack took place on 21 April 2014, in the village of Talmenes in Idlib Governorate of Syria. The village was struck by a chemical attack around 10:30 when two “barrel bombs” embedded with cylinders of chlorine gas reportedly were dropped on the village. The bombs struck two houses some 100 m from each other, in the neighbourhood around the “big” mosque. According to Human Rights Watch, the attack killed three civilians and wounded about 133.
The Sarmin chemical attack was a chlorine attack that took place on 16 March 2015, in the village of Sarmin in the Idlib Governorate of Syria.
On 7 April 2018, a chemical warfare attack was carried out in the Syrian city of Douma. Medics and witnesses reported that it caused the deaths of between 40 and 50 people and injuries to possibly well over 100. The attack was attributed to the Syrian Army by rebel forces in Douma, and by the United States, British, and French governments. The Syrian and Russian governments asserted that a widely-circulated video allegedly showing the aftermath of the attack was staged.
Opposition activists claim Assad's troops used chemical weapons from several rocket launchers in Adra which killed two people and injured more than 20. According to the Arms Control Association, doctors said the weapons used were phosphorus bombs, which affect the nervous system.