(A weekly digest from the internet on chemical and biological warfare issues. Emphasis is on incidents and perspectives, but inclusion of an item does not equal endorsement or agreement with the contents. This issue covers items collected between 3 – 9 April 2017.)
Chemical warfare in Syria
The chemical strike against Khan Sheikhoun
- ‘Toxic gas attack’ in Syria kills at least 58 people (Al Jazeera, 04 Apr 2017): Opposition says government or Russian jets pounded the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib. At least 58 people, including nine children, were killed in an air raid that released “toxic gas” on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday, a monitor said.
- Syria Conflict: ‘Chemical Attack’ Kills 58 People in Rebel-Held Town (Jack Moore, 04 Apr 2017): A suspected chlorine gas attack on a rebel-held town in Syria killed at least 58 people in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, according to a monitoring group.
The attack took place in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
- Syria: suspected chemical attack kills dozens in Idlib province (Kareem Shaheen, 4 April 2017): Dozens of people have been killed in a suspected chemical attack in northern Syria, aid workers and local activists have said, in one of the largest mass casualty incidents using a toxic gas in the six-year conflict.
- Gas Attack Is Said to Kill Dozens in Syria (Anne Barnard, 4 April 2017): A toxic gas attack killed dozens of people in northern Syria on Tuesday morning, including women and children, and sickened scores more, according to medics, rescuers and witnesses in the rebel-held province of Idlib, who said the gas had been delivered by a government airstrike.
- Syrian Army strikes jihadist gas depot in southern Idlib: report (Leith Fadel, 4 April 2017): The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) struck a jihadist gas factory in the Idlib Governorate town of Khan Sheikhoun today. In addition to Murtada’s claim, Syrian Arab Army soldiers in northern Hama denied the use of chemicals weapons today, despite allegations by opposition activists regarding a sarin gas attack.
- The latest suspected chemical attack in Syria brings destruction – and deception (Brett Edwards and Mattia Cacciatori, 4 April 2017): Dozens of people have been killed in a suspected chemical weapon attack in Syria, according to a war monitoring group. Videos and pictures have been posted online, which activists and medics claim show evidence of people dying from asphyxiation. One news agency report suggested at least 11 of the dead were children. There have also been reports that one of the hospitals treating the victims was attacked.
- Suspected gas attack on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib kills at least 58: Observatory (Ellen Francis, 4 April 2017): A suspected gas attack, believed to be by Syrian government jets, killed at least 58 people including 11 children under the age of eight in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, a war monitor and medical workers in the rebel-held area said. A Syrian military source strongly denied the army had used any such weapons.
- Survivors of Syria Gas Attack Recount ‘a Cruel Scene’ (Patrick Kingsley and Anne Barnard, 4 April 2017): After an airstrike on his village, a Syrian farmer hurried to rescue the initial victims of the attack, the residents of a one-story home.
- Chemical attack kills dozens in Syria as victims foam at the mouth, activists say (Louisa Loveluck and Karen DeYoung, 4 April 2017): Scores of Syrians, many of them women and young children, were killed Tuesday in one of the deadliest chemical attacks of the country’s six-year war, according to doctors, rescue workers and witnesses.
- Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad (Anne Barnard and Michael R. Gordon, 4 April 2017): One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone on Tuesday, inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war.
- Syria conflict: The spectre of nerve agents – again (Dan Kaszeta, 4 April 2017): Reports from Syria indicate that a chemical substance has been used in Idlib in a horrific attack.
- ‘The first thing that hits you is the smell’ (Omar Haj-Kadour and Mohamed Al-Bakour, 4 April 2017): When news came that there had been a suspected chemical attack in a rebel-held northwestern town of Khan Sheikhun in Syria, AFP photographers Omar Haj Kadour and Mohamed Al-Bakour rushed to the hospitals in the area.
- Evidence From Victims Points to Nerve Gas in Syria Attack (Anne Barnard, Yara Bishara, Andrew Rossback, Hwaida Saad and Megan Specia, 4 April 2017): From the start, the chemical strike that killed dozens of people in northern Syria on Tuesday morning looked different from the chlorine gas attacks frequently used by the Syrian military. Videos and photographs showed victims with symptoms consistent with severe exposure to a nerve agent or some other deadly substance.
- Intelligence agents return from Syria claiming Assad still possesses deadliest chemicals (Judith Abramson, 4 April 2017): In the wake of the airstrike in Idlib in which dozens were killed, intelligence agents told Channel 2 News that despite Assad’s declaration, his regime is still stockpiling some of the world’s deadliest weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gas.
- Russia Blames Syrian Rebels For Deadly Gas Attack, Denies Assad To Blame (Maria Tsvetkova and Tom Perry, 5 April 2017): Russia denied on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was to blame for a poison gas attack and said it would continue to back him, setting the Kremlin on course for its biggest diplomatic collision yet with Donald Trump’s White House.
- Syrian aviation airstrike in Idlib targeted chemical arms lab — Russian Defense Ministry (Tass, 5 April 2017): A Syrian aviation airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday targeted workshops to produce chemical-laden projectiles, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
- The Holes in Russia’s Account of the Syria Chemical Attack (Jeffrey Marcus, 5 April 2017): The Russian government has sharply contested accounts by witnesses and international leaders of a chemical attack that killed more than 100 people in northern Syria on Tuesday. Here’s what the available evidence tells us about the reliability of Russia’s account.
- The Chemical Realities of Russia’s Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Warehouse Attack Claims
(Dan Kaszeta, 5 April 2017): In response to allegations of a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4th 2017 the Russian Ministry of Defence made a statement where it claimed a warehouse containing chemical agents was hit in the same town as the attacks were reported to have occurred.
- Syria chemical attack looks like nerve gas – and was no accident (Debora MacKenzie, 5 April 2017): Nerve gas is back. Images of the victims and reports from doctors on the scene of yesterday’s Syrian government air strike on the rebel-held northern town of Khan Sheikhoun suggest the weapon used was the nerve agent, sarin. At least 70 men, women and children died and hundreds were injured.
- Chemical attack kills 22 members of a single family in Syria (Sarah El Deeb, 5 April 2017): The grief-stricken father cradled his 9-month-old twins, Aya and Ahmed, each in the crook of an arm. Stroking their hair, he choked back tears, mumbling, “Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye” to their lifeless bodies. Then Abdel Hameed Alyousef took them to a mass grave where 22 members of his family were being buried. Each branch of the clan got its own trench.
- Syria chemical weapons attack toll rises to 70 as Russian narrative is dismissed (Martin Chulov and Kareem Shaheen, 5 April 2017): At least 70 people have been killed in northern Syria after being exposed to a toxic gas that survivors said was dropped from warplanes, an attack that sparked comparisons to the most infamous act of the country’s six-year war.
- Soil samples from Syria chemical attack sent to western agencies (Martin Chulov, 5 April 2017): Rescue workers have gathered soil samples from the scene of a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria and sent them to western intelligence officials, who are seeking to determine precisely what nerve agent was used in one of the worst atrocities of the country’s six-year war. Samples will help intelligence agencies establish whether nerve agent came from store of sarin Assad was supposed to surrender.
- Syria chemical weapons attack: what we know about deadly air raid (Emma Graham-Harrison, 5 April 2017): What happened in Khan Sheikhun? Syrian government planes carried out a dawn raid on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday morning. Following the airstrikes, residents reported whole families found dead in their beds, with victims and injured survivors showing symptoms that match poisoning by nerve agents.
- Syrian Doctor Says Deadly Nerve Gas in Chemical Attack Almost Certainly Sarin (Rebecca Collard, 5 April 2017): They bought thousands of milligrams of the much cheaper Atropine, which can be used to counter moderate cases of Sarin poisoning. Those stocks helped save lives on Tuesday.
- Syria: What Chemical Warfare Means Tactically (Stratfor, 5 April 2017): Regardless of the exact details of this particular attack, there is ample and conclusive evidence that Syrian loyalist forces continue to use chemical weapons on rebel and Islamic State territory. Their continued reliance on chemical warfare raises myriad questions, especially given the tactic’s limited use on the battlefield.
- WHO Ready to Provide Expertise to OPCW’s Investigation on Idlib Attack If Asked (Sputnik, 5 April 2017): The World Health Organization (WHO) is ready to provide expertise to assist an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) over the recent reported chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, a WHO spokesperson told Sputnik.
- Turkish autopsies confirm chemical weapons used in Syria attack that killed scores (Louisa Loveluck, 6 April 2017): Autopsies conducted by Turkish doctors on Thursday have confirmed that chemical weapons were used in an attack which killed scores of people in Syria two days earlier, providing the most concrete evidence to date of why so many people were killed.
- Syrians Were Poisoned by Banned Nerve Agent Sarin, Turkey Says (Patrick Kingsley, 6 April 2017): The poison used in the deadly chemical bomb attack in a rebel-held part of northern Syria this week was the banned nerve agent sarin, the Turkish Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
- Syria ‘chemical attack’: What can forensics tell us? (Dan Kaszeta, 6 April 2017): The recent incident involving chemical weapons in Syria demands an investigation. But from a technical perspective, what kind of forensic information can be gleaned from an incident like this?
- Israel ‘100% Certain’ Assad Ordered Syrian Chemical Attack, Defense Minister Says (Haaretz, 6 April 2017): Avigdor Lieberman says lack of international response leads to his previous conclusion that ‘Israel must rely only on itself’.
- Syria Chemical Attack Approved by Highest Levels of Assad Regime, Israel Believes (Amos Harel, 6 April 2017): Sources in Israel say they believe the assault in Syria was intended to convey a threatening message to rebel groups against the backdrop of growing confidence in the regime’s stability.
- The Grim Logic Behind Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attack (Anne Barnard, 6 April 2017): The diplomatic situation had been looking bright for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. With the help of Russia, he had consolidated his power, the rebels were on their heels and the United States had just declared that ousting him was not a priority. So why would Mr. Assad risk it all, outraging the world by attacking civilians with what Turkey now says was the nerve agent sarin, killing scores of people, many of them children?
- Analysis: Toxic attack could wreck Assad’s political gains (Zeina Karam, 6 April 2017): President Bashar Assad took an enormous gamble if his forces were behind the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in northern Syria: committing an overt war crime just as the Trump administration and most Western leaders had made clear they are no longer seeking his immediate removal.
- ‘The dead were wherever you looked’: inside Syrian town after gas attack (Kareem Shaheen, 6 April 2017): The reporter was the first journalist on the scene. Khan Sheikhun is a ghost town, its streets deserted and silent as though mourning the victims of the atrocity that occurred here two days earlier. The only reminder of what happened is a small, blackened, crater near the northern part of town, where a rocket laced with a nerve agent fell, killing more than 70 people in one of the worst mass casualty chemical attacks in the six-year war in Syria.
- Chemical Attack Probe Aided by Presence of Victims in Turkey (Philip Issa, 6 April 2017): Investigators have rushed to Turkey to examine survivors of the chemical attack in neighboring Syria and collect samples that could reveal the nature of the toxins, the means of delivery and, ultimately, who was responsible for one of the war’s most disturbing atrocities.
- Which chemical weapon was used in Syria? Here’s what investigators know. (Amanda Erickson, 6 April 2017): Three conventional bombs came first, dropped from the belly of a Syrian air force jet near the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province. They exploded, releasing plumes of black smoke into the sky. Then there was a fourth, one that made almost no sound on impact. The only indication that it had fallen: a cloud of white smoke.
- Syria’s chemical weapons: Khan Sheikhoun attack may not be the last (Rod Barton, 7 April 2017): Following the chemical disarmament of Syria it might have been expected that any further use of chemicals in the conflict would have ceased, but within a year of the start of the elimination of Syrian stockpiles, attacks using chlorine began and have continued sporadically over the past four years. Compared to the August 2013 event, the chlorine attacks were technically unsophisticated: helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing small cylinders of chlorine which were ruptured with a small explosive charge to disperse the gas. The number of deaths from the chlorine barrel bombs was small but the attacks caused widespread panic in the targeted towns. The Khan Sheikhoun attack, however, is significantly different and raises a number of fundamental questions.
- US officials probing Russia’s role in Syria chemical attacks (FoxNews, 7 April 2017): Senior U.S. military officials said Friday the Pentagon is looking into whether Russia played a role in the chemical weapon attack in Syria that prompted retaliatory action from the Trump administration.
- Pentagon probes possible Russian cover-up of Syria strike (Carlo Muñoz, 7 April 2017): Pentagon officials are exploring the possibility that Russian warplanes struck a Syrian hospital treating victims of Tuesday’s chemical attack in an attempt to destroy evidence linking Damascus to the deadly strike.
- Was it really sarin, was Assad to blame and could Western spy agencies be involved (Michael Burleigh, 8 April 2017): Historian and terrorism expert MICHAEL BURLEIGH answers key questions about Syrian airstrikes.
Other allegations of CW use in Syria
- Timeline of chemical weapons use in Syria (Associated Press, 4 April 2017): Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of Syria’s civil war, with the U.N. blaming three attacks on the Syrian government and a fourth on the Islamic State group.
- How Is Syria Still Using Chemical Weapons? (Krishnadev Calamur, 4 April 2017): Despite an agreement reached years ago, chemicals have been used repeatedly on the country’s battlefield. The Assad regime has been accused of using chemical agents on rebels and civilians several times over more than six years of civil war in Syria.
- Assad’s History of Chemical Attacks, and Other Atrocities (Russell Goldman, 5 April 5, 2017): In six years of war, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has overseen a campaign of carnage, turning an enormous cache of deadly weapons against the very people they were presumably stockpiled to protect.
- How Syria is still using chemical weapons in 2017 (Kelsey D. Atherton, 6 April 2017): An oxygen mask, placed on a child’s mouth to desperately force air in, was supposed to be a past horror of war. Tuesday’s chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria revealed a bleak turn in an ongoing bleak conflict. After years of international effort to prevent such an attack, Syria’s Civil War once again became toxic, as chemical weapons ravaged civilians in a rebel-held city.
- I Survived a Sarin Gas Attack (Kassem Eid, 7 April 2017): On Aug. 21, 2013, I woke up in the dark around 4:45 a.m., struggling to breathe. My eyes were burning, my head was throbbing, and my throat was blocked. I was suffocating.
- Comment by the Information and Press Department on the Syrian chemical dossier (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 7 April 2017): The Russian Federation has invariably held the unequivocal and straightforward position that any use of chemical weapons by anyone is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances, and those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable. However, the so-called red line set by President Obama in 2012, the crossing of which was supposed to trigger outside military intervention in the intra-Syrian conflict, was clearly the watershed moment in this story – which has been so unscrupulously distorted by our Western partners – about the use of toxic chemicals in Syria and then the use of actual chemical warfare agents.
- Will Syria’s children ever be able to breathe? (Zaher Sahloul, 7 April 2017): It was not a nightmare: It was another gas attack in Syria, number 175. I have often wondered how a medically trained person can do this to his people. Bashar al-Assad, an average student without unique leadership qualities, was trained at my medical school. We were classmates for six years. Right after he became President, he met with a group of us during a medical conference. “I would rather be a doctor than the President,” he said. No one believed him, but no one expected him to be this brutal.
- OPCW Director-General’s Statement on Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Southern Idlib, Syria (OPCW, 4 April 2017): The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is seriously concerned about the alleged chemical weapons attack reported by the media this morning in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic. The OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is in the process of gathering and analysing information from all available sources.
- Israel Strongly Condemns Syria Chemical Attack, Calls on World to Intervene (Barak Ravid, Jonathan Lis and Gili Cohen, 4 April 2017): Netanyahu says international community should act to remove all chemical weapons from Syria, says it highlights Israel’s need to ‘protect itself’; minister: Israel must lead world to end massacre.
- A New Level of Depravity, Even for Bashar al-Assad (Editorial Board, 4 April 2017): For a world that too often seems impervious to the horrors of Syria’s civil war, the photos and videos from Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack, which killed dozens of civilians, bore witness to a new level of atrocity.
- John McCain Calls Trump’s Syria Policy ‘Another Disgraceful Chapter’ In U.S. History (Jesselyn Cook, 4 April 2017): As gruesome details and heartbreaking images from the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria emerge, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on President Donald Trump to end his “disgraceful” apparent inaction.
- Trump’s puzzling blame-Obama statement on the Syria tragedy (Aaron Blake, 4 April 2017): President Trump just released a statement on the apparent use of chemical weapons that have killed dozens of people in Syria. It is full of sound and fury — at the Obama administration — and it signifies almost nothing.
- Trump blames Obama’s ‘weakness’ for Assad’s use of chemical weapons (Abby Phillip, 4 April 2017): President Trump on Tuesday blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons in an attack that left dozens, including women and children, dead this week.
- White House Criticizes Barack Obama In Response To Syrian Massacre (Alana Horowitz Satlin and Eline Gordts 4 April 2017): The White House on Tuesday reacted to what appears to be Syria’s worst chemical attack in years by blaming former President Barack Obama. The secretary of state ignored a question about the attack.
- How the world responds to chemical gas attacks: Outcry but no real action (Amanda Erickson, 4 April 2017): Even by the gruesome standards of World War I, April 22, 1915, was ghastly. On that day, Germany unveiled a weapon it had been working on for years — chlorine gas. Soon after its release, French soldiers began choking. Those who dove for cover at the bottom of their trenches landed in a lethal cloud.
- Fact Check: Trump, Faulting Obama on Syria, Contradicts Himself (Linda Qiu, 4 April 2017): In a statement condemning Tuesday’s chemical attack in Syria, President Trump faulted the administration of former President Barack Obama for not intervening more aggressively in that country’s civil war — contradicting his own, earlier advice.
- Syria: UN chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of alleged chemical attack; OPCW investigating (UN, 4 April 2017): United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today said that he is “deeply disturbed” by reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib, Syria.
- Trump’s response to Syria gas attack: blame Obama (Julian Borger, 5 April 2017): The scale and horror of Tuesday’s gas attack on civilians in Idlib highlighted the vacuum in the Trump administration’s foreign policymaking: the incident was met first by silence, then by criticism of Barack Obama.
- A chemical weapons attack in Syria exposes Trump’s Assad problem (Ishaan Tharoor, 5 April 2017): Yet again, the world is watching gut-wrenching images emerge from the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.
- President Trump’s Real-World Syria Lesson (Thomas L. Friedman, 5 April 2017): With each passing day our new president is discovering that every big problem he faces is like Obamacare — if there were a good, easy solution it would have been found already, and even the less good solutions are more than his own party is ready to pay for or the country is ready to tolerate. But on Tuesday, tragically, Trump got this lesson in foreign policy via a truly vile poison-gas attack on Syrian civilians, many of them children, reportedly perpetrated by the pro-Russian, pro-Iranian, murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad.
- Trump condemns Syria chemical attack and suggests he will act (Anne Gearan, 5 April 2017): President Trump confronted the enormity of the six-year-old Syrian conflict on Wednesday, acknowledging that he now bears responsibility for a war his predecessor could not end, but offering no specifics on what he could do differently.
- WHO alarmed by use of highly toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria (WHO, 5 April 2017): The likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death. Some cases appear to show additional signs consistent with exposure to organophosphorus chemicals, a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents.
- World Health Organization: Syria chemical attack likely involved nerve agent (Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria, 5 April 2017): A chemical attack that killed scores of civilians in Syria probably involved a banned nerve agent, top medical groups concluded Wednesday, as the United States and European allies at the U.N. Security Council demanded an investigation.
- This GOP congressman still doesn’t believe that Assad is behind the Syrian attack (Karoun Demirjian, 5 April 2017): Sen. Marco Rubio called on Wednesday any denial of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s responsibility for a chemical attack in his own country “grotesque” and “fake news at the highest.” But one Republican House colleague does not agree.
- Trump on Syria: ‘I now have responsibility’ (Abby Phillip, 5 April 2017): President Trump on Wednesday acknowledged that he is now responsible for handling the ongoing conflict in Syria, but would not say how he intends to address Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of a chemical weapon in a deadly attack on civilians this week.
- Trump and his ‘America First’ philosophy face first moral quandary in Syria (Greg Jaffe, 5 April 2017): President Trump has vowed to follow a radically new approach to foreign policy that jettisons the costly mantle of moral leadership in favor of America’s most immediate economic and security interests.
- Syrian Chemical Attack Is Assad’s Message To The World, Activists Say (Jesselyn Cook, 5 April 2017): The gruesome chemical weapons attack that left scores dead in Syria this week was not only a gross violation of international law ― it was also a bold display of defiance to world leaders, activists and humanitarian workers say. The horrific assault was launched while global powers met in Brussels to discuss the Syrian conflict.
- Iran slams chemical attack in Syria, urges disarmament of terrorist groups (PressTV, 5 April 2017): Iran has strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, underling the need for disarming terrorists operating in the Arab country.
- Syria chemical attack has changed my view of Assad, says Trump (Julian Borger, David Smith and Jennifer Rankin, 5 April 2017): Donald Trump has described the chemical attack in Idlib province which killed more than 70 people as an “affront to humanity”, but offered little clue to any new strategy to end the violence in Syria.
- NATO Secretary General condemns reported chemical weapons attack in Syria (NATO Press Release, 5 April 2017): I condemn the horrendous attacks in the province of Idlib in Syria, which killed dozens of people, including many children, reportedly by the use of chemical weapons. This is the third report of the use of these barbaric weapons in the last month alone. All those responsible must be held to account.
- Mikdad Hands OPCW, UN Evidence: Terrorists Transport Toxic Substances into Syria (Almanar, 5 April 2017): Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister FaIsal Mikdad stressed that a few weeks ago, the Syrian government provided the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with information on the transporting of toxic substances into Syria by al-Nusra Front terrorist organization, affirming that Syria stands against using chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, and under any circumstances.
- Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war (DEBKAfile, 5 April 2017): Seven nations maintain elite military units in Syria – the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Jordan and Israel. American, Russian and Turkish troops are backed by air support. Had those powers decided to destroy the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s poison chemical arsenal, they could have combined to do so and finished the job in a few days – and this week’s horrific tragedy possibly been averted.
- Russia challenges Trump to say what he would do about Syria (Matthew Chance and Angela Dewan, 6 April 2017): Russia has challenged US President Donald Trump to set out his strategy on Syria after he said an apparent chemical weapons attack had transformed his views on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
- Syria chemical ‘attack’: Damascus attaches conditions to UN inquiry (BBC, 6 April 2017): The Syrian foreign minister has set out conditions for any UN investigation into the deaths of dozens of people from a chemical agent on Tuesday. Walid Muallem told the BBC it would have to be non-political, involve “many countries” and “start from Damascus” before his government could accept.
- EU Declaration by the High Representative on the alleged chemical attack in Idlib, Syria (European Council, 6 April 2017): Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alleged chemical attack in Idlib, Syria.
- The Sarin Gas Attack In Syria Ignited an Information Battle (Patrick Tucker, 6 April 2017): Victims quickly took to social media to distribute evidence of the use of chemical weapons.
The first response to the April 4 gas attack in Syria wasn’t bombs; it was bits.
- Merkel blames Assad regime for Syria chemical attack (The New Arab, 6 April 2017): German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there were indications that the Syrian regime was responsible for Tuesday’s chemical attack on a rebel-held Khan Sheikhun and subsequent bombing of a hospital.
- Syrian regime blames opposition, Daesh for chemical attack (TRT World, 6 April 2017): Regime Foreign Minister Walid al Moualem denied accusations that Syria used chemical weapons. He blamed Daesh and the opposition, saying they have been storing banned toxic agents.
- It’s time for action on Syria’s chemical weapons, not pointing fingers (Rebecca Hersman, 6 April 2017): The United States must push for action in the Security Council and hold Russia to account for shielding Assad’s atrocities. The Trump administration should insist on the immediate insertion of investigators on the ground to gather critical physical evidence, interview witnesses and victims, and ensure that the full record of these crimes is not lost. The Russian theory that the massacre resulted from the bombing of a rebel-held chemical weapons storage facility seems highly implausible, but could be verified or refuted easily with a swift investigation.
- Russia still backing Syrian regime despite horrific sarin attack (Robert Cusack, 6 April 2017): Russia pledged its continuing support for the Syrian regime on Wednesday, despite a horrific sarin-gas attack on the village of Khan Sheikhun in opposition-held Idlib province on Tuesday.
- Moscow insists chemical weapons were not used in Syria’s Idlib (Tass, 6 April 2017): Russia insists that chemical weapons were not used in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday.
- Bulgarian government condemns use of chemical weapons in Syria (Imanuel Marcus, 7 April 2017): The Foreign Ministry under caretaker minister Radi Naidenov released a statement in which it reads, that attack on April 4, 2017 was “inadmissible, unacceptable and constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law.”
- NK highlights friendly ties with Syria amid chemical weapon attack row (Yonhap, 7 April 2017): North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a congratulatory message to Syria over the founding anniversary of the country’s ruling party, Pyongyang’s media said Friday, amid global condemnation against Damascus’s suspected chemical weapon attack on civilians.
- Russia rejects allegations of chemical warfare agents at Syrian air base as groundless (Tass, 7 April 2017): The statements that the nerve gas sarin was present at the Syrian air base in Homs that was hit by a missile strike are groundless, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Ulyanov told TASS on Friday.
- OPCW’s decision not to probe into chemical attacks in Syria led to falsifications – Moscow
(Tass, 8 April 2017): The decision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) not to arrange an investigation on the ground of reports about chemical attacks in Syria has created perfect conditions of falsifications, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday.
- Kazakh UN envoy calls for joint efforts and compromises to find political solution to conflict in Syria (Aigerim Seisembayeva, 8 April 2017): The most difficult times call for greatest efforts and also the greatest of compromises, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United Nations Kairat Umarov said April 7 at the extraordinary UN Securiy Council consultations on the situation in Syria. That is why Kazakhstan, with an ever stronger impetus, calls on all parties concerned to refrain from actions that could increase risks of military escalation in Syria.
- Iran Calls for Setting Commission to Investigate Alleged Syria Chemical Attack (Sputnik, 8 April 2017): Iran called for creating a special commission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapon in Syria following the US missile attack on the country’s airfield in response to the incident, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday.
- Russia to blame for Syria deaths – Sir Michael Fallon (BBC, 9 April 2017): Russia is to blame for “every civilian death” in the chemical weapons attack last week in Syria, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has claimed.
UN Security Council debates
- France wants U.N. Security Council to meet after ‘disgusting’ Syria gas attack (Reuters, 4 April 2017): France’s foreign minister called on Tuesday for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after what he said was a “disgusting” gas attack on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province.
- Syria civil war: UN calls emergency talks after ‘gas attack’ (BBC, 5 April 2017): The UN Security Council is to hold emergency talks after a suspected chemical attack in Syria left dozens of civilians dead and wounded.
- Syria: Briefing and Vote on Draft Resolution on the Use of Chemical Weapons (What’s In Blue, 5 April 2017): This morning (5 April), the Security Council is holding a briefing on the reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. France and the UK requested the meeting following the chemical weapons attack in the Khan Shaykhun area of Idlib in which at least 60 civilians were killed, including many children.
- Russia Rejects Trump Administration’s U.N. Bid To Condemn Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack (Colum Lynch, 5 April 2017): Russia bluntly rejected a push by the United States, Britain and France in the Security Council to condemn Tuesday’s deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria as “completely unacceptable,” heading off Western efforts to compel President Bashar al-Assad’s government to disclose intelligence on the actions of its air force on the day of the attack. Nikki Haley warns of possible U.S. action against Syria if the Security Council fails to respond to Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack.
- Nikki Haley Asks Russia ‘How Many More Children Have To Die’ After Syria Gas Attack (Nick Robins-Early, 5 April 2017): U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issued sharp criticism Wednesday of Russian actions in Syria, asking the U.N. Security Council, “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?”
- Nikki Haley Says U.S. May ‘Take Our Own Action’ on Syrian Chemical Attack (Somini Sengupta and Rick Gladstone, 5 April 2017): Holding photographs of dead Syrian children after a chemical bomb attack, the United States ambassador to the United Nations warned on Wednesday that her country might take unilateral action if the Security Council failed to respond to the latest atrocity in the Syria war.
- Mounting confidence nerve gas was used in Syria attack (Philip Issa and Sarah El Deeb, 5 April 2017): Diplomats at the U.N. Security council sparred Wednesday over whether to hold President Bashar Assad’s government responsible for a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people in northern Syria, while U.S. intelligence officials, Doctors Without Borders and the U.N. healthy agency said evidence pointed to nerve gas exposure.
- US will take action on Syrian chemical attacks if UN doesn’t (Washington Post, 5 April 2017): U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Wednesday that the Trump administration will take action against chemical attacks in Syria that bear “all the hallmarks” of President Bashar Assad’s government if the U.N. Security Council fails to act.
- Syria determined to carry out its obligations towards OPCW, rejects forging facts (SANA, 5 April 2017): Acting charge d’Affairs of Syria’s permanent delegation to the UN Munzer Munzer affirmed that Syria is determined to carry out all its obligations it has committed to when it joined the Chemical Weapons’ Convention (OPCW) and it totally rejects fabricating accusations or forging the facts.
- Security Council, 7915th Meeting* (AM) (UN, Summary report, 5 April 2017): Chemical-Weapons Attack in Syria Was Largest Such Event Since 2013, Disarmament Affairs Chief Tells Security Council. Syria’s Representative Says His Country Faces Twin-Aggression by Permanent Members, Terrorists Enjoying Their Support.
- Russia Draft Resolution on Khan Shaykhun: UN Access to “site of the incident” (Document, 6 April 2017).
- US, UK, France Blue Draft on Syria (Document, 6 April 2017).
- Security Council Meeting on US Airstrikes in Syria (What’s In Blue, 7 April 2017): This morning, the Security Council is expected be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, on yesterday’s strikes by the US on the Shayrat airbase outside of Homs in Syria. Bolivia had asked for a briefing from the Secretariat in consultations, but it seems that the US, as president of the Council this month, chose to hold a public briefing.
- U.S., Other Nations Challenge Russia’s Claim That Toxic Gas Came From Rebel Weapons Facility (Patrick Goodenough, 6 April 2017): Amid a barrage of international criticism directed at its Syrian ally, Russia argued Wednesday that those killed by a toxic agent in Syria’s Idlib province were the victims not of chemical-laced bombs dropped by the regime’s planes, but of chemicals released when the air force bombed a rebel storage facility. The suggestion was challenged during an “emergency meeting” of the U.N. Security Council, where Western nations laid the responsibility for the attack at the door of the Assad regime.
- New UN Resolution on Syria Not Needed if US, UK, France Change Attitude – Moscow (Sputnik, 6 April 2017): No new UN Security Council resolutions on the reported chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib this week would be needed if the original US-UK-French attitude was overhauled, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Thursday.
- Pressure mounts on Syria as Russia backs chemical attack investigation (The National, 6 April 2017): Russia on Thursday said it was in favour of a full investigation into the poison gas attack which killed more than 80 people in north-west Syria.
- UN divided over Syria gas probe as US launches missile strike (Carole Landry, 7 April 2017): The UN Security Council failed Thursday to reach agreement on demands for a thorough investigation of the suspected chemical attack in Syria, as the United States launched a barrage of missiles against a Syrian airfield. During a closed-door meeting, the top UN body discussed three separate draft resolutions on the inquiry, but there was no vote on any of the texts.
US retaliatory strikes
- White House backs Haley, Tillerson on Syria’s Assad (Reuters, 31 March 2017): The White House on Friday backed top aides’ comments that the United States is not now focused on making Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leave power, saying the U.S. focus is on defeating Islamic State militants.
- US wants to bring Assad to justice for his crimes: Haley (Press Trust of India, 2 April 2017): America wants to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to justice as he used chemical weapons and killed his own people, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said. “In addition to that, we’re going to fight ISIS. We’re going to try and bring stability back to the area. You don’t have to have one or the other. We’ve got a lot of important issues.
- UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Calls Assad A ‘War Criminal,’ But She May Still Work With Him (Nick Visser, 4 April 2017): She said earlier the U.S. was no longer focused on “getting Assad out.”
- Dozens of U.S. Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria (Michael R. Gordon, Helene Cooper and Michael D. Shear, 6 April 2017): The United States carried out a missile attack in Syria on Thursday night in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week that killed more than 80 civilians, American officials said.
- Trump administration on Syria strikes: ‘Russia faces a choice’ (Josh Rogin, 6 April 2017): President Trump made a statement on April 6 after U.S. forces launched more than 50 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late Thursday.
- U.S. Conducts First Direct Military Strike Against Assad Regime In Syria (Jessica Schulberg and Mollie Reilly, 6 April 2017): The U.S. military launched its first direct attack at the Syrian government on Thursday, marking an escalation of American involvement in the country’s six-year civil war. Trump says the attack was in the “national security interest” after the use of poison gas to kill Syrian civilians.
- Trump enforces the ‘red line’ on chemical weapons (David Ignatius, 6 April 2017): Even for a president who advertised his coldblooded pragmatism, the moral dimensions of leadership find a way of penetrating the Oval Office. In the case of President Trump, the emotional distance seems to have been shattered by simple, indelible images of suffering children in Idlib, Syria.
- U.S. Policy In Syria Is Being Determined By The News Cycle (Sam Stein and Jessica Schulberg, 6 April 2017): President Donald Trump reversed his position after seeing haunting images showing victims of a chemical weapons attack in Syria. The news cycle is once more having an outsized impact on his geopolitical worldview.
- Syria decries ‘aggression’ as US launches cruise missiles (By Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, 7 April 2017): Syria decried a U.S. missile attack early Friday morning on a government-controlled air base where U.S. officials say the Syrian military launched a deadly chemical attack earlier this week, calling it an “aggression” that led to “losses.” Rebels welcomed the U.S. attack.
- What Was the Legal Basis for the U.S. Air Strikes Against Syria? (John Bellinger, 6 April 2017): The United States has just launched a missile attack against Syrian air bases, apparently in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. What legal authority for the use of force will President Trump assert under domestic and international law?
- Remarks With National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (State Department, Press briefing, 6 April 2017).
- Trump’s Attack on Syria: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Ryan Evans, 7 April 2017): Trump’s critics are already denouncing the strikes as a sign of his recklessness and America’s deepening and unwise involvement in the Syrian civil war. His supporters are celebrating the attack as a sign of the sort of American resolve that has been missing for the last eight years as well as a message to the world’s bad guys.
- Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the US strike in Syria (7 April 2017): The EU will continue to support the efforts and work of the OPCW, in particular in Syria, including the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, with regard to the investigation of the use of chemical weapons. Those found responsible should be sanctioned within the framework of the United Nations. The EU firmly believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict and is committed to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian State.
- America Should Have Hit Assad Four Years Ago (Tom Malinowski, 7 April 2017): Donald Trump is president; he now bears full responsibility for addressing the tragedy in Syria, and for the consequences of the response he has chosen. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reflect on America’s response to the Assad regime’s previous chemical weapons attacks—for how we interpret the difficult and debatable choice the Obama administration (in which I served) made not to use military force when Assad last used nerve gas against his people will shape our thinking about this and similar crises for a long time to come. The lesson I would draw from that experience is that when dealing with mass killing by unconventional or conventional means, deterrence is more effective than disarmament.
- After Chemical Attack, Asking if U.S. Remarks Emboldened Assad (Helene Cooper, 7 April 2017): On March 30, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, in separate appearances, reversed American foreign policy and said the Trump administration was not focused on getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
- Acting on Instinct, Trump Upends His Own Foreign Policy (Mark Landler, 7 April 2017): Donald J. Trump has always taken pride in his readiness to act on instinct, whether in real estate or reality television. On Thursday, an emotional President Trump took the greatest risk of his young presidency, ordering a retaliatory missile strike on Syria for its latest chemical weapons attack. In a dizzying series of days, he upended a foreign policy doctrine based on putting America first and avoiding messy conflicts in distant lands.
- Trump’s airstrike: a convenient U-turn from a president who can’t be trusted (Jonathan Freedland, 7 April 2017): Sometimes the right thing can be done by the wrong person. Donald Trump’s bombing of a Syrian airfield seems to belong in that category, though even that verdict depends on events yet to unfold. For one thing, we don’t yet know if the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles that rained down on the Shayrat base in the early hours of Friday morning were a one-off or the start of something more.
- Iran strongly condemns ‘dangerous’ US strike on Syria airbase (PressTV, 7 April 2017): Iran has strongly condemned a US cruise missile attack on a Syrian army airbase near the west-central city of Homs, calling it “destructive and dangerous”.
- Syrian Government Sure to React to US Sha’irat Airfield Strike – Ambassador (Sputnik, 7 April 2017): The Syrian government is certain to react to the US missile strike against the Syrian army in the Homs province, Riad Abbas, the country’s ambassador to India, told Sputnik on Friday.
- Syria: US warns Assad over using chemical weapons again (Spencer Ackerman and Julian Borger, 8 April 2017): The US says it has put Bashar al-Assad on notice that it will take further military action if he uses chemical weapons again, while appearing to back away from wider military involvement in the Syrian conflict, less than 24 hours after launching Tomahawk missiles at a regime airbase.
- KRG supports strikes against Syria, calls ‘chemical attack’ inhumane (Rudaw, 8 April 2017): The Kurdish government has strongly condemned what it called an “inhumane” chemical attack committed against the Syrian people in the northwestern city of Idlib, saying that the attack opened Kurdish wounds from the infamous chemical attack against the city of Halabja nearly three decades ago that killed 5,000 people.
- PYD leader: US strikes should target all who use chemical weapons in Syria (Rudaw, 8 April 2017): The co-leader of the main Kurdish party in Syrian Kurdistan, Salih Muslim, has called on the US to extend strikes against every Syrian party that has chemical weapons.
- Despite U.S. missile barrage, Syria continues airstrikes against rebels (Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria, 8 April 8 2017): Residents of the Syrian town devastated by a chemical weapons attack earlier this week said warplanes had returned to bomb them Saturday, despite a U.S. missile barrage and warnings of possible further response.
- Trump Is About To Find Out Why Obama Avoided Military Intervention In Syria (Jessica Schulberg, 8 April 2017): It’s not clear whether the president has a plan to manage the fallout of strikes against the Assad regime.
- Cruise Missile Hypocrisy (Sen. Chris Murphy, 8 April 2017): Military strikes never happen in isolation — the before and after are arguably even more important than the strike itself. As a theoretical matter, a targeted military strike in response to a major violation of non-conventional weapons norms is justifiable. Why have rules against chemical weapons use if no one is going to pay a price for violating the rules? International norms should be upheld by the international community—not the United States acting alone—but it’s hard to argue against Trump’s action last night when viewed in isolation as a response to Assad’s barbaric attack.
- A Strike in Syria Restores Our Credibility in the World (Tom Cotton, 8 April 2017): After President Bashar al-Assad of Syria once again attacked his own citizens with poison gas, the civilized world recoiled in horror at images of children writhing in pain and suffocating to death. President Trump voiced this justified outrage at a news conference on Wednesday, and the next day he took swift, decisive action against the outlaw Assad regime. But these strikes did more than simply punish Mr. Assad and deter future attacks; they have gone a long way to restoring our badly damaged credibility in the world.
- OPCW refuses to comment on US air strike at military airbase in Syria (Tass, 8 April 2017): The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Friday it will provide no comments on the United States’ air strike at a military airbase in Syria’s Homs Governorate that the United States claims to be a response to the presumable use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4.
- As warplanes return to scene of sarin attack, Trump defends missile launch (David Smith, Emma Graham-Harrison, Kareem Shaheen and Alan Yuhas, 8 April 2017): In the quiet streets of Khan Sheikhun, people mourned the dead from a sarin attack, bracing for the next raid. At an airbase near Homs, government warplanes roared back into action, their targets unknown. And not far from his golf course in south Florida, the president of the United States cried out a defense on Twitter.
- Continued bombing by Assad shows limits of single U.S. attack (David Nakamura, 8 April 2017): President Trump on Saturday praised the U.S. military for carrying out the missile attack on a Syrian airfield and struck back at mounting questions over whether it would help achieve a momentum shift in Syria’s bloody civil war. In an afternoon tweet, Trump defended the operation against criticism from some members of Congress and military analysts that the nighttime volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles two days earlier did not target the runways at the Shayrat air base in eastern Syria.
- Washington is confused by Trump’s act. What became of America First? (Anne McElvoy, 9 April 2017): On Tuesday, as Khan Sheikhun became the latest place name to be added to Syria’s map of horrors, I was sitting in the Beaux Arts splendour of the Senate buildings in Washington for an interview with John McCain. McCain was on forthright form, berating secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, for empty rhetoric and leaving the Syrians to sort out their own fate.
Status of CW disarmament in Syria
- Syrian Attack Defies 2013 Chemical-Weapons Deal (Julian E. Barnes And Maria Abi-Habib, 6 April 2017): Alleged use of sarin gas invites questions about how Assad regime retained or acquired banned agents, and why it apparently opted to use them. The 2013 international agreement that averted a campaign of U.S. air strikes on Syria was supposed to have stripped the government of President Bashar al-Assad of its declared stockpiles of chemical weapons.
- Media Brief: Reported Use of Chemical Weapons, Southern Idlib, Syria, 4 April 2017 (OPCW, 6 April 2017): Factsheet and links to relevant documents.
- Syria’s government was supposed to have gotten rid of its chemical weapons in 2014. So what happened? (Matt Pearce, 6 April 2017): There’s a mystery at the heart of an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria this week: Syria’s government, suspected of carrying out the attack, was supposed to have gotten rid of all its chemical weapons in 2014.
- Pentagon memo: Syria has ‘ridiculously huge’ stockpile of sarin gas (Rowan Scarborough, 6 April 2017): Syria produced a “ridiculously huge amount” of deadly sarin gas, says an internal Defense Department memo written amid the Obama administration’s effort to remove and destroy all the country’s chemical weapons.
- Weren’t Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destroyed? It’s Complicated (Scott Shane, 7 April 2017): When the Syrian government carried out a gruesome chemical attack on civilians this week, many people had a question: Didn’t the Obama administration, working with Russia and international experts, destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stocks in 2014?
- Why Did Syria Still Have Chemical Weapons? (Nick Tabor, 7 April 2017): Syria’s chemical weapons were supposed to be gone as of 2014, thanks to a removal plan the U.S. and Russia had brokered with the United Nations. For an explanation, we spoke with Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based Arms Control Association, immediately after the attack was announced.
- Syria’s Chemical Weapons Kill Chain (Gregory Koblentz, 7 April 2017): There’s a long list of Syrian officials with blood on their hands — but the culpability goes all the way to the top.
- After Syria, is there still a taboo against the use of chemical weapons? (Richard Price, 7 April 2017): It was easy to rest with the conclusion that the global norm against chemical weapons was weakened by these violations. Many believe it was shattered when President Barack Obama did not bomb the Syrian regime in 2013. But a deal, made with Syria’s ally Russia, removed far more of the lethal chemical weapons than any military attack would have.
- Why Does Syria Still Have Chemical Weapons? (Robert Windrem, 7 April 2017): U.S. and U.N. officials said Friday that it’s entirely possible that Syria’s Bashar Assad regime not only retained a significant stockpile of nerve agents despite U.N. efforts to destroy them, but may also have regained its ability to manufacture more.
- Secret SAS mission to destroy Assad’s stockpile of deadly Sarin gas four years ago ‘was aborted at the last minute over safety fears’ (Martin Robinson, 7 April 2017): An audacious SAS mission to secretly enter Syria and destroy Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal of chemical weapons was aborted at the last minute by David Cameron, it was revealed today.
- S/Leone: Parliament hosts regional gathering on biological weapons convention (APA-Freetown, 27 March 2017): Sierra Leone is hosting a two-day confab of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) designed to promote the speeding up of efforts for the ratification and implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).
- OPCW twenty years in The Hague (Alexander W. Beelaerts van Blokland, 1 April 2017): In April 2017 The Hague will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. The OPCW’s aims are monitoring non-proliferation of chemical weapons, collecting evidence of the destruction of chemical weapons, giving assistance and protection to all member states (almost all countries in the world) and promoting international cooperation in peaceful chemistry. The OPCW is a fully independent, autonomous international organization, with a working staff of 500, representing some 70 nationalities and has an official working relationship with the UN.
- MPs Host BWC Workshop (S. U. Thoronka, 1 April 2017): MPs were this week engaged in a regional West Africa Parliamentary workshop to promote ratification and implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) at Committee Room No1 in Parliament.
- OPCW DG opens successful NCT Asia & SISPAT 2017 with over 600 delegates (Portal Team, 3 April 2017): Organized in official partnership with DSO National Laboratories from Singapore, NCT Asia & SISPAT 2017 hosted three separate conferences: NCT CBRNe Asia, NCT eXplosive Asia and the 8th edition of SISPAT, sharing an exhibition area with 43 sponsors and exhibitors.
- Can Bill Gates rescue the Bioweapons Convention? (Gregory D. Koblentz and Paul F. Walker, 3 April 2017): Global efforts to combat bioterrorism and strengthen international health security face a major crisis: The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention is in dire financial straits.
- Chemical agents: What they are, what they do, how they’re regulated (Jamie Mullick, 6 April 2017): Among the most commonly used chemical weapons are mustard gas, phosgene, chlorine, and the nerve agents Sarin and VX.
- Debugging the details on biological warfare (Milton Leitenberg, 7 April 2017): The March 28 Style article “Can insects truly be weapons, as on ‘The Americans’?” was mistaken in virtually every statement it made regarding biological weapons.
- The ‘biological Chernobyl’: Day death came on the wind (Benedict Brook, 4 April 2017): This weekend marked 38 years since the Sverdlovsk leak. Also known as the “biological Chernobyl” the incident at a top secret Soviet weapons factory was covered up for more than a decade.
- Could Britain have sold sarin chemicals to Assad’s regime? (Jamie Doward, 8 April 2017): Evidence that the sarin nerve agent was used in the chemical attack that killed more than 80 and injured hundreds of others in Syria’s northern province of Idlib last week has triggered awkward questions for the government over the part played by the UK in the Assad regime’s development of a chemical weapons programme.
Other allegations of CBW use
- UN, OPCW chiefs warn N. Korea over use of chemical weapon (Yonhap, 4 April 2017): The heads of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have sent a letter to North Korea, issuing a warning over the regime’s use of a prohibited chemical weapon in the recent assassination of the North Korean leader’s half brother, according to the foreign ministry here on Tuesday.
- Scribes tortured for exposing Darfur chemical warfare (Raji Bashir, 6 April 2017): Two filmmakers abducted and detained for investigating human rights violations in Darfur have been brutalized in prison. Commissioned by a United Kingdom television station, Phil Cox, a British national, and Daoud Hari, a Darfuri translator, were probing reports Sudanese security forces had used chemical weapons against civilians in Jebel Marra between January and August 2016.
- Anonymous parcel containing anthrax powder arrives at Infosys in Chennai, demands Rs 500 crore (News Nation Bureau, 7 April 2017): A suspicious parcel containing white powder, proclaiming it to be Anthrax was delivered at Sholinganallur office of Infosys on Tuesday.
Riot control agents
- Police fire pepper spray at opposition march in Venezuela (Joshua Goodman, 4 April 2017): Venezuelan riot police fired pepper spray and tear gas to disperse an angry crowd of several thousand anti-government demonstrators trying to make their way to congress on Tuesday in the country’s largest and most violent protests in months. At least nine people were injured, one of them with a bullet wound.
- Sen. Rob Portman Wants Trump To Press China On Fentanyl Manufacturing (Jason Cherkis, 5 April 2017): Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sees President Donald Trump’s Thursday meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as an opportunity to address a key driver of the opioid epidemic. Portman encouraged the president to confront the Chinese leader about his country’s manufacturing of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
- The horrors of the Syrian chemical weapon attack were first widely witnessed in World War I (Michael E. Ruane, 5 April 2017): The Syrian government’s chemical weapon attack, with its images of dead children, coincides with this week’s 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, where chlorine, mustard gas, and other poisons were widely used.
- Chemical weapons testing at Edgewood Arsenal through the years (Christina Tkacik, 6 April 2017): Construction of the Edgewood Arsenal began just one year before Armistice Day, on Nov. 11, 1918. Less than 30 miles from Baltimore, the facility would later become part of neighboring Aberdeen Proving Ground.
- The invention of sarin was an accident. A German scientist was trying to kill bugs. (Michael S. Rosenwald, 7 April 2017): The enemy wasn’t Syrian rebels. It was the weevil, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards.
- UNC-Chapel Hill, Russian scientists create biological shield against nerve gas, pesticides (Thania Benios, 3 April 2017): Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Moscow State University have created a new way to package and deliver a potent enzyme that can reverse — and even prevent — poisoning by pesticides and nerve gas, including sarin, which has been used worldwide as a chemical weapon and estimated to be 26 times more deadly than cyanide, and VX.
- Colorado doctor researching antidotes for chemical weapons like ones used in Syria (Jaclyn Allen, 7 April 2017): A University of Colorado School of Medicine doctor is doing groundbreaking research to find antidotes for chemical weapons like the ones used in the deadly attacks in Syria.
- Chemical inactivation of bacillus anthracis spores in soil (Patent, US 20170064963 A1): Abstract: A method of inactivating B antracis spores in a contaminated target environment by: exposing the environment containing said spores to an effective amount of persulfate in solution and an oxidation agent, and allowing the persulfate solution and oxidation agent to remain in contact with the environment containing said spores for sufficient time to inactivate the spores.