Thursday, July 26, 2012

Syria's Chemical Weapons; A Real Concern?

With the collapse of the Assad regime drawing nigh, regional power brokers are rallying to secure the new threat of chemical and biological weapons falling into the wrong hands; whether they be inexperienced militias, Islamist radicals, or Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations sponsored by the regime. The Assad regime has been stockpiling chemical and biological weapons since the 1970s, and is believed to possess large quantities of sarin nerve gas, Tabon gas, VX gas and mustard blister agent, along with medium-range chemical warheads (SCUD B and C), artillery shells, and Ballistic missiles (SS 21) capable of carrying the chemical warheads, stored in over 37 facilities across the country. The regime has also at least four chemical weapon production facilities located in the cities of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Palmyra and al-Safira, and two storage depots in the towns of Khan Abu Shamat and Furqlus.

Activists have reported on several different incidents the regime’s use of chemical weapons against the rebels, but nothing more seems to be known about the regime’s intentions in dealing with its stockpile. Neighboring countries such as Jordan and Israel fear the regime might transport its chemical weapons to Hezbollah, as it already did with many of its missile stockpiles. On the other hand, the International Community led by the US and the Gulf fear the weapons might fall into the wrong hands that would utilize them for terrorist attacks. The International Community could cooperate with the Free Syrian Army commands to secure the chemical weapons stockpiles. The UNSC monitors could also help supervise or at least intermediate with the defected soldiers and rebels to secure the stockpiles.

For more information or commentary, please contact:

Ausama Monajed, Executive Director of Strategic Research & Communication Centre. 

Murhaf Jouejati, Ph.D., Board Member of Strategic Research and Communication Centre

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