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Report: Mustard Gas Used in Syria

Report: Mustard Gas Used in Syria

ISIS…with chemical weapons?

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has concluded that mustard gas was used during a late-August attack on the Syrian town of Marea. The chemical weapon was detected during a battle between Islamic State insurgents and rebel fighters just north of the ISIS stronghold in Aleppo. OPCW’s confidential report (the media was given a peek at a summary) shows that at least two people were exposed to “sulfur mustard.”

What officials don’t know is which side unleashed it.

Via Reuters:

“It is very likely that the effects of sulfur mustard resulted in the death of a baby,” it said.

The findings provide the first official confirmation of use of sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas, in Syria since it agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, which included sulfur mustard.

The report did not mention Islamic State, as the fact-finding mission was not mandated to assign blame, but diplomatic sources said the chemical had been used in the clashes between Islamic State and another rebel group taking place in the town at the time.

“It raises the major question of where the sulfur mustard came from,” one source said. “Either they (IS) gained the ability to make it themselves, or it may have come from an undeclared stockpile overtaken by IS. Both are worrying options.”

It’s a fair question. Syria supposedly rid itself of its entire chemical weapons program back in September of 2013 amid uproar following the deaths of hundreds of people in a sarin gas attack outside of Damascus. The purging was to have been completed over a year ago—but this is Assad we’re talking about. International officials and activists have long suspected that Assad squirreled away part of his chemical weapons stockpile, which contained large amounts of mustard gas.

According to Reuters, the Syrian government has accused insurgent forces of using chemical weapons against the military, but those reports remain unsubstantiated.

Meanwhile, the US and allied forces have agreed to increase aid to rebel forces countering the influence of Assad’s Russian- and Iranian-backed push to power. The aid will include shipments of weapons and other supplies.

More from WSJ:

The deliveries from the Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi Arabia and other allied spy services deepen the fight between the forces battling in Syria, despite President Barack Obama’s public pledge to not let the conflict become a U.S.-Russia proxy war.

U.S. officials said the Obama administration is pursuing what amounts to a dual-track strategy, which aims to maintain military pressure on Mr. Assad and his Russian and Iranian supporters while U.S. diplomats see if they can ease him from power through negotiations. U.S. officials said the pressure track was meant to complement the diplomatic track by giving the U.S. leverage at the negotiating table.

Saudi and Turkish officials say the level of U.S. support for rebel groups remains insufficient, despite the latest U.S. promise to do more. Pledges to expand the weapons pipeline came as Washington sought support from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other allies in the region for a new diplomatic track that includes Russia and Iran, diplomats in the region said.

The US has made a point to emphasize the divide between Assad’s trifecta, and the rest of the world. Officials say that their goal is to direct all of their efforts into defeating ISIS, and not into a proxy war between the US and Russia:

US officials have rejected demands from both the Saudis and the Turks to keep the flow of weapons coming; the Saudis have also repeatedly asked that the US not back down from demands that Assad leave office at the end of a transition period.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller

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Comments

I hope ISIS tries to make mustard gas. Muslims are careless and sloppy. They more often than not inflict their stuff on themselves. God willing.

I recall there was speculation that Saddam Hussein transferred his chemical stockpiles to Syria.

Henry Hawkins | November 5, 2015 at 6:22 pm

While researching the chemical makeup of the various forms of mustard gas, I read that 64 million pounds of mustard and nerve agents were dumped into the ocean off the US east coast after WWII. Location records lost. Still there. Yikes.

    kermitrulez in reply to Henry Hawkins. | November 6, 2015 at 1:10 am

    It would’ve been burnt before it was dumped which probably would’ve destroyed the agents. Similar to other dumps of agents. However, the USG has spent millions upon millions of dollars buying back property and destroying chemical munitions that were thought to have been disposed of properly so who really knows.

So ISIS or another rebel group already used mustard gas in a battle between them but we’re assuming Assad. Because. Mustard gas is not hard to make. Others in the same town were already using it. But we’re blaming Assad.

He’s winning. He has the Russians on his side throwing lead downrange at the bad guys. Head choppers and baby rapers of all rebel bent are being pushed back but he’s going to risk starting something now.

Why don’t we assume it’s the side that sells children into sex slavery, chops off infant’s heads, and throws gays off of roofs that is using the mustard gas now. Since at least for now they’re using it on each other anyway.

Obama has sent troops over there, who exactly are they fighting with, who exactly are they fighting against?

We really need to know.

“That’s pretty sophisticated for a bunch of halfassed mountain boys”

buckeyeminuteman | November 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

If our CINC wasn’t such a Nancy and didn’t keep backing down on his red line in Syria and didn’t pull out of Iraq before the police force and army were ready, the entire Middle East wouldn’t have gone to hell like it has now. We have nobody to blame for the chemical weapons, ISIS, and Russians in Syria but him. And for him, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Paul In Sweden | November 7, 2015 at 2:58 am

With non-combatant dead bodies all but being stacked as cord wood in this conflict zone; pointing at one of a hundred and shacking a finger and crying chemical weapons foul seems pointless to me.

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