Popular Science

How Syria is still using chemical weapons in 2017

It surrendered weapons, not weapons scientists

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.

Syria’s chemical weapons are a known quantity. Built up over decades in response to a series of military defeats, stockpiles of blistering mustard and incapacitating nerve agents like Sarin and VX became a guarantee of regime survival, as President Bashar Al-Assad's dictatorship held onto power. In 2012, Syria formally declared its chemical stockpile to the world, turning an open secret into an explicit threat against foreign intervention.

Chemical weapons

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