The Syrian regime is desperate enough to use anything to stay in power including using poisonous gases against civilians, an Israeli think-tank report says.
The 12-page report issued by the International Institute for Counter Terrorism in Herzliya Sunday reveals Syria has one of the largest chemical weapons arsenals in the world, including traditional chemical agents such as mustard as well as sarin gas and VX nerve agents.
Syria has been accumulating stockpiles of chemical weapons since the 1980's and is estimated to have some 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored in some 50 different cities mostly located in the north of the country, the report said.
Western specialists believe the chemical weapons production facilities for sarin and VX are located at five sites -- al-Safira, Hama, Homs, Latakia and Palmyra. Storage facilities are located al-Furqlus, Dumayram Khan Abu Shamat and the Scientific and Research Center (Centre d'Etude et Recherche Scientifique – CERS), the report says. The CERS located in Damascus is the principal facility for chemical and biological research, development and testing and production and storage, the report says.
The regime of President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on at least four occasions between March and May this year killing an estimated 100 to 150 Syrians, the report says. This was before the Aug. 21 attack in which hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed near Damascus. The report noted that Syrian and Russian officials have also accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons against civilians.
Besides the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, there is a real and immediate threat that these weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, a strong ally of the regime that have also dispatched thousands of fighters to Syria, the report notes.
Chemical weapons could also fall into the hands of pro-Syrian Palestinian organizations, the Free Syrian Army or various Islamist jihadist factions, the report warns. Because of this it is critical to continue monitoring the movement of Syrian government and opposition forces in order to evaluate in which areas the control of chemical weapons could be lost, the report notes.
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Original headline: Report: Syria has large chemical stocks
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