Chemical Weapons in Syria

November 2018
Background Information Summaries;11/6/2018, p1
The use of sarin gas in Syria's civil war confirmed suspicions that the Assad government possessed chemical weapons. Under threat of military action by the United States (US), Syria agreed to destroy its entire chemical weapons arsenal. Syria began acquiring chemical weapons in the 1970s for use against Israel. When civil war broke out in 2011, there was international concern that Syria's chemical weapons might be used against civilians or might fall into terrorist hands. In early 2013, the United Kingdom, France, and the US accused Syria of using sarin gas in artillery attacks on rebel-held neighborhoods. Russia disputed the evidence, saying there was no logical reason for the Syrian military to resort to desperate measures. Stronger evidence and higher casualties came after an August attack on Ghouta, near Damascus, which led to preparations by the US for a military response against the Assad regime. Russia proposed a plan for a peaceful resolution, under which Syria would destroy its chemical weapons quickly and verifiably. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) began the first stages of the nine-month plan in October and days later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013.


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