As the final elements of the Syrian regime stockpile should be on their way out of Syria, the regime is perpetuating the chemical weapons (CW) misery for the innocent civilians of Syria by dropping chlorine and ammonia barrel bombs. This is a brilliant ruse of war as it is causing more confusion and inertia among the international community. The regime did not have to declare chlorine in its stockpile of chemical weapons as it [chlorine] is not viewed as a CW today and has many domestic and commercial uses. Chlorine was the first chemical weapon. It was first used on a mass scale during the First World War (WWI) at the second battle of Ypres, Apr 22, 1915, killing 2,000 people. The victims at Ypres, like the innocent Syrian civilians, had no respirators for protection. (The subsequent distribution of respirators began to mitigate poisonous gas use later in WWI.)
I have just returned from the Syrian border with the UK Daily Telegraph, where we analysed environmental samples from Kafr Zeta and Talmenes from attacks on April 11, 18 and 21 (2014), and were handed much documentary evidence by Syrian activists who I had trained to collect evidence back in Oct 2013. These samples and evidence proved conclusively that chlorine and ammonia were used and delivered by regime helicopters. On the strength of our evidence, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the OPCW to investigate these attacks as soon as possible. However, given what we’ve seen in the past, it is unlikely that the international community will take demonstrative action. Yet with irrefutable evidence of continued CW use in Syria provided by the independent SecureBio/Daily Telegraph investigation, surely the international community cannot continue to ‘turn a Nelsonian blind eye’? In the meantime there are three things which I believe should be done ASAP to prevent further suffering of innocent civilians and reduce CW impact and hopefully, as in WWI, future use:
1) Provide basic protective equipment – respirators and decontamination.
2) Train civilians how to survive the CW attacks.
3) Instigate a helicopter No Fly Zone over rebel held territory – a No Fly Zone saved the Kurdish nation in 1991 when Saddam Hussein tried to exterminate the Kurdish race with chemical gas which began at Halabja, March 16, 1988.