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‘In Syria chemicals a psychological weapon’

Chemical weapons for decades prohibited, but were last weekend yet again used in Syria. Possible goes for an attack with chlorine gas, also already considered that already in the eighties as an ‘obsolete weapon’. What hides behind an attack with chemical weapons?

The first reports about a new attack on Douma, in the rebellious eastern Ghouta region near the Syrian capital, Damascus, came in Saturday late. Videos of burgeractivisten showed …

The first reports about a new attack on Douma, in the rebellious eastern Ghouta region near the Syrian capital, Damascus, came in Saturday late. Videos of burgeractivisten showed faded victims, panting, in tears, with dilated pupils and no longer able to body movements to master. Here was again case of chemical weapons.

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On the nature of the substances used is no certainty. Witnesses say a chlorine odour to be smelled, others speak about a ‘toxic mixture’. The purpose of the attack, according to experts is clear: fear to sow and create uncertainty. Risk van der meer of the Clingendael Institute and Jean Pascal Zanders The Trench agree: in Syria, are chemicals used as a psychological weapon.

Afschrikeffect

Once it was different. In the First world War had chemical weapons with a military use. If the wind is a bit meezat, you could with the right amount of mustard gas the enemy a serious battle damage. But in Syria want the controllers only terrorize. It is not so much the number of victims, but to the afschrikeffect.

Jean Pascal Zanders believe that the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad – as would prove that he was behind the attack – is also quite other reasons might have chemical weapons. ‘It seems that the battle in Syria in favor of the regime is settled, it will be. In similar conflicts in the past has never been a “winner” condemned for the use of chemical weapons. That would be Assad an image of invulnerability can produce.’ In a dictatorial regime, that is of inestimable value.

But can the regime-that Assad is behind the attack, as Syria was one of the signatories of the treaty ban on the use of chemical weapons? If it is an attack with chlorine gas would go, is that treaty does not apply, says Zanders. It is one of the toxic substances that a country like Syria, for example to purify water.

Forbidden or not?

But other parties also would be relatively easy for a chloorgasaanval able to perform, adds Van der meer. When a substance such as novitsjok, which the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal poisoned, that is different. “There you have a laboratory for necessary’, what it sounds like.

According to him, there are several possibilities as it remains a prohibited substance. It could be that a country that the convention has not been ratified, responsible for the production and delivery to the regime-Assad or to any party.

But equally it could be that Assad in 2014 cannot have full stock left to destroy, or that Syria secretly new substances has produced. And is Assad still not responsible, then it’s simple: non-state actors (e.g. rebel) sign any conventions.

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