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Case Study – Syria’s Chemical and Biological Weapons Program and the Use of These Weapons

Since the uprising began in Syria in March 2011, more than 100,000 people have been killed, 1.6 million people have fled the country becoming refugees, and 4.25 million people are internally displaced 1. President Assad faces opposition from the Free Syrian Army as well as a coalition opposition group called the Syrian National Coalition 2. The United States military believes that there are 50 chemical weapon and production sites across the country with one of the main centers at Al Safir that could be at risk. The will of Assad’s forces to fight is still there, but they are struggling to combat the Syrian rebel’s gains3 until recently. At the moment there is a constant flux in who maintains the upper hand, but for the first time there is a sway in the power scale towards the Syrian regime. It is believed that the Alawites, the minority ruling party lead by president Bashar al-Assad, were desperate enough to use anything in their power to stay the ruling government, including use of any of the binary gases4 which was the case this past March through May. With this constant uncertainty of which party, faction, or militia will hold Syria’s vast chemical weapons stores, it is important to review Syria’s chemical weapons history and development to understand where the chemical and biological weapons are being stored and used today.

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