September 9, 2013
Last week, the French government released a report using declassified information to assess Syria’s chemical weapons program. The report concludes that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is in possession of “one of the largest supplies in the world” of chemical agents. Assad’s forces, the report states, have also used small-scale chemical attacks on other occasions. Below are highlights from the three-page report.
The original report in French is available on the Ministry of Defense’s website here. Translation from French courtesy of Syria Direct.
* “The analysis of information at our disposal today leads us to conclude that on August 21, 2013, the Syrian regime launched an attack on certain areas under the rebels’ control in the suburbs of Damascus using conventional means as well as a massive usage of chemical agents.”
* Syria’s chemical program began in the 1970s with the importation of chemical munitions. Since the 1980s, Damascus has sought to produce its own.
* The French government estimates Syria possesses “more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents… one of the largest supplies in the world.”
* Certain missiles in the regime’s arsenal “can carry up to several hundreds of liters of toxic agents.”
* “We have witnessed from activity in the last several years Syrian attempts on these sites [storing chemical agents] to study new methods to disperse [the gasses]. Notably, since the beginning of the conflict, our information confirms the use by the regime of weapons carrying small volumes of chemical agents, adapted for more targeted and localized tactical use.”
* “The Syrian chemical weapons program is centered around the Center for Research and Scientific Studies (CRSS). It is first and foremost in charge of producing toxic agents [for war]. The Center’s Branch 450 is responsible for filling the weapons with chemicals in addition to the security of the site and its chemical stockpiles. Made up entirely of Alawite military personnel, this unit is distinguished by a high level of loyalty for the regime.”
* “Bashar al-Assad and certain of the most influential members of his clan are the only ones authorized to give the order to use chemical weapons. The order is then transmitted to those in charge at the CRSS. The senior military officers there receive the order and decide on the targets, the type of chemical agents and the weapons in which to install them to carry it out.”