Numerous witnesses of the Aleppo “chemical weapon” attack mentioned the smell of chlorine. This looks increasingly to be a chlorine gas bombing similar to those conducted by salafist militants in Iraq in and around 2007. Here’s a NYT article on one of them:
These are the same salafist jihadists who are flooding the Syrian borders from Iraq, Libya and every other salafist hellhole – backed fully by the US, UK and France – and paid for by the Saudis and Qataris.
It is no wonder the UK and France were pushing back against a UN investigation of the attack this week.
The Telegraph reports that the military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra – a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organization” by the US.
The American and independent weapons analysts do not believe that the regime or rebels used advanced chemical weapons last week, after studying initial intelligence reports and video coverage of survivors on state-run television.
However, they suspect that the victims were deliberately exposed to a “caustic” agent such as chlorine. This does not count as a chemical weapon, under terms laid down by international treaties, but as an improvised chemical device would represent a major escalation in the conflict.
Satellite intelligence analyzed in Washington does not indicate a major missile launch at the time of the alleged attack, but officials said there could have been a “creative use” of a caustic agent.
CL17 is normal chlorine for swimming pools or industrial purposes. It is rated as Level 2 under the chemical weapons convention, which means it is dual purpose – it can be used as a weapon as well as for industrial or domestic purposes. Level 1 agents are chemicals whose sole use is as weapons, such as the nerve agents sarin or tabun.
There has been extensive experimentation by insurgents in Iraq in the use of chlorine, which is harmful when mixed with water to form hydrochloric acid. It vaporizes quickly, meaning that in a big explosion it will evaporate; in a small blast – for instance, one delivered by a home-made rocket – it will turn into airborne droplets before dispersing quickly.
So it is likely only to produce limited casualties. In this case there were 26 fatalities, far fewer than would be expected from a full chemical weapon attack.
Editing: Debbie Menon
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