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U.S. Intelligence Report: 'High Confidence' Nerve Agent Used

Celeste Alvarez |
August 30, 2013 | 6:23 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

U.S. Intelligence report.
U.S. Intelligence report.
The U.S. Intelligence Community said it had "high confidence" the Syrian regime used a nerve agent during the chemical weapons attack last Wednesday, according to the assessment they released Friday.

The report was based on several streams of information, including reports of the Syrian government planning and executing chemical weapons attacks. The report also gave laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from alleged victims, which revealed exposure to sarin, according to U.S. Intelligence.

But its findings shouldn't be so difficult to believe, said USC Professor Berj Boyajian, an expert in Islamic law and legal issues in the Middle East.

“They were one of the very few countries that did not sign the treaty,” Boyajian said, referencing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention that outlawed the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.

According to the U.S. Intelligence’s assessment, Syrian officials maintained a stockpile of numerous chemical agents, including mustard, sarin and VX. Syria is also said to have thousands of munitions ready to be used for delivering chemical warfare agents.

Initially developed as a pesticide by Germans in 1938, the man-made nerve agent is a colorless clear liquid that evaporates into a gas, which can easily spread into the environment. Symptoms following extreme exposure to sarin include loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure possibly leading to death.

Syria is one of five countries that did not sign the treaty, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Other countries whose names are absent: Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan.


Read more Neon Tommy coverage of Syria here.

Reach Staff Reporter Celeste Alvarez here or follow her on Twitter here.



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