December 8, 2012

ADDENDUM - Syria about to use chemical weapons on its own people?

This is an addendum to my earlier article, Syria about to use chemical weapons on its own people?

This Syrian opposition video shows chemical warfare protective equipment seized following a battle between the opposition and the Syrian army on the road between Damascus and the Damascus International Airport. That area has seen some of the heaviest fighting and regime air strikes over the last month. During the past few days, the opposition has surrounded the airport in hopes of shutting it down. Several airlines have canceled flights to Damascus.

According to new reports citing "U.S. officials" as the source, the Syrians have prepared some of their chemical weapons for use. It is one thing to prepare the weapons, but there is another, equally important factor in the employment of chemical weapons - you must protect your own troops who have to operate in the chemical environment. In the intelligence business, the deployment of chemical warfare protective gear is a key indicator of potential chemical warfare use.

This video indicates that the Syrian army is issuing protective gear to its combat units.

I have gisted the Arabic narration on the video, keyed to the time code.

0:01-1:10. This materiel was seized by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) during a battle with regime forces on the [Damascus International] airport road. It consists of chemical warfare protective equipment carried in ZIL-131 vehicles. There are suits, coveralls, overshoes, filters, boxes of combat chemical protective suits.

1:10-1:33. This is decontamination equipment found in the ZIL-131 trucks. You can see the hoses, brushes, decontamination fluid and other materials.

1:34-1:50. This is poisonous material to be used by the regime in air attacks.*

1:50-2:00. These are Russian chemical warfare protective filters.

2:05-2:40. This is how the suits are worn. This gear is now in the hands of the FSA, and will be used to protect ourselves in case of a chemical attack by the regime.
* I am not sure this is accurate. Since all of the other gear appears to be defensive, I suspect it is more decontamination fluid.

Pretty sobering. If the Syrians are not planning to use chemical weapons, there is no need to issue this protective gear.