How do chemical weapons kill?

Chemical agents are weapons of choice in warfare given their low costs, easy accessibility, effective killing capacity, and extensive scope of effect

How do chemical weapons kill?

World Bulletin/News Desk

The death of 1,300 people in a chemical attack in Syria near capital Damascus Wednesday confirmed claims about the existence of a deadly chemical arsenal in Syria.

While the Syrian regime has long been suspected of possessing sarin nerve agent and mustard gas, eyewitnesses from the latest attack say that the bodies, as well as the condition of those poisoned, clearly revealed the usage of chemical weapons.

One of the doctors in the field, Khalid Mahmood, told the Anadolu Agency (AA) that the poisoned people gasped for air, vomited and they blacked out, all of which are symptoms proving they were exposed to sarin nerve agent.

Sarin is the most preferred among chemical weapons as it is the most destructive one.

It was used by the Nazis in Germany in massacres of the Jewish community, as well as by Saddam Hussein in the 1988 Halabja massacre which killed roughly 5,000 Iraqi civilians.

Another reason for the preference of sarin is that it is difficult to identify, and its usage is difficult to prove given its colorless and scentless quality.

Within a few seconds of sarin-gas exposure, victims will experience eye pain, drooling, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and irregular heart rates, convulsions, paralysis, loss of respiratory functions and eventually death.

Mustard gas is another agent believed to be in the possession of the Syrian regime. Although not as effective as sarin, mustard gas causes eye irritation, redness, burning, inflammation, even blindness, as well as itchy redness that is replaced with yellow blisters on the skin, runny or bloody nose, sneezing, hoarse throat, shortness of breath, coughing, sinus pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.

Mustard gas is mostly used, as was the case during the First World War, due to its scorching feature.

It is almost impossible to take measures to protect against either sarin or mustard gas.

On Wednesday, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said at least 1,300 people were killed in a poison attack which it blamed on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the suburbs of the Ghouta region near Damascus.

But the Syrian regime strongly denied the claim and described reports and figures as "lies and groundless," saying reports were aimed at "distracting a visiting team of United Nations chemical weapons experts from their mission."

A UN team is currently in Syria to investigate an earlier allegation of use of chemical weapons reported by the Syrian government at Khan al-Assal as well as two other allegations reported by Security Council member states.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Ağustos 2013, 16:59
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