Mass graves for the hundreds of civilians who died in sarin attacks on the Syrian town of Zamalka in eastern Ghouta in August 2013. After the attacks the Syrian government, under the threat of US military retaliation, agreed to the elimination of its chemical weapons but was able to keep its stockpiles of chlorine, which it has reportedly used in attacks on civilians.
Article initially published by The New York Review on May, 7 2015 and written by Annie Sparrow
Chlorine, which is widely used for water purification, sanitation, and the manufacture of modern medicines, is essential for human well-being in today’s world. As epidemics of waterborne diseases escalate across Syria in besieged and opposition-held areas, the Syrian government’s systematic withholding of the primary means to decontaminate water in these areas can be considered an indirect weapon of mass destruction. However, although minute quantities of chlorine are life-saving, if too much is inhaled in its gaseous form, it can cause death in under thirty minutes. Recently, the Syrian government has used chlorine directly against civilians as a chemical weapon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has thus transformed a principal element of public health into a tool of both disease and terror.
Read the full article on nybooks.com