Assad might have hidden some of Syria’s deadliest chemical weapons

Colum Lynch reports: When Syria disclosed its long-secret chemical weapons program in December 2013, it presented international weapons inspectors with a hard-to-swallow story: One of the regime’s premier chemical weapons facilities — an underground laboratory on the outskirts of Damascus that was designed to fill Scud missiles with a lethal nerve agent — had never in fact produced Sarin.

The inspectors decided they would have to check for themselves.

In three visits to the site, known as Ha fir 1, specialists from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons started to believe they had caught Syria lying about the extent of its secret chemical-weapons development.

Samples collected at the site revealed the unmistakable presence of Sarin in the equipment used to mix the banned warfare agent and pour it into Soviet-era Scud or Tochka tactical ballistic missiles.

They also betrayed traces of precursors for another, even deadlier nerve agent, VX, that Syria did not initially acknowledge using at the site. More signatures of Sarin were detected in two mobile filling units parked aboveground at the complex. [Continue reading…]

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