Does ISIS Have Chemical Weapons? A Year After Syrian Chemical Attack, Some Weapons Still Undeclared

From the International Business Times

On the anniversary of Syria’s brutal gas attack on its own people, the U.S. State Department said that a “number of critical issues remain unresolved” about Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons. The possibility of unaccounted chemical weapons in Syria raises the concern of whether the Islamic State may someday have access to chemical agents, given their recent gains in both Iraq and Syria.

Last year’s attack killed nearly a thousand people. There have been incidents of chlorine warfare in Syria since then; chlorine is not banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Assad has not agreed to cede those stockpiles. While chlorine is almost certainly still in Syria, it’s unlikely that the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has got their hands on it, according to Middle East experts.

If Assad is still harboring chemical agents, they would be both closely guarded and also stored in locations that ISIS has not seized, such as Damascus, said Jacob Stokes, a research analyst at the Center for New American Security.

“Countries tend to hoard these things because they think they’re effective on the battlefield,” said Ivan Eland, a senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. “There’s also the question of whether or not ISIS would be able to use these if they got them in the first place, unless the Syrians showed them how to do it. I suppose you can’t rule that out.”

According to this interview with Hamish de Bretton Gordon OBE, there are other possibilities:

ISIS is currently in control of a stockpile in two bunkers at the old Iraqi army barracks at al-Muthanna, about 45 miles from Baghdad. It contains remnants of Saddam Hussein’s stock – a couple thousand tons of chemical weapons. The only nerve agent there would be useless by now, but there’s a mustard gas that would still be viable. They have yet to break the bunkers open. They’ve also stolen radioactive isotopes from Mosul University in the last few weeks, and while they couldn’t make a chemical agent out of them, they could certainly use them to make dirty bombs.

According to this Kurdish news source, ISIS has already used chemical weapons against Kurdish forces. And according to this WSJ article, ISIS seized a former Iraqi chemical weapons facility last June.

The point being that these allegations have some basis.

Fair article but it appeared the Syrian Regime did not do that gas attack, per Bodansky and other sources.

Mounting evidence raises questions about Syrian chemical weapon attack

Special to

Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs

There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters — which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the Aug. 21 chemical strike in the Damascus suburbs was indeed a premeditated provocation by the Syrian opposition.


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