Photo Credit: Handout image released by Shaam News Network, courtesy of Freedom House via Flickr.
A Syrian couple mourning in front of bodies wrapped in shrouds.

According to the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), a non-profit think tank established in 2003 in Berlin, there have been at least 336 chemical weapons attacks during the Syrian civil war, with an estimated 98% of them attributable to the Assad regime. The rest were carried out by ISIS.

The GPPi estimates that some 90% of all confirmed chemical attacks were launched after the August 2013 threat by President Obama that should the Assad regime use chemical weapons again, it would cross a red line and change his policy regarding military intervention in Syria.

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Titled “Nowhere to Hide: The Logic of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria,” the report shows that the Assad regime did not merely “get away” with its use of these banned weapons, but succeeded in using them for strategic ends.

As a result of those hundreds of chemical attacks, “more than two-thirds of Syria’s population are internally or externally displaced, and opposition-held communities have been buckling and surrendering under the cumulative weight – and eventually the mere threat – of violence, including the use of chemical weapons.”

The report points an accusing finger at the Russian military for aiding and participating in these war crimes, when “in multiple instances, such as Khan Shaykhoun in 2017, Syrian government and Russian jets bombed hospitals just after they had received victims of chemical attacks.”

The report cites “data collected and verified by the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC), 92 percent of victims of indiscriminate modes of violence – bombing, gassing, sieges – were civilians. In line with the operational patterns described earlier, conventional and chemical attacks went hand in hand. For example, one Syrian refugee who made it to Jordan recounted to Handicap International how, during a major chemical attack on the neighboring village, residents who “saw rockets” hid in their basements “in fear of the walls collapsing on them” – only to suffocate from the heavy gas.”

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