By Luke Vargas
July 10, 2013
UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – Chemical stockpiles found earlier this week in a Syrian rebel stronghold of Baniyas were not suited for chemical warfare, despite forceful allegations made of their danger by representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Syrian state media.
The 281 barrels of chemicals seized—described on Monday as “hazardous” and “capable of destroying a whole city, if not a whole country” by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations—are commonly used in the production of bubble bath, textiles, and medicine, according to chemical weapons experts and scientists.
Allegations of foul play came at the time when the world’s eye is fixed on the potential use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. Western nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France have threatened to intervene in the conflict if definitive proof of chemical weaponry is unearthed.
The two-year conflict has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. But experts doubt if the five substances discovered in Baniyas were fodder for chemical weaponry.
Philip Coyle, Senior Science Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, said the chemicals cited by Ja’afari are common in numerous industrial operations.
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