The Syria conflict has always been horrifying, but it may soon become much, much worse. Intelligence sources have told Wired’s Danger Room that the Syrian military has begun combining the two ingredients necessary to create Sarin, a devastating chemical nerve agent that is almost always fatal.
Ordinarily, the two ingredients, rubbing alcohol and methylphosphonyl difluoride, are kept separate to prevent an accidental release. From Danger Room:
Last week, that changed. The Syrian military began combining some of the binaries. “They didn’t do it on the whole arsenal, just a modest quantity,” the official says. “We’re not sure what’s the intent.”
Back in July, the Assad regime publicly warned that it might use its chemical weapons to stop “external” forces from interfering in Syria’s bloody civil war. The announcement sparked a panic in the intelligence services of the U.S. and its allies, which stepped up their efforts to block shipments of precursors for those weapons from entering the country.
“This is a more serious moment than July,” according to the official.
Clearly the international community thinks that the ongoing civil war in Syria is about to get a lot worse before it gets better, as just today the United Nations announced it was pulling non-essential staff out of the country.
Perhaps even more worrying, at least for Americans, is that the use of chemical weapons is considered a “red line” by the Obama administration, and may warrant American intervention in the conflict. And despite Russia’s tacit support of the Assad regime, it has reportedly readied several planes to evacuate Russian nationals from the country.
Sometimes you hope the Middle East will one day get better. And then it doesn’t.