Shayrat Connection

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On April 4, 2017, at about 03.30 GMT, the town of Khan Shaykun in Idlib (northwestern Syria) was stormed by the Syrian Arab Air Force. Immediately after the attack, the victims – mostly civilians – started to show symptoms of exposure to neurotoxic chemical agents. Analyses of biomedical samples suggested that sarin, a very rapidly acting, extremely lethal, and nonpersistent nerve agent, was in fact used. The Syrian regime’s WMD arsenal, especially the chemical weapons that were kept hidden from the eyes of the OPCW mission, has been managed by a small elite found in the Air Force, the Air Force Intelligence, the Military Intelligence, the Republican Guard, and the Political Security Directorate. The preferred title for the study is ‘The Shayrat Connection’ for a clear reason. Hafez al-Assad’s legacy of quelling the 1982 Hama uprising, doctrinal approaches of the Syrian chemical weapons command structure, praetorian cliques within the Syrian Arab Armed Forces, and further trajectory of the civil war all revolve around this Shayrat connection. This report concludes that the Khan Shaykun chemical attack by the Syrian regime was inevitable yet preventable.

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