The Use of Chemical Weapons in Combat: Selective Outrage Again By the West

By Scott Morgan

It has been universally agreed that the use of chemical weapons by parties in active combat is an abomination. The Islamic State or Daesh has been criticized for their use in Syria. Government Forces have used these weapons as well according to the UN. But weren’t all chemical weapons supposed to have been removed from Syria?

The answer is a resounding yes. Who doesn’t remember the infamous Red Line drawn by President Obama, back in 2012, when it came to Chemical Weapons? He used the Carrot and Stick approach to entice the Assad Regime to negotiate the turnover of the Government’s Arsenal of Chemical Weapons. However, the Syrian Opposition was not bound to turn over any weapons in their arsenal. Reports indicate that in recent weeks these weapons were used in the Aleppo area.

Map of Aleppo Province

The questions now become which member of the opposition has used them? And even more of a concern is which country has been supplying them? The answer to the second question is much easier to answer. The main backers of the Opposition whether they are Islamist or Democratic have been Turkey and Saudi Arabia. As for the Chemical Weapons that question may be more difficult to answer. The reason for the difficulty is that it has to be determined whether or not they were directly supplied or if the weapons were captured when Government installations were overran.

It is known that in late 2012 the Al-Nusra Front overran a Base that was a key component in the Syrian Weapons Program. Chemical Weapons have been used randomly in Syria since this date. However, the ISIS controlled territory also includes a good chunk of neighboring Iraq as well. How has the media been covering any attacks there?

So far this year, there has been at least one Chemical Attack in Iraq. The attack was considered to be a small scale attack with one person killed and 30 more injured but it has not garnered the outrage that any previous attacks in Syria generated. The reason for concern in this attack is that ISIS used a college campus outside of Mosul to prepare the weapons used here.

Attack against the Turkmen earlier this year

This has not been the only documented use of chemical weapons since the rise of ISIS. In August 2015, the Pentagon confirmed the use of Chemical Weapons being used against the Peshmerga during that round of fighting around the Mosul area.

So why the dichotomy here? Is it a matter of who has better public relations? That is a possible answer. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has thrived with its relations with the United States since the end of the Second Persian Gulf War that ended in 1991. The Syrian Opposition that is not connected with Al-Qaeda or ISIS has a good connection with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. However, the Turkmen and other religious minorities in Iraq have no such advocates in the West.

Does this raise a potential problem? The short and easy answer is in the affirmative. The Turkmen and other religious minorities have suffered at the hands of ISIS/Daesh as well. Their women and children have been taken away from their families for a life of suffering in servitude. In some cases the women have been used as sex slaves as well. However, there has been no mention of these actions being carried out by the Major Media Outlets.

Another key oversight also has to be the Chemical Weapons. Even though ISIS has been able to produce Chemical Weapons outside of Mosul there has been no attempt to investigate whether or not reports of assistance from Turkey can be verified. Nor has there been any attempt to discern if these weapons have been transferred from Syria to Iraq.

As for the players in this drama, the failed coup attempt in Turkey is not expected to alter their position in Syria. Russia is still going to support the Assad Regime the US will support the KRG and some of the insurgents inside Syria. The Saudis and Qatar have their own faction to support as well. But it appears that some of the Smaller Sects like the Turkmen and Yezhdis are scrounging for allies.

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Saudi Arabia and Turkey supplying chemical weapons to Syrian rebels comes as no surprise. The question is what are we going to do to stop them? We talk talk talk but these countries continue to do shit, why?

  2. The west is a hypocrite and I'm tired of people saying that we have to adjust case by case and if so then no wonder we're in this sorry state of affairs, right? I'm with Bernard, what are we going to do to Saudis and Turkey?

  3. What do the Turkmen need and why should big powers support them?


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