On Sunday (Sept 1, 2013), the Obama administration indicated evidence that the Syrian regime has relied on chemical warfare to quell the current insurrection. In what could be the gravest chemical weapons attack in 25 years, the Assad administration reportedly used the nerve toxin sarin to wipe out 1,400 insurgents and civilians in their sleep. Anger and frustration aside, the purported attacks have inspired confusion, with countless people asking themselves how a chemical agent can do such horrifying damage.
According to Agence France-Presse, sarin is a nerve agent developed by Nazi scientists in 1938. Originally derived from a pesticide, the odorless, paralyzing toxin has been used extensively by terror organization as well as genocidal regimes to kill thousands. Inhalation of about 200 milligrams results in death within minutes, leaving no time for symptoms to develop.
I – Word Understanding
to quell the current insurrection – to weaken the people fighting against the Syrian government
insurgents – people fighting against the government
genocidal regimes – government (or management) that kill many people belonging to certain race, political or cultural group
II – Have Your Say
1. Sarin was used in the infamous Halabja massacre of 1988, when the Iraqi regime used a cocktail of noxious agents to kill 5,000 Kurds and injure 65,000. In 1995 Tokyo subway was also attacked with sarin by the Japanese cult and terror group Aum Shinrikyo.
2. As of 2012, only four nations are confirmed as having chemical weapons: the United States, Russia, North Korea and Syria. Do we really need chemical weapons?