Tags

, , ,

A lot of people are asking why we should go to war in Syria and don’t seem to understand that the question isn’t about going to war at all. Syria’s government leaders, decision-makers and generals have chosen genocide, mass murder and the use of chemical weapons and other military grade munitions for use on their own populations. That is unacceptable. It is against all of the conventions, treaties and agreements among nations that have been written and signed by the international community.

It isn’t about “fixing” Syria. It isn’t about “solving the Syria question”. It isn’t about going to war again in the Middle East nor with Syria. This is about what we choose to do as a nation and as conscientious international citizens in the face of a military choice by a government to turn those weapons on their own people and to use chemical weapons on their own population to decimate them in the most horrific way possible. It is unconscionable. It is against international law. It defies the efforts and goals of even its closest Middle Eastern neighbors. It puts everyone in countries around them at risk and exhibits a wanton disregard for the agreements against those acts which have been made by the full international community.

No one wants these weapons on their doorstep. Chemical weapons used on any part of a nation’s own population is a horrific statement of, and about, what the leadership and generals holding access to those weapons believe they have a right to do. It is a fact that they have already done this. It isn’t open to question.

It is a fact that the Syrian government have stockpiles of these weapons which they have refused to give up to UN weapons inspectors to be dismantled and disposed of safely. It is a fact that the government and military generals of Syria have been and continue to use the most malicious and sadistic means possible to quell any voices that do not agree with them, including those of even the smallest children who have no way to pick up any arms against them. It didn’t matter. They were killed in their own beds using chemicals made to cause the greatest suffering and the greatest number of deaths. It wasn’t an accident. It was intentional, intended, planned and executed with complete disregard.

It doesn’t get more profound than this – statement from someone speaking on tele news program.

And so it is. It is the most profound question because of this – Do we stand by and do nothing when a leader and his advisers, military generals and resources in a member nation of the international community chooses genocide, intentionally causes horrific suffering, uses chemical weapons and mass murders as domestic policy?

egregious

**

The U.S. government said it has “high confidence” that Syria’s government carried out a chemical weapons attack — killing 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.

(etc.)

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen from Copenhagen said the alliance has no plans for military action in Syria. He said approval for doing so would require the approval all 28 NATO members. But Rasmussen pointed the finger toward Syrian forces for the chemical weapons attack: “It demands cynicism beyond what is reasonable to believe that the opposition is behind a chemical attack in an area it already largely controls.”

(etc.)

Berlin has called for the international community to take a “clear position” following the alleged chemical attack, but has left open what exactly that might entail.

A look at Syria developments around the world

By The Associated Press

— Aug. 31 12:42 AM EDT

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/look-syria-developments-around-world

**

Although Russia says that they will not stand for a resolution nor for action in the UN Security Council – the truth is, Putin and the Russian government, Russian generals and ministers do not get to perpetrate mass murder and inundate their population with chemical weapons to “dispose” of people who disagree with them. They don’t do that anymore because it isn’t acceptable, they’ve agreed not to do it and it doesn’t make good sense to do those things. Those things are criminal. They are wrong.

The world looks on with the eyes of conscience, not without it. And, even Russia and Iran within their own borders don’t tolerate the kinds of things that Syria has been doing to its own people. Nor do they want those chemical weapons loosed upon the illegal routes of clans and tribes intent on using them for terrorism against other populations, including those in all of our countries (even Russia and Japan and China and Iran and wherever else they might end up.)

This is exactly why the UN Security Council was created. Not to stand idly by while a major country starts obliterating its people and threatens its neighbors, but rather to resolve these issues by authority. The people in the government of Syria including its leadership and its generals who made these decisions to annihilate the people of Syria with chemical weapons and military equipment not intended for that use – must be brought to justice to answer for these crimes.

They can be arrested by the United Nations Security Council. They are not sovereigns. Syria itself may be sovereign as a territory but its leadership is not. They are responsible to the same laws as everyone else and should in fact be even more so because of the power they wield and the position of trust that they have. To have abused that power in such a lucid and intentional manner must be held to account. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be diplomaticized away. It cannot be set aside because of other questions concerning Syria. It must be answered unequivocally, specifically and in a way that sends a profound signal to any who would ever try to do such a thing again which expresses what will occur as a result.

Statement by the President on Syria

Rose Garden

1:52 P.M. EDT – August 31, 2013

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/31/statement-president-syria

**

From UNODA -

As a result of public outrage, the Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of chemical weapons in warfare, was signed in 1925. While a welcome step, the Protocol had a number of significant shortcomings, including the fact that it did not prohibit the development, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons. Also problematic was the fact that many States that ratified the Protocol reserved the right to use prohibited weapons against States that were not party to the Protocol or as retaliation in kind if chemical weapons were used against them. Poison gasses were used during World War II in Nazi concentration camps and in Asia, although chemical weapons were not used on European battlefields.

But since the end of World War II, chemical weapons have reportedly been used in only a few cases, notably by Iraq in the 1980s against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction

After 12 years of negotiations, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was adopted by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on 3 September 1992. The Chemical Weapons Convention allows for the stringent verification of compliance by State Parties.

The Chemical Weapons Convention opened for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993 and entered into force on 29 April 1997.

http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Chemical/

**

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

http://www.opcw.org/

Among other news on the site -

Somalia Becomes 189th State Party To The Chemical Weapons Convention

On 28 June 2013 the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force for Somalia, making it the 189th State Party to the treaty. Somalia had earlier deposited its instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, on 29 May, and 30 days later the Convention entered into force for the country. This has reduced to seven the number of States that have not yet joined. Read more.

**

My Note -

So, there isn’t one nation like the UK or even the US or France that is responsible for this Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons Use – there are 189 signatories to it meaning, 189 nations including their leaders and their citizens that Syria’s government and military leaders must answer to for having used these weapons on their own people. And, there is the International Criminal Court they must answer to for having done it as well. And, then those leaders can rot in a jail cell for having done it which is much better than anything they deserve.

And, if it isn’t already obvious – those people need those kinds of weapons taken out of their reach and away from their access entirely. Obviously.

- cricketdiane

**

In researching this – I found these articles and website informative and of interest – (as well as the three above already noted) -

Map of Chemical Weapons Facilities in Syria created by NTI – Nuclear Threat Initiative

http://www.nti.org/gmap/?place=34.7867,38.2983,7&layers=chemical_storage,chemical_military_organizations,chemical_production,chemical_education_and_training,chemical_regulatory

**

Article about Syria’s chemical, nuclear and biological weapons from NTI site -

http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/syria/

**

Syrian Missile Base / Missile Production Facilities Map from NTI -

http://www.nti.org/gmap/?place=34.7867,38.2983,7&layers=missile_base,missile_production

**

From Feb. 2012 -

Satellite image provider DigitalGlobe Inc. released photos Friday that appear to show Syrian army tanks and other armored vehicles in the city of Homs.

(etc.)

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe’s analysis center, said the photos show tanks, armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles in the southern part of the city, some of them near apartment buildings.

AP / February 11, 2012, 11:11 PM

Satellite spots tanks in Syrian city

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57375202/satellite-spots-tanks-in-syrian-city/

**

March 2012 – Video -

Published on Mar 30, 2012

Syria – Assad Loyalist Army Tanks Attempt to Slaughter the Sunni Civilian Population of Homs City on March 30, 2012 as the Dictator’s tanks slam shell after shell into civilian apartment buildings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmIr5dL0Fdk

**

Bombing of Apartment Buildings by Government Forces in Syria – July 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13g74PcLm94

**

October 2011 -

Syrian forces tanks shelled apartment buildings in the city of Homs where military defectors were thought to be hiding and three civilians were killed, activists said Saturday.

Residents said tanks fired anti-aircraft guns to hit ground targets as well as machine guns in the old district of Bab Amro, according to Reuters.

Syrian Tanks Shell Homes to Clear Military Defectors, Activists Say [VIDEO]

By | Oct 29, 2011 06:27 PM EDT
http://www.medicaldaily.com/syrian-tanks-shell-homes-clear-military-defectors-activists-say-video-238490

**

Feb 2012 -

Last month, Russia reportedly signed a $550 million deal to sell combat jets to Syria.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-10/syria-explosions/53034798/1

(Note – there is actually quite a lot in this article and about halfway down, it describes earlier Russian Security Council Vetoes and at the end offers the “promised” Baath Party Conference changes they would make that have never been made as yet. Now, the only change made since that time by the Baath Controlled Syrian Administration has been to dispose of the population in question through chemical weapons and other heavy military artillery in whatever ways will cause the most damage and the most horrific suffering.)

Mohammed Saleh, a Syria-based activist, said the regime appears to be trying to take over rebel-held areas in Homs and Idlib before Feb. 17, when Assad’s ruling Baath party is scheduled to hold its first general conference since 2005.

The conference is expected to move on reforms that Assad has promised in a bid to calm the uprising. During the conference, Baath party leaders are expected to call for national dialogue and announce they will open the way for other political parties to play a bigger role in Syria’s politics.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-10/syria-explosions/53034798/1

**

August 2013 -

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides.

The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. (the meeting was three weeks before the Syrian government’s massive use of chemical weapons killed 1429 people, including 426 children on Aug. 28).

12:00PM BST 27 Aug 2013

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10266957/Saudis-offer-Russia-secret-oil-deal-if-it-drops-Syria.html

**

Information about Chemical Weapons on wikipedia – (although disposal and destruction of chemical weapons is found on another entry.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_weapon

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the most recent arms control agreement with the force of International law. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. This agreement outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an independent organization based in The Hague.[5]

The OPCW administers the terms of the CWC to 188 signatories (now 189), which represents 98% of the global population.

Also noted in this article on wikipedia -

Russia entered the CWC with the largest declared stockpile of chemical weapons.[23] By 2010 the country had destroyed 18,241 tonnes at destruction facilities located in Gorny (Saratov Oblast) and Kambarka (Udmurt Republic)—where operations have finished—and Shchuchye (Kurgan Oblast), Maradykovsky (Kirov Oblast), Leonidovka (Penza Oblast) while installations are under construction in Pochep (Bryansk Oblast) and Kizner (Udmurt Republic).[24]

And concerning Syria -

Syria is one of only 7 states which are not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, it is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical weapons in war but has nothing to say about production, storage or transfer.

However – it also notes this -

Independent assessments indicate that Syrian production could be up to a combined total of a few hundred tons of chemical agent per year. Syria reportedly manufactures Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas types of chemical weapons.[35]

Syrian chemical weapons production facilities have been identified by Western nonproliferation experts at approximately 5 sites, plus one suspected weapons base:[36]

  • Al Safir (Scud missile base)
  • Cerin
  • Hama
  • Homs
  • Latakia
  • Palmyra

In July 2007, a Syrian arms depot exploded, killing at least 15 Syrians. Jane’s Defence Weekly, a U.S. magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, believed that the explosion happened when Iranian and Syrian military personnel attempted to fit a Scud missile with a mustard gas warhead. Syria stated that the blast was accidental and not chemical related.[37]

On July 13, 2012, the Syrian government moved its stockpile to an undisclosed location.[38]

In September 2012, information emerged that the Syrian military had begun chemical weapons tests and was reinforcing and resupplying a base housing these weapons located east of Aleppo in August.[39][40]

On March 19, 2013, news emerged from Syria indicating the first use of chemical weapons since the beginning of the Syrian uprising.[41]

On August 21, 2013, testimony and photographic evidence emerged from Syria indicating a large-scale chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, a populated urban center.[42]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_weapon

**

This is the other component of the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons and the Weaponizing of Chemicals Used for Other Industrial Purposes -

The Rotterdam Convention (formally, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade) is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty, and exporting countries are obliged make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply.

The sixth meeting of the Rotterdam Conference[1] was held from 28 April to 10 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam_Convention

(and it has a list of a number of those chemicals – many of which are required at various parts of the process, to have made any of those chemical weapons the Syrian government used.)

**

August – 2013

The Alawite community tends to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Sunnis mostly backing the rebels fighting him.

Observers say the targets of last Friday’s attacks may have been two preachers known for their opposition to the Syrian government and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah.

Lebanese clerics charged over deadly Tripoli bombings

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23903366

**

From -

Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle

The next month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters: “I say this clearly and openly, from a humanitarian point of view, [Maher] is not behaving in a humane manner. And he is chasing after savagery.”

(etc.)

Following the US sanctions announcement in 2007, he told the BBC that the designation was tantamount to “a medal we hang on our chest”, and was part of a “political ploy aimed at undermining important individuals”.

President Assad is reported to have been angered by an interview Mr Makhlouf gave to the New York Times in May 2011, in which he said the government would fight “until the end” and that it would “not suffer alone”.

(Plus it has a list describing the main participants and little of their history.)

In May 2011, Gen Qudsiya was included in a list of Syrian officials subjected to EU sanctions for their roles in violence against protesters. Military Intelligence is said to have played a prominent role in the crackdown, firing on crowds of protesters and killing a large number of civilians.

Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13216195

**

August 2013 -
Hezbollah detains Saudi nationals in Beirut
Saturday, 31 August 2013

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/08/31/Hezbollah-detains-Saudi-nationals-in-Beirut.html

Hezbollah stopped and detained Saudi nationals riding in a car with diplomatic plates in southern Beirut this week, reported Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

Another Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Al Arabiya English, added: “We fear Hezbollah’s recklessness against our diplomats…this party doesn’t respect legalities in its own country and deals with others on a sectarian basis…all we have seen is aggressive and extremist behavior from it.”

That is the same Hezbollah who has sent its members to “help” the Syrian government fix things and soldiers to support the government’s efforts to wipe the populations of dissent out of existence.

**

So, wondering about the Alewite -

Assad and others of his regime, family members in positions of power, military generals, security and intelligence agency leaders have Alewite connection. This wikipedia map shows where that is, but other maps make it clear that other resources go through that territory too. Port, railroads, petrol? etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:French_Mandate_for_Syria_and_the_Lebanon_map_en.svg

**

August 2013 -

US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Syrian government forces of killing 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last week.

AND

He highlighted evidence in the assessment that regime forces had spent three days in eastern Damascus preparing for the attack.

“We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and landed only in opposition-held areas,” he said.

Syria chemical weapons attack killed 1,429, says John Kerry

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23906913

**

July 2013 -

The British Guardian reported that a mediator – a well-known diplomatic figure –acting of behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad approached former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a request that Israel not block attempts to form an Alawite state, which could have meant moving some displaced communities into the Golan Heights area.

Report: Assad approached Lieberman on ‘Alawite state’

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4409114,00.html

(Definitely read on down the page after the photos for some very interesting information about the situation, including this – )

All property records for Homs were destroyed in a fire earlier this month at the office of the city’s land registry and residents fear they can no longer enforce a claim to their land and homes.

Homs and the surrounding province is seen as essential to the war in Syria and to any plan to create a safe haven for Alawites if the Syrian state collapses, as it geographically links largely Alawite areas on the Syrian coast and Shiia areas in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

also from -

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4409114,00.html

**

The Federation of Arab Republics (Arabic: اتحاد الجمهوريات العربية Ittiħād Al-Jumhūriyyāt Al-`Arabiyya)[1] was an attempt by Libya‘s Muammar Gaddafi to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1 September 1971,[2] the three countries disagreed on the specific terms of the merger. The federation lasted from 1 January 1972 to 19 November 1977.

It is not to be confused with the United Arab Republic (1958–1961), which was a single sovereign state uniting Egypt and Syria.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_of_Arab_Republics

**

The Baath Party -

Growing disagreements between the civilian Baathists, such as Aflaq, and the party’s Military Committee, led by young officers such as Assad [Bashar al Assad's father], caused a split in the pan-Arab movement.

Aflaq’s supporters were forced from the Baath Party leadership. They found refuge in Iraq, where the Baath Party returned to power in a coup in July 1968. The Iraqi Baathists elected a new pan-Arab leadership, which included Saddam Hussein and Aflaq.

Profile: Syria’s ruling Baath Party

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18582755

(*(

Ba’ath Party – wikipedia

It was first the regional branch of the original Ba’ath Party (1947–1966) before it changed its allegiance to the Syrian-led Ba’ath movement (1966–present) following the 1966 split within the original Ba’ath Party. The party has ruled Syria continuously since the 1963 Syrian coup d’état which brought the Ba’athists to power. The Ba’ath party functions as Syria’s dominant party.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Socialist_Ba%27ath_Party_%E2%80%93_Syria_Region

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%27ath_Party

**

Chemical Weapons Quick Guide -

http://www.executive-magazine.com/chemical-weapons-guide/agent-guide.html

**

Alawite State – Syria – (wikipedia entry)

The Alawite State (Arabic: دولة جبل العلويين‎, Dawlat Ǧabal al-ʿAlawiyyīn), known in French as Alaouites and named after the locally dominant Alawite sect of Shi’a, was a French mandate territory in the coastal area of present-day Syria after World War I.[1] The French Mandate, from the League of Nations, lasted from 1920 until 1946.[2]

Use of the term ‘Alawite’ instead of ‘Nusayri’ was advocated by the French early in the Mandate period and referred to a member of the Alawi religious sect. The region the French named the “Alawite Territory” in 1920 came to be home to a large population of Alawi Muslims.[3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawite_State

It also says -

The region was both coastal, mountainous and home to a predominantly rural, highly heterogeneous population. During the French Mandate period, the society was divided by religion and geography: the landowning families in the port city of Latakia and 80% of the population of the city were Sunni Muslim. However, more than 90% of the population of the province was rural, 62% being Alawite peasantry.[3]

The southern border was with Lebanon, the northern border with the Sanjak of Alexandretta where Alawites made up a large portion of the population. To the west was the Mediterranean coast. The border to the east with Syria was roughly along the An-Nusayriyah Mountains and the Orontes River running from north to south. Modern-day Latakia Governorate and Tartus Governorate roughly encompass what was the Alawite State, both governorates having majority Alawite populations; however, parts of modern-day Al-Suqaylabiyah District, Masyaf District, Talkalakh District and Jisr ash-Shugur District (now in neighboring governorates) also belonged to it.

At the time, native outcry for unification of Syria[4] met with rejection; in early September, 1920, the French divided the territories of their mandate based on heterogeneous population, in an effort to grant ‘local autonomy’ to demographic regions.[4]

On 2 September 1920 a ‘Territory of the Alawis’ was created in the coastal and mountain country comprising Alawi villages; the French justified this separation with the ‘backwardness’ of the mountain-dwelling people, religiously distinct from the surrounding Sunni population. It was a division meant to protect the Alawi people from more powerful majorities.[4]

1945 – present

The French departed Syria in 1946. The new independent government lasted three years until a military coup in 1949.[3]

The Syrian Army was dominated by recruits from Alawite, Druze, and rural Sunni communities, a composition from the earlier French Mandate times. After 1949 and the coup, Alawites came to dominate the military officer positions and government positions in the 1960s.[3]

The former President, Hafez Asad, and his son Bashar, the current President, are of Alawite descent.

Syrian civil war

As the Syrian civil war progresses, there has been widespread speculation that there will be reprisals against the Alawites, leading to speculation of a re-creation of the Alawite State as a safe haven for Assad and the leaders should Damascus finally fall.[9][10][11][12] King Abdullah II of Jordan has called this scenario the “worst case” for the conflict, fearing a domino effect of fragmentation of the country along sectarian lines with consequences to the wider region.[13]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawite_State

**

The above video, uploaded on Saturday to YouTube, appears to show a Syrian army anti-aircraft tank firing wildly into an urban neighborhood in the city of Douma, just outside of Damascus.

The tank, which Chris Albon identified as a Russian ZSU-23-4 “Shilka,” fires enormous 23-millimeter rounds that are meant to destroy far-away aircraft. A few rounds, fired in Syria’s dense and old architecture, could tear through dozens of houses, as is surely the point. “AA-guns are brutal weapon to use against civilians,” Albon tweeted, “but sadly not uncommon.” According to Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor, “they were used a lot by Qaddafi in Libya. One of those rounds will rip a body in two.”

(etc.)

Video Shows Syrian Anti-Aircraft Tank Firing Randomly Into Peoples’ Homes

Feb 11 2012, 7:15 PM ET
The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/video-shows-syrian-anti-aircraft-tank-firing-randomly-into-peoples-homes/252954/

**

Although this article says it would take a number of troops to secure the chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria – it is part of an earlier discussion that was on-going about the situation in Syria before those weapons were used on the people there. Now, it would be more likely a scenario to destroy those weapons rather than to sit on them – it does have interesting information in the article – (from NTI)

Feb. 2012 -

Current estimates of deaths are extremely higher than this – as of Aug 2013 -

The Assad regime has come under increasing international recrimination for its use of massive deadly force against civilian opposition forces and army defectors. The death toll after nearly a year of protests is presently estimated at between 5,400 and 7,000.

AND

The Defense Department estimates Syria has 50 chemical arsenal and manufacturing facilities, which are supplemented by additional research institutions and storage depots.

“Syria probably has one of the largest programs in the world,” said Leonard Spector, deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “It has multiple types of chemical agents,” he said, including nerve agents, chlorine and phosgene.

Open source information going back to the 1980s indicates Syria has four chemical agent manufacturing plants at al-Safira, Hama, Homs and Latakia.  Two chemical munition storage sites are also believed to be located at Khan Abu Shamat and Furqlus, according to previous reporting.

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/us-calculates-big-military-footprint-may-be-needed-guard-syrian-chemical-arms/

(Many of these have apparently been being moved over the past few days according to reports from Syria found in various news outlets.)

**

Former Countries in the Middle East -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Former_countries_in_the_Middle_East

**

Just looking into some of the history of the region -

Crusader States – wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Crusader_states

**

Photo of Recent Damage in Syria by Government Forces – obviously a residential building decimated with complete disregard for the families living there -

http://www.ynetnews.com/PicServer3/2013/06/29/4707662/REUTERS0SYR01_SYRIA-CRISIS-_0628_11501796_WA.jpg

**

About Syrian Oil Fields – (includes maps)

http://atlas.geo.cornell.edu/syria_old/AAPG_98_Litak.pdf

**

A blog entry about Syria’s oil -

http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/08/syria-oil-producing-nation.html

(It includes a map with colors marking areas being developed by various oil companies – noticeably the Alawite territory is marked in white as not being leased to exploration for petrol / nat gas harvesting by international or state run companies. Interesting. And, it does not include the coastal waters which were offered on auction for oil industry development in 2011.)

**

The oil road through Damascus
By Ronnie Blewer

Feb 15, 2012

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB15Ak02.html

The search for non-naval oil routes is not a new topic. In 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon requested a feasibility study on the possible revival of the long-defunct Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline route. This pipeline was activated by the British in 1935 to transfer Iraqi oil to the Mediterranean. It was shut down in 1948 by Iraq in the aftermath of Israel’s founding.

However, properly secured, a pipeline through Israel, Syria or Lebanon to the Mediterranean would be of tremendous value. The important phrase here is “properly secured”. Otherwise, one choke point would be exchanged for another, potentially more vulnerable one.

**

Also critical information from this entry -

Although there are pipelines through Syria today, they are of miniscule importance compared to major arteries such as Egypt’s SUMED and would do little to replace the Strait of Hormuz-Suez route. For decades, the Assad regime effectively locked itself out of any meaningful commercial links with the West through a combination of wars, dark alliances and support for terror groups across the region.

During the Lebanese Civil War, Syria actively supported Shi’ite factions and came to dominate Lebanon in the aftermath of the country’s civil war. Furthermore, the country harbored Imad Mugniyeh, the prime suspect in the 1983 bombing of a US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, in which nearly 300 US and French servicemen were killed. He was finally assassinated in 2008, in Damascus.

After the Cold War, Syria continued to dominate Lebanon, and was allegedly a key player in the assassination of president Rafic Hariri, a Sunni. Though this led to the “Cedar Revolution” that drove most of Syria’s uniformed troops out of Lebanon and loosened its grip on the country, Syria’s continued support of terror organizations in Lebanon and the political wing of Hezbollah kept it at odds with the West.

Hopes that Bashar al-Assad would initiate a new era of peace and openness with the West were dashed early on. He sheltered a number of key leaders from Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist Party, and did almost nothing to stem the flow of money, fighters and weapons back into Iraq.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB15Ak02.html

**

August 26, 2011

Crackdown Intensifies in Oil Region – Shell Pledges to Keep Paying Syrian Regime -

Meanwhile, Shell continues to drill and pump oil out of the wells that surround Mayadin, Burhama and Deir Az-Zour itself. Operating in this region in a context of full-scale uprising and military occupation means that Shell – through its joint venture Al-Furat Petroleum – must be co-ordinating closely with the Syrian military.

(etc.)

Despite talk of imminent EU sanctions, Shell is preparing to export more crude from Syria.

http://platformlondon.org/2011/08/26/crackdown-intensifies-in-oil-region-shell-pledges-to-keep-paying-syrian-regime/

**

Political Geography Now – maps of Syria, the first from March 2013, the second from August 2013

http://www.polgeonow.com/2013/03/syria-uprising-map-march-2013-9.html

http://www.polgeonow.com/2013/08/syria-civil-war-map-august-2013-11.html

**

Map (from 2006) showing regional and religious differences in Syria (in color) -

http://www.lefigaro.fr/assets/infographie/110609-syrie-religion.jpg

from -

http://societatesicultura.ro/2013/06/siria-aspecte-culturale-si-politice/

**

March 2011 -

Syria preps for offshore oil auctions

Published: March. 14, 2011 at 10:33 AM

UPI

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/03/14/Syria-preps-for-offshore-oil-auctions/UPI-94751300113209/

Preparations are set for Damascus to start auctioning exploration rights for development of offshore oil reserves, the Syrian oil minister said.

Italian energy company Eni, French supermajor Total and China National Petroleum Corp. were among the 10 foreign companies that submitted bids to develop Syria’s offshore reserves last year.

The minister said Damascus wants to keep production stable at around 386,000 barrels of crude per day with the help of the new foreign investments.

Three blocks, covering more than 1,900 square miles, will go to auction.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/03/14/Syria-preps-for-offshore-oil-auctions/UPI-94751300113209/#ixzz2difglcMY

**

So, when were the sanctions taking effect? Yeah, right.

Apparently that didn’t matter.

But I thought I would look it up.

And on the way found these -

US Energy Information Administration – report on Syria

Feb. 2013

As of October 2012, the direct and indirect costs of war to the Syrian oil industry stood at approximately $2.9 billion, according to statements made by Syria’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

A large portion of this total reflects the loss of Syria’s oil exports, which have been limited by escalating sanctions by the United States, European Union, and others. Additionally, domestic energy infrastructure—such as railway networks, oil pipelines, and refineries—is frequently the target of attacks, leaving many areas of the country without access to vital petroleum products.

According to the Syrian government, damage to the country’s energy infrastructure totaled approximately $220 million through the end of October 2012. Of that total, the electricity sector accounts for the majority of damage ($146 million), while damage to oil infrastructure amounted to more than $70 million.

AND

Regionally, the continued violence threatens to derail Syria’s ambitions of becoming an important energy transit country to its neighbors, the Mediterranean, and Europe.

http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=SY

AND

Assad’s “Four Seas” Strategy – (2011)

President Bashar Assad calls his vision the Four Seas Strategy to link the Mediterranean, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf into an energy network.

“At the center of Assad’s strategy is Syria’s economic relationship with Turkey and connecting the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure to the region’s expanding energy pipeline networks.”

To get the ball rolling, Ankara and Damascus plan to integrate their gas grids and link them with the Arab Gas Pipeline that starts in Egypt and serves Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

Plans to build a new AGP link between Syria and Turkey were signed in 2009, with completion expected this year.

“Assad’s enlarged vision of Syria’s role as a strategic energy transiting role is to link the nation’s oil and gas pipeline network to the Nabucco pipeline that will carry oil from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and on to Europe,” Brooks observed.
(etc.)

Syria’s Assad pushes ‘Four Seas Strategy’

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/01/06/Syrias-Assad-pushes-Four-Seas-Strategy/UPI-98471294335880/?rel=94751300113209

**

Imports and exports

Syria’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products were severely restricted in 2012 as a result of sanctions.

In the 12 months prior to the onset of protests in March 2011, approximately 99 percent of Syria’s crude exports went to Europe (including Turkey) according to trade data available to EIA. In 2012, only four cargoes were loaded, none of which went to European markets. Further exacerbating the effects of decreased European imports is the fact that Syria’s heavy crudes require specific refining capabilities not found in all potential destination markets, thereby limiting the potential alternatives available for exports. Because the majority of Syria’s oil exports previously went to European countries (which possess the ability to process Syrian grades), the current market for Syrian crude is extremely limited, but there are some countries still willing to take Syrian crude.

According to several news outlets, Syria and Russia agreed to swap 33,000 bbl/d of Syria’s crude oil in exchange for gasoline and diesel fuel. This arrangement comes on the heels of shipments from Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, and Venezuela of much-needed petroleum products, although—unlike the barter deal with Russia—those deals were monetized.

The ongoing conflict diminishes Syria’s production—and possibly refining—capacity, and heating oil (known in Syria as mazut) and diesel fuel are two of the products in short supply. Iraq agreed to send up to 720,000 tons of fuel oil to Syria as part of a one-year supply contract signed in June 2012, and Iran agreed in early 2012 to supply Syria with 900,000 tons per year of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Both of these arrangements—as well as the deal with Russia and others with Venezuela—help close the supply gap created by the sanctions, but even with lowered demand in Syria shortfalls are likely to persist.

Syria has three export terminals on the Mediterranean, all of which are operated by the Syrian Company for Oil Transport (SCOT) under the GORDPP. Syria exports two crude oil blends, Syrian Light and Syrian Heavy (also known as Souedieh) through Sytrol, the state-owned marketing company. Since the sanctions on Syria’s oil sector came into full effect, total exports have fallen significantly, and they are not expected to rebound until there is a cessation of hostilities in the country.

Also from -

http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=SY

**

Chinese President Xi Jinping in Russia for first foreign tour

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21873944

of note -

Mr Xi is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the two likely to discuss energy and investment deals.

(etc.)

In an interview with Russian press, Mr Putin said that Russia-China co-operation would produce “a more just world order”.

Russia and China both demonstrated a “balanced and pragmatic approach” to international crises, he said.

**

PierMax Energy Exploration -

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report that the Levant Basin contains an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil and an estimated 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Levant Basin lies both onshore and offshore and includes most of middle and northern Israel and coastal Lebanon and Syria. Most of the Levant Basin lies within the land and territorial water of Israel.

http://www.piermax.com/?page_id=20

includes maps of exploration areas in the Eastern Mediterranean -

**

BBC has Arab League press conference right now – legal intervention for crimes against humanity. Talking about specific accountability for those who caused the chemical weapons and mass murder in Syrian government.

**

Minimizing Dangers Posed by Syria’s Military Assets During and After The Current Civil Turmoil

Author(s): Leonard Spector

Posted: July 19, 2012

http://cns.miis.edu/stories/120719_syria_cw_spector_testimony.htm

About chemical weapons -

As for Syria’s chemical weapons here our most urgent goal is to ensure, for humanitarian reasons, that these weapons are not used in the current conflict. As the Obama Administration reiterated yesterday, Assad has been warned not to take this step, which would certainly lead to calls for military intervention against him that even Moscow would find hard to oppose.

Our second goal with respect to Syria’s chemical weapons, of course, is to ensure that positive control over these weapons is maintained and that chemical agent and munitions are not transferred to others. Readily transported chemically-armed artillery shells would be the easiest to divert and could be used by Hezbollah or another group possessing standard artillery pieces of the type found in Syria’s armory.

**

2010 -

December 1, 2010
Satellite Image Shows Syrian Site Functionally Related to Al Kibar Reactor
David Albright and Paul Brannan

http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Syria_Masyaf_Report_1Dec2010_1.pdf

**

July 2012 -

There is a degree of panic, and rightly so, over whether the Syrian tyrant Bashar al Assad will use chemical weapons against either his own people or foreign attackers. His regime has this week threatened to do the latter, thus finally confirming what was long suspected but never openly admitted, that Syria possesses chemical weapons.

No-one in the western media seems remotely curious about how Syria has managed to arm itself to the teeth with them beneath the radar of international scrutiny.

Dr Danny Shoham, at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, is an expert in chemical and biological warfare. In a Middle East Quarterly article in 2002,Guile, Gas and Germs: Syria’s Ultimate Weapons, he set out the extraordinary history of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

AND

At the time, however, there were a number of reports that enormous truck movements across the border from Iraq into Syria suggested that some of these WMD had been moved there. Saddam’s Air Vice-Marshal Georges Sada, whom I interviewed, said he was absolutely certain that WMD had been moved from Iraq to Syria. All of this was however brushed aside for, as the bien pensant world has never stopped intoning with positively religious fervour, ‘we were taken to war in Iraq on a lie’.

But now we know that Syria possesses an arsenal of chemical weapons. So could any of this have come from Saddam’s Iraq, just as it was transferred from Egypt two decades previously?

In a more recent paper published in 2006 in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence , An Antithesis on the Fate of Iraq’s Chemical and Biological Weapons, Dr Shoham wrote  that the two official reports – Duelfer and Carnegie in 2004 – that supposedly exonerated Saddam of still having WMD by the outbreak of war ignored much information that indicated the smuggling of chemical and biological weapons from Iraq into Syria. Although the most knowledgeable and experienced individuals tracking Iraq’s WMD were members of UNSCOM, they were largely excluded by the US intelligence community. Ill-trained soldiers would go to a site, find something suspicious, return 48 hours later and find it had disappeared.

Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is a very real threat

By Melanie Phillips

PUBLISHED: 14:57 EST, 25 July 2012 | UPDATED: 01:26 EST, 26 July 2012

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2178883/Syrias-chemical-weapons-arsenal.html

**

This article has an aerial view describing the areas hit by chemical weapons and a little on each area -

Al Mouadamiya and Darayya

These areas to the south-west of city have been decimated by battles between rebel groups and the Syrian army, according to research by Channel 4 News.

The target is reported to be the Mazeh military airport – which is linked to a nuclear facility where chemical weapons are also stored.

Adra

Videos on social media sites also claim to show victims of chemical weapons in Adra, a town several miles north-west of Damascus.

The town is adjacent to a large industrial facility and is, according to Channel 4 News, close to “vast chemical weapons storage facilities and missile bases”.

10:23am, Fri 23 Aug 2013

The rebel strongholds targeted by a ‘chemical attack’

- last updated Sun 25 Aug 2013http://www.itv.com/news/2013-08-23/chemical-attack-allegations-focussed-on-rebel-held-areas/

**

2012 -

Centre d’Etudes de Sécurité Internationale et de MaÎtrise des armements

Syria has benefited from cooperation with the USSR then Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea, but has also procured equipment and chemical products from western firms. It is believed to still be dependent on precursors, “preprecursors”, and dual-use technology imports. Iran is thought to be its main supplier, but it may also acquire them through bogus companies linked to the Syrian Scientific Research Council (SSCR, also known as the Scientific Studies and Research Centre). Established in 1971 in Damascus and officially in charge of promoting scientific research and civilian technology, the SSCR is the main entity implicated in the Syrian chemical weapons programme. The Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology (HIAST) is believed to train engineers affiliated to the SSCR. These two entities have been targets of US sanction since 2007, in the scope of Executive Order 13382.

Several production sites are thought to have been identified near to Aleppo (Al-Safir site), Homs, Hama, and Latakia. The two principal storage sites are believed to be located to the east of Damascus and near to Homs, at Khan Abou Shamat and Furqlus respectively, but other sites are thought to be distributed throughout the country.

(etc.)

A Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdessi, stated on the 23rd July that these weapons were protected by the armed forces and would only be employed in case of “external aggression”, ruling out the possibility that non -conventional weapons could be used against the Syrian population, however the crisis might unfold, and in so doing implicitly confirming Syrian possession of chemical weapons

http://www.cesim.fr/observatoire/eng/69/article/22

**

**&**

2011

Syria: Assets frozen in Switzerland, money smuggled to Lebanon

Published July 7th, 2011 – 08:48 GMT

http://www.albawaba.com/main-headlines/syria-assets-frozen-switzerland-money-smuggled-lebanon-382118

Last May, the European Union imposed penalties on Syria, including freezing President Bashar al-Assad’s assets and preventing him from obtaining visas.

In May, Switzerland said it would impose a travel ban on 13 Syrian officials and freeze any assets they have in Swiss banks as a reaction to the violent campaign launched by the government against protestors, advocates of reform, in which more than 1,300 civilians were killed, thousands of others injured, and about 15 thousand arrested.

**

From 2012 -

It has been just over a year since the United States and Europe announced sanctions against the regime of Bashar Assad to end the violence in Syria. Yet Assad remains in power, and the killings have not only not ended but are escalating

In August 2011, President Obama announced new sanctions against companies and figures in the Assad regime that barred U.S. citizens and firms from dealing with them. The sanctions were announced the same week that the European Union imposed an embargo of Syrian oil.

But the Assad family, often referred to in the country as a “mafia,” has more than 40 years in power established control over much of Syria’s domestic corporations and large businesses that are relatively unaffected by sanctions.

Besides controlling most of Syria’s national wealth, which runs into hundreds of billions of dollars, the family’s personal assets could equal more than $1 billion, Willis says.

(etc.)

Sanctions reach only so far in Syria

by Louise Osborne, USA TODAY

Updated 9/18/2012 9:03 AM

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012/09/18/assad-family-still-controls-much-of-syrias-wealth/57798154/1

**

Who’s who in the Assad family

Louise Osborne 11:06 p.m. EDT September 17, 2012

A look at the players in the Assad family regime.

Maher Assad — Brother of Bashar Assad. Age 44. Leader of the Republican Guard, commander of the Syrian Army’s Fourth Armored Division. Driving force behind the violent repression of protests.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/09/17/assad-family-thumbnails/1576471/

(*(

From 2011 -

USGS – The Mineral Industry of Syria report – May 2013 pub.

http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/2011/myb3-2011-sy.pdf

**

May 2013 -

Israel’s weekend airstrike on a military complex near the Syrian capital of Damascus killed at least 42 Syrian soldiers, a group of anti-regime activists said Monday, citing information from military hospitals.

However, Israeli officials said the attacks were meant to prevent advanced Iranian weapons from reaching Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, an ally of Syria and foe of Israel.

Israel’s airstrike on Syrian military complex killed at least 42 soldiers: Anti-regime activists

Associated Press | 13/05/06 11:48 AM ET

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/06/israel/

**

From 2012 – Visual Description of the Syrian Missile Arsenal and Chemical Weapons Stockpiles -

Syria has one of the largest missile arsenals in the Middle East

Graphic: Nuclear, Chemical, Biological, Conventional — Syria has a missile for that

Richard Johnson
| 12/12/14 | Last Updated: 13/01/26 10:09 PM ET

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/14/nuclear-chemical-biological-conventional-syria-has-a-missile-for-that/

**

2013 -

Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday, US officials said. The US said the target was a truck convoy. It was believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon, an arch foe of Israel.

However the Syrian military denied the existence of any such weapons shipment and said a scientific research facility outside Damascus was hit by the Israeli warplanes. It said the target was in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus and about 10 miles from the Lebanon border.

(etc.)

Hezbollah condemns Israel’s raid

  • AP
  • Published: 15:27 January 31, 2013

http://gulfnews.com/in-focus/syria/hezbollah-condemns-israel-s-raid-1.1140254

**

Syria Threatens Retaliation Over “Israel Strike”

AFP Jan 31, 2013

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2013/01/31/syria-threatens-retaliation-over-israel-strike/

**

His difficulty has nothing to do with intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles—and everything to do with natural gas that’s cooled to -260F at normal pressure, condensed into liquid form, and transported on special tankers to markets around the world. America’s surprising return as an energy superpower is complicating life for the Russian petro state. The rise of a vibrant, global, and pipeline-free liquefied natural gas (LNG) market is a direct threat to Russia’s interests in Europe, where Gazprom, the state-owned energy giant, supplies about 25 percent of the gas. So is the shift in pricing power from suppliers to consumers as a result of the huge supply shock emanating from North America.

Why Is Vladimir Putin Acting So Crazy?

By August 29, 2013
Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-29/can-vladimir-putin-survive-americas-energy-boom

**

June 2013 -

“What some outside observers fail to realise is that the Alawites, having run a very tough police state for 40 years, simply cannot afford to lose power,” he said.

“If they were to do so, they believe that they and their families would be massacred. They may well be right.” [quote from Sir Andrew Green, the former diplomat and founding chairman of the organisation MigrationWatch UK

Ex-diplomat Andrew Green defends Syrian ruler and accuses No 10 spin of failing to understand situation on the ground

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is not a dictator – just a figurehead – according to a former British ambassador to Syria.

Bashar al-Assad Not a Dictator, Says Former British Ambassador to Syria

Posted on June 25, 2013http://friendsofsyria.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/bashar-al-assad-not-a-dictator-says-former-british-ambassador-to-syria/

**

January 2013 -

Syrian president Bashar Assad and his family are living on a warship guarded by the Russian navy, it has been claimed.

The embattled dictator is said to have moved with his family and a select band of aides to the warship off Syria’s coast.

The move, which is said to have come about after the president lost confidence in his own security detail, sees Assad travel by helicopter to Damascus to attend meetings in his presidential palace.

President Assad and his family ‘are now living on a warship guarded by the Russians off Syrian coast’

By James Rush

PUBLISHED: 21:09 EST, 15 January 2013 |

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2263110/President-Assad-family-living-warship-guarded-Russians-Syrian-coast.html

**

September 2013 -

The head of the U.N. refugee agency in Syria says 7 million Syrians, or almost one-third of the population, have been displaced by the country’s civil war.

Tarik Kurdi told The Associated Press on Monday that 5 million of the displaced are still in Syria while about 2 million have fled to neighboring countries. He says 2 million children are among those directly affected by the war.

UN: 7 million Syrians displaced by civil war

Sep. 2 5:04 AM EDT

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/un-7-million-syrians-displaced-civil-war

**

Russia has remained an ally of the regime since the popular uprising in March 2011, during which time the UN estimates more than 60,000 people have been killed.

Russia also endorsed a speech by Assad last week where he offered an end to the crisis by calling national elections and forming a new government.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2263110/President-Assad-family-living-warship-guarded-Russians-Syrian-coast.html

Considering that genocide and use of chemical weapons on his nation’s people was chosen instead of the promised end to the crisis by calling national elections and forming a new government – well, that promise made over and over by the Assad regime was apparently a lie.
**

Major cities – population

Aleppo 2.985 million
Damascus (capital) 2.527 million
Homs 1.276 million
Hama 854,000 (2009)

The roughly 23 million inhabitants of Syria are an overall indigenous Levantine people. While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history, they are, in fact, largely a blend of the various Semitic speaking groups indigenous to the region. During colonial years, the region had a fairly large minority of French settlers. Many of them stepped out after the recognition of Syrian independence, but their influence is still evident on fluency of French by the educated class in Syria. Syria’s population is 74% Sunni Muslim, Other Muslims (including Alawites and Druze) make up 16% of the population, Various Christian denominations make up 10% and finally, a few Jewish communities in Aleppo and Damascus.[1][2]

1,500 people of Greek descent live in Syria. The majority of them are Syrian citizens.[3]

Arabic is the official, and most widely spoken, language. Arabic speakers, including some 500,000 Palestinians, make up 85% of the population. Many educated Syrians also speak English and French. The Kurds, many of whom speak Kurdish, make up 9% [4] of the population and live mostly in the northeast corner of Syria, though sizable Kurdish communities live in most major Syrian cities as well. Armenian and Turkmen are spoken among the small Armenian and Turkmen populations respectively. Neo-Aramaic is still used by Assyrians and in some villages in the Anti-Lebanon mountains.

Sixty percent of the population live in the province of Aleppo, the Euphrates valley or along the coastal plain; a fertile strip between the coastal mountains and the desert. Overall population density is about 118.3/km² (306.5 per sq. mi.) Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 11. Schooling consists of 6 years of primary education followed by a 3-year general or vocational training period and a 3-year academic or vocational program. The second 3-year period of academic training is required for university admission. Total enrollment at post-secondary schools is over 150,000. The literacy rate of Syrians aged 15 and older is 86.0% for males and 73.6% for females.[5]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Syria

**

Chemical Weapons Convention – wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_Weapons_Convention

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is an independent organization based in the Hague, in the Netherlands.

The main obligation under the convention is the prohibition of use and production of chemical weapons, as well as the destruction of all chemical weapons. The destruction activities are verified by the OPCW. As of January 2013, around 78% of the (declared) stockpile of chemical weapons has thus been destroyed.[5][6] The convention also has provisions for systematic evaluation of chemical and military plants, as well as for investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties.

As of June 2013, 189 states are party to the CWC, and another two countries (Israel and Myanmar) have signed but not yet ratified the convention.[1]

**

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs

http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Chemical/

**

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons

http://www.opcw.org/

**

Destruction of Chemical Weapons – wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_chemical_weapons

**