On April 11, a barrel bomb fell from a helicopter and struck Kafr Zita — a regular occurrence in many of Syria’s embattled cities. But this time, something was different.
According to reports from sources in the area, after the explosion, the air thickened with the smell of chlorine. Some experienced a burning sensation on their skin and in their eyes while others coughed up foamy blood. Residents saw yellow gas waft through the streets and creep into people’s homes.
Then the nightmare repeated on April 12 — and again on April 16.
Last week, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that it would, “establish the facts surrounding allegations of use of chlorine in Syria.”
Although chlorine is not banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention Syrian President Bashar Assad signed last November, its use as a weapon is. It’s also banned by the Geneva Protocol.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the war has resulted in more than 150,000 deaths. This grisly number is hard to verify; the U.N. stopped counting after it reached 100,000 last July. But the staggering refugee crisis isn’t: Almost 2.7 million Syrians are now registered in neighboring countries.
The situation keeps getting worse in Syria, and the victory in securing most of Assad’s chemical weapons looks increasingly hollow.