2014 Kafr Zita chemical attack

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The 2014 Kafr Zita chemical attack occurred on Friday 11 April 2014, in the rebel-held[1] northern Syrian town of Kafr Zita during the Syrian Civil War. The attack reportedly wounded around 200 people and killed two.[2] The government blamed the attack on the rebel Al-Nusra Front using "toxic chlorine",[3] while the opposition blamed barrel bombs dropped by government forces.[4][5] The attack is, according to the Syrian opposition, one of more than 60 such attacks using chemical weapons in 15 different locations inside Syria.[6]


According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman, “[r]egime planes bombed Kafr Zita with explosive barrels that produced thick smoke and odours and led to cases of suffocation and poisoning.”[7] The Economist stated that "[d]ozens of people reportedly suffered the symptoms of poisoning, causing widespread panic."[8]

Opposition activists said the chemical attack occurred during fierce fighting when government troops appeared to be losing control of the strategic town of Khan Shaykhun.[9] Experts have stated that while using chlorine is not as deadly as conventional weapons, such chemical strikes are valuable in intimidating rebel factions, and according to David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector: "says a lot about their [Syrian regimes] lack of fear of consequences. What’s the West going to do? It’s done nothing so far.”[10]

According to Dina Esfandiary, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the attack was reported as a rebel atrocity on Syrian state TV before it had even happened.[11]


According to pro-opposition English blogger and investigator of the Syrian civil war, Brown Moses, "[i]n the videos and photographs this is specifically described as being dropped from a helicopter. Again, there's no evidence of Jabhat al-Nusra have a helicopter, and considering Kafr Zita has been the focus of Syrian military activity for the past weeks (including the first deployment of BM-30 launched cluster munitions) it seems unlikely the Syrian military would have missed a mystery helicopter flying overhead. One also has to ask how Syrian State TV could state Chlorine was used without access to the site, a pro-opposition area."[12]

According to Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a director of SecureBio consultancy and a former commander of the British Army's chemical readiness forces, "[t]he evidence from Kafr Zita is pretty compelling and is certainly being examined very carefully by officials."[13] Following subsequent scientific analysis of samples from multiple gas attacks, conducted exclusively for The Telegraph,[14] he said: “We have unequivocally proved that the regime has used chlorine and ammonia against its own civilians in the last two to three weeks.”[15]


Following the attack, Syria’s opposition Syrian National Coalition called on the United Nations to investigate the incident, along with a similar alleged chemical attack on the same day in the Harasta suburb[16] of Damascus,[17][18] which was also allegedly attacked again with chemicals on 16 April.[19] Later chemical attacks were reported in April at Al-Tamanah in Idlib Governorate, Zahraa near Homs[20] and on the 22 April in both the Damascus suburb of Darayya[21] and Talmenes, which is 32 kilometers (20 mi) northeast of Kafr Zita.[22] On 19 May, it was alleged that Kafr Zita was again attacked with chlorine, the sixth alleged gas attack in the village in two months, killing one boy and leaving 130 villagers in need of medical attention, including 21 children who were in critical condition.[23][24] On 21 May, it was again chemically attacked, along with Al-Tamanah, which is located 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) away from Kafr Zita.[25]

On 20 April, French president François Hollande claimed that the Syrian government had used chlorine weapons, stating, "[w]e have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof".[26][27] This was followed a day later by the U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stating, "we're examining allegations that the government was responsible. We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat use very seriously."[28] However, Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, has remarked on possible American action against the chlorine attacks that “Obama has been pronouncing the [Syrian chemical weapons] deal as a victory so I’m not sure he's ready to jump on the chlorine issue.”[29]

According to an investigation by The Telegraph, comprising testimony from doctors who have treated the wounded, relatives of the victims and eyewitnesses of the latest chemical attacks, it has found "evidence of the regime’s continued and systematic use of chemical weapons in Syria" in order to combat heavy pressure from rebel forces. It also noted the rise in deaths and injuries attributed to the chlorine attacks.[30] Further independent investigations by reporters from the German magazine Der Spiegel and Daniele Raineri of Italy's Il Foglio also revealed, using photographic evidence, the clear marking on the munitions of the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco and the stamp Cl2, the scientific shorthand for chlorine.[31][32]

Iran, a Syrian government ally, is under Western investigation for allegedly ordering and transporting to Syria 10,000 chlorine canisters produced in China and implicated in the Kafr Zita attack.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kafr Zeita Poison Gas Claims, nbcnews.com.
  2. ^ Syria fails to remove all chemical weapons as deadline passes, ft.com.
  3. ^ Syrian state TV, rebels trade allegations over poison gas attack, haaretz.com.
  4. ^ Claims of new poison gas attack in Syria, bbc.com.
  5. ^ New rebel, government claims of poison gas attack complicates Syria civil war, weapons cleanup, usnews.com.
  6. ^ Over 60 attacks with chemical arms by Syrian regime: Opposition, kashmirmonitor.in.
  7. ^ Syria rebels, government confirm poison gas attack, arabnews.com.
  8. ^ Syria’s civil war, economist.com.
  9. ^ Syria: Bashar al-Assad 'launching chemical weapons attacks with chlorine', telegraph.co.uk
  10. ^ U.S. officials say Syria is using remaining chemical weapons stockpile as leverage, washingtonpost.com.
  11. ^ Eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons, economist.com.
  12. ^ Evidence Chlorine Gas Was Used In The Kafr Zita Chemical Attack, brown-moses.blogspot.com.au.
  13. ^ Syria: Bashar al-Assad 'launching chemical weapons attacks with chlorine', telegraph.co.uk
  14. ^ Syria chemical weapons: how the Telegraph found evidence of chlorine and ammonia gas bombs, telegraph.co.uk.
  15. ^ Syria chemical weapons: Britain calls for urgent investigation, telegraph.co.uk.
  16. ^ Official: U.S. looking into reports of poison gas use, dailystar.com.lb.
  17. ^ Kafr Zeita Poison Gas Claims, nbcnews.com.
  18. ^ UN called on to investigate poisonous gas usage in Syria, worldbulletin.net.
  19. ^ In footage, rebels claim new Assad chemical attack, timesofisrael.com
  20. ^ Syria: Bashar al-Assad 'launching chemical weapons attacks with chlorine', telegraph.co.uk
  21. ^ Renewed chemical weapons claims mount against Syrian regime, dailystar.com.lb.
  22. ^ Boy dies as Syrian regime carries out 'gas attack' on rebels, telegraph.co.uk.
  23. ^ Syrian activists report fresh poison gas attack, english.alarabiya.net.
  24. ^ Hollande issues warning on chemical strikes, dailystar.com.lb.
  25. ^ Syria War: Three More Chemical Attacks Reported As Russia, China Veto International Criminal Court Action, ibtimes.com.
  26. ^ Syria: Bashar al-Assad 'launching chemical weapons attacks with chlorine', telegraph.co.uk
  27. ^ Syria conflict: 'Regime used chlorine gas to attack own citizens three times in past week', mirror.co.uk.
  28. ^ U.S. Examines Possible Chemical Weapons Use in Syria, nbcnews.com.
  29. ^ Chlorine attacks sink Syria's credibility on chemical weapons deal (+video), csmonitor.com.
  30. ^ Syria: the children killed by Assad's chlorine gas bombs, telegraph.co.uk.
  31. ^ Syrian chemical weapons use backed-up by second investigation, telegraph.co.uk.
  32. ^ Found: the bombs that delivered Syria's chlorine gas, telegraph.co.uk.
  33. ^ West fears Iran is supplying chlorine bombs to Syria, telegraph.co.uk.

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