Sarin gas: The lethal sarin gas, developed by the Nazi’s in the late 30s, is the weapon used against Syrian citizens last month, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The deadly nerve gas released in the Damascus suburb now has the U.S. on the brink of being involved in yet another foreign offensive.
Kerry is calling for support of President Obama’s petition for Congress to sanction a military strike to punish the Syrian regime, stating that he has “proof positive” that sarin was Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s weapon of choice, reports AFP via Yahoo! News on Sept. 1.
The Aug. 21 attack now shows a death toll of at least 1,400 Syrian citizens, including hundreds of women and children. Small-grade rockets were thought used to deploy the deadly toxin.
Secretary of State Kerry confirmed Sunday that an independent probe, separate from the UN efforts to investigate the attack in recent weeks, confirmed the sarin gas. Emergency workers who responded the day of the attack were tested for chemical agents. Kerry said sarin was confirmed in blood and hair samples.
“In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States and that have now been tested from first responders in East Damascus, that hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin,” Kerry said.
Sarin is inhaled directly into the lungs or absorbed through the skin, immediately shutting down the central nervous system and paralyzing the lungs. Death comes within minutes.
“Sarin is 26 times more deadly than cyanide gas. Just a pinprick-sized droplet will kill a human,” according to the World Health Organization.
It’s original use was as a pesticide, but sarin’s most ignominious moment came when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used the nerve agent and gassed tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1988 murderous rampage, killing 5,000 and injuring over 60,000.
Heavier than air, sarin can linger in an environment for up to six hours before it dissipates. Those who inhale the gas directly die within moments; onset through the skin can take longer, perhaps up to a few hours. Even those who only have fringe exposure to the gas suffer from permanent damage to the lungs, eyes and nervous system.
According to the AFP report, the name sarin comes from the last names of the chemists who accidentally discovered it – Schrader, Ambros, Ruediger and Van der Linde. The scientists had been trying to create stronger pesticides but the formula was appropriated by the Nazi military for chemical weapon warfare.