May 8 2015
With the ISIS declaring an Islamic Caliphate, the alarming prospect of the use of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), including chemical weapons falling into jihadi hands, could become a reality. The issue re-emerged recently with ongoing media reports about the alleged use of toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks in Idlib governate between March 16 and 31, 2015. These raised troubling questions. The scenario becomes more complex because Idlib has fallen to rebel forces. On March 18 Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed opposition groups opened a major offensive against government forces in Idlib that culminated in its capture on March 28.
According to media reports, witnesses filmed remnants of barrel bombs. Among the remnants were containers typically used for refrigerants in refrigerators and air-conditioners. Videos and photos from the aftermath of five attacks, including material shared by the Syrian Civil Defence, show containers of a size, shape, and design commonly used for refrigerants. These canisters are easy to refill with other gases and widely available in Syria.