Bad news: Syria has filled several aerial bombs with the deadly nerve gas sarin and is ready to drop them onto its own people as soon as President Bashar al-Assad gives the word. United States officials leaked the news to NBC on Wednesday night, just a day after they said that there was no evidence that Assad regime had mixed the nerve agents. Well, they're mixed now, and while they're not yet on the planes that would drop them over Syria -- or, God forbid, some other target -- things are very close to getting very ugly over there.
How ugly? Let's talk about sarin for a second. Even in extremely low doses, the colorless, odorless gas is a very deadly chemical weapon that attacks the nervous system when inhaled or ingested. It can also be absorbed through the skin and can easily penetrate clothing. Once exposed, victims experience a runny nose followed difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest and nausea. Then, as the body starts to shut down, they suffer from incontinence and vomiting before twitching and shaking uncontrollably. Total paralyzation happens in the final stage leaving victims unable to breathe. Typically, it only takes one minute from exposure to death.
Sarin is the same chemical agent that Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds in 1988 and is a favorite of terrorist organizations. Bluntly put, thousands of people will die if Assad decides to drop the sarin-filled bombs. To give you an idea of what that means, it helps to know that the nerve agent was originally developed to be used as a pesticide. Which should give you a good idea of how Assad really feels about his people -- all of them, including women and children. Of course, we already knew that Assad wasn't too bothered by killing children. His troops wiped out a whole playground full of them a couple of weeks ago.
Obviously, the U.S. is not happy about this development, but one U.S. officials said "there's little the outside world can do to stop it." President Obama already warned Syria earlier this week that a chemical weapons attack would be "totally unacceptable" and would result in "consequences." Around the same time news broke that Assad has been working on securing political asylum in Latin America and other countries in the Middle East, Hillary Clinton was giving a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels. "Ultimately, what we should be thinking about is a political transition in Syria and one that should start as soon as possible," Clinton said. "We believe their fall is inevitable. It is just a question of how many people have to die before that occurs."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.