Revealed: Assad regime's plan to use chemical weapons against opposition in 2009

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Exiled Syrian scientists have told Mediapart that the Damascus regime drew up plans to use chemical weapons against internal opposition two years before the start of the current civil war in 2011. The scientists, who were involved in the making of the weapons but who defected after misgivings about its use inside the country, say the country's president Bashar al-Assad had become unnerved by protests in Iran in 2009 and the regime had ordered seven military basses to be made ready to store chemical weapons – including sarin gas. René Backmann reports.

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The Syrian regime made plans to use poison gas, including the deadly nerve agent sarin, against potential internal opposition in 2009, two years before the start of the civil war, Mediapart can reveal. Mediapart has spoken to Syrian scientists involved in the country's chemical weapons programme who say that at the end of 2009 the order was given to equip seven military air bases with storage facilities for the chemicals or 'precursors' used to create sarin gas plus facilities to fill bombs or other chemical-bearing munitions.