What Would Happen If the U.S. Hits a Chemical Weapons Storage Facility in Syria
As the U.S. gears up to strike Syria, alone or not, many are wondering what exactly the target would be.
Though its been reported that a missile strike would try to destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's pile of chemical weapons, experts told the Associated Press that such an approach would be an awful idea.
Bombing the chemical weapons storage facility would likely result in a leak of some of the nerve agent contained within the missiles, which would then spread, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. That means risking the lives of nearby civilians and poisoning the area surrounds the facility. And not all of the weapons would be destroyed in the assault, leaving lethal nerve gas in at least 20 percent to 30 percent of them.
On top of that, many of the storage facilities are expected to be in heavily populated cities like Damascus, Homs, and Hama, three cities with a combined population of about 2 million people.
"It's a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease," Kimball said.
While it's unlikely that the U.S. plans on trying to directly hit a chemical weapons storage facility, uncertainty over where exactly Syria's chemical weapons are make identifying a target that much harder.
All of the uncertainty regarding chemical weapons, international law, and the potential repercussions of a strike has caused U.S. allies like the UK to back out of plans for a military strike. But on Thursday, President Obama seemed prepared for the U.S. to proceed alone. As early as Friday, the White House is expected to release evidence it has gathered that links the Assad regime to last week's chemical weapons attack out outside of Damascus that killed as many as 1,300 men, women, and children.
While the administration has expressed certainty that the Syrian government is responsible for the attack, it has not yet outlined details of plans for a military response.