Swiss medical shipment was used to make Syria chemical weapons, former regime general says

Swiss medical shipment was used to make Syria chemical weapons, former regime general says
A five tonne shipment of isopropanol, which travelled from Switzerland to Syria, was used in the production of chemical weapons, according to a former Syrian brigadier general.
2 min read
08 July, 2021
The Syrian regime has been accused of using chemical weapons on numerous occasions in Syria's war [Getty]

Chemicals produced in Switzerland for medical purposes were used in the production of chemical weapons in Syria, according to Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Quoting a former Syrian Army chief, the report said that a 2014 shipment of five tonnes of isopropanol and 280 kilograms of Diethylamine, from a Swiss factory, were coopted in the production of deadly chemical weapons

According to former brigadier general Zaher Al-Saket, the Swiss chemicals "without question went into the production of chemical weapons". Al-Saket previously spent 20 years working for Syria's chemical weapons programme, but fled the country in 2013. 

While the chemicals are commonly found in various household goods, such as disinfectant and paints, they also serve as a major component in the types of chemical weapons that the Assad regime has been accused of using against civilian populations in Syria.

The shipment had previously come under scrutiny in 2018, when the Swiss public broadcaster, RTS, reported that the shipment had occurred.

Responding to reports, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss government, and the exporters, all denied that the shipment was irregular, with SECO claiming that their client was a "private Syrian pharmaceutical firm" and that they had "no indication it had links to the Syrian regime at the time, nor today".

At the time, the Swiss government said that all five tonnes of isopropanol were used to make medical products, recent reporting by SonntagsZeitung has revealed that only one of the five tonnes was ever used for medical purposes and that the other four could not be accounted for by the importing company. 

The former general said that the remainder of the shipment was more than likely used in the production of chemical weapons, and that to hide their actions, the Assad regime would frequently use importing companies to disguise the procurement of ingredients needed to manufacture arms. 

SonntagsZeitung were able to track the chemicals from Duisberg in Germany, to Basel, before then being shipped to Lattakia in Syria. 

The exporting company continues to deny any wrongdoing, insisting that it followed all existing regulations at the time.