Initially developed during WWII by German industrial giant IB Farben as an insecticide, Sarin is a Phosphate based poison, which can be absorbed into the body by either breathing it in a gaseous form or coming into physical contact with is and absorbing it through the skin. An almost microscopic small drop of this stuff is enough to kill a grown man in under 10 minutes. Victims die through it’s attack on the nervous system, causing convulsions, uncontrollable shaking, and breathing issues.
It is formerly classified as a WMD and banned by virtually every country in the world. Sarin is neutralized by water – so if it is used as a weapon, rain quickly neutralizes it. It’s persistency is from several weeks to 3 months if not neutralized by weather. It is what is called a Binary – meaning two non-lethal parts combine to make the killing chemical. But by no means is it the most deadly chemical weapon. However, it is fairly easy to manufacture – making it a favorite of third rate second and third world regimes. In a desert environment like much of the Middle East, it can be used as an area denial weapon – effectively closing off avenues of approach by enemy troops without CBC protective clothing and masks for periods of 2-4 weeks. It is really nasty stuff, with a very high lethality rate.
CBS 60 Minutes brought some very graphic images to American Television last week, of a Sarin Attack which killed over 1400 men, women, and children in a Damascus suburb controlled by a rebel group. All told, about 400 children were killed in the attack, which apparently consisted of only 3 artillery shells full of the agent. This report isn’t the CBS report – but another which goes a bit deeper.