German companies accused of selling deadly chemicals to Assad’s regime

The investigation by the news organizations revealed that the chemical agents sold to Assad’s regime can be used for medical prescriptions as well for the poison gas sarin.

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June 27, 2019 23:22
2 minute read.
A United Nations (U.N.) chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing

A United Nations (U.N.) chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria August 29, 2013.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABDULLAH)

Giant German chemical companies Brenntag AG and BASF reportedly sold chemical agents to the Syrian regime that can be used for poison gas warfare against civilians.


As part of a combined investigation among three German media outlets, it was reported that “German corporations were involved in the export of weapons-grade chemicals to Syria despite the ongoing war.”
The media outlets said that “according to research by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Bayerischer Rundfunk and Tamedia-Medienhaus, the Essen-based chemical wholesaler Brenntag AG has sold isopropanol and diethylamine to a Syrian pharmaceutical company linked to the Bashar al-Assad regime via a Swiss subsidiary.”


The investigation by the news organizations revealed that the chemical agents sold to Assad’s regime can be used for medical prescriptions as well for the poison gas sarin.


In August, 2013, Assad’s regime launched a sarin gas attack that murdered more than 1,400 civilians near Damascus.


The prosecutor’s office in the German city of Essen is considering an investigation into Brenntag, which is situated in the industrial city of Essen. Three NGOs – the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative, the Syrian Archive in Berlin and Trial International in Switzerland – filed criminal complaints against the companies.


The EU requires permission to export isopropanol and diethylamine.


Brenntag has denied bypassing EU export rules on restricted chemicals. A number of the deliveries were sent to Syria in 2014. The BBC reported that Brenntag confirmed that isopropanol and diethylamine were delivered to Syria via its subsidiary Brenntag Schweizerhall AG, “in accordance with applicable law.”


“Brenntag did not circumvent EU export restrictions,” said the chemical company in a statement, adding that the chemicals were for an analgesic.


Brenntag took a hit Wednesday on the stock market as its shares dropped about 6%. Belgian prosecutors are examining the role of BASF, the world’s largest seller of chemicals, for its reported role in delivering diethylamine to Assad’s regime. The chemical was produced by a BASF plant in the Belgian city of Antwerp.


In March, the UN Commission of Inquiry said Assad’s regime was responsible for 32 out of 37 chemical attacks between 2013 and 2019.


In April 2018, the US, UK and France launched more than 100 missiles against chemical weapons facilities in response to Assad’s use of chemical warfare in a Damascus suburb. The missiles targeted a scientific research center in Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, and a storage site and command post in the area of Homs.


In April 2017, the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airbase site, which has been said to have been used by Assad’s regime for the production of sarin gas in the mass murder of Syrians.


According to a UN report, the Syrian regime murdered more than 80 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.


The Jerusalem Post reported in 2018 that the German company Krempel Group sold insulating material to Iranians in Tehran that later was used in Iranian-regime rockets laced with chemicals. The Iranian-produced chemical rockets gassed Syrian civilians in January and February of 2018. Krempel pulled the plug on its business with Iran after US imposed sanctions on Tehran that November.


“There continues to be ongoing risks with doing business there, because the Iranians have not reformed their system,” Sigal Mandelker, the US under-secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said at the time.


Mandelker, speaking in London, said Tehran was financing Hezbollah, Hamas and Assad.


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