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Posted: April 06, 2017

What is sarin nerve gas?

Edlib Media Center, via AP/AP
This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian doctor treating a child following a suspected chemical attack, at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)

By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The United States airstrike of Tomahawk cruise missiles from two ships on an airbase in Syria Thursday was in response to a chemical attack that the U.S. blamed on Syria President Bashar Assad.

>> Read more trending news

The chemical attack, which President Donald Trump described as “heinous” and an act that “cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” was condemned by world leaders.

Related: US fires more than 50 cruise missiles into Syria

Read: Full transcript of Trump's speech on US Syria strike

A United Nations investigation said the chemical weapon used in attack was sarin gas.

What is sarin?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin is a nerve agent that appears as a clear, colorless liquid and is generally odorless and tasteless. 

What does it do?

Sarin can cause death in minutes after exposure and interferes with the nervous system and sends the bodies of those affected into constant activity.  The main cause of death from exposure to the agent is acute respiratory distress, according to the World Health Organization.

How do people get exposed to it?

The deadly agent can contaminate water, food and be released into indoor and outdoor air as a vapor or liquid spray, which might also affect agricultural products, according to the CDC. It can be absorbed into the body by eye or skin contact and inhalation. Ingestion is also possible, but less common.


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