UN Report Finds Syria Sarin Use (Updated)
The next shoe has dropped on the case against Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons.
The much-anticipated report from the UN chemical weapons inspectors has found “clear and convincing evidence” that sarin was used against civilians in Syria on August 21:
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. inspectors say there is “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in an attack last month in Syria that killed hundreds of people.
A report from the inspectors says “the environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used … in the Ghouta area of Damascus” on Aug. 21.
“The conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic … against civilians including children on a relatively large scale,” the inspectors said on the first page of their report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Ban is scheduled to present the report to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. The Associated Press saw the first page of the report.
The report does not determine who used the deadly chemical weapons in the attack—the inspectors were not tasked with that responsibility.
The complete report has not yet become available publicly but if it does I’ll link to it.
Interesting. An update from Reuters says that the contents of the report have been inferred from a photo released by the UN of weaopns inspector Ake Sellstrom submitting the report. Image enhancement was then used to see what the topmost page of the report had to say.
The UN inspectors’report is here. Some interesting highlights:
- The total duration of the inspection mission itself was 7.5 hours.
- During the course of their inspection the mission actually came under attack from sniper fire.
- They collected statements from more than 50 patients, health workers, and first responders.
- The symptoms reported included
shortness of breath, disorientation, rhinorrhea (runny nose), eye irritation, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, general weakness, and eventual loss of consciousness.
- Environmental samples were taken and blood, urine, and hair samples were obtained from individuals who showed signs of intoxication.
Here’s the conclusion:
On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.
The conclusions go on to say that surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin were used in the attacks.
The report continues with pictures, discussion of likely trajectories for the projectiles, and detailed cataloguing of information obtained. I hope that someone more knowledgeable than I will be able to comment on the remnants of the projectiles shown.