Chemical Weapons Were Used At Least Four Other Times in Syria, U.N. Says

Sara Morrison, The Wire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sara Morrison, The Wire
Dec. 13, 2013, 4:02 a.m.

The United Na­tions has fi­nally is­sued its re­port on wheth­er or not chem­ic­al weapons were used in Syr­ia.

The ver­dict: they were — at least five times — but we still don’t know which side used them.

This was a more com­pre­hens­ive re­port than the one the U.N. is­sued in Septem­ber, which said that sar­in gas was def­in­itely used in the Aug. 21 at­tack on Dam­as­cus. Now, the U.N. says, it has found evid­ence that “sug­gests” (in the words of the 82-page U.N. re­port) that sar­in gas was used in at least four oth­er at­tacks, all in 2013: Khan al As­sal on March 19, Saraqueb on April 29, Jobar on Aug. 24 and Ashrafi­ah Sahnaya on Aug. 25. Twenty-one people are be­lieved to have been killed in those at­tacks.

The U.N.’s word­ing wasn’t as strong in those four as it was for the site of the Aug. 21 at­tacks, which killed al­most 1,500 people. There, the U.N. said, the evid­ence was “clear and con­vin­cing.” At the oth­er sites, the U.N. col­lec­ted evid­ence that “cor­rob­or­ated” or was “con­sist­ent with” al­leg­a­tions that chem­ic­al weapons were used. Those in­cluded blood tests, samples taken from a vic­tim’s in­tern­al or­gans and the at­tack sur­viv­ors’ symp­toms.

Much like it did in the Septem­ber re­port, the U.N. stayed away from as­sign­ing blame for the at­tacks. The United States has main­tained that Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad was be­hind the Aug. 21 at­tacks, though Sey­mour Her­sh re­cently wrote that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion hid evid­ence that the rebels were able to make and use sar­in gas. As­sad has al­ways blamed the rebels.

Upon re­ceiv­ing the fi­nal re­port, U.N. Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon said: “The use of chem­ic­al weapons is a grave vi­ol­a­tion of in­ter­na­tion­al law and an af­front to our shared hu­man­ity. We need to re­main vi­gil­ant to en­sure that these aw­ful weapons are elim­in­ated, not only in Syr­ia, but every­where. “

Ban is sched­uled to say more on Fri­day and Monday, once he’s had a chance to read the re­port.

After the Aug. 21 at­tack, As­sad agreed to let the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons des­troy its chem­ic­al weapons. But the weapons couldn’t be des­troyed in Syr­ia, as it’s in the middle of a civil war, and Al­bania re­fused to host them. In­stead, the weapons will be des­troyed aboard a U.S. ship some­where in the middle of the ocean in a pro­cess an un­named of­fi­cial as­sured re­port­ers was “en­vir­on­ment­ally sound.”

Al­tern­ately, Croa­tia might do it.

Yes­ter­day, amid re­ports of in­creased fight­ing between rebel groups, the United States de­cided to stop provid­ing non-mil­it­ary aid to the rebel-con­trolled re­gion of north­ern Syr­ia.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from The Wire. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

What We're Following See More »
KELLOGG WILL RETURN TO NSC COS
Trump Taps Lt. Gen. McMaster as NSC Head
2 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump announced Monday that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster will serve as his next national security adviser, filling the void left last week by the sudden dismissal of Michael Flynn. ... Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been serving as the acting national security adviser since Flynn's exit, will return to his role as chief of staff of the National Security Council." The pick was widely praised on both sides of the aisle.

Source:
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
3 days ago
BREAKING
WOULD HAVE REPLACED FLYNN
Harward Turns Down NSC Job
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned down President Donald Trump's offer to be national security adviser Thursday, depriving the administration of a top candidate for a critical foreign policy post days after Trump fired Michael Flynn." Among the potential reasons: his family, his lack of assurances that he could build his own team, and that "the White House seems so chaotic."

Source:
REVERSES OBAMA RULE
House Votes to Let States Block Planned Parenthood Funds
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"The House passed a resolution Thursday re-opening the door for states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving some federal funds. The measure, which passed 230-188, would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can't block the women's health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program."

Source:
FORMER PROSECUTOR
Alexander Acosta to Get Nod for Labor
4 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login