UN report on Syria calls largest chemical attack in 25 years war crimes

Sep 16, 2013 | News

Ban Ki-moonProfessor Ake Sellstrom (left), head of the chemical weapons team working in Syria, hands over the report on the 21 August 2013 Al-Ghouta massacre to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS

By Caroline Brown

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed the use of the chemical weapon sarin gas, in the deadly attack on Aug. 21 resulting in about 1,400 Syrian civilian casualties.

The report from UN chemical inspectors released today said there is ‘clear evidence that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in the attack in Syria.’

In an address to the media at 2 p.m. today, via a live webcast, UN Ambassador Samantha Power said, “The samples of sarin gas are higher than the quality used in Saddam Hussein’s program.”

What this report does not definitively say is who is responsible for the international war crimes for the use of the sarin gas.

President Barack Obama, in a press conference to the United States last week, said the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the attacks, while the Syrian government blames members of the opposition.

Ambassador Power said, “The technical details of the report says only the regime could have carried out the attack. We have associated one type of munitions in the report with previous regime attacks … we have viewed thousands of videos and there is no evidence that the opposition has access to sarin or munitions … it defies logic to think that the opposition would have infiltrated the regime controlled area.”

“Two munitions have been linked to the attack and in the 18 months I’ve been studying the arms and munitions in the conflict I have never seen either type of munition used by the opposition,” said Eliot Higgins, aka Moses Brown, a leading authority on Syrian arms trafficking to Humber News.

Higgins’ Brown Moses blog has been cited by CNN, NPR, the New York Times, and various NGOs. “I have collected about 500 YouTube videos posted by civilians, rebels and others in Syria and hundreds of photos that are proof of chemical weapons being used, “ he said.

In a tweet, Andy Carvin, Senior Strategist at NPR in Washington, D.C. says “@brown_moses is the Nate Silver of Syrian munitions. He totally called it on the rockets used in the sarin attack.”

The Secretary-General in the address to the media today said he welcomes the agreement reached over the weekend between the Russian Federation and the United States on a framework to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

“I urged, this morning, the Security Council to act urgently to ensure enforcement and compliance with this plan. There must be accountability for the use of chemical weapons … those perpetrators will be brought to justice,” he said.

The UN has not yet provided details of a plan for a resolution and continues to investigate these allegations further.