News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Details Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack

A photograph taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, the day after a missile attacked by government forces. The government denies chemical weapons werA photograph taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, the day after a missile attacked by government forces. The government denies chemical weapons wer
x
A photograph taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, the day after a missile attacked by government forces. The government denies chemical weapons wer
A photograph taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, the day after a missile attacked by government forces. The government denies chemical weapons wer
David Arnold
The main Syrian opposition coalition says the suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus was launched by a special unit of President Bashar al-Assad’s army from a mountain range north of the capital.
 
In a report issued Wednesday, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said the attack on Ghouta and nearby areas on the outskirts of Damascus was carried out by the Army’s 155th Brigade in the early hours of August 21. It said the suspected chemical weapons were delivered by short-range missiles launched from a military compound known as Qutayfa in the Qalamoun Mountains north of the city.
 
The SNC claims were consistent with what chemical warfare experts have been saying in recent days. Jeffrey White, a former U.S. intelligence officer now with the Washington Institute research group, said last week “CW [chemical weapons] use also fits the regime's longstanding pattern of behavior and its current situation on the ground.”
 
“First, the military situation in the Damascus area, while not critical, has not been going in the regime's favor,” White said. “Second, military developments in other parts of the country may have altered the regime's calculus.”
 
Sarin gas may have been used
 
The SNC and its allied have been trying to topple the Assad government for the past 29 months and the fighting has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations.
 
The SNC report said it was still too soon to confirm what specific kind of chemical weapon may have been involved last week, but added, “Medical reports show the victims exhibited symptoms consistent with exposure to sarin gas.”
 
White and other experts speculated last week that sarin chemicals were involved, but that “determining the specific agent involved will require technical analysis.”
 
A United Nations team is now inspecting the attack area and has taken samples for analysis.
 
The six-page SNC report claimed that more than 1,500 Syrians died in the missile attack, and approximately 5,000 were injured.  Other reports have estimated fewer casualties.
 
There has been no independent verification of the SNC casualty claims and the Assad government has denied any chemical weapons attack took place.
 
The SNC report included a map of greater Damascus and photographs of the bodies of children arranged side by side on their backs and wrapped in white sheets.
 
Planning a chemical attack
 
Chemical warfare experts said last week the attack appeared to have been a well-coordinated operation involving artillery, surface-to-surface missiles and possibly aircraft.
 
“Attacks by air units would be a decisive indicator of regime responsibility,” said White. “The operation is unlike any of the previous cases of CW use in Syria, which were relatively small in scale, limited in terms of casualties, and often seemingly designed to reduce the risk of detection by outside observers.”
 
The SNC said its report was based on information provided by “officers from Assad forces and Assad Air Force intelligence sympathetic to the revolution,” as well as civilian activists and attack survivors.
 
The SNC report said that on the night of August 20, warplanes conducted five air raids on the Ghouta area near Damascus and that only helicopters remained in the area when the government began firing the missiles.
 
It said the attack started at 2:31 a.m. when 16 missiles were fired at East Ghouta. Relief operations were interrupted 49 minutes later when more missiles were fired at Ain Tarma. The report said additional missiles were fired an hour and a half later.
 
Victims were taken to medical facilities in Daraya, another Damascus suburb, the SNC said.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
August 28, 2013 10:54 PM
The chemical attack could be launched by any group other than Mr. Assad: The rebels who are calling for Western intervention, the troops that betray Mr. Assad, foreign agents...


by: Chu Chao Min from: China
August 28, 2013 10:47 PM
Was Mr. Assad stupid enough to launch the chemical attack while he had been warned by Mr. Obama about the consequences of that attack? No he was!
Did Mr. Assad lauch the attack in the capital when the UN inspectors were there? No, he didn't. He was not so risky.
Did Mr. Assad need to use such weapon when he was gaining the upper hand? No, he didn't.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid