News / Middle East

UN: 'Convincing Evidence' of Syria Chemical Attack

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, second right, pose for the media prior to a meeting on Syria at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, Sept. 16, 2013.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, second right, pose for the media prior to a meeting on Syria at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, Sept. 16, 2013.
VOA News
United Nations inspectors say there is "clear and convincing evidence" that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in an attack in Syria last month that killed hundreds of people.

In a report issued Monday, inspectors said environmental, chemical and medical samples show "unequivocally and objectively" that "surface-to-surface rockets" containing the nerve agent sarin were used in the Ghouta area of Damascus' on August 21.

The report cited survivors who reported "a military attack with shelling," followed by an onset of symptoms including "blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and an eventual loss of consciousness."

The inspectors were asked to determine whether chemical weapons were used, and not who unleashed them.

UN Report on Ghouta Attack

Conclusions
  • Chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale
  • Environmental, chemical and medical evidence provides clear evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin were used

Evidence
  • Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets were found to contain sarin
  • Close to rocket impact sites, the environment was found to contain sarin
  • Patients/survivors were diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound
  • Blood and urine samples from those patients were positive for sarin and sarin signatures

Source: UN

But the Obama administration said the U.N. report makes it clear that President Bashar al-Assad's government was responsible for the attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 last month. A White House spokesman noted that only the Syrian army has surface-to-surface rockets.

Britain's U.N. envoy echoed the comments, saying the report leaves "no remaining doubt" that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 21 attack. Syria maintains it was rebel fighters, not government forces, who were responsible.

Almost all of the biomedical samples examined tested positive for sarin exposure, including 93 percent collected from urine and 88 percent from blood. A majority of the rockets or rocket fragments recovered also were found to be carrying sarin.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called the use of chemical weapons in Syria a "war crime" and demanded the threat of sanctions to support a plan to destroy the arms. He said the August 21 attack is the "most significant use of chemical weapons" since former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein ordered their use against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.

In Geneva, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said it is investigating 14 alleged attacks with chemical weapons or chemical agents in Syria over the last two years. The report is expected to add momentum to a deal to eradicate Syria's chemical weapons program.

Earlier Monday, the U.S., France and Britain agreed on the need for a strong United Nations resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines for Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the task is difficult and complex, but he stressed the need to maintain pressure on Assad's government.

“It is the Assad regime that has stockpiled these weapons and that has used them repeatedly against the Syrian people, so the pressure is on them to comply with this agreement in full. The world must be prepared to hold them to account if they don’t, and our three countries are certainly determined to do so,” said Hague.

Hague spoke alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after they met in Paris. The talks came days after the U.S. and Russia announced a plan that calls on Syria to detail its chemical weapons stockpile. The Syrian government has promised to comply.

Kerry said anything less than full compliance by the Syrian government with a U.N. resolution will not be accepted. He also expressed the need to find a lasting solution beyond taking chemical weapons away from Assad's forces.

"We understand that removing the chemical weapons still leaves him with artillery and airplanes and he uses them indiscriminately against his people, and we are going to do everything in our power to continue to work towards the political resolution that is so critical to ending that violence,” said Kerry.

Earlier efforts to address the Syrian crisis at the U.N. Security Council have failed, with Russia and China using their veto power to block any outside intervention.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Virginia Nancarvis from: https://www.facebook.com/
September 17, 2013 10:44 PM
So from those posting and complaining..where is your country and will they step up?...France, Iran, Vietnam, Somalia.
Will they contribute money, will they offer their children to sacrifice for Syria's freedom from genocide...or Iran's freedom from Hussein, Egypt's freedom from Mubarack, Libya's freedom from Gaddafi? The U.S. for all its mistakes never once occupied the countries they fought. They could have. They could have made sure the government was staffed by Americans and forced our form of government upon them. They could have made them our territories and (perhaps) eventually our states Then we would deserve the accusation of imperialism.
Instead we gave loads of money so they could rebuild..Japan and Germany and Russia after WWII. Our efforts and funds have helped to keep peace between Egypt and Israel. We sent our children to fight in Desert Storm to help Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Joined by a coalition force from France, Egypt, British and Syria...note no citizens from Kuwait or Saudi Arabia fought. We lost 148 U.S. troops and close to 500 injured.

by: Virginia Nancarvis from: http://www.voanews.com/co
September 17, 2013 8:45 PM
The armchair generals are out in full force. This will be a big accomplishment and will take all free loving nations to step up. Russia has depleted 75% of its chemical weapons and thanks to the U.S. and our generosity of $1 billion have now built another much needed facility to destroy its chemical weapons. This is a complex and expensive process. The U.S. has depleted 90% of its chemical weapons and a New Salt treaty was signed between the U.S and Russia. Our Senate approved it with a sixty majority vote required by our Constitution.
Whatever the U.S. did in the past, we now have a leader, President Obama, committed to depleting our world of weapons of mass destruction.

by: EG from: United States
September 17, 2013 3:25 PM
So quick to say it's evidence that Assad's regime used the chem weapons. Lol!

Let's take a quick look at history shall we? In the 70s, when the Shah of Iran was ousted(one the United States put in place) The US government armed none other than Saddam with chemical weapon precursors as well as other arms to attack Iran. What did Saddam do? Used them on the Kurds. Did we care? Only when we needed an excuse to invade.

Screw the corrupt US Government. Easily, 3 decades of Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches should be charged with War Crimes, Crimes against humanity, and Treason.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
September 17, 2013 3:45 AM
When Saddam Hussein of Iraq killed more than five thousand civilians with chemical weapon the entire world was quiet and calm. Now, Assad of Syria did the same thing; slaughtering his own people with chemical weapon. No one can understand now why Russians and Western are squabbling over this issue? . If the world is unable to STOP the suffering of women and children in Syria, then Western countries and Russian should stop complaining about something relatively unimportant.

by: maithe from: Paris, France
September 16, 2013 6:25 PM
And what about biological weapons???
Again not a word....Why?

by: Anonymous
September 16, 2013 5:15 PM
all attempts in the last 2,5 years to get the Security Council to use the International Criminal Court against Bashar al Assad for his crimes act have been blocked by Russia.

Why? Because Russia doesn't want the same thing to happen to Russia someday. Plus Putin allowed the use of gas to kill civilians in the Moscow theatre seige. The Russian gov killed 140 hostages, and 40 hostage takers(criminals)... Is that a good ratio??? Russia does use chemical weapons.

Russia has been providing assad the weapons he has used to commit the crimes. So if this goes before the Security Council Russia would be found guilty of aiding and promoting assad to commit these crimes with the use of Russian Weaponry.

It is for reasons like above Russia should have NO SAY at the Security Council in regards to the investigation into bashar al assad for crimes against the Syrian Nation.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 16, 2013 1:43 PM
Talks and more talks, and Syria continues to fight and kill its own people. The UN, US, EU and Britain can continue to filibuster until all of Syria is reduced to rubles, or until all the people are either dead or become refugees. The American, European and US peoples refused their governments to go rescue the suffering peoples of Syria and restore some peace to them after it has become clear and beyond every doubt that whoever gassed the people does not have the interest of Syria at heart. Most accusing fingers point at Assad while the Opposition is constituted of terrorists, the solution would have been to level the playing ground in Syria and hand it over to a democratic government. But those who have the means to do so say no, and today there is shooting at a naval base in Washington. Not to preempt anything, but it is likely that what the Americans are afraid would happen if they went to war in Syria, has really located them on their home soil. At the end of the day we will find out that terror is better fought offshore not onshore.

by: Nadia from: Iran
September 16, 2013 12:48 PM
Now, for the opponents of Assad, has provided a great excuse to attack Iran to take revenge for the blood spilled. And if Iran is involved in that, America will be forced to intervene.

by: van from: vietnam
September 16, 2013 9:55 AM
i think the US has lost, russia has won. because assad still in power. he will win the rebels. the americans are feeble. Putin has won and lead the world. what a shame! forget the US and Nato

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs