News / Middle East

World Awaits UN Findings on Syria

World Awaits UN Findings on Syria Chemical Attacki
September 14, 2013 1:14 PM
The long-awaited United Nations report on Syria's alleged chemical weapon attack on civilians in August is due out Monday. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more on what it is expected to say and what impact the report may have.
VIDEO: How long-awaited United Nations report on Syria's alleged chemical weapon attack, which is due Monday, affects civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives remains unclear.
The long-awaited United Nations report on Syria's alleged chemical weapon attack on civilians in August is due out Monday. 

The images of the aftermath of the alleged attack are haunting - children suffering and bodies lined up on the ground.

Now, after U.N. inspectors have examined the site and collected boxes of evidence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says the findings likely will leave little doubt.

“I believe the report will be an overwhelming report that the chemical weapons was used,” he said.

The secretary-general also took aim at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"He has committed many crimes against humanity. And therefore, I'm sure that there will be, surely, the process of accountability when everything is over," he said.

But how any of this affects a civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives remains unclear, especially since the report itself will not assign blame.

“Russia will continue to deny that it was the Syrian government and the United States and Britain and France will continue to insist it was.  And that division will continue to hamper a clear U.N. resolution with enforcement power,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

In the meantime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has continued his public offensive, appearing on Russian TV, denying that Syria used chemical weapons and dismissing U.S. threats of a military response.

At the U.N., Syria's ambassador Bashar Ja'afari sounded confident.

"We have nothing to hide.  On the contrary, we are waiting, expecting, calling on the team of investigators to come up with their full report," he said. 

But as the conflict rages, Murhaf Jouejati, a former member of the rebel Syrian National Council, believes the U.N. report may finally sway many in the U.S. and elsewhere who don't want to get involved.

"I think that [undecided] segment of the population will change their minds, therefore releasing or enabling authorities in the U.S. or even in Britain to have a stronger case for a show of force against Syria," said Jouejati.

For now, the fate of Syria is being left in the hands of diplomats, hoping to rid Syria of chemical weapons and somehow get all sides to lay down their arms.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ettore Greco
September 14, 2013 9:48 PM
Also visible in the Animal kingdom, the brutal Strength is no better or worse than the deadly Deception.

Two are the Hands to cross and shape our World
to mold It like a vase of clay and put their own seal
the scepter of command, illusion of reward
to drive at will one Destiny with no steering wheel

In the last World war, the Hand of Strength and Hand of Deception have crossed once again.

Strength personified by the Axis and Deception by the Allies.
Gestapo versus CIA.

One long scar still bleeds over this Planet.

With Strength defeated, the winners of the War have extended their cunning Hand, robbed the whole World and transformed each town in a place where Deception is the only reality.

Two new blocks were soon formed right after the War.

UK and USA celebrated Capitalism
Russia instead was infatuated with Communism

The Two Hands had only changed gloves.

It is time for a new Humankind.

by: Doris Loadburp from: UK
September 14, 2013 4:04 PM
I smell the CIA, I smell a RAT!!!

by: Whistleblower1 from: Washinton D.C.
September 14, 2013 11:25 AM
And while Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s comments were taken out of context, that he has seemingly failed to also call for accountability of Syria’s so-called “opposition” smacks of partiality – partiality exhibited by the UN throughout the Syrian conflict. Additionally, the UN’s failure to question who in fact is arming, funding, and logistically supporting verified terrorist organizations within and around Syria’s borders is equally troubling.

Al Qaeda has been active in Syria since the conflict began, and according to the US State Department’s own assessment titled, “Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq:”

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

Could the UN be so out of touch with reality that it doesn’t realize an operation of this scale surely is state-sponsored, and that the question of who is funding, arming, and otherwise supporting such an extensive operation never seemed important enough to publicly ask?

Examining the UN’s role in the Syrian crisis must also include its 2011 UN Human Rights Council’s report (full text .pdf), and its most recent report published August of this year (.doc). These are nothing more than a collection of “interviews” conducted abroad with “witnesses” provided by Syrian “opposition groups” and alleged defectors, augmented with fabrications and biased spin provided by Western-funded “NGOs” openly working for armed militants inside Syria.

by: Whistleblower1 from: Washington D.C.
September 14, 2013 11:24 AM
The bottom line regarding the UN’s upcoming report regarding the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, Syria is best summed up by the BBC’s article, “Syria crisis: UN report to confirm chemical arms attack”.

Ban Ki-moon made no comment on who was to blame for the 21 August attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, as that is not part of the report’s remit.

Despite this, the United States and its axis of collaborators are already trying to spin the report as confirmation that the Syrian government was responsible.

Relying entirely on the momentum of its massive media networks and their ability to “will” reality into any shape they please, headlines such as “United Nations’ Syria chemical weapons report “overwhelming,” shamelessly attempt to link two out of context statements by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the Syria government’s “crimes against humanity” and the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Damascus Syria, to place in the mind of readers assigned blame for the attacks.

In reality, the UN inspectors that were stampeded out of Damascus in the middle of their work, fearing an impending unilateral US military attack, were only attempting to determine how victims in eastern Damascus died, not who killed them. Independent assessments of who was responsible for the attack have not been carried out. The best the US has been able to do is suggest terrorists operating in Syria were incapable of such an attack, leaving only the Syrian government as a possible suspect.

Of course this single point of contention is dispelled by the US’ own policy in the region. CNN’s “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” reported that:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

Militant groups operating inside Syria with Western “contractors” (read: mercenaries, see: Blackwater) are more than capable of handling and deploying the weapons, and therefore more than capable of carrying out the attacks in question. The only argument left for the US is whether or not these militants, aligned with Al Qaeda, possess the will or motivation to do so. That doing so and framing the Syrian government would serve as impetus for direct US military intervention and therefore the salvation of the crumbling militant offensive, is more than motivation enough.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs