Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.N. Has 'Wealth' of Info Pointing to Assad's Use of Nerve Gas: Report
United Nations investigators have amassed a wealth of evidence that creates a strong case that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is responsible for the mass gas attack in August that is estimated to have killed in excess of 1,400 people, Foreign Policy reported on Wednesday, citing interviews with U.N. envoys.
The United States and its allies already have accused Damascus of carrying out the Aug. 21 attack. U.S. and Russian officials presently are discussing whether a deal can be worked out whereby Syria agrees to cede control of its chemical arsenal to the international community in order to avoid coming under a threatened punitive U.S. missile attack.
A task force of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors lead by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom on Monday likely will submit its report on the attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The assessment will not specifically lay the blame of the strike on the Syrian government, but will detail solid circumstantial evidence that points to the Assad regime being responsible, according to three U.N. sources.
The circumstantial evidence reportedly includes laboratory examinations of dirt samples and bodily fluids as well as used rocket shells and munitions.
The U.N. assessment might also detail which direction the nerve-agent-filled rockets were fired from, which could hint at whether they were launched from an area held by the Syrian military or opposition forces, according to a Reuters report.
"While Sellstrom may not say who's to blame, there's nothing stopping [U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon] from interpreting the facts and saying that blame appears to point in a certain direction," an anonymous diplomatic source said in an interview.
The U.S. intelligence community has yet to find concrete evidence that shows Assad personally gave the order for the Ghouta attack, the Washington Times reported on Thursday.
Still, there is a strong belief among U.S. intelligence branches that at the least someone very close to Assad gave the order, anonymous sources told the Times.
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