Sunday, June 17, 2018
Opinion

Column: Facts point to Russian deception on Syrian gas

Editor's note: Here's why the United States should remain skeptical about an agreement involving Russia that calls for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons and avoid a military strike by the United States. A United Nations report released on Monday confirmed the use of chemicalweapons in an attack last month that killed more than 1,400 Syrians, including hundreds of children. The conclusions and the evidence listed in the report clearly point to the Syrian government as the party responsible for the attack on its own citizens. Yet Russia continues to claim there is no solid proof, and the Syrian government has not accepted responsibility.

Here are 10 points from the U.N. report, and from independent analysts using the report's findings, that strongly indicate Russia and Syria are not telling the truth about what happened Aug. 21 and who is responsible:

1 "The secretary-general expresses his profound shock and regret at the conclusion that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale, resulting in numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children. The secretary-general condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons and believes that this act is a war crime."

2 "The environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used."

3 Weather information from Damascus on the morning of 21 August shows a falling temperature. This means that the air is not moving from the ground upwards, but rather the opposite. Chemical weapons in such meteorological conditions maximize their potential impact as the heavy gas can stay close to the ground and penetrate into lower levels of buildings and construction where many people were seeking shelter."

4 Large launchers were used that would have been difficult for the rebels to move and conceal.

5 Two types of rockets were used that had not been previously reported to have been used by the insurgency.

6"Impact and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable (of carrying) a chemical payload, were found to contain sarin."

7 Inspectors found part of a warhead that indicated its capacity of sarin to be about 56 liters, much larger than what was suspected to have been used in earlier attacks.

8 "Blood, urine and hair samples were withdrawn from 34 of the 36 patients selected by the mission who had signs of intoxication. The positive blood and urine specimens provide definitive evidence of exposure to sarin by almost all of the survivors."

9 "Over 50 interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results."

10 Analysts from Human Rights Watch and the New York Times used measurements from the U.N. report to determine the path of rockets started at a Syrian military complex.

Sources: U.N. report on chemical weapons use on Aug. 21 in Syria, New York Times

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