Syria: Conclusions of the UN Mission on the Use of Chemical Weapons

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas December 13, 2013 08:15 Updated

Syria: Conclusions of the UN Mission on the Use of Chemical Weapons

The Conclusions of the Final Report of the UN Mission on the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria:

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108. The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Ghouta, 21 August 2013

109. The United Nations Mission collected clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013. 110. This conclusion was based on the following:

    Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain Sarin;
    Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by Sarin;
    The epidemiology of over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results;
    A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound;
    Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for Sarin and Sarin signatures.

Khan Al Asal, 19 March 2013

111. The United Nations Mission collected credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal on 19 March 2013 against soldiers and civilians. However, the release of chemical weapons at the alleged site could not be independently verified in the absence of primary information on delivery systems and of environmental and biomedical samples collected and analysed under the chain of custody.

112. This assessment is based on the following:

    The epidemiology, based on witness statements of medical staff and military personnel participating in the rescue operation and on the documentation from the local health sector provided by the Syrian Arab Republic, corroborates the occurrence of a rapidly onsetting mass intoxication by an organophosphorous compound in the morning of the 19 March 2013. There are no other suggestions as to the cause of the intoxication;
    Interviews with secondary exposed survivors confirm symptoms of an organophosphorous intoxication;
    None of the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic denied the use of chemical weapons in Khan Al Asal. The evaluation of the information provided by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as by the Governments of France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States indicated that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal.

Jobar, 24 August 2013

113. The United Nations Mission collected evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons in Jobar on 24 August 2013 on a relatively small scale against soldiers.

However, in the absence of primary information on the delivery system(s) and environmental samples collected and analysed under the chain of custody, the United Nations Mission could not establish the link between the victims, the alleged event and the alleged site. 114. This assessment is based on the following:

    Interviews with survivors and clinicians and medical records confirm symptoms of organophosphorous intoxication;
    Blood samples recovered by the Syrian Government on 24 August 2013 and authenticated by the United Nations Mission using DNA techniques tested positive for signatures of Sarin.
    One of the four blood samples collected from the same patients by the United Nations Mission on 28 September 2013 tested positive for Sarin.

Saraqueb, 29 April 2013

115. The United Nations Mission collected evidence that suggests that chemical weapons were used in Saraqueb on 24 August 2013 on a small scale, also against civilians. However, in the absence of primary information on the delivery system(s) and environmental samples collected and analysed under the chain of custody, the United Nations Mission could not establish the link between the alleged event, the alleged site and the deceased woman.

116. This assessment is based on the following:

    Interviews with treating clinicians corroborating symptoms of organophosphorous intoxication;
    Supporting witness statements and medical records substantiating the transfer of a patient from the Shifa Hospital in Saraqueb to a hospital in Turkey;
    Samples of several organs from the deceased victim recovered during an autopsy performed in the presence of members of the United Nations Mission tested positive for signatures of Sarin.

Ashrafiah Sahnaya, 25 August 2013

117. The United Nations Mission collected evidence that suggests that chemical weapons were used in Ashrafiah Sahnaya on 25 August 2013 on a small scale against soldiers. However, in the absence of primary information on the delivery system(s) and environmental samples collected and analysed under the chain of custody, and the fact that the samples collected by the United Nations Mission one week and one month after the alleged incident tested negative, the United Nations Mission could not establish the link between the alleged event, the alleged site and the survivors.

118. This assessment is based on the following:

    Interviews with survivors and clinicians and medical records confirm symptoms of organophosphorous intoxication;
    Blood samples recovered by the Syrian Government on 24 August 2013, authenticated by the United Nations Mission using DNA techniques, tested positive for signatures of Sarin.

Bahhariyeh, 22 August 2013

119. In the absence of any positive blood samples, the United Nations Mission cannot corroborate the allegation that chemical weapons were used in Bahhariyeh on 22 August 2013.

120. This assessment is based on the following:

    Blood samples collected by the Syrian Government, on 22 August, tested negative for any known signatures of chemical weapons;
    Blood samples collected by the United Nations Mission, on 25 September, tested negative for any known signatures of chemical weapons.

Sheik Maqsood, 13 April 2013

121. In the absence of further information relevant to the incident, the United Nations Mission cannot corroborate the allegation that chemical weapons were used in Sheik Maqsood on 13 April 2013.

122. The United Nations Mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people.

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas December 13, 2013 08:15 Updated