Syria Daily: Regime Denies UN Conclusion of 27 Chemical Attacks

Bodies of the victims of the Assad regime's sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, April 4, 2017

The Assad regime has denied the conclusion of UN investigators that it has carried out 27 chemical attacks, including April’s sarin assault on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria.

A report to the UN Human Rights Council detailed how the regime had employed sarin in the Khan Sheikhoun operation — killing at least 82 people and wounding more than 200, according to the investigators — and repeatedly pursued “toxic gas” attacks, probably with chlorine, in areas such as the Damascus suburbs and Hama Province.

See UN Confirms Assad Regime’s Sarin Attack on NW Syria in April

Both the regime and its ally Russia have put out a series of unsupported, contradictory stories to try and escape blame for the attacks. Bashar al-Assad has insisted the Khan Sheikhoun operation, carried out by an Su-22 jet dropping a munition with the sarin, was “100% fabrication” — even though his officials provided samples with sarin to investigators.

On Friday, the regime said it “never used and will never use toxic gases against its people because it does not possess them in the first place and it considers the use of such gases a moral crime that must be condemned”.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has found that the regime has not destroyed all chemical stocks and facilities, despite a promise to do so after its August 2013 attacks near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people.

Early Thursday Israeli warplanes struck a complex of the Syrian Scientific Studies Research Center, which oversees the regime’s chemical weapons and ballistic missile programs, in Hama Province.

See Syria Daily, September 8: Regime Demands UN Action Over Israel’s Strike on Chemical-Missile Complex
Israel’s Warplanes Strike Regime “Chemical Weapons Center” in Syria

The regime’s letter, sent by its Permanent Representative at UN offices in Geneva, offered no evidence to challenge the detail in the latest UN report.

Instead it insisted that the investigators and Human Rights Commission are “issuing reports and statements based on political accysations, not legal analysis, and…making media statements that are far from being neutral or professional”. It insisted the Commission “has become a cheap propaganda machine serving the agendas of certain states”.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Back in May, the Russian defense ministry rejected HRW’s, and now the OHCHR’s claim, about a Soviet-era bomb used in the attack:

    “KhAb-250s were refilled through a special side vent… could never leave a crater as they explode in the air at the height of 30-70 meters (some 100-230 feet) above the ground. The KhAB-250 bombs have never been exported outside the USSR and were dismantled in the 1960s….it was never designed to contain any sarin nerve gas.”

    The munition allegedly responsible for the chemical attack was first reported by media as a “rocket”.

  2. Reminds me of when I questioned my smallest son about the empty Nutella jar. “It was not me” he said, with chocolate all over his face.

  3. Here’s something we missed: On page 28 of the UN report, the authors try to explain the discrepancy of the fact that people smelt something bad on the day and yet sarin is odourless:
    “Some interviewees reported a “bad smell”. One interviewee described it as similar to drainage or waste water, while another said it resembled a strong insecticide… It is also apparent from the analytical results of the environmental samples that the agent released into the atmosphere contained a number of impurities (several phosphor-organic compounds, hexamine, fluorinated compounds), which would explain the insecticide-like or otherwise bad smell perceived by some witnesses.”
    So, it appears that we are not dealing with a military-grade sarin bomb but something improvised and which contained a number of impurities. Maybe the grain silo, next to the crater in the road, contained pesticides.

    • I’m sorry — I don’t think you comprehend the analysis of the environmental samples as you repeat the discredited “grain silo” diversion.

      • You cannot avoid the fact that military grade Sarin is odourless Scott. The suggestion that the Assad regime deliberately produced an impure batch (hence he odour) makes even less sense as the result would have been a very ineffective munition that had limited effect while resulting in negative consequences from the revelabtion of such an attack

Leave a Comment