Syria Daily: Inspectors Point to Another Sarin Attack by Assad Regime

18
1239
A medic treats a young victim after a chemical attack on Latamineh in northwest Syria, March 2018

Report details helicopters dropping chemical munitions in March 2017 incident


LATEST


International inspectors have concluded that another sarin attack in northwest Syria was “very likely” in March 2017, pointing to the Assad regime as responsible.

The assaults, on March 24 and 25 on Latamineh in northern Hama Provinice, were the first of three attacks with sarin within two weeks. The OPCW has already found that the nerve agent was used on March 30 on Latamineh and then on April 4 in the deadliest strike, killing about 90 people in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province.

The report said chlorine was “very likely” used along with the sarin. Witnesses estimated up to 30 casualties from the March 24 attack, including two families sleeping in caves and several men on farmland outside the city. The March 25 strike on Lataminah hospital caused 33 casualties, including 15 staff. Three people were killed including Dr Ali Darwish, an orthopedic surgeon who was operating at the time, died on the way to treatment at another hospital.

Dr. Basel Termanini, Vice-President of the Syrian American Medical Society:

While the inspectors cannot assign responsibility, the report points to the Assad regime with testimony from witnesses that the chemical munitions were dropped by aircraft. Environmental samples contained hexamine and HFP both of which have been indicators of the Assad regime’s sarin production and use.

Inspectors interviewed health workers, first responders, victims, and other residents. The findings from the testimonies and samples were supported by “subsequent cross-reference and corroboration of the evidence”.

To press its findings, the OPCW emphasized the similarities between samples taken from the March 24th attack, and samples taken from the March 30th attack in Al-Lataminah and April 4th Sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

OPCW SPRING 2017 ATTACKS

In 2015 the UN Security Council gave the OPCW authority, through a Joint Investigative Mechanism, to assign responsibility. The JIM subsequently found the Assad regime culpable for three chlorine assaults and the ISIS for the use of mustard agent.

However, after the JIM found that the Assad regime carried out the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun, Russia vetoed the extension of its mandate by the Security Council. Moscow has continued to block any renewal,, as it trieS to prevent attribution of blame for the Assad regime’s April 2018 chemical attacks on Douma near Damascus.

The OPCW’s report on those attacks, which forced the final rebel surrender in the East Ghouta area, is due later this month.

On Tuesday, the UK said it will make another attempt for restoration of the JIM:

Russia is already moving to block any new authority to assign blame. Moscow’s Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that OPCW cannot carry out the attribution unless it comes through the UN Security Council, where Russia can wield its veto to prevent any mandate covering responsiblity for attacks.


Trump Administration Lifts Freeze on White Helmets Funding

The Trump Administration has lifted its freeze on funding for the White Helmets civil defense organization.

Last month the rescuers were caught up in Donald Trump’s suspension of $200 million of US support for reconstruction and development efforts in areas of northern Syria taken from the Islamic State. Trump ordered the halt as part of his call, blunted by the Pentagon, for the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

A statement on Thursday from State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Trump had authorized the release of $6.6 million from the Department and the Agency for International Development to support the “continuation of the vital, life-saving efforts of the Syrian Civil Defense”.


Leading Kurdish Politician: We Hope Assad is Serious About Talks With Us

A leading Syrian Kurdish politician has expressed hope that Bashar al-Assad is serious about negotiations with the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia.

Aldar Xelil said there had been no steps yet toward talks, mentioned by Assad last month, but said an agreement would be a “historical turning point”: “We don’t know the extent of their seriousness or preparation for this, but we hope these statements reflect serious intentions.”

The PYD has eclipsed other Syrian Kurdish factions because of the YPG, which has led the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces as they captured territory from the Islamic State in the north and east of Syria, including oil and gas fields, farmland, and water resources.

The SDF’s military advance has led to de facto Kurdish control after decades of seeking autonomy from Damascus, a claim to led to a violent suppression of the Kurds in 2004.

Assad said last month that the regime is opening “doors for negotiations” with the SDF, but also warned regime forces will recapture areas where the SDF is backed by about 2,000 US troops if the talks are not successful.

Earlier this week Russia’s Defense Ministry put out the propaganda line that the “Free Syrian Army” — which is not present in eastern Syria — and the US are preparing a “false flag” chemical attack in Deir ez-Zor Province.

Similar Russian claims have been used to cover Assad regime’s chemical attacks amid offensives on Aleppo city in late 2016 and on the East Ghouta area near Damascus this spring.

See Syria Daily, June 12: Is Russia Setting “Chemical” Pretext for Attacks on Kurdish-Led SDF in Deir ez-Zor?

Xelil, co-chair of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), which includes a number of Kurdish parties and is led by the PD, said Assad’s threat of force was regrettable and “all efforts must be focused on how to develop the peaceful option” for a decentralized “democratic Syria that encompasses…the Kurdish people and other groups”.

He continued, “We don’t want get ahead of things and propose matters so they become like conditions…The most important thing is accepting the principle of negotiations.”

The issue of autonomy is further complicated because Turkey considers PYD to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, and because PYD and TEV-DEM are opposed by other Kurdish groups.


Assad Tries to Retain Military Option to Recapture South

Bashar al-Assad has tried to maintain the option of a military offensive to retake opposition-held southern Syria, despite Israeli warnings and possible limits by his essential ally Russia.

“We are giving the political process a chance. If that doesn’t succeed, we have no other option but to liberate it by force,” Assad said in an interview with Iran’s al-Alam on Wednesday.

After reoccupying East Ghouta near Damascus in April, the Assad regime pointed to attacks on Quneitra and Dara’a Provinces, along the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But Israel indicated it would intervene if Hezbollah and/or Iranian-supported militia were involved. Russia, with its cooperative arrangement with the Israelis since September 2015, called for the withdrawal of all “non-Syrian forces” from the area and pointed to a political process to obtain rebel withdrawal.

The situation is further complicated by last July’s US-Russian declaration of a “de-escalation zone” in the southwest, although Russia has broken its de-escalation declarations in the past, including those for northwest Syria and East Ghouta.

Assad alluded to the obstacles for the regime’s insistence that it will retake “every inch” of Syria:

There are no concrete results for a simple reason which is Israeli and American interference; for they put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution….

Contacts are still ongoing between the Russians, the Americans, and the Israelis.

He pushed back on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for the withdrawal of all Iranian military personnel from the country, saying pro-Assad foreign forces will remain until “Hezbollah, Iran, or others believe that terrorism has been eliminated. Hezbollah is a basic element in this war — the battle is long, and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time.”

Assad added that, while Iran does not have any bases of its own in Syria, “[If there is] a need for Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate.”

Related Posts

18 COMMENTS

  1. From the report:
    “4.6 Given that those constraints prevented a team deployment to the location of the alleged incident, the FFM determined that the principal methods for collecting and evaluating the credibility of information include the following: examination of existing reports; assessment and corroboration of background information; conduct of interviews with relevant medical care providers, alleged casualties, and other individuals linked to the reported incident; review of documentation and records provided by interviewees; analysis of the signs and symptoms of casualties as reported by interviewees; and receipt of environmental samples, for subsequent analysis.
    4.7 The FFM team identified relevant witnesses through face-to-face interviews or teleconference calls, open-source research, medical records provided to the team, and through interaction with NGOs. Access to witnesses was coordinated with NGOs.
    4.8 In addition to liaising with representatives of several NGOs, including but not limited to the Same Justice Chemical Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (CVDCS) and the Syrian Civil Defence (SCD), also known as White Helmets, the FFM also contacted witnesses and confirmed their willingness to provide testimony and potential evidence. Furthermore, the FFM coordinated with the NGOs to organise the movement of the witnesses”

  2. The Russians refuse to extend the remit of the JIM last year because the US wanted to extend the mandate PRIOR to the publication of their report.

    The OPCW FFM have still not received the physical (alleged) bomb fragments from Khan Sheikhoun that they had been assured were ‘secured’, but still they bend over backwards to believe the evidence of these groups and continue to completely disregard their previous guidelines on chain-of-custody. The whole process is a joke.

  3. https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1636-2018_e_.pdf

    “In addition to liaising with representatives of several NGOs, including but not limited to the Chemical Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (CVDCS) and the Syrian Civil Defence (SCD), also known as White Helmets, the FFM also contacted witnesses and confirmed their willingness to provide testimony and potential evidence. Furthermore, the FFM coordinated with the NGOs to organise the movement of the witnesses.”

    “At the time of handover, the team was informed that all samples were taken by the parties who maintained their custody. A member of the SCD who took the samples was present at the handover and provided information on every sample.”

    The OPCW didn’t actually find any traces of sarin (which degrades easily) but rather associated by-products like phosphonc and methylphosphonic acid, both of which can be found in fertilizers: http://www.eurl-pesticides.eu/userfiles/file/EurlSRM/EPRW2014_Wieland_Phosponic-Acid-PesticideFoliarFertilizier_114.pdf

    • So you are claiming that Assad wasn’t gasses these urban areas, he was fertilizing them?

      That sounds like a bunch of fertilizer.

    • Yeah, the OPCW found fertilizers spread on rooftops and utility poles and on the roads and inside buildings, all within a radius of 100 meters? Are you nuts? Do you have any idea what you speak about? How do you spread fertilizers on utility poles?

  4. Its Troll day! Seems the trolls are attracted to any stories that make their masters look bad.

    Suck it up, you’ve supported the committing of war crimes, the murder of innocent people by chemical warfare, etc etc. The day of reckoning will come for that

    • These trolls believe that by spreading lies, they can fool the OPCW and the intelligence agencies to doubt their own findings and then suck up to their fake narratives. How stupid can these low-paid trolls get. A bunch of Marxists or Islamists with useless degrees who can’t get a job anywhere, so gravitate towards state propaganda outlets and get paid no more than a janitor gets paid in the west. Losers who one can read envy of the West in each of their pieces of rubbish and propaganda.

      • When you think a troll has an average IQ of 30………and bare in mind we are speaking about people who in most cases are driven by frustration or are just depressed with their piss poor lives.

Leave a Comment