News reports of an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces in the suburbs of Damascus in the early morning hours of August 21 spread like wildfire. As reports were coming in, the US, French, and the British governments began to claim that there was a massacre. U.S. government claimed that exactly 1429 people had died including 426 children. In the ensuing days and weeks the media repeatedly showed video images of ghastly scenes of dead and dying. Most of these videos were posted on the Internet and their authenticity could not be verified. Yet, those governments pronounced that the Syrian military was responsible for the massacre.
As the U.S. and France prepared to carry out a military strike against Syria to punish President Assad, a UN team of chemical weapons experts were allowed after a few days to visit the sites in the Damascus suburbs called Ghouta where the attacks reportedly took place. The UN team visited Ghouta on August 27 and again on August 29. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who called it a war crime, released their report on September 16, 2013.
The report’s basic conclusions were that sarin gas was used in a large-scale attack in Ghouta on August 21 and that surface to surface rockets were used to deliver the nerve agent. In making their determination about the rockets, the inspectors examined rocket parts and other ordnance. In my analysis, I examined the UN report carefully, especially its Appendix 5, which describes in some detail, with photographs and drawings, the two types of rockets they found in Ghouta.
Prior to the publication of the UN report, two other significant reports were made public. One was reported in the New York Times and the other a report by the Human Rights Watch. Both these reports presented details of a warhead that could have carried between 50 and 60 liters of sarin, an amount that could explain the high casualty figure above quoted by the US government. The UN report, which was issued some time after these reports, repeated their conclusions.
From my careful study and analysis of all these reports, I found that the UN report included diagrams and photographs that were in the said reports without referencing them. There was striking agreement between estimated and measured dimensions of the large warhead, which was merely a concept described in the New York Times article. It took center stage in the UN report. I describe in detail how I arrived at my conclusion.
I believe there was communication between the UN team and the analysts outside, which prejudiced the report. The US Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the UN inspectors as irrelevant because they would not bring to light any new information that the US did not already know. He was right.
The purpose of my analysis is not to prove or disprove anything. The sole purpose is to raise questions about the integrity of the UN team’s report. Decisions on war and peace depend on it.
Read the full report: Analysis of the UN Report on Syria Chemical Weapons