• RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
AdLib On August - 30 - 2013

attack-syria

Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013

The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting.Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place.

Syrian Government Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21

A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.

A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.

Background:

The Syrian regime maintains a stockpile of numerous chemical agents, including mustard, sarin, and VX and has thousands of munitions that can be used to deliver chemical warfare agents.

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is the ultimate decision maker for the chemical weapons program and members of the program are carefully vetted to ensure security and loyalty. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) – which is subordinate to the Syrian Ministry of Defense – manages Syria’s chemical weapons program.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons.

The Syrian regime has the types of munitions that we assess were used to carry out the attack on August 21, and has the ability to strike simultaneously in multiple locations. We have seen no indication that the opposition has carried out a large-scale, coordinated rocket and artillery attack like the one that occurred on August 21.

We assess that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons over the last year primarily to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate in areas where it has struggled to seize and hold strategically valuable territory. In this regard, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime views chemical weapons as one of many tools in its arsenal, including air power and ballistic missiles, which they indiscriminately use against the opposition.

The Syrian regime has initiated an effort to rid the Damascus suburbs of opposition forces using the area as a base to stage attacks against regime targets in the capital. The regime has failed to clear dozens of Damascus neighborhoods of opposition elements, including neighborhoods targeted on August 21, despite employing nearly all of its conventional weapons systems. We assess that the regime’s frustration with its inability to secure large portions of Damascus may have contributed to its decision to use chemical weapons on August 21.

Preparation:

We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.

Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.

The Attack:

Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.

Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.

Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization. The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reports from international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground.

We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos, and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.

We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.

We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.

To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21.As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

25 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. Itchybiscuit says:

    FWIW, I thought that like minds would enjoy watching this. For all the problems we have with politics in this country, the buggers can put forward coherent and cogent arguments. It’s only 8 hours long, dive in -- the water’s lovely.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pcssm6sLUk

  2. Itchybiscuit says:

    I just wanted to provide this link so you guys can get a flavour of what has really happened over the past 24 hours here in the UK.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/30/syria-vote-britains-new-mood-editorial

    • AdLib says:

      Great article, Itchybiscuit! Thanks for the link! I don’t know that there’s a great difference when it comes to the American people either.

      People in both countries are fed up with making sacrifices so that military attacks on nations not threatening them can be attacked.

      Does Assad deserve to get taken out for what he’s done? Yes but does it need to be done by an outside nation or does it need to be done by Syrians just as happened in other nations in the Arab Spring?

      Again, I think the world should come together to take actions that punish Syria and Assad but more violence can only bring about even more violence.

  3. Itchybiscuit says:

    ‘We don’t need no steenkin’ evidence, just give us some hearsay and we’re good to go’.

    ‘Whaddaya mean, over 100,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by the regime over the past two years while we stood idly by? You think we’re world cops or summat? No, this is serious dammit. We just can’t allow dictatorships like North Korea to kill millions of their own citizens and do nothing. No wait, we can. Where was I? Oh yes, Syria. Look Assad is a bad guy, we have no actual proof that his regime used chemical weapons but it suits our purposes to believe so on the balance of blah, blah, blah.

    Those Brits? Perfidious Albion!! Our new bestest buds forever are the cheese eating surrender monkeys. They helped us during the war of independence you know. They’ve been nothing but a damned drain on our military since but hey, beggars can’t be choosers in this game. So, onward to the good fight and always remember this: We’re the biggest kid on the block so don’t be fucking with us, k?’

    • AdLib says:

      Hey Itchybiscuit, I sure wish there had been this level of skepticism back when Bush was stampeding us to war in Iraq through lies and propaganda. It was very upsetting to watch so many being manipulated by fear.

      Now, there is a healthy skepticism towards a military action based solely on the word of the President and that’s a good thing.

      We need reliable third party verification, Congress needs to vote on any action and the American people need to be convinced to support any action.

      But should we take action? Is the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people more of a red line than the murder of 100,000 people using conventional weapons?

      Or is making chemical weapons a red line just the trigger to take action that was desired while the 100,000 were killed?

      Does the U.S. have a responsibility, as the world’s greatest military power, to step into civil wars and internal conflicts in other nations when crimes against humanity are taking place? What’s to say taking action won’t cause greater death and suffering?And what is the specific game plan and goal for a particular attack?

      There are so many questions that need to be and should be answered before there’s any movement forward with a decision. That is why we NEED Congress to vote on this, we NEED these issues openly debated in front of the American people. And by doing so, it can help us really understand what we do and don’t want for our country and what cogent policy we have towards the rest of the world.

      • Itchybiscuit says:

        Hiya pal. IMO this will be a punishment attack. It will serve no good purpose in furthering the end of the regime and it won’t help the people of Syria. It’s doing something to be seen to be doing something.

        For all the talk of Al Qaeda being America’s greatest enemy and biggest threat, every Tomahawk cruise missile which lands on Syria will be a cruise missile for Al Qaeda.

        As for what next? There is no such thing. It’ll be a bit of shock and awe then Assad will go in hard against his own people in reprisal. He’s already emptied the prisons and the military goals -- he’s put the prisoners and political undesirables into the areas most likely to be hit and moved out any sophisticated or hard to replace military hardware. The propaganda coup Assad will reap from this will be enormous. It won’t end well for the USA.

        • SallyT says:

          I guess President Obama shouldn’t have used that “red line” threat. Maybe he should have gone with, “I dare you”. If that didn’t work he could have gone with double dare, triple dare, triple dog dare, quadruple, etc etc etc. That certainly would have kept him out of the corner a little longer. 😉

        • AdLib says:

          You’ve put your finger on one of the key problems, both sides of the conflict are our enemies. So whatever we do, even if it isn’t our intention, we’re helping our enemies.

          Part of me wants us to be able to do something to help stop Assad’s slaughter of his people but part of me is well aware how unpredictable the blowback can be from taking military action in a complicated situation.

          Unless the world and the nation is behind an attack, the danger from doing so is increased exponentially. And if the world and the nation aren’t convinced that an attack is in their best interests, why should there be an attack?

          I am rarely a supporter of the U.S. taking military action, I do think Assad’s use of chemical weapons, as seems likely, should be met with world condemnation and action but I don’t think military action is the answer.

          • Itchybiscuit says:

            I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories myself but something about this has a smell of political convenience. I can’t quite put my finger on it but experience tells me that Assad being behind this doesn’t pass the smell test.

            Off to bed -- gone 00:30 here. I’ll catch up with all you good people tomorrow.

            • Kalima says:

              That the Assad regime has chemical weapons is without a doubt AdLib, they finally admitted it in 2012.

              Here is a quick run down from Wiki.

              Syria and weapons of mass destruction (Click on Chemical Weapons)

              http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

            • AdLib says:

              I subscribe generally to Occam’s Razor, the more convoluted the theory, the less likely it probably is.

              The US claims Assad provably has chemical weapons, the evidence from surveillance shows Assad’s military preparing for days for the attack and on-the-ground evidence that rockets and artillery were used to deliver the chemical attack.

              Could this all be false? Yes but is it likely that it would be? IMO, no. Since the UN will soon be providing the details of their investigation, if the UN says the chemical attack came from devices that were planted instead of rockets and artillery, Obama’s credibility would be permanently destroyed. He’s got to know that. Also, we haven’t seen a track record of lying from the Obama Admin while we did see dishonesty from the Bush Admin from the start, cheating and stealing the Presidency.

              So, though I won’t go as far as to say anything is an absolute fact, I think that in the end we will find that the most likely situation is exactly what occurred and that means Assad likely launched this attack.

              Again, I qualify this, if legit evidence disputes this, especially from a reliable source like the UN, I could change my opinion.

              Sleep well, pal! See you soon!

          • Itchybiscuit says:

            My friend, read this:

            http://www.mintpressnews.com/

            It is confirmed that the journalist is a member of AP news agency.

            • AdLib says:

              I think the UN investigation will help to confirm the case but my instinct on any claim of false flag attacks is that they aren’t accurate.

              Historically, I can’t think of one major case where false flag was claimed and it turned out to be the case.

              And it is more typical that the one behind an act accuses the victims of causing it.

              Based on the assessment above, the details that the US flatly states the chemicals were delivered by rockets and artillery and that Assad’s chemical weapons team was in the area for three days before the attack, I would bet at this point that Assad is indeed behind this attack but I remain open to any evidence, especially the UN’s, that dispute that.

    • Kalima says:

      Hi Itchybiscuit, except for the fact that President Obama is not George Bush and John Kerry is no Condi Rice.

      There is an International Treaty about the use of chemical weapons, and even though Syria didn’t sign it in 1993, it still makes them responsible for their outlawed use and stockpiling. North Korea did not use chemical weapons, they let their people starve to death.

      The treaty was signed in January of 1993.

      “Chemical Weapons Convention”
      Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

      I thought the U.K. vote was a preliminary vote, can you imagine a thick head like Cameron taking no for an answer?

      • Itchybiscuit says:

        Hi Kalima. No, it wasn’t a preliminary vote. It’s over. Under no circumstances will this country take part in any attack on Syria. It’s not often one can say something of that nature with certitude but in this case I can. I don’t think folks in America understand the gravity of what took place yesterday in the House of Commons. This has changed British foreign policy for a generation. Have a look at the Guardian website or head over to the BBC -- Brits have been talking about precious little but this for the past 24 hours.

        As for the ‘evidence’ that Assad or his regime did this, there is none. He’s a nutter but no way would he use chemical weapons on his own people while UN weapons Inspectors are in Damascus. And I know how the people died in North Korea, does it really matter if they died from starvation caused by their government or as a result of chemical attack? This chemical weapons nonsense is a convenient cover for military action in the region. If America were serious about cracking down on UN Resolution violations, Israel would have been attacked for ignoring UN Resolutions against having nuclear weapons.

        It’s flimflammery of the worst kind and Kerry looked like a fool today. Or Colin Powell -- take your pick.

        • Hey itchy, actually there is a good deal of evidence, from many different sources.

          I do not think we should act alone on this. If we act as part of a UN coalition, then I think the judgement against the US will be very strong.

          Should we allow any country to gas it’s own people? By “we,” I mean the world at large.

          What course of action would you take? I think president Obama is trying to make the best of a very, very difficult situation.

          • Itchybiscuit says:

            Hiya KT. ‘A good deal of evidence from many different sources’?

            If there was then Cameron’s bacon would have been saved yesterday. There are ‘probabilities’ and ‘high confidence’ amongst US intelligence but no actual evidence that Assad carried out a chemical attack. There may be some confusion that there’s lots of evidence a chemical attack took place but in who’s interest is it to step over President Obama’s ‘red line’? Who would profit the most from American intervention in this civil war?

            Please don’t be satisfied with the assertions of your government. Look around for other sources and make your own mind up based on real facts.

            • Itchy, don’t get me wrong, I do not support any US involvement in this matter unless we act as a part of any UN coalition.

              I think there is very little doubt about the attack on the 21st of August. There would be traces of sarin everywhere.

              I also don’t believe that the rebel forces had chemical weapons, and if they did, why would they attack a village full of innocent civilians?

              Very delicate situation, indeed.

        • Kalima says:

          Oh ok Itchy, I had read that it was, and I read the Beeb, The Guardian and The Telegraph every day for news updates in my Morning Blog here. I’m a naturalised Brit and went to school there, and I’m so chuffed that Cameron got his big, pink arse whipped, can’t stand the bugger.

          • Itchybiscuit says:

            It was tabled as a preliminary vote and if it passed, there was going to be a further vote so in that sense, yes.

            He dangled the bait of a second vote on military action if they allowed this first one through but nobody bit. His arse is hanging out there for all to see right now and he’s flapping in the wind.

            • Kalima says:

              Thanks for the info Itchy, I’ve been caught up in a house move so I’ll admit that I only had time to skim the headlines and the first few paragraphs of many stories for the last few weeks. I’ll catch up after this weekend.

              The arse flapping in the wind couldn’t happen to a more deserving arsehole. Excuse me while I gloat.

    • SallyT says:

      Oh, Itchy, you need a scratch? I understand your sarcasm. I am worried that we may act too fast on this serious matter. I think that Cameron knew how Parliament was going to vote and this got him off the hook. “They won’t let me, Barack.” I still think that the President should go to Congress with this and make them pack some of the weight of this decision. However, I have a feeling they will vote to go with him. (Yes the Republicans will because of their buddies in the weapon manufacturing and this has always been in their plans.) I would be more upset if this was coming from Canada than Great Britain.
      There is so many questions still left to answer and those include how do we get out if we go in. And, what else will come into play if we do. Do we know where the weapons are now and if they have been moved or not? We have had real problems finding them once we get there……How do you destroy chemical weapons without them going into the atmosphere? Or, how do you contain them until they are removed and how do you know you got all of them? How do we handle those poor innocent people there now and after? There of course are so many more that I hope someone is looking at.

      • Itchybiscuit says:

        I’m Scottish. Cameron is in deep doo-doo and has been for quite some time. He fully expected to win the vote for military action against Syria -- his own backbenchers stabbed him in the back. He is fatally diminished by the outcome and it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a vote of no confidence tabled in the coming months.

        As for following the American government in any misadventure in the Middle East, polls show that 90% of the British people are against it. The lessons of Iraq have been well and truly learned. That’s why the MP’s voted the way they did -- they were bombarded with e-mails by their constituents telling them in no uncertain terms to back away from this foolishness.

        I hope that’s cleared up any confusion. :o)

        • SallyT says:

          Of course you are more familiar with things there and I appreciate you clearing things up for me. But, in an interview with Cameron today I thought I saw a little relief. (He did appear a little bent over because of all those knives in his back, tho.) I am glad that the bombardment of the MPs worked and they listened.

          Thanks!

          • Itchybiscuit says:

            You’re welcome. He’s putting on a brave face but basically he’s for the chop. He can’t allow himself to show weakness -- blood in the water and all that…

            Please read the article in the link I posted at the top of the page. It explains the situation very well.


Leave your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Back to top
PlanetPOV Tweets
Ongoing Stories
Features