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.

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Itchybiscuit
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Itchybiscuit

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

Itchybiscuit
Member
Itchybiscuit

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

Itchybiscuit
Member
Itchybiscuit

‘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?’

Kalima
Admin

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
Member
Itchybiscuit

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.

KillgoreTrout
Member

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
Member
Itchybiscuit

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.

KillgoreTrout
Member

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
Admin

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
Member
Itchybiscuit

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
Admin

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
Member

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
Member
Itchybiscuit

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
Member

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
Member
Itchybiscuit

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.