From the first day the Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons ….. now that it turns out the source ….. what do you have to think of the famous American intelligence … ..
The chemical attack on Ghouta, Syria, took place in the early hours of August 21, 2013. The town was struck by rockets containing the chemical agent Sarin, killing innocent civilians.
Iranian correspondent, Shemshadi Hassan, witnessed the attacks and spoke to Sputnik about the tragedy.
The Ghouta chemical attack left a death toll ranging from at least 281 people to 1,729.
The witness of those events, the Iranian Radio and Television correspondent in Syria and Iraq, Shemshadi Hassan, spoke in an interview with Sputnik about who was responsible for the tragedy and what kind of information war surrounds the Ghouta attack.
“Even before the chemical weapons were used in Eastern Ghouta, a video appeared on the Internet showing how the terrorists were using gas to poison rabbits.
Militants threatened that they would use this weapon to destroy the Syrian authorities, government’s army and people, all those who support Assad,” Hassan said.
He further said that after that video, there were reports that Saudi Arabia, near the borders of Syria and Jordan, has organized workspace for the production of special chemicals which are necessary to create chemical weapons, to be used by the terrorists.
“After all of that, we witnessed the use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal, an Aleppo suburb, where dozens of victims were innocent civilians.
It is noteworthy that the media working for public relations of terrorists and financed by the US and its Western allies said that the chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government’s army against its own citizens.”
“The Syrian government immediately denied this information and said that this was done by the terrorists.
The government also demanded an immediate investigation into this terrible incident,” Hassan noted.
The official request of the Syrian authorities to carry out an investigation was reported to the UN Security Council, but surprisingly its examination was delayed by a year and only after that the UN Security Council decided to send its inspectors to Syria.
However, when the OPCW inspectors arrived in Damascus on August 21, 2013, the terrorists in the suburbs of Damascus in Eastern Ghouta once again used the chemical weapons and immediately blamed it on the Syrian Army.
“The Syrian authorities have repeatedly denied these false accusations.
The government said that it was the handiwork of the terrorists, since there is no logic, sense and interest to use chemical weapons in such close proximity (5 km) to the location of OPCW inspectors and the United Nations,” Hassan stressed.
According to the correspondent, the results of the investigation and many of the facts were distorted. “It turned out all wrong.
It was not what the Syrian authorities and the Syrian people were hoping to achieve.” Foreign Intelligence ‘Might Have Been Involved’ in Ghouta Gas Attack in Syria Hassan further said, “Over these years, the terrorist’s sponsors and the media resources they control never reported that a few Western media following the chemical attack in Ghouta went to the terrorists in the suburbs of Damascus and talked with them.”
“The terrorists during the meeting admitted that it was they who carried out the chemical attacks in Eastern Ghouta and purposely accused the Syrian government’s army,” Hassan said.
“I would also like to point out that the United States, in turn, said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is the alleged ‘red line.’
If it is broken, the US will directly attack the Syrian authorities.
In fact, all these speculations have become a convenient excuse for the US to prepare what it was intending to do.
Nevertheless, due to various reasons the US attacks did not take place.”
The correspondent further said that ultimately, the secret services of the West, particularly the United States, France and England, as well as Saudi Arabia and Israel, used these chemical attacks in pursuit of their own interests and goals.
“They tried to depict everything so that the blame fell on the Syrian authorities.
Such a maneuver was needed in order to prepare the political and informational sphere for a direct military intervention,” Hassan explained.
The correspondent further said that the fact that today the United States allegedly urges Russia and Iran to get involved in the process to provide existing documents and data is nothing other than another political ploy.
“In other words, it is a tactic of ‘psychological projection’ and ‘proactive action’ to convince the world that they allegedly did not know anything about what was happening and were not involved but are just trying to establish the ‘truth’ by finding the perpetrators of the incident,” according to Hassan.
“While the whole world knows that this was done at their hands, that they are sponsoring and helping terrorists, supplying them with weapons, including chemical weapons, which was applied and used against the civilian population and Syrian citizens,” the correspondent concluded.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the victims of the Ghouta attacks showed symptoms which are consistent with exposure to nerve gas, including suffocation; constricted, irregular, and infrequent breathing; involuntary muscle spasms; nausea; frothing at the mouth; fluid coming out of noses and eyes; convulsing; dizziness; blurred vision; and red and irritated eyes, and pin-point pupils.
This attack prompted Western countries to discuss issuing strikes on Syria. However at that time, due to the diplomatic efforts of Russia, foreign intervention was prevented and an agreement was reached with the Syrian government to destroy all the chemical arsenals. In September 2013, Syria was acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, becoming a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
On April 29, the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced a new mission to establish facts surrounding allegations of use of chlorine in Syria. The group said the Syrian government has agreed to accept this mission and to provide security in areas under its control.
“Syria’s apparent use of chlorine gas as a weapon – not to mention targeting of civilians – is a plain violation of international law,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “This is one more reason for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.”
Human Rights Watch interviews with 10 witnesses, including five medical personnel, video footage of the attacks, and photographs of the remnants strongly suggest that government forces dropped barrel bombs containing embedded chlorine gas cylinders in attacks from April 11 to 21 on three towns in northwestern Syria. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch they saw a helicopter dropping a barrel bomb or heard a helicopter immediately prior to an explosion, followed immediately by a peculiar odor. The witnesses consistently described the clinical signs and symptoms of exposure to a choking agent (also known as a lung or pulmonary agent) by victims.
According to doctors who treated the victims and subsequently spoke to Human Rights Watch, these attacks killed at least 11 people and resulted in symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine in nearly 500 other people. The attacks documented by Human Rights Watch are:
- On Keferzita, a town northwest of the city of Hama in the Hama governorate, on April 11 and 18 that killed 2 people and affected an estimated 200 people, 5 of them seriously, according to a local doctor;
- On al-Teman’a, a small town north of the city of Hama in Idlib governorate on April 13 and 18 that killed at least 6 and affected approximately 150 people, according to a member of the medical team in the field hospital and a second witness; and
- On Telmans, a town southeast of the city of Idlib in Idlib governorate, on April 21 that killed 3 people and affected an estimated 133, according to a volunteer at the local field hospital.
Telmans is 3 kilometers east of the government-controlled military base at Wadi al-Deif and 11 kilometers from al-Hamid, areas that witnesses described as the nearest front lines. Al-Teman’a is 7 kilometers from Khan Sheikhoun, which witnesses said is the nearest front line; Keferzita is 10 kilometers from Khan Sheikhoun. In an attack on Keferzita on April 11, a witness stated that fighters from an armed non-state armed group occupied a position 500 meters outside of town.
Video evidence and information published by local activists also suggest that barrel bombs with chlorine were used in Keferzita on April 12. Human Rights Watch was not able to corroborate these reports with witness accounts.
Seven of 10 people interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported smelling a distinct odor in the area targeted by the barrel bombs. They remarked that this odor was familiar and similar to that of common household cleaners. The witnesses are likely referring to bleach-containing cleaners, which comprise several chlorine-containing compounds, mainly hypochlorous acid. When chlorine gas dissolves in water, including water vapor in the air and water in the mucous membranes in the nose, hypochlorous acid is formed in large amounts. The report of an odor similar to that of household cleaners is consistent with the presence of chlorine gas.
Several interviewees reported that the odor lingered for several hours. Although chlorine gas itself is not persistent, these accounts are consistent with the persistence in the environment of hypochlorite compounds formed from the chlorine gas when it mixes with vapor in the air and mucous membranes in the nose.
Half of the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that the explosion of the barrel bombs produced “yellow smoke” or “dark yellowish smoke” in addition to the usual smoke from bomb explosions. A video shot on the western edge of Keferzita and uploaded to YouTube on April 11 shows the near vertical descent and detonation of an unidentified munition fully consistent with a barrel bomb dropped by helicopter. Several seconds after the explosion, a distinct yellow patch (see photo 4 below) forms at the base of a large cloud of dust and debris drifting to the east. Pure chlorine is a pale yellowish green in color. Such reports of an unusual “yellow smoke” at the attack site are consistent with the release of chlorine gas from the rupture of industrial compressed gas cylinders.
All the medical personnel interviewed reported seeing clinical signs and symptoms of exposure to chlorine immediately after the barrel bomb explosions. Mild exposure causes reddening and itchiness of the eyes and difficulty seeing. More severe exposure leads to breathing difficulties and complaints of shortness of breath. Even higher levels of exposure can lead to vomiting, severe respiratory distress, uncontrollable coughing, and even suffocation, as the chemical injuries inflicted by the hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids produced from the dissolution of chlorine in the pulmonary airways result in severe buildup of fluid in the lungs. Interviewees reported seeing victims suffering from all three levels of exposure.
Keith B. Ward, an expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents, reviewed the clinical signs and symptoms witnesses described to Human Rights Watch and the videos associated with the attacks. Ward said that the interviews and videos strongly support the conclusion that the attacks described involved the use of chlorine gas, most likely from the rupture of commercial compressed gas cylinders of chlorine.
Videos of barrel bomb remnants found after the attacks on Keferzita on April 11 and 18 and the attack on Telmans on April 21 show yellow cylinders or canisters together with remnants of barrel bombs. The canisters contain markings with the code “CL2” – the symbol for chlorine gas – and “NORINCO,” indicating that the cylinders were manufactured in China by the state-owned company NORINCO. Yellow is the standard industrial gas color code for chlorine.
In one case, a video purportedly filmed in Keferzita on April 18 and uploaded the same day shows men dismantling an apparently intact barrel bomb containing a red-and-yellow gas cylinder and an apparent triggering mechanism inside it. The narrator says the barrel was used in an attack involving the use of a chemical. The man whose voice is heard in the video identifies the chemical as chlorine. These remnants are also shown in photographs provided to Human Rights Watch of the remnants at Keferzeita taken by an international journalist on May 5, more than two weeks after the attacks (see photos 5 through 8 above). Human Rights Watch cannot independently confirm if this particular barrel bomb was used in the attack and whether the red-and-yellow gas cylinder contained chlorine.
Human Rights Watch cannot independently confirm that the chlorine gas cylinders caught on film in all cases were embedded in the barrel bombs that were dropped from helicopters. But the fact that witnesses and doctors spoke of symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine immediately after helicopters dropped barrel bombs on five dates in three towns makes it unlikely that the footage of these attacks was staged or that the chlorine gas cylinders were added after the fact to the barrel bombs.
Improvised barrel bombs documented by Human Rights Watch are typically constructed from large oil drums, various types of metal cylinders, and water tanks filled with explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation, which are then dropped from a helicopter. The heat from the explosion of the barrel bomb would destroy much of the chlorine and any remaining gas would be dispersed in the air by the explosion so the concentration of chlorine would quickly drop to non-lethal levels.
Yet the smell of chlorine and its reactants is very distinctive and those subjected to even low levels of exposure have obvious signs of respiratory distress for some time. It would therefore appear that the purpose of adding chlorine gas to barrel bombs is to instill fear that a poison or toxic gas has been used, Human Rights Watch said.
While chlorine is a common industrial chemical, its use as a weapon is banned by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of toxic properties of chemicals to kill or injure. The convention’s definition of a chemical weapon encompasses “toxic chemicals” that are: “Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.”
Since Syria became the 190th state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention on October 14, 2013, the convention applies to all actors in Syria under any circumstances. In addition, all states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, including the government of Syria, should be acting to prevent and suppress any activity prohibited by the convention, including the use of chemicals as weapons.
Syria has declared some 1,300 metric tons of chemical substances and precursors, of which 86.5 percent had been removed from Syria for destruction as of April 22, according to the OPCW. A US Department of State spokesperson stated that chlorine was not among the priority one or two chemicals that Syria declared to the chemical weapon organization in its chemical weapons stockpile.
Syria’s government has accused terrorists of possessing chlorine gas and has blamed them for the attacks on Keferzita. While media reports suggest that the armed group Jabhat al-Nusra has access to chlorine gas, all the available evidence indicates that the attacks were conducted from helicopters, which only the government has. In April 2013, Time magazinereported that fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra had in August 2012 captured the only facility in Syria capable of producing chlorine gas, 30 kilometers from Aleppo. It was reported that approximately 400 containers, each with one ton of chlorine inside, were stored at the facility.
Given the Syrian government’s ongoing violations of international norms, including its apparent failure to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the UN Security Council should impose an arms embargo on Syria’s government, as well as on any groups implicated in widespread or systematic human rights abuses. Such an embargo would limit the Syrian government’s ability to conduct aerial attacks that violate international law, including by ensuring that Syria does not receive new helicopters nor have its current helicopters serviced overseas. The Security Council should also impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on individuals credibly implicated in grave abuses, and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said.
“As long as the Security Council fails to penalize Syria for its flagrant violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention, these inherently indiscriminate and egregious attacks will continue,” Houry said. “The international community urgently needs to take firm collective action if it is to prevent and suppress further violations.”