U.S. Lauds U.N. Probe on Syria Poison Gas Attack, Russia Denies Culprit Identified

Regardless of the U.N. investigation, the U.S. and Russia remain at loggerheads over Syrian President Bashar Assad's role in the chemical weapons attack

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Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the media after briefing the Security Council on the U.N. chemical weapons report on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arabic Republic at the United Nations in New York September 16, 2013

Following U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s confirmation on Monday that chemical weapons were used in Syria late last month, the bloc’s U.S. envoy said the report verified that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were solely responsible for deploying sarin poison gas. However, Russia’s envoy was quick to counter that the investigation failed to pin responsibility for the attack on the Syrian government.

(MORE: U.N. Report Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Used in Syria)

Following Monday’s briefing, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said the investigators’ documentation of the use of surface-to-surface rocket systems in the deployment of sarin gas proved that troops loyal to Assad were behind the attacks.

“We have reviewed thousands of open source videos related to the current conflict in Syria and have not observed the opposition manufacturing or using this style of rocket,” she said.

Russia’s envoy fired back that the dossier failed to provide “bulletproof data or conclusions” with regards to culpability. “As people examine it, everyone can draw their own conclusion, but I hope that won’t be driven by political motives,” said Vitaly Churkin during a press conference with Russian reporters in New York City on Monday.

In Beijing, Chinese authorities appeared to be taking the middle road by saying they were preparing to have “a serious look” at the U.N.’s findings, according to Reuters.

Outside of the diplomatic back-and-forth, munitions expert Eliot Higgins said the report’s confirmation of the type of rocket used in the assault in Damascus on Aug. 21 should raise larger questions about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons earlier in the month.

According to Higgins’s research, an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Douma and Adra settlements outside the Syrian capital on Aug. 5 was carried out with the same type of rocket that the U.N. has now confirmed killed more than a thousand people.

“It’s important to consider the same munitions used in the Aug. 21 attack were used in previous attacks, in particular a chemical attack on Aug. 5,” Higgins told TIME. “This isn’t about just one attack.”

The U.N. followed its highly anticipated report with news that the delivery of aid to civilians caught between rebel militias and Assad-backed forces has been curtailed sharply in the last few weeks. The U.N. pulled about half of their humanitarian and development staff from the country after last month’s attack.

“Our footprint has been reduced, but we have not shut down,” said U.N. Under-Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan during an interview with Reuters.

Approximately six million Syrians have fled their homes since the civil war kicked off two years ago and an estimated 5,000 people leave the country every day.

MORE: Russia Celebrates a Triumph for Putin After Clinching Syria Deal

5 comments
Pathfinder
Pathfinder

Here we go again withe the delusion that it was the rebels who unleashed chemical attacks on their own people. This Russian propaganda doesn't even make for a bad B movie, yet President Putin sticks to this nonsense that only embarrasses Russia and the Russian people as spoilers. Either Putin is truly stupid or he thinks the International community is

Where I see this going is that the Syrian and Russian government hopes/fantasizes to trade the chemical weapons as a fall back position for win in the civil war in a sort of perverse exchange (Hoping the International community is gullible and as stupid as hell – sometimes we are!). Also the Russians fantasize if they think they can control the Syrian government who already did use chemical weapons, repeatedly, in an insane and self defeating move (“Warfare is a form of human insanity” – Late Gen Norman Schwarzkopf) . Dream on but as the bodies will not be dropping in Russia they simply don’t care as a morally bankrupt apparatus. After Gorbachev and Yeltsin the Russian government is becoming more regressive and dragging their own long enduring people with them back in the direction of the dark ages/ bad old days with delusions of old pride and ego (sort of like a 15 year old boy in puberty, and I take no pleasure in saying this because as a foreign policy it is self destructive to the Russian people and their own future and self interest. Who wants to be known as a thug and semi pariah in the international community?)

First the Syrian government will drag our the Chemical weapon matter saying they need to stabilize the country in order to collect chemical weapons. Read: “Chechnya Solution”: for Syria that the Russian government sees as successful. With Stalinist thinking yes it is, if your are Stalin slaughtering your own people or the Ukrainians in true NKVD style. The more the Syrian government drags this on, the more grateful the international community is supposed to be that anything is happening (Because we are assumed as simpletons),

While I don;t begrudge the Russians their Naval Base or their long standing relationship with Syria, by example when the Egyptian revolution started, the U.S and others stuck by Mubarak until his regime unleashed violence on the population and then support was withdrawn as a direct result based on international standards of civilized conduct. While I am not suggesting Russian needs to parrot the US, the U.S. position and that of others was a very practical plan and the US/Egyptian relationship withstood the upheaval the result of which, while still very imperfect, is light years ahead of the Syrian slaughter. Good ideas come from anywhere and the Russian and Chinese policy is truly regressive and thuggish in their inflexible support of a homicidal regime. If the Russian government sees this as just another Chechnya in which savage and brutal repression will work to keep the regime in power then their are truly backward and will find themselves truly unwelcome in the region, let alone maintain the standing they do have in the international community as a trusted partner. No happiness in making this comment, none whatsoever

andbary
andbary

I read the opinion of military experts.

Rockets decommissioned and very inaccurate.

Negligible amount of sarin for combat use.

Assad's generals must be idiots.

The number of victims is very strange.


Conclusion: provakatsii ...

DeanCris
DeanCris

Power - the redheaded Irish (now American) woman wearing the sun dress from Target - wrote a few good articles, married pro NSA, Pro Israeli American Cass Sunstein - pseudo progressive who hates the 4th Amendment, and now works for Obama. SHE is itching for the US to use our young men to attack Syria to keep Israel safe. Based on MY research of her - I don't think she considers herself much of an American. I think she thinks of the US as a corporation that owns the world. In short she has become a war monger to save the world and bring peace. A complete bafoon and hypocrite as surely as any teabaggers is.

NormanAllen
NormanAllen

Could it be possible that rebels obtained rockets/sarin from the government storage depots and used it to invoke US attacks?  How safe and secure were/are Syrian gas depots and rockets?  Who else are capable of providing such weapons in the area?  If it is proven that Assad had authorized the use of such weapons, then he needs to be forced out through the forces of the UN Security Council by a reconciliatory government composed of moderate rebels and moderate loyalists.  The UN will then has to find a way to make the new government workable in a antagonistic, heavily emotionally charged country bent on revenge as we see in Iraq.  How the UN will be able to stop Iran, Iraq, S. Arabia, the Emirates jockeying for power in the area if Assad is taken out?  The place is a huge mess.  The UN's role in the world is create peace and stability.  It has failed miserably at doing its job because some of its members are not abiding by its mission/charter.    Is the world prepared for a WWIII?