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Sarin used in two Syria chemical attacks point to military stockpiles - UN

Published time: March 06, 2014 03:34
In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency (SANA) on March 19, 2013, a man is brought to a hospital in the Khan al-Assal region in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria's government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time (AFP Photo)

In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency (SANA) on March 19, 2013, a man is brought to a hospital in the Khan al-Assal region in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria's government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time (AFP Photo)

Two incidents where chemical weapons were used in Syria last year appear to have come from Syrian army stockpiles, United Nations investigators said on Wednesday in a new report that goes beyond previous conclusions.

The team of experts led by Paulo Pinheiro concluded that sarin – a deadly nerve agent – was used in total in three incidents: in the Damascus suburb of Al-Ghouta on August 21, in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo on March 19, and in Saraqeb near the northern town of Idlib in April 2013, Reuters reported.

"The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents," the UN investigators said in the report.

They also concluded that the attack in Khan al-Assal in March used the same chemical agents and bore exactly the same hallmarks as the Al-Ghouta attack in August.

But Pinheiro’s report did not give any reliable casualty figures from the attacks and was only able to determine “that at least several hundred people were affected.”

Ake Sellstrom, who was in charge of the inspection team that was on the ground in Syria, concluded in an earlier report in December that while chemical weapons had most likely been used in five out of seven alleged attacks, the team did not assign any blame.

Both the Syrian government and the opposition have blamed each other for the attacks, which they have also both denied.

The Al-Ghouta attack was the world’s deadliest in 25 years and provoked threats of retaliatory military attacks by the US. Under a diplomatic initiative suggested and largely brokered by the Russians, Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to help the international community to destroy his chemical weapons arsenal.

On Tuesday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – the global chemical weapons watchdog – said that Syria has so far managed to ship out about one-third of its stockpile, including mustard gas, for destruction abroad or on vessels in international waters.

The Pinheiro team has been investigating up to 20 incidents where chemical weapons have allegedly been used. He said they were building on Sellstrom’s findings while also trying to dig deeper.

Pinheiro told a news conference on Thursday that his team had interviewed a wide group of people, including doctors, victims, defectors, and journalists.

We made other investigations [to Sellstrom] in terms of interviews of experts, interviews with functionaries involved. We conducted our own investigation including specialized expertise and of course we have been in close contact with the members of this Sellstrom mission,” he said.

Selltsrom’s December report visited only seven sites and cited poor security conditions as the primary reason.

Comments (17)


Regula 02.04.2014 09:13

The UN is too dominated by the US to have any credibility. When tests aren't made until so much later there is no way of knowing if they tested actual samples from the places inspected or if the samples they tested were manipulated by the US to claim Assad was the perpetrator of CW attacks. It is also clear that if the evidence against Assad had in fact existed, the US would have insisted on chemical tests and other identifications of the chemical attacks right away. To claim, a year later, what the substance was, just isn't credible, especially after both Turkey and the US intended to stage more false flag attacks.


Leslie 07.03.2014 14:59

What timing these folks have. the way they investigate makes it impossible to believe anything they dish out. their timing is politically motivated, they do not address other evidence that refutes their claims and the put forth no evidence but their authoritative say so...all this from a group of elites that claim peace but actually dictate war for the highest bidders.


African Child 06.03.2014 13:26

There are several videos on youtube of rebels testing sarin on rabbits in laboratories in Turkey. The chemical weapons attack was used when they were on rapid retreat and needed US intervention. OPCW who received a fraudulent Nobel Prize for doing a job that they were paid to do.

View all comments (17)
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