U.N. Chemical Weapons Report on Syria Released — Surface-to-surface rockets fired from multiple-rocket launchers
Chemicals delivered using surface-to-surface rockets over wide area in several locations.
The U.N. has released its report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. (Full copy embedded at bottom of post.)
(analysis to follow)
Excerpts (emphasis added)
Note by the Secretary-General
1.In transmitting simultaneously to the Security Council and the General Assembly the report on the incident which took place on 21 August 2013 in the Ghouta area of Damascus (see annex), the Secretary-General expresses his profound shock and regret at the conclusion that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale, resulting in numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children. The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons and believes that this act is a war crime and grave violation of the 1925 Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare and other relevant rules of customary international law. The international community has a moral responsibility to hold accountable those responsible and for ensuring that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare.
A key Conclusion was that the chemicals were delivered by surface-to-surface rockets over a wide area and in several locations:
28. In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka in the Ghouta area of
29. The facts supporting this conclusion are:
• Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain Sarin.
• Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by Sarin.
• Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results.
• A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound.
• Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for Sarin and Sarin signatures.
This delivery method points to the Assad regime, although the U.N. investigation did not encompass assigning blame.
From Appendix 5, an image of one of the rockets:
Appendix 5 identifies the rocket in Impact Site No. 1 as an M14 type, likely fired from a multiple rocket launcher:
The munition linked to this impact site, by observed and measured characteristics, indicatively matches one of the variants of the M l4 artillery rocket, with either an original or an improvised warhead (not observed at the impact site)…. Impact Site Number 2 is located 65 meters away from number 1 and with an azimuth of 214 degrees. Both relative positions are fully congruent with the dispersion pattern commonly associated with rockets launched from a single, multi-barrel, launcher.
At Impact Site No. 4 the rocket was identified as a 330 mm artillery rocket:
The munition related to this impact site by observed and measured characteristics indicatively matches a 330 rom caliber, artillery rocket. The projectile, in the last stage of its trajectory, hit the surfac~e in an area of earthy, relatively soft, ground where the shaft/engine of the projectile
remained dug in, undisturbed until investigated. The said shaft/engine, presenting no form of lateral bending, pointed precisely in a bearing of
285 degrees that, again, represent a reverse azimuth to the trajectory followed by the rocket during its flight. It can be, thus, concluded that the original azimuth of the rocket trajectory had an azimuth of 105 degrees, in an East/Southeast trajectory.
(Added) The types of munitions used to deliver chemical weapons are known only to be used by the Syrian Army, as this private analysis argues:
In the 18 months I’ve been studying the arms and munitions in the conflict I have never seen either type of munition used by the opposition. The opposition has rocket artillery, for example the 107mm Type-63 multiple rocket launcher and the Croatian 128mm RAK-12, but I’ve never seen any sign of the 140mm systems (such as the BM-14) that would be used to launch the M14 artillery rocket.
Update 9-18-2013: There are claims flying that this all is a set-up and conspiracy by the rebels, and that the U.N. wants a war so it phonied-up the report. Really. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be skeptical, but this is beginning to sound like the collapse of the towers theories. Meanwhile, The NY Times reports that the trajectories in the report point to a Syrian military installation (ahah! that must be even more proof of the conspiracy):
When taken together, the azimuths drawn from different neighborhoods lead back to and intersect at Mount Qasioun — so far an impregnable seat of Mr. Assad’s power — according to independent and separate calculations by both The New York Times and Human Rights Watch.
“Connecting the dots provided by these numbers allows us to see for ourselves where the rockets were likely launched from and who was responsible,” Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst for Human Rights Watch, noted in a statement on Tuesday.
“This isn’t conclusive,” Mr. Lyons added. “But it is highly suggestive.”
The map that Mr. Lyons and Human Rights Watch prepared, and a similar map made by The Times with no consultation or exchange of information, suggested that gas-filled rockets, which sailed over central Damascus and landed in civilian neighborhoods, originated “from the direction of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade,” which occupies a large base on the mountain’s western side.
Depending on the degree of accuracy in the measurements, the flight path for at least one of the rockets could also be read to lead back to the government’s sprawling air base at Mezzeh, near the foot of Mount Qasioun.
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