Monday, September 16, 2013

Rockets Loaded with Sarin were used in the August 21st Attack According to Just Released UN Report

This a war crime!  (Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after receiving and reading the report from his inspectors.)

That is probably the understatement of the year and the perpetrators should go on trial at the World Court because this was a crime against humanity.  The first report did not assess the blame but it doesn't take a rocket scientists to know that the delivery of the chemical weapons were rockets used by the regime.  Definitely not saying this is all one sided but the huge human disaster of the August 21st attack  IMHO points right at Assad.
The release of the report came as a separate panel of investigators from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva said they were investigating 14 episodes of suspected chemical weapons use in the conflict and would use the report to help identify those responsible for the Aug. 21 attack.
Whoever is responsible for this attack needs to be punished.  Sincerely hope that a diplomatic solution that sounds like has been reached holds and we don't have to bomb anyone so that innocent people do not get hurt again.  The people of Syria have suffered enough.  The New Times has one of the best descriptions of what is ongoing I have found to date and have excerpted below.

From the New York Times::
U.N. Report Confirms Rockets Loaded With Sarin in Aug. 21 Attack 
Published: September 16, 2013  
Rockets armed with the banned chemical nerve agent sarin were used in a mass killing near Damascus on Aug. 21, United Nations chemical weapons inspectors reported Monday in the first official confirmation by nonpartisan scientific experts, saying such munitions had been deployed “on a relatively large scale” in the Syria conflict. 
Updates on Syria
Although the widely awaited report did not ascribe blame for the attack, it provided in graphic and clinical detail the evidence of sarin residue in three neighborhoods in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, the precise types of projectiles and trajectories to deliver it and the symptoms of the victims. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack the most horrific use of chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein of Iraq gassed the Kurdish village of Halabja a quarter century ago. 
“The report makes for chilling reading,” Mr. Ban told a news conference after he delivered the report to the Security Council. “The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. 
This is a war crime.” 
Tracking the Syrian crisis and the international response. 
Speaking to reporters later, the American ambassador, Samantha Power, and British ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, were emphatic in their assertions that the report implicated Mr. Assad, whose government has amassed one of the largest stockpiles of chemical munitions over the past two decades, and only last week admitted it possessed them. 
“This was no cottage-industry use of chemical weapons,” said Sir Mark said. The evidence “confirms, in our view, that there was no remaining doubt that it was the regime” that used the chemical weapons. 
Ambassador Power concurred, saying: “The technical details of the U.N. report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large scale of chemical weapons attack.”
The report carried the conclusions of a team of inspectors headed by Ake Sellstrom, a Swedish chemical weapons expert, under the auspices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a Hague-based institution that monitors compliance with a 1997 treaty outlawing such munitions. 
The report said the facts supporting its conclusion included “impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload,” which “were found to contain sarin.” The facts also included sarin-contaminated areas at the sites, more than 50 interviews given by survivors and health care workers, clear signs of exposure in patients and survivors, and blood and urine samples by those patients and survivors that were “found positive for sarin and sarin signatures.”
U.N. Report Echoes Open-Source InvestigationsWriting on Twitter, Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch noted that details in the United Nations report on the type of rockets used in the deadly chemical attacks outside Damascus on Aug. 21 seemed to confirm crucial findings in the independent investigation carried out by his organization, which noted that “these are weapon systems known and documented to be only in the possession of, and used by, Syrian government armed forces.” 
Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached an agreement over the weekend on what to do with the Syrian Chemical Weapons:
U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Weapons, But Is it Realistic?By Daniel Politi
Posted Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at 2:07 PM 
Following three days of intense negotiations in Geneva, the United States and Russia reached an ambitious agreement that would see all of Syria’s chemical weapons put under international control and destroyed by the middle of next year. Secretary of State John Kerry recognized the agreement was “ambitious,” others call it unprecedented and incredibly difficult to fulfill. The United Nations will issue a resolution warning of possible consequences, including sanctions, if Syria fails to comply, notes the Washington Post. But White House officials had already said any U.N. resolution would likely not include authorization to use force against Syria if it fails to comply with the destruction of chemical weapons. What penalties the United Nations could impose are still to be determined, points out Reuters. But Kerry made it clear the United States would still reserve the right to attack. For now, Syria must give a “comprehensive list” of its chemical weapons within a week. 
Whether it will be possible to even fulfill the agreement remains in question though with the New York Times calling the deal “one of the most challenging undertakings in the history of arms control.” One expert tells the paper that the deal Moscow and Washington sealed Saturday attempts to condense “what would probably be five or six years’ worth of work into a period of several months.” And that’s without considering the fact that it would have to be undertaken in the middle of an ongoing civil war. 
Rebel leaders quickly implied they won’t go out of their way to make things easier for the international chemical weapons inspectors, saying they would facilitate safe passage but won’t actually stop fighting, reports the Associated Press. The rebels were quick to express their deep disappointment Saturday. "Let Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria," one rebel commander tells Reuters. The rebels say that Washington’s backing away from military strikes has emboldened Assad that “now believes that the whole international community can’t punish it, or stop it, so it will do it all,” as a rebel spokesman tells the Washington Post.
If it was up to me, I would be telling the rebel leaders to get on board with the agreement or expect no further help from the United States.  Those chemical weapons need destroyed and you would think the rebels would agree.  Personally think the two sides should be in a coliseum somewhere and let them shoot it out like a Western because there seem to be atrocities on both sides.  Waiting for the Human Rights report which give more details and assign blame.

The key is whether Russia and Assad will keep their word or will the agreements fall apart.  President Obama has done masterful job so far because he is someone who could less about taking the credit just wants to get things done.  The very fact there is already an agreement reached with the Russians to take to the United Nations shows that the President puts diplomacy first but he is not naive enough not to leave open the military option.  Without the military option, the Russians would not be talking or putting pressure on Assad IMHO!

Now it is time for the Republican Party in Congress to keep their mouths shut and let this play out instead of trying to score points with misleading statements and comments.  Time for them to grow up and put America first.

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