Forensic Details in U.N. Report Point to Assad’s Use of Gas

The report provided incriminating new evidence of Syrian government culpability in the Aug. 21 attack, in which banned chemical weapons were used.

Comments: 255

  1. Denying the obvious to support his own agenda is part of Putin's Modus Operandi so no one should be surprised at the Russian President's lack of clarity on who was responsible for the Aug. 21st chemical attack on civilians.

  2. I don't think there was ever any doubth that chemical weapons had been used.

    Rather, the concern has been who used them.

  3. The report broke no new ground by simply confirming
    what has been known for sometime. American and
    British ambassadors repeated their well know position
    and so did Russia. It was hoped that the commission
    would provide some information about the sophistication
    of rockets, projectory and the direction fired from without
    explicitly blaming any party ( outside its mandate).
    The report has changed no mind. Much ado about nothing.

  4. Is there any evidence that the "rebels" could have carried out such an attack? If they had SAM's wouldn't they have shot down an airplane by now? The perpetrator is clearly the Syrian government.

  5. They have shot down airplanes. There are plenty of pictures of the wreckage if you check on line.

  6. The next question would be what is the origin of the Rockets used to carry these weapons...

  7. Why? The world doesn't have any laws against arms sales that the US has accepted. Ask your local Republican Congressman why?

  8. We must be very careful of easy answers to that question. This subject is awash in misinformation, propaganda, and false assumptions.

    Many examples of these particular weapons have been captured and/or transported to both sides outside documented channels in large amounts.

    The designs are mostly Russian, and the designers made deliberate compromises of other qualities for the special quality of quantity, as ease of manufacture and ease of use. They are in consequence readily made in an astounding variety of places, and the markings are not always what one would expect. We see English language markings on things from the most improbable places, and likewise Russian language markings.

    There are people who specialize in tracking weapons and ammunition found all over Africa in its various wars, and the one consistent thing in their findings is the improbability of the so many true answers. That is no less true of something like this.

    Recall a major source in the world for the last few years has been selling off the leftovers of Gaddafi's storehouses, and he spent decades gathering stuff from everywhere in amounts that were absurd for the size of his country. Those particular weapons, and people, are particularly likely to make it to Syria. In fact, the US seems to have been facilitating that, both as a convenient source for Syria and as a way to get the stuff out of Libya. There are many reports that is what we were doing in Benghazi, for example.

  9. Rodrigo;

    The most valid question is not the origin of the rockets BUT who provided these CWs to Assad, the decent looking BLUE EYED boy with a deadly smile..... has proved be angel of death for few million FOLKS!!!

  10. Step by step the case is being made. The closer the international community looks at the situation in Syria, the greater the possibility of stopping the killing there becomes. It is critical that the West balances pressure and patience.

  11. No new ground. Nothing we didn't already know. But I have elsewhere read report about rebel responsibility for CW attacks in order to get the US to bomb and win the war for them

    http://www.infowars.com/rebels-admit-responsibility-for-chemical-weapons...
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/504735/20130909/syria-chemical-attack-...

    Syrian rebel groups sought sarin gas material, Turkish prosecutors say
    http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-syrian-rebels-sarin-gas-2...

    I don't think we can say definitively that the rebels have never used Chemical weapons of that they have clean hand. We are wrong to give so much support to the rebels as we honestly have no idea who we are dealing with.

  12. Of course the rebels don't have clean hands. Atrocities by all sides are right there on YouTube for all to see. It's a heinous war, indeed, and it didn't start last month but over two years ago. Obviously, if Obama was hot to get involved he would have made the case a long time ago, but he hasn't for the very reasons you suggest. We've provided mostly MREs, medical supplies, and rhetoric to this point, but notice else. And yes it's probably a fact that some rebel cells have tried to obtain and probably used chemical weapons. But, to me anyway, none of that changes the fact that Obama threatened the use of force and stands ready to use it against a state which is gassing its own people.

  13. The US has also provided $1 billion in financial assistance to the AQ rebels, which is more than he's given to out of work Americans.

  14. UN confirms the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians but it contains no indication who used them - The rebels, the foreign hostiles of Syria, the Syrian government itself or else others.

  15. It doesn't matter who used it. The ultimate responsibility of controlling storage and disposition of the Sarin gas in Syria falls on the President Assad.

  16. So, who supplied Syria with all those Chemical Weapons in the first place...?! Lets take Military Action against *them*... Oh... wait...

  17. @Bill, according to your logic, we should hold the gun manufacturers such as Glock, AR15, etc., accountable for all the mass shootings.

  18. @Josy Will, if they *knowingly* supplied those weapons to those perpetrators for those purposes, in violation of national and international protocols to which they were party, *absolutely*.

  19. From the very beginning, my cynical nature has me thinking that the rebels or Hamas or someone BESIDES Assad is using chemical weapons in an ploy to trick the US into air strikes against Assad's forces. This would be classic - the US rushes into a situation it knows only superficially and gets sucked into yet another conflict in that part of the world. And the whole time the Russians, Al Queda and Iranians are snickering behind our backs, toasting yet another manipulation of the US and the rookies we regularly vote into office.

  20. Instead of being tricked into action, what if "we" were complicit?

  21. To those who question which side was responsible for the attacks, the simplest logic is to look at the Russian response to get the Syrian government to agree to get rid of its chemical weapon stockpiles. Putin et al would not have done this if the rebels were behind the attacks. In other words, even the Russians knew that the Syrians had crossed the line.

    Also, of course, a lot of physical evidence exists that points to the Syrian government, but sadly facts are not as convincing as they used to be.

  22. Excellent point. Many readers lament the fact that these forensic experts have not determined blame...something that they were NOT tasked with.. but they did provide so much information about the munitions and where they came from in Appendix 5 they all one has to do is connect the dots.

  23. I'm missing the logic in your first paragraph. Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons because the US threatened to bomb him. The US threatened to bomb him because the US believed, or at least claimed to believe, that Assad carried out the CW attack.

    That doesn't mean Assad carried out the CW attack. It means he was about to be bombed by someone who claimed he had.

    Do you see the difference? It's not subtle.

  24. @ padfoot: "sadly facts are not as convincing as they used to be." True. Everyone's more cynical about Government claims after the abuses of "evidence" leading up to the Iraq war. Not surprising that a different president in different circumstances now is judged as if he were his predecessor. Understandable. But NOW, as @Chris/Colorado says, the impartial UN report provides effective corroboration of the Administration's claims via the data in the report annexes.

    @Thinker: I do follow your excellent logic, although where you say "That doesn't mean Assad carried out the CW attack." I'd revise slightly to say " doesn't NECESSARILY mean Assad carried out the CW attack."

    As I expressed above, what the US believed (" or at least claimed to believe, "), based on a range of information and data sources, now is backed up by the UN's data, obtained by different methods, like on-the-ground analysis of rocket impact craters, etc.

    Logic deals with black and white; unless something is certain, it is NOT certain. But because "certain" implies 100% probability, logic is not a practical guide to pragmatic policy in situations where the probability is between, say, 90% and 99%.

    So I cede your point of logic. For my part, I think Assad capitulated because he knew he was dirty, knew the UN report would buttress US claims, AND because he feared the US would punish him. I hope you'll concede the probability of my contention is greater than zero percent.

  25. The report doesn’t state who used these chemical war heads so it could have been Assad or the Rebels or both. The US would be short sighted if they assume it was the Syrian government. Let the UN do its job in discovering who sold these weapons and place sanctions accordingly.

  26. So basically they said the same thing that we've known for awhile. Sarin gas was used against a rebel group in Damascus. Who used these weapons is not able to be determined. It really makes you wonder how the US gov't is SO sure that Assad used these weapons from all the way over here if those who inspected the actual scene couldn't even determine who used them. Thank goodness Obama is pushing the pause button on attacking Syria. We (literally) can't afford to start to attack another country, even if it is just a "targeted" attacked. Inevitably, we will be drawn further into the conflict and more blood will be on our hands, just like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  27. There is no evidence anywhere in the world to suggest that the Syrian rebels have much in the way of heavy artillery or rocket launchers. Yes, they have some mortars and small rocket launchers, but nothing that can launch lots and lots of rockets over three separate areas simultaneously.

    It requires a very large stretch of imagination to assume the rebels would launch a massive gas attack against themselves using weapons they almost surely don't have. It's okay to be suspicious and to seek facts, but I don't think it's okay to pretend that Assad and the rebels have equal capabilities. They clearly do not.

  28. "It really makes you wonder how the US gov't is SO sure that Assad used these weapons." And no one has proof that the sun won't rise in the west tomorrow.

  29. Mford:

    There were reports (I'm not sure how true but none the less they existed) that Qatar was going to supply the rebels with larger weapons. If that is true they could in fact have obtained some sort of chemical weapon. Second, those attacked were believed to be linked to the al-queda backed rebel factions. Al-queda has, in the past, shown their disregard for human life via suicide bombers. I personally remember believing the news was crazy when I first heard about the concept. I'm not saying that Assad is innocent, but I am not so quick to jump to the belief that the rebels are not responsible either. Until we have more information, I think it is wise for the US to stay out the situation entirely.

  30. So this is what the world looks like when its powers that be are at a lose as to what to do . . . Sort of an international "well. . .umm . . .umm . . .I don't know."

    When that happens, I guess this says is the best thing to do is just repeat the last thing that was just said, as opposed to saying nothing.

    Comforting - to say the least.

    Considering Assad's unwavering conviction to defeating the "terrorists" - as he will only call them - and his justification for mass slaughter deemed legitimate - thanks in part to our over-reaction to what happened here and the way we took away any real meaning for that word "terrorist" - what impact could we expect any UN report to have on anything. Just another diplomatic formality leading to nothing.

  31. Only the Syrian government had the ability to send surface to surface missiles loaded with chemical weapons. The regime miscalculated badly and now has to suffer the wrath of the international community. The United Nations Secretary General has called it a gross crime against humanity, a war crime! Does this mean Assad's days are numbered? No if Russia stands by him through thick and thin! Russia is caught in a bind! But the Syrian authorities are likely to pin the full blame on the rebels and splinter al Qaeda groups! Accusations and denials are bound to dominate the air-waves. But the real question is how will President Obama act? Is he prepared to cross swords with Russia? Or is this all a power game?

    Pancha Chandra Brussels.

  32. The report is more conclusive than I expected. Sarin was identified as the agent.

    The report, however, does not identify its source. It is, in my opinion, premature to assign it to Assad's government. Maybe it was the government, maybe it was not.

    Just to be on a 'safe' side, however, Kerry and Lavrov decided to agree on a Security Council resolution forcing the Syrian government to 'agree' to a treaty banning this kind of stuff and destroy their chemical weapons.

    So, according to the Times, we have to wait now about 8 months to see it happening. Will there be more nerve gas attacks in the meantime? Who knows...

  33. As soon as someone, somewhere can provide even one iota of evidence that the rebels have the capability to carry out such an attack then maybe all those "maybes" will be reasonable. Right now, though, the odds of the rebels being able to carry out this huge attack (against themselves no less) are extremely, extremely low. They simply don't have the capability. They have AKs and RPGs and some heavy MGs and mortars, that's about all. Show me some evidence? Putin? Assad? Ladislav? Anyone?

  34. mford,

    To be clear, rebels did not use it "against themselves", they used it against peaceful civilian population, something they have conclusively proven themselves to be capable of with many bombings in Damascus and elsewhere resulting in hundreds of innocent lives lost. So there goes that argument. Since nobody seems willing to show us any proof of Assad's guilt (and those who refuse have actual satellites and intelligence operatives on the ground), I don't see how an ordinary skeptical citizen should be required to come up with any proof of anything to justify his skepticism.

  35. 1. We now know that someone fired a sophisticated rocket loaded with Sarin gas into an unarmed civilian area in Syria murdering 1500 people.

    2. The Assad government until a few days ago denied having any chemical weasons whatsoever.

    3. But now the Assad government admits it does indeed have chemical weapons, because it has agreed with the Russia-US agreement to disarm it from these weapons.

    4. Therefore, the Assad government is certainly the prime suspect in having used the chemical weapons that it had in abundance on August 21, when this incident occurred.

    5.The US-Russia-Iran-Syria-Hizbollah-China have now colluded on allowing a War Criminal to get away with murder, both conventional and chemical.

    6. The hope that the Russia-US agreement will be able to dispose of significant portions of of the Assad government's chemical weapons is as likely that the Egyptian Army was going to peacefully cede it's power to anyone after the election of June 2012 there. That is, it may look like that for a year or so, but reality will then hit.

    7. The Arab Spring will turn out to be the Arab Generation. Perhaps in 25-30 years we will know the consequences of all that has gone on in these countries. Before that, it's anyone's guess and anyone's guess is probably wrong..

  36. Gas attach in Syria, rocket fired from ground to ground. Russia fight hard to stop every progress to find the guilty. China join Russia. No reason to ask why, the answer is here> The gas and Rocket is from properly from Russia or China.
    Russia support Syria with everything for the war, and no one like to let the world to discover the gas/rocket delivery, that and its the reason why the fight from Russia with Support from China.
    The real problem> The freedom fighters has this rockets as well, the same rockets who was collected in one of the weapon storage who was taken by the freedom fighters and use against people. Both sides have use this weapon and both knows the truth about the use of chemical weapon, but both sides hope the UN will accuse the other side of war crime.
    We all ask, why the USA play along with the Russian, they knows exact whats going on, but do not like to discover the truth to the world. USA even support the demand from Russia to delay the process in order for Russia to destroy evidence who still may be on the ground. The rules for UN from the Russian side was, not to investigate from where the Gas and Rocket come from..and the USA accept that instead to drive the case hard and right to the point.
    The release of all military mail may be better that we believe from the very beginning, all the cover-up in diplomatic world have reach its end and we need to support the guys who help the world to understand the way Governments lies to all of us

  37. If the deal that the Obama administration struck with Putin, and through him the Syrians, didn't concern a tragic event, it could be labeled absolutely ludicrous.

    1. Since the president telegraphed his punch (a military strike) weeks before the agreement, Assad had more than enough time to move his weapons around the country, probably to civilian areas.

    2. The chances that Assad will surrender the bulk of his WMDs in the midst of a religious war are miniscule. He will hand over some and then announce, there aren't any more. For America to trust in the word of a guy who has already used WMDs on civilians is beyond naive.

    3. Kindly inform us which countries are going to ask their scientists to enter a zone filled with jihadists and fanatical Assad loyalists. Further, wouldn't boots on the ground be necessary to protect the investigators? Recall that when the Arab league sent negotiators to Syria to try to reach a ceasefire, they were repeatedly fired upon, and fled home.

    Finally: "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."

    Exactly. Where was the board of the NYT, Op ed writers and liberal pundits who supported a military strike on Syria when Saddam killed 5000 Kurds in Halajba with chemical WMDs (more than three times more than Assad is accused of killing)?

    Why did they support an attack now and not them?

    www.TheCamelsHumpBlog.com

  38. "For America to trust in the word of a guy who has already used WMDs on civilians is beyond naive."

    Bob, just curious: Of all the evidence you've considered, what most persuades you that Assad was guilty? I must be overlooking it or interpreting it differently.

  39. At last the U.N. inspectors' report credibly confirms the U.S. claims that sarin gas was used to kill innocent civilians on Aug. 21 in Damascus. I'm glad that Carla del Ponte will be investigating as she has served as a prosecutor on the International Criminal Court. I hope she'll be able to answer the question: Who committed this "crime against humanity"? Bashar al-Assad remains the prime suspect, but independent corroboration is essential. In the meantime, the U.N. must move forward quickly to pass a resolution allowing them to secure and destroy the Assad regime's chemical weapons stockpile

  40. Why is President Assad the prime suspect? Why would he send these weapons with UN inspectors a taxi ride away? The al-Qaida militants whom Obama supports seem far more likely.

  41. It was obvious before this that there was a gas attack, but we need to know who the culprit was. Confirming a Saran gas attack is confirming a given.

  42. Obvious? Why, because you read it in the NYT?

    This UN report is the first verifiable collection of evidence and proof of a gas attack. Before this, there was just one group of politically motivated people claiming there was a poison gas attack, and another politically motivated group saying no there wasn't. Now that the fact of a poison gas attack has been proved, the UN can move forward.

  43. Ms Carla Del Ponte turned down the regime invitation to travel to Syria “in her personal capacity,” saying she had not intention of "holidaying" in Damascus.
    That Assad's regime invited her and not the commission to Syria might have to do with her - informal - statement on May 6. She told Swiss TV that there were "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof" that the rebels could have used sarin gas. Yet she didn't rule out the possibility that regime forces might also have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was needed.
    The commission stressed that it had not reached conclusive findings.
    This wasn't the first time rebel forces came under suspicion. The regime has accused them, and some independent commentators speculated some groups could conceivably have got hold of stocks when storming government facilities.

  44. I wish the article had provided a little more information regarding the substance of the report. However, I think people are making some false assumptions about the report. As far as I know, it was not within the purview of the inspectors to assign responsibility. They simply provide the facts regarding the payload and the method of delivery.

    The method of delivery does make a strong argument that it was the Assad regime, since operating surface to surface ballistic missiles probably requires more sophistication than the rebels have. We are not talking about a Kalashnikov or a RPG. A SRBM requires a trained crew who knows how to operate and maintain the guidance systems and launch systems. You also need some level of logistical infrastructure, like launch vehicles, maintenance crews, etc.

    By all accounts I have read, the rebels have trouble even maintaining a steady supply of small arms. So although the report did not explicitly state the party who used it, that's different from the report could not determine the party who used it.

    That's not to say we should return to the airstrike option, but I think have some realistic notions about who is at the negotiation table. We should also disabuse ourselves of the fiction that the chemical weapons deal is some kind of hand-to-hand march toward peace and understanding. It is an expedient, self-interested deal for all parties, and not much else.

  45. Wow, so we were going to attack Syria when no one knows who is really responsible. We came very close to war crimes there. Thank God for Putin.

  46. I agree. Please identify the party responsible. Make all effort to do so. Why should that be so difficult.

    Look where the past lies over WMDs got the US and UK. Their own populations have lost faith that their governments speak the truth when they say Assad used chemical weapons. Trust deficit.

  47. The US is far too quick to jump to conclusions that favor the military-industrial complex and Representatives associated with such concerns.

  48. Seriously? Thank god for PUTIN?! He's been complicit in allowing Assad to commit war crimes, and now finally -with a military strike on the line - he realizes that he needs to rein in Assad and his WMDs. The same WMDs he has heretofore denied exist. What a guy!

  49. My comment is: SO WHAT! BIG SURPRISE.

    Why don't we all presume that Assad used the chemical weapons.

    The REAL question is: Why does that mean that it is mandatory and appropriate for us to take a military response at all. Are we to presume that we are the judges of HOW to kill people, and as long as killing is done within our rules, that's fine.........but otherwise, not?

    Excuse me, but dead is dead.

    We need to address stopping the civil war and killing on both sides - not HOW they kill each other.

  50. "We need to address stopping the civil war and killing on both sides - not HOW they kill each other."
    Why?
    What business is it of the US if another nation is in a civil war. Let me ask you if you think it is our business to interfere in an argument between two of your neighbors? You may say that if the case they are killing each other you would call the police. Fine.
    The US is not police. It is not our job. The UN's, maybe. Not ours. If the UN calls for some sort of action as an international body then asks for our participation we can have that debate.
    Police to not lawfully act unilateral. Their badge is a sign that they have someone in authority, someone who has legal authority to authorize them to do what they do. There is no legal authority for the US to act without an order from an international body.
    The only exception to this with nations, as with individuals, is in the case of self defense. We are not in any danger in any sense of the word EVER from Syria. It's a no brainer.

  51. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon needs to have Bashar al-Assad and the responsible Syrian Army personnel visit the Hague for War Crimes.

  52. So the Secretary General of the UN says “The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. This is a war crime.” And then he says: Mr. Ban told reporters “it is for others to decide whether to pursue this matter further to determine a response”. Others? What others?? You speak for the United Nations. Isnt it the UNs collective JOB to decide - and how can you have not decided action is required practically in the same breath that you JUST called this a war crime? Im sorry, why are you here and why are we funding you??

  53. Mr. Ban was referring to the issue of who used the weapons, not the use of chemical weapons.

  54. "If a turtle rests on the top of a fence post, someone likely put it there."

    At some point, circumstantial evidence may be all you have, but it's enough.

  55. You know what's ironic?
    UN doesn't have the enforcing power, so it can't do anything unless its members agree to act.
    On the other hand, UN is NOT funded by US. In fact, US hasn't paid UN dues in full for years. The last time we paid every cent of our share was 2009.

  56. "Did not ascribe blame...."

    That is the main thing I was looking for out of the UN Inspector report.

    If a group of forensic experts cannot attribute blame, how is the US so quick to claim Syrian guilt?

  57. According to the impact data, the rockets came from an area controlled by the Syrian Army...not sure what else one needs to connect the dots here.

  58. Because the mission of the UN inspectors was, perhaps to determine details of what had happened and how so that a later determination and assignment of responsibility could be made? US statements necessarily advance our national goals.

  59. Chris wrote:

    "According to the impact data, the rockets came from an area controlled by the Syrian Army...not sure what else one needs to connect the dots here."

    The report didn't say that. Can you tell us how you figured it out?

  60. Regardless of who ordered the attacks, the US should not get involved in unilateral action in Syria. Support by allies like the UK, France (who are still stuck in the pre-1950 colonial times) does not count. They created most of the conflicts in the middle-east and still want to play God though their own economies are fast becoming irrelevant. Also the Saudis, Turks and UAE do not count as the world since they are interested parties who have the most to gain after an US attack. Unless Russia, China and most of the larger nations (BRICs) support action we have no business taking action on our own. Basically the whole thing is a setup so that the Al-Qaeda based rebels gain control of the country and they can establish their Islamic Caliphate with support from the Saudis. Alternately we will end up with another nightmare like Iraq.

  61. I can't help but feel you are stacking the cards in making your argument here. We should discount the views of the UK, France, Saudia Arabia, Turkey, UAE, but value the views of Russia and China? Isn't Russia also an interested party. In particular, it has strong interests vested in the status quo (to the tune $4 billion in arms sales to the al Assad regime in 2011, according to multiple sources cited by wikipedia.)

  62. Contrary to P Lewis, the US should hold the possibility of a military response on the table. That threat is the only reason that Syria and Russia are making any move whatsoever towards removing Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. It would great if other nations would join us, but don't hold your breath waiting on the Russians or the Chinese. The Russians will support their client state Syria no matter how barbarous their actions. And the Chinese have traditionally supported the "right" of nations to treat their citizens as barbarously as Syria does - how else can they justify their suppression of Tibet and their territorial claims for Taiwan? It is unfortunate but true that the UN is increasingly impotent due to partisanship in the Security Council, but then again, we see that movie here at home every day in the US Congress.

    So, give the "Russian plan" some time to work and encourage it as much as possible with technical support but keep the threat of military intervention always in the background. Hopefully, if and when the time comes to use force, other nations will have come to realize that there is no doubt at all that Syria has committed the war crimes described in the UN report.

    Regarding those other nations, why did P Lewis refer to Brazil and India as the key nations (the other two BRICs)? And yes, when anything happens in the Middle East or in other Muslim nations, the Shiite - Sunni schism always affects the allegiances and rivalries. What else is new?

  63. Good arguments to avoid a unilateral military action by the US.

    The analysis, however, does not mention a key player in the Middle East - Israel. The only country that can get the US involved into another Middle East war. As long as the Palestine question is not solved, the US is permanently threatened by another Middle East war.

  64. Now all Putin has to do is explain how it is that the rebels, that don't even have anti tank weapons, were able to make sarin, weaponize it, deliver it with a rocket, and then decide to deliberately attack their own people rather than striking Assad. Hey it's possible. We souldn't rush to judgment. Where is the proof that that wasn't what really happened?

  65. They have antitank weapons. They have destroyed tanks. They have also captured and use tanks.

    There are over 1,000 rebel groups, and some quite readily kill others. There are many reports of their fighting, and even killing leaders who come to "meetings."

    Some of the groups use suicide tactics. Some of the groups freely kill civilians of descriptions they don't like, represented by other groups they don't like.

    Al Qaeda did conduct chemical attacks with Chlorine gas in Iraq as terror attacks on civilians, many times, so yes we know they would do it.

    Rebel did try to fake many things for the purpose of manipulating Western support. They have been caught repeatedly with faked videos of all sorts of stuff. They faked specifically chemical attacks using shaving cream on the faces of fake victims. I don't say that is what happened here, but I say it has happened and it cannot be dismissed on an assumption that they couldn't or wouldn't.

    Proof. That is my concern, too many assumptions. The UN report did NOT conclude who did this, and it is taken as an "easy" leap that it can only mean what it did not say.

  66. And of course Russia is still in denial. How much more cynical can they get?

  67. As far as I understand it, not all sarin is the same and it is possible to distinguish a certain "chemical signature" in the samples collected during the inspection visit. This "signature" could tell investigators as to whether the particular sarin used in this attack was "government-made" (i.e. result of large industrial production) or "homemade" (i.e. manufactured in someone's basement in a smaller batch).

    While it would still be impossible to assign the blame accurately, "homemade" sarin would point to its more likely creators and users - jihadists among the rebels, who do not have the resources for the industrial production of sarin. "Governmen-made" (most likely Soviet-made) sarin would add another piece of evidence against Assad, unless of course he'd like to admit that he lost control of his chemical weapons to the rebels.

  68. If they were launched by advanced surface to surface missile launchers then i would assume the rebels would have to have recovered them from the army to be responsible.

    Could they have collected enough arms to launch a large strike? Does the report suggest the missiles were launched from Assad controlled territory? Im sure the report has these answers.

  69. Taylor,

    Have you read the report? It doesn't refer to "advanced" anything. It diagrams "unguided rockets" that were 2 feet long. Can we stop with all this talk about "advanced surface to surface missile launchers?" The report was sketchier than I'd hoped for, but at least it was clear on this:

    The rockets were two feet long and were "unguided rockets". Not "advanced," just simple unguided rockets, two feet long. Make of that what you will, but at least state it accurately.

  70. Good point. Though I wonder what chemist could cook this stuff up in a basement.

    I suppose the rebels could have conceivably stolen the govt. Sarin. But, the rockets? The trajectory of the rockets? The training needed to fire them? The prior donning of gas masks by the Assad forces? The killing of the rebel's own children? The prior use of CW by Assad?

    Come on. You would have to twist yourself into knots to gin up any doubt as to the source of the attack.

    The end result of this chapter may be a good one: the removal of the enormous stockpile of CW from Assad's forces. Would this have occurred without the imminent threat of a US attack? Doubt it.

  71. And, what are the global rules in this case? Assad will be judged by international military court? Death or torture is applicable? I see there that UN still want to know who was behind the attacks, well, if I remember the Sirian official army claimed the attack, so, who is behind the country army? Should be Assad or he and his family and all his others contributors like for example Putin?

    If we look in the facts, I think that Putin deliver guns to all the major global conflicts, maybe this terro has guns from Putin! Will be able UN to kill both global terrorists, Putin and Assad and to put one embargo to Russia in order to do not sell guns anymore?

  72. Guess who is the biggest arms dealer of them all ? In fact the so called Seccurity Council of the UN are ALL the biggest arm dealers in the world !!!

  73. Why has the UN team not brought out a canister so that we can all quit guessing and know who made the canister and thence who sold it to whom. Leaving us all in doubt and open to conjecturing anything we find appealing to our particular prejudice merely creates a massive speculative bubble that threatens to blow away our self-confident assertions when (and if) someone actually finds out all those criminals who actually used chemical weapons and where they got them. There is no doubt going to be a vast company of crow eaters of all shades and varieties who have asserted their ways out to the ends of conjectural limbs.

  74. Well, My friend, Russia already vote in Assad interests in 2012, when was a similar problem.

    And in plus, what kind of weapons do you think that they use? Must be something old and cheap in order to manage a limited budget as I think that Syria has, right?

    Where are the most old and cheap guns from the world?
    Take a look here:
    http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/guns-of-syria.asp

  75. Finding a canister isn't going to prove anything. If the Rebels or some other group were trying to frame the Assad regime, don't you think a canister with Assad's name on it would mysteriously be found? The Rebels have taken over many of Assad's military encampments and have confiscated their weapons, even tanks.

  76. Bill M ..... Why were the UN inspectors already there to observe the folly. Why has not the US released the phone/email conversations re the sarin attack. Why did not Obama prevent the attack since the NSA had heard about it. And what was NSA and our spy satellites doing if they did not know about it. Are we getting our money's worth,

  77. Russia and Syria will continue to deny it. No real surprise there!!

  78. Clearly, Assad's forces used the gas, as almost every intelligence agency has concluded, even anti-war Germany. Assad has consistently denied ever even owning the chemicals, much less using them, but has now decided to give them up as per Russia. He has cast himself as a proven liar in this regard, and thus the prime suspect. He and his forces, led by his brother, have continued the brutal assault on civilians from the initial protests onward.

    While the rebels are not much better, concerning wanton brutality and violence, it is indeed the Assad government that has been the primary evil in this war. He gets a complete pass with the Russian led initiative, and will remain free to wipe out any and all opposition. As monsters go in the world today, he's at the top of the list.

  79. "The Assad government until a few days ago denied having any chemical weasons whatsoever."

    COMMENT:

    I've seen this statement so often lately that I wonder whether people really believe it's true. It's not. Until the present deal was struck, the Syrian government never denied (or confirmed) it has chemical weapons. It's done exactly what Israel has always done regarding its alleged nuclear weapons – neither confirm nor deny.

    Syria has, however, vehemently denied that it's ever used its chemical weapons – in the August 21 incident or at any other time.

    There's a great deal of misinformation thrown around, but let's at least put an end to this one.

  80. Thinker: let's put it this way: The Assad regime has until recently not admitted that it has chemical weapons.

  81. No...we won't put an end to this one...UN Court...should immediately issue arrest warrants for Assad/Maher & anyone else they know was involved.

  82. " The Assad regime has until recently not admitted that it has chemical weapons. "

    Yes, and Israel has not admitted that it has nuclear weapons.

    What is your point?

  83. There are some within Assad's regime, who grumble about the US-Russian disarmament deal. They are unhappy to give up what they viewed as potentially their most powerful weapon, bearing in mind the inglorious end of Gaddafi, who was all too eager to give up his chemical weapons, just to please the West. They also see their stockpiles as a deterrent of which Israel especially had to be wary.

  84. It's hardly like those chemical weapons have discouraged the Israelis from attacking particular high-interest targets within Syria, seemingly at will. The more reliable way to avoid that, frankly, is to not give Israel a reason to. Nobody thinks that the Jordanian or Egyptian militaries match the Israeli military in competency or capabilities, and yet Israel does not attack them any more often than the United States invades Canada -- because there is no particular reason to do so.

  85. It is quite telling that the agreement is being made with the chief suspect's main weapons supplier. People in the west will only protest the west's actions, never ever a thirld world country's dictator. we live indeed in a world gone totally mad.

  86. We didn't know this? This took weeks to be figured out?

  87. "We didn't know this?"

    Correct

    "This took weeks to be figured out?"

    Correct again.

    I'm surprised at how many commenters seem to believe the US had actual facts to back up its allegations. Read the intelligence summary and you'll understand that was not the case. The only group that had access to the sites was the UN inspectors' team. The countries that blamed Assad were just shooting from the hip. So were the countries that blamed the rebels.

    There were some allegations that cried out for evidence – especially the US claim that it had intercepted telephone calls involving a senior Syrian official who admitted the Syrian government carried out the CW attack. Pretty incriminating, eh? Except that the US government, for reasons best know to itself, refused to play those recordings (or any other recording). When Congressmen received their "classified" briefing, at least one asked to hear the recordings. The Administration refused – I think they said lightning had struck the CIA building the night before and fried the frazistan on their flux capacitor. Or maybe the dog ate it – I forget which it was.

    Whatever the Obama Administration had in the way of evidence, it claimed that all of it was made available to members of the British Parliament. Whatever it was, obviously they weren't impressed. They voted against attacking Syria.

  88. It is important for the U.N. to determine who carried out the chemical weapons attack. The President has not produced any evidence linking Assad to the attack. The report released by the White House has been presented as an “intelligence report” despite the fact that it was written by administration officials.

    Obama Warned on Syrian Intel: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/06/obama-warned-on-syrian-intel/

    Memorandum for: The President
    From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

    “We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians.

    “There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East – mostly affiliated with the opposition and its supporters – providing a strong circumstantial case that the chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the U.S. into the war.

    “Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government has equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.”

  89. Clear as mud!

    Israel kept out of the Syrian issue until urged by the U.S. administration to help get congressional approval for a limited strike, which would have been of no use to Israel, as it would not have made a significant change in the situation on the ground. Intervention in Syria two years ago, when there was a chance of supplantng Assad by a secular regime, might have been to Israel's advantage. Now that the rebels are dominated by fanatical Islamists, the choice between them and Assad is like the choice between plague and cholera.

    The Kerry-Putin agreement -- if it can be implemented effectively -- is to Israel's advantage, as it would keep chemical weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah.

    Israel's main concern is not Syria but a nuclear Iran.
    Engaging Washinton in a war over Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons is the last thing that Israel needs.

  90. RLS: From the same "memo"--

    "According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.

    We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons"

    That's it? Thats' the basis for this "memo"? That canisters were essentially carried into the offended area and simply opened? Completely laughable.

    "Some reports" is not cited. This "memo" has no credibility, and the whole article appears to be speculation and opinion. Careful of your sources.

    Here's one--

    http://www.un.org/disarmament/content/slideshow/Secretary_General_Report...

  91. Why didn't they make any attempt to ascribe blame? What a waste of time. The Syrian Government confirmed that chemical weapons were used on August 21. Nobody questioned this. Why even conduct an investigation if your not going to ascribe blame? Clearly the Syrian Government expected the evidence to prove the "rebels" had used the chemical weapons. I don't think the international community would with hold ascribing blame if they had evidence to show the government was to blame. Why do Assad that favor? So clearly I believe that not ascribing blame conclusively shows that evidence was found that implicated the "rebels", which is why they chose not to ascribe blame. They didn't want to do Assad any favors.

  92. "And of course Russia is still in denial. How much more cynical can they get?"

    COMMENT:

    Russia never denied an attack occurred. It simply said it would rely on the UN inspectors' report when it was released – acknowledging that Russia, like all other countries, had had no access to the site and thus could not make fact-based determinations. (Many Americans mistakenly believe the US government had access to the site and thus had evidence to back up its allegations. Not so; only the UN inspectors were granted access.) Like many of us, Russia made clear on numerous occasions that it expected that an attack would be confirmed.

    There are enough actual facts to argue about – no need to make up new ones.

  93. "Thinker", the Russians indeed "never denied an attack occurred"--their position was, from the start, that the rebels had done it! That is, that they gassed their own supporters; it was all "a carefully planned provocation". This was never as plausible as the charges against Assad, and has now been shown to be false beyond a reasonable doubt.

  94. TimBob,

    I'm curious: What was it in the report that most convinced you of Assad's guilt?

  95. Since that UN agency monitors compliance with the sarin ban, I see no reason why the UN could not also determine who fired the sarin. No reason except cowardice. This behavior does not rescue the UN from its irrelevance. It is probably the most irrelevant international organization on the planet; by its own governing charter it cannot be the "United Nations." In far too many situations it is the Divided Nations, and it will continue to be irrelevant as long as it gives so much power to a mere five nations that most decidedly are not united.

  96. Were that in their mandate, it is not entirely likely that they would have been granted permission to investigate. The Syrian government had already attempted to limit their access to only locations where the government claimed to be victimized, after all, even when assigning blame was not an issue.

  97. If Russia and the Assad government are so certain that it was the rebels who used the gas, why have they not insisted that the rebels give up their chemical weapons as well? Why are they so willing to disarm in the face of an enemy they believe to have used chemical weapons on multiple occasions?

    Because they know the rebels don't have chemical weapons. Obvious answer.
    It's like an episode of Colombo. "Just one more thing Mr. Assad..."

    (I originally saw this question posted by another commenter, but it bears repeating.)

  98. The rebels were stopped at the Turkish border in Feb 2013 with CWs. Fact.

  99. unless of course, the rebel took delivery of CW from the Saudis and/or the CIA. It's possible, though I don't know how unlikely.

  100. @SW Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Do you have a source for that? I have done a search for "syria rebel turkey border chemical", but so far have only found a report from Before It's News and Voice of Russia. The Turkish authorities reported that they siezed "some chemicals" that were being analyzed, but did not say that it was sarin. Hard to tell. The Turks would have a motive to say it isn't sarin, the Russians would have a motive to say it is.

    But I will certainly look into it.

  101. "Only the Syrian government had the ability to send surface to surface missiles loaded with chemical weapons."

    COMMENT:

    Well, so we've been hearing for about a month now. The UN has identified the rockets used, complete with photos, though it offered no opinion on which side used them or where they came from.

    There must be some experts out there who can make educated guesses. Are these rockets something that only Assad's side could have? Or could the rebels have obtained these rockets?

    Those who make statements such as that quoted above are merely speculating, nothing more.

  102. "The UN inspectors have now confirmed both munitions carried a chemical payload, so the question is, who used them? 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. More details on the M14, and it's origins, are in this video from RUSI"

    It might be noted that it's fairly difficult to keep use of large rocket systems *completely* hidden for two years when there are numerous people carrying pocket-side video cameras and uploading footage to Youtube, when there's deliberate taping by the participants for propaganda purposes, and when all major factions are probably infiltrated by sympathizers from opposing factions.

    --
    http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/09/who-was-responsible-for-august-2...

    Also, one of the rockets is unusual enough to have not been seen before this conflict, so it's hardly a widely disseminated model that might have been obtained easily from common sources.

  103. Thanks, LW.

    Has the Syrian government used these rockets before?

  104. UN inspectors record (appendix 5 of the report) that one of the rockets parts they recovered has "engravings on the bottom ring of the engine." These engravings comprise a series of Russian Cyrillic letters with numbers in between. Probably a serial code. You can see pictures in the full report. Consistent with other evidence from rocket parts and debris found on the scene and examined by UN, the number 179 is particularly significant.

    Using videos of the UN inspectors and work and analysis of other evidence analyzed on Brown_Moses blog, Dr Igor Sutyagin, RUSI Research Fellow for Russia Studies, in a video Sep 8, 2013 examines rebel claims of chemical weapons use in Syria, "corroborating with his knowledge of Soviet weapons systems and the Syrian military." Worth a look. On youtube under "Assessing Syrian Chemical Weapons Use " http://youtu.be/PmwjXp45syI

  105. Wow, and as there have been no previous cases in the Middle East of countries transferring captured weaponry from one country to another, that clinches it. Maybe.

  106. August 21 attack was Assad/Maher's dirty work, no one else's...Period.

    So is it any wonder Russia rushed the deal with Kerry along & had it signed before today's UN inspectors report? Russia knew all along it was Assad, Assad knew all along it was he who was responsible for this heinous crime against humanity. Anybody saying otherwise is more so doing so because they hate US, they hate Israel, or they hate both. Also, they think RT/Press TV/ or other propaganda news outlets are the bearers of truth, when they are definitively not.

    All evidence the UN discovered relate to Assad's carrying out this crime. The type of rockets, the amount of sarin used & the trajectory where the rockets were fired from.
    And believe it or not, Russia is now fighting over what they agreed on the implementing of Chapter VII of the UN charter in the event of non-compliance." This was agreed in the past weekend deal...but now Russia were trying to renege on this part of the deal. But then what would you expect? as they're trying very hard to protect their evil friend, because they know they have been complicit to the array of war crimes he has committed.

    PS. Turkey today had to shoot down an Syrian helicopter that flew across their border...nothing is known about the crew who were on board or if they survived....but it just shows how easily this war could spread. This war is far from being over for the Syrians...but far more than that...for the World.

  107. Once Assad gives up his WMD the war will be over. He will annihilate the rebels with Russian arms and the west won't lift a finger. That is the deal on the table.

  108. l am just wondering why the western world did not do any thing when IRAQ'S SADDAM killed old those kurds ans Iranians, oh l just forgot he was our friend than , than we found out he was not than we went after him for some other reason, l just do not like the world we are leaving

  109. It might also have something to do with the fact that Reagan was the President in 1988.

  110. That was before the internet and youtube. Times have changed and there is no ignoring atrocities like this today.

  111. In addition to determining WHO fired these WMD armaments it would be interesting to determine if any of the weapons found or to be presumably removed from Syria by the UN or Russians were transferred to Syria by the Iraqis in the run up to Iraqi War redux.

  112. who sold them the weapons ?????
    even more interesting

  113. That's highly unlikely.

    Inspectors found no evidence of such transfers, nor witnesses who would testify such -- even after Pres. Hussein was quite clearly dead and his government toppled. What they did find, was instead broadly consistent with Gen. Kamel's declaration that such had been clandestinely destroyed.

    It is not entirely likely that Pres. Hussein would have trusted another government to not betray him and gain the favor of the international community, considering that his behavior was otherwise along the lines of pathological paranoia.

  114. Sorry, but I think that's kind of an absurd notion. Saddam and Assad were bitter enemies. Think about it: Iraq was a mainly Shiite country ruled by Sunnis, whereas Syria was a Sunni country ruled by Alawites. (Unlikely that either will be that way again any time soon.) Sectarianism matters over there. A LOT!

    Also, Saddam waged a vicious war against Iran for the better part of a decade, using chemical weapons of course. And who is Syria's strongest ally besides Russia? It ain't Iraq, I know that much.

    While it may be a convenient fantasy for neocons and Bush apologists, I'd say there's about as much chance Saddam sold all his WMD to Assad as there is that the rebels launched the recent massive chemical attacks in Damascus.

  115. And who was there to object to the use of chemical weapons? The Russians, the Chinese, the United Nations? It was only President Obama's stubborn insistence that these weapons are wrong and must not be tolerated. What prompted all this brouhaha was his action and where are we now? Is Syria using chemical weapons? No. Will they use them again? Most assuredly not. The Red Line comment was hardly a blunder. It was the correct and moral position to take.

  116. Why then does Obama not take the correct and moral position on the ongoing genocides in at least 3 subSaharan African countries wherein 2 million+ have been displaced from their homes, and hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered? Selective morality indeed.

  117. Rebel terrorists hide among civilians. They kill those who resist, take over their homes, blow a hole it the wall for their guns, and sit and wait for soldiers to come into their cross hairs. So, blame the cannibal terrorists for civilian deaths. Assad has nothing to gain by killing his own people.

  118. Mr. Obama's moral position -- if you haven't forgotten -- was that the US should fire cruise missiles at Syria. Maybe you and I have a different view of morality -- mine does not include mass murder of people who might be associated in some vague way with a reprehensible act.

    For this reason, I would also object if Russia threatened to launch missiles at the US to punish us for drone attacks on Pakistan, or the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the use of depleted uranium shells in our government's various and continuing crusades.

  119. As I read the comments about those who still do not trust the information, e.g., e-mail transmissions, doctors' reports, visual evidence, and now the UN inspectors, I have a small observation. I wonder how much doubt you would want others to hold, should let's say you get robbed and shot or hit by a car. Or you find that a drug you took produces critical negative symptoms, and you sue, but the information only supports your position to the tune of about 95%. You suffer the rest of your life and the company gets off. Just saying, whether all those doubters would be us understanding if they were the ones who suffered harm, and the evidence is only about 97% supportive. Good luck with that.

  120. You are mixing and matching your evidence. I don't see much argument for the idea that there was a chemical attack, which was most of the evidence you mention militates for. I see people questioning WHO sent the attack. The intercepted transmissions might prove it but they haven't been released yet. And frankly, the government's tendency to lie when it's itching for a war--see Iraq, for just one example--means citizens have a duty to be skeptical of their government's arguments for war.

  121. Terry is right. Where is the proof that US claims it has? Saying it is classified and hence cannot be shared, means they have NO proof.

  122. The weak kneeded charge to investigate but not assign blame/responsibility further makes the UN irrelevant in encouraging more peaceful resolution of disputes. How courageous to investigate the crime but not look for perpetrators ! And curious that our leaders didn't demand the Russians, chinese and Indians explain why they believe the evidence exonerates the Syrian govenment. A noble day indeed for President Obama.

  123. Two days before UN started investigation of chemical attack sites in Syria, USA said, "UN as no authority to investigate who is behind those attacks". What do you make of that? It means "UN keep your mouth shut".

  124. Russia and Iran should stop arming the Assad clan. The blood is on your hands. Why does everyone blame the US for all of these conflicts when they are using arms supllied by dictators. I see images of poor people all over the world carrying RPGs and AK47's all made in communist countries. How do people who can not feed their own family aford an assault rifle and ammo? Maybe the NRA is more omnipotent than we thought.

  125. The US needs to stop arming the rebels a) because this is a civil war and we have no business picking sides, and b) because more than half the rebels are now AQ and/or Islamic fundamentalist, and have been determined by the UN to have committed war crimes. The US has blood on its hands for the killings undertaken by the rebels, as well as for all the innocent victims of the drone wars in a multitude of other countries.

  126. Now that the UN has confirmed it, what will the UN do? Nothing. As usual. It should be disbanded....

  127. I don't know if disbanding is the right answer but I agree that Nothing is likely the answer. The United Nations looks great on paper but I agree there is little muscle flexed when clearly it is needed.

  128. And ashamed.......

  129. The United Nations was created as a platform to broadcast international violations of borders and rights to the world, a place where atrocities would not be swept under the rug, a stage where colonies could confront cosmopolitan powers, pointing out the contradictions and violence used to maintain separate and suppressed rights for some, often at gun point, and administrative force.

    The real lesson of Syria is the sad impotence of this once important institution, founded on grand ideals. It is now powerless, unable to take effective action. Especially against the wars it was founded to stop.

    The UN, founded to protect sovereign borders, lives, and the universal principles of freedom and security failed as warfare shifted from conflicts between states to fights within states. Often involving a round robin of state agents, some rogue, and stateless groups with religious, ethnic, personal, or forced loyalties, and soldiers of fortune and terrorists who act as proxies for big interests and big powers.

    The UN couldn't stop Ross Perot from assembling a fighting force, or the US turning a Iraq into a massive military-industrial payday. It has been ineffective in stopping conflict violence in Africa and Asia, esp. violence and rape against civilian women.

    It's become a social service agency, sponsoring global meetings, spending fortunes on aid and food for tent cities which is always insufficient.

    It is an enabler; its findings of proof have no teeth.

  130. It's a forum, not an entity on its own right. The UN is comprised of its members and has no separate power base; hence, "it" will only act if nations decide to in their own individual national interest.

    Power restrains power. Actions taken by great powers, or those whom they protect, are necessarily much less likely to be constrained than actions taken by other states. Nobody was going to deploy peacekeepers to Georgia to defend it against the Russian military because you have to have a pretty compelling reason and heaps of political backing if you're going to tangle with a decently strong military backed by a large nuclear arsenal in its own backyard.

    The Russians protect their client states, the United States protects its own, China opposes intervention in general. That's pretty much all to be expected regardless of what multilateral forum one cares to devise, since it won't be an independent power capable of separating itself from national interest and of challenging great powers on a global scale.

  131. @LW:

    It's gratifying to find at least one person who's got his head screwed on straight.

    You're right, it is a forum and, as such, can be useful for convening a consensus, as George H. W. Bush (AKA, Bush, the good) did to kick Saddam and Co. out of Kuwait.

    It remains to be seen if the final outcome in this Syria issue will be similarly favorable, as measured primarily by elimination of Assad's CW capability. Potential gravy would include a negotiated end to the fighting in Syria (??) ( a MUCH heavier lift, for more reasons than fit in 1500 characters), and/or Bashar al Assad making a trip to the Hague for his day(s) in court.

  132. walterrhett;

    UN is a dead horse since ages; no need of whipping it; However; she dances to the tunes of few blessed ones!!

  133. What is the US goal? Eliminate chemical weapons, or regime change. Are chemical weapons a smoke screen for our real purpose. If we are going to arm the opposition, we have no right to complain if Assad fights back. Is John Kerry so certain Syria will be better off without Assad. Will we be better off.

  134. Perhaps we should differentiate between goals and plans.

    Pres. Obama has, on occasion, indicated that his preferred goal is a political settlement that does not involve Pres. Assad remaining in power. He has, however, focused on the political side of this -- being fairly insistent on rebel organizations coalescing and forming some sort of political structure, notably -- and not on changing the balance of power to the point where Pres. Assad might reasonably believe that such were acceptable (because the alternative would be likely defeat and, say, execution on the street by an angry mob).

    Recently, he has been making noises about doing a bit to actually help the opposition's military wing, and within the past few weeks the very first weapon shipments from the United States are believed to have arrived (months after their having been promised). This basically consists of small arms and body armor, with no anti-tank or anti-aircraft weaponry, from trust issues basically. It is believed that this shift has come from the realization that Pres. Assad is in a sufficiently strong position with the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, that if the rebels do *not* grow at least somewhat stronger there will be no negotiations at all, let alone a political settlement.

    However, the short-term plans appear entirely focused on chemical weapons, and it is conceivable that the administration will curtail its nascent support of the rebels if such is the price of the CW deal.

  135. There are three possiblities: 1) Assad ordered the sarin-filled missile attacks; 2) some of Assad's comanders in the field disobeyed his standing orders not to use the gas; 3) the rebels, the Israelis or the CIA did it as a provocation to secure direct US military involvement. The first is most likely, although the second is also possible, since Assad's forces are winning without the gas and using it obviously would not be in his interest because it serves as a pretext for direct US military intervention. There is a leak from German intelegence supporting the second scenario that has been duly ignored by the US and it's allies. If true it would indicate a breakdown in discipline among Assad's forces. We still don't know the answer and it will be difficult to ascertain by UN inspectors because the civil war makes it very dangerous for them to carry out the necessary investigations on the ground. However, regardless of who used the gas even if the weopons could be removed it would do nothing to end a proxy war being fed by both Russia and the US and their respective allies, and that Assad is currently winning. The only sane response is for the US to recognize reality and convene regional negotiations without preconditions involving all regional actors in the war - including and especially, Iran. Anything else is guaranteed to make things worse.

  136. First is most likely? When UN inspectors are just a mile away?

  137. This is also a ethnic war, more pro-west Alawites against more conservative Sunni. Al Qaeda are Sunnis. So where is your heart on ?
    Well, it had been propably the Alawites, who used the chemical agents to extinct ordinary families of Sunnis. After all does it matter, who is who, a genocide is a genocide. Do the US want to punish the Alawites, while the Sunni do war crimes on their own, are those who are kidnapping western citizen for ransom and want to establish the sharia ?
    Under this circumstances does it matter who fired those rockets ?
    The only thing that matters is how to keep yourself out of this.

  138. Assad is a mouth peice for his Brother and the other power figures behind the curtains. Intellegence reports says NSA has ( telephone records on CD ) High Level Officials in the regime talking about it. It does not Mean Assad personally knows be we should hold him accountable also.

  139. The US, Russian and Syrian agreement is a victory for Assad.

    First, so long as he doesn’t use chemical weapons - again - on his people, he’ll be safe from a US military strike and Western intervention. Approximately 98% of the people killed in the Syrian civil war so far have not been killed with chemical weapons, so Assad and his regime have figured out ways to cause mass death in conventional ways. He'll be able to increase the tempo of attacks on rebels and civilians, knowing now that he can do so with impunity.

    Second, by partnering with Russia and the West on the disarmament process - lasting into 2014 and most likely for years thereafter even if carried out in good faith - Assad has made himself indispensable. A post-Assad regime wouldn’t necessarily be party to this agreement, and might not even go through the motions. Syria, post-Assad, might very well be more fractured and chaotic than it is now. Ironically, the US. now needs Assad in place for the duration. He’s the guy, after all, who knows where the chemical weapons are hidden.

    The agreement is also a victory for Putin - he's made himself into a new power player of the Middle East. He has shown up President Obama and he'll be considered as a peacemaker, when, in fact, he’s a bloody-minded autocrat.

    But President Obama has upheld the international norm governing the use of chemical weapons, and he has done what the American people say they wanted -- staying out of the conflict.

  140. Assad has been made indispensable by the Saudis and other powers financing the extreme rebel elements. As long as the alternative to Assad is far worse than Assad it would be folly to take him out or support those who would.

    Otherwise you have it about right.

  141. Why doesn't WHO used the chemical weapons become paramount ? Kind of like when there is a dead body ( bingo ) discovered , isn't it also imporatnt to know WHO killed the person ? And since everyone agrees that this entire " solution " is basically impossible to implement, why are the Obama people celebrating this so-called solution ? Because it took the " red line " solution off the table to help Barack's off-the-cuff comment ? This entire matter is a scam, a sham, and a short term distraction. This is NOT a solution. The civil war in Syria wages on. High fives not appropriate.

  142. As soon as we have proof, we can go to the International Court of Justice and have them charge the culprit. So far we do not have any conclusive proof that the rocket/weapon was fired by the Syrian Regime.

  143. Richard, did you bother to read the story on which you are allegedly commenting? The question of who used the chemical weapons has been clearly answered: it was the Syrian government. The argument that "the rebels did it to themselves" was always nonsensical, and the evidence collected by the United Nations has now shown it to be so beyond a reasonable doubt. What the response to these facts ought to be can certainly be argued about--but that these ARE the facts can't be.

  144. Is this going to change Obama's strategies on dealing with Syria now that more evidence has come to light?

  145. The Us alreadhy had all the evidence, but the fact that the UN has come to the same conclusion, It certainly gives the Obama administration a stronger hand to negotiate and perhaps even dare the Russians to veto a much stronger Security Council resolution against the Assad regime. It also, means that the US and allies could demand that Assad step down.
    Henceforth, any action by Putin to deny, protect and aid Assad to stay in power will only continue to embarrass Russia and be viewed as an enabler and an accessory to Assad's war crimes.

  146. Anonymous,

    Just curious: What evidence did you see in the report that you think Obama should take into account?

  147. "We are not talking about a Kalashnikov or a RPG. A SRBM requires a trained crew who knows how to operate and maintain the guidance systems and launch systems. We are not talking about a Kalashnikov or a RPG. A SRBM requires a trained crew who knows how to operate and maintain the guidance systems and launch systems."

    COMMENT:

    I suggest you read the report a bit more carefully. Your comment will appeal only to those who haven't.

    According to the inspectors, what you describe as a sophisticated device was a 2-foot long unguided rocket – i.e. no guidance system at all. I don't suggest your conclusion is incorrect, just that the information you're basing it on doesn't support it.

    According to the article, Human Rights Watch and the New York Times figured out that the two missiles whose trajectories could be determined were fired from a Syrian military base. Hard to see how they could figure that out from the report.

    The reported stated trajectory angles, but didn't opine on speed. I'm no physicist, but obviously one needs to know an object's speed to know how far away it was fired from. Nor did the report include a map or other way to determine the exact location of these two impact sites.

    Given the dearth of data on this point, I'd be curious to know how HRW and NYT calculated where these missiles came from. They must have been relying on information that wasn't in the report. If so, they should disclose it. If not, it sounds like shoot-from-the-hip speculation.

  148. Look it is the same guys at the UN doing the Climate Change Math. Now fancy that, and they are not clear??

  149. @Thinker:

    Let's start with your comment that "I'm no physicist", because it explains why you might state " ... but obviously one needs to know an object's speed to know how far away it was fired from.", which, with all due respect, is incorrect.

    First, you have to know (i.e., calculate/estimate) how much the loaded rocket weighed before launch. The volume of Sarin and its density is a "you can look it up" fact so you can figure that weight (volume x density). Similarly, you can figure out/estimate closely the weight of the rocket casing, fins, etc. Ditto for a standard load of powder/propellant.

    Next, since you "know" the propellant you can figure how much force was created by igniting/burning the propellant.

    Lastly, you need to determine at what angle the rocket was launched, which, I expect, is related to the angle at which the rocket impacted, which, in turn, I'm sure was part of the detailed analysis of the impact site.

    Now you "know" what the rocket weighed (its mass), how "hard" it was thrown into the air by the propellant(the force, and what angle it was thrown at, SO for it to have landed where it came down, it must have been launched from x kilometers away, give or take a small margin error. And since you know the azimuth/east-west angle it was traveling on, you look in that direction, back x kilometers and ... voilà.

    It may be rocket science, but it's not hard rocket science and certainly NOT shoot-from-the-hip speculation.

  150. "shoot-from-the-hip speculation"

    Unfortunately that is exactly what it is.

    The UN report at least provides some relevant and presumably accurate information regarding the use of chemical toxins, information that otherwise has not been available.

    To repeat however, speculation about culpability is moot and in effect a sideshow.

    I agree that the Assad regime has no motivation for use of chemical toxins. Every disincentive in fact. But there is every reason for one of the mercenary groups to do so, particularly at this time.

    Ever since Mr. Obama was pressured to make his ludicrous "redline" statement, not surprisingly redolent of the same phrase used repeatedly by Israeli war-mongers, one can imagine how many of the backers of the mercenaries have been trying to think of ways to exploit that statement to solicit USA military intervention against the Assad regime.

    That regime is the one being attacked by any number of mercenary groups enlisted and funded by outsiders. Internal groups attacking the regime are the same native Syrian Islamic fundamentalist types who have perennially attacked this regime and the regime of Hafez al-Assad for decades.

  151. It seems there is conspiracy to accuse the Syria government of using CW but they are innocent until proven guilty. The UN Report is just confirming CW is used but not who used it.

  152. Culpability is a moot. In fact it is irrelevant.

    The people killed by the chemical toxins are dead. Over a hundred thousand others in Syria are dead due to this conflict. None of the dead will be resurrected to life, whatever party released the toxins.

    Many more will die, many more will become refugees and who knows how many of the refugees might die due to disease or who knows what other cause, not to mention living in misery through loss of homes and livelihoods, until the USA takes some action to prevent enlistment, funding and supply to the mercenaries by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf sheikdoms, Turkey and whatever role Israel is playing to foment turmoil in Syria.

    There will only be more death and destruction. The brouhaha over the chemical toxins in the overall scheme of things in this conflict has been and is a charade.

    Russia has effective control over the Syrian regime. Russia would be unquestionably amenable to pressuring that regime to agree to a political settlement to the conflict, if the USA were to agree to apply similar pressure on its political affiliates.

    Russia exerted pressure by seizing the opportunity given it this past week inadvertently by Mr. Kerry to force Syria to accede to the chemical weapons convention and to agree to hand over its stocks of chemical toxins. A very significant step.

    And when, by the way, has Israel, a key belligerent in the Middle East, agreed to ratify the convention, and give up both its chemical and nuclear weapons?

  153. Under the circumstances that would be a big mistake.

  154. Mmm... if the Russians were in complete control, I'm pretty sure that Syria would not have used chemical weapons. They're fine with the Syrian government winning with purely conventional slaughter, even if it means that it takes a bit longer and some more Syrian soldiers and Hizbollah fighters die than otherwise would. They're providing political cover, but I don't think they actually *wanted* it to happen; they're just looking after their interests in maintaining a client state and customer.

  155. Well, yes thanks for confirming. Cyrillic markings as in Russian made rockets supplied to the Assad regime? Really? Well, no surprise there either.
    I wonder how Mr. Putin is going to explain this one. Another op-ed letter?
    No, it probably won't change anything. The US did not need confirmation and has already committed itself to the "Syrian Pact". But, perhaps it will give the US and allies a stronger hand to demand that Assad step down rather quickly.

    It is however, embarrassing for Putin, who is likely to insist that the evidence is tainted, insufficient, etc . . . Please, Mr. Putin no more letters full of horse-feathers. Don't embarrass yourself and Russia more than you already have.. But you will and you will continue to support your pal Assad the war-criminal. You will continue to veto in the Security Council, too.

    Of course, Assad did not need confirmation either that he is actually a war criminal, but, hey, a useful one, apparently. So far, he got away with it and that is a shame for all of Humanity.

  156. "...demand that Assad step down rather quickly". Really? Or else what? He already knows there is no political will - outside of Obama, McCain and Graham - to enforce any action against him. I could almost tolerate our GOP congress' isolationist self obsorption if it translated to productivity in the business of running our own country. But it doesn't. They are also obstructing everything our President is trying to do to rev up our economy.

  157. "...included the large size and particular shape of the munitions and the precise direction from which two of them had been fired..."

    quiet interesting considering the fact that the news then was that, the bomb detonated in a tunnel killing 16 rebels on the spot, then begun to spread. Now the UN says the bomb was fired.

    surely this is interesting.

  158. "Why didn't they make any attempt to ascribe blame? What a waste of time."

    That wasn't the inspectors' mission.

    Nonetheless, I was disappointed with the sketchiness of the report. I'd expected a bit higher quality – not to mention some basics such as maps.

    It would also be interesting to hear why the inspectors mention so few impact sites. The US claimed many more. Do the inspectors deny that others exist, or did they just not have time to get to the others and neglected to mention that? Or is the US just incorrect about the number of impact sites?

    These are just a few of the many unanswered questions I'd expected we'd be able to answer.

    One thing seems clear, though:

    The missiles used (or at least the one diagramed in the report) were not sophisticated, and were remarkably small. The report described it as an "unguided rocket" just 630 mm long (2 feet). Possibly it was fired by Assad's people; possibly it was fired by the rebels. But in any case, it appears that it COULD have been fired by just about anyone, with little or no training.

  159. Yes! There are a number of reasons why knowing who is culpable is important, e.g. punishing them, not punishing others, and calling to account our leaders who have gone "all nine innings" insisting, from August 21st forward, that it was Assad, all the world knows it was Assad, we are beyond questioning whether it was anyone but Assad, etc.

  160. You make a very interesting point about the unsophisticated delivery system that was used. One thing no one seems to be talking about is: what about Hezbollah? One serious possibility is that the Syrian government is cooperating extensively with the militant organization, supplying them with chemical warheads to stick on Hezbollah rockets. I wouldn't be surprised if that's why it's been so hard to pin blame directly on the Syrian government. Not just that, isn't the news abuzz now with new evidence that Syria is at this moment moving chemical weapons to Hezbollah/Lebanon to avoid inspection trouble?

  161. @Esperance the fact that the system is unsophisticated is important in my view because such a system could be managed by any of the combatants . . .not because we can devise theories under which Assad could still be responsible. A fair reading of what the the US media has "reported," with a single voice since August 21st, is that no combatant except Assad was capable of delivering the attack(s). That, as many-many other widely reported "facts," are simply untrue. The American people, at least those online, are finally expressing their frustration with being misled. We can have a better country . . .but not without fair and balanced--and object reporting. The press has been complicit with the political inside in trying to manipulate public perceptions on important issues of the day.

  162. We don't know any more now than we knew three weeks ago. The UN report provides only information regarding the use of the gas. I want to know who really used it and who supplied it to them.

  163. No you don't , your mind is closed. Read the article. These
    inspectors are professionals and they were the ones on the ground. It will not matter what they or anyone any professional say, you will likely contradict them in favor of your own
    conspiracy theories.

  164. Every now and then a harsh dose of reality is useful.

    Without any doubt, the "fact" most often misstated is that most dead Syrians in this war have been killed by Assad's forces. Far from it, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a strongly pro-rebel website. Its most recent report makes clear that the rebels kill more Syrians than Assad's people:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/03/192881/assad-backers-reportedly-ma...

    To its credit, the Times doesn't misstate this. It always says "100,000 Syrians have been killed" – passive voice. But more and more commenters get this wrong. Recently I received an email from my Senator, Dianne Feinstein, that had it wrong too. I don't know whether that's routine among members of Congress – I hope not. But it concerned me that Senator Feinstein would make this mistake.

    Collectively, all of the other misstatements fall far short of the "100,000 deaths" misstatement. Nonetheless, lately there has been another contender for the crown:

    The assertion that Assad previously denied having CWs. Typically this misstatement serves as an assumption in an argument concluding that Assad must have been guilty of the CW attack because he's finally "admitted" that he has CWs. Since he'd been "lying" about that, it's fair to conclude he was also "lying" about the CW attack too.

    As most people know, that assertion is false. Assad has never denied Syria has CWs. He's claimed he's never used them – and still does.

  165. That's actually not what the article says at all.

    "Of those, Syrian soldiers and members of the government’s security forces account for 24,617, while members of pro-government militias make up 17,031. Taken together, those deaths account for 43.2 percent of the total recorded."

    That's well less than half. And, of course, considering that a non-trivial amount of the opposition were Syrian soldiers at some point, it's not entirely clear that all of the soldiers killed were killed by rebels on the basis of loyalty to the government.

    And for "Civilian noncombatants are the next largest group of the dead – 35,479, or 36.8 percent of the total, according to the human rights group." -- the article says absolutely nothing as to whom killed them.

  166. LW,

    You're missing the point, or maybe getting it but ignoring it. 43% of the deaths are Syrian troops and militia members. Setting aside a few "friendly fire" deaths, all of those were killed by the rebels. That puts you only 7% away from the majority before you even start counting civilians or any of the other categories that make up the remaining 57%. Unless nearly all of the rest were killed by Assad's troops, the rebels have killed more than half. Given the rebels' attitudes toward civilians, I don't have any trouble assuming they killed a lot more than the 7% required to give them a majority.

  167. It's a shame they don't use cell phones to launch surface-to-surface missiles, because if they did, the NSA might be able to tell us who made the call.

  168. This argument assumes it answer, and takes that as if it is a real answer, "rebel forces, who are not known to possess such weapons or the training or ability to use them."

    They say they can't, therefore they didn't, and Assad did. Who do you get those reports from? Them.

    What does Assad say? The opposite.

    Therefore what they say is true and what Assad says is not? Sure Assad would lie, but so would they, in a heartbeat.

    Furthermore, the weapons used are chemical rounds for normal weapons systems, and the rebels have captured some of all of them. The expertise comes with defectors, for use of all those weapons.

    I don't believe I know who did this.

    Assad is nasty enough.

    But then, the insurgents execute all their prisoners, and eat the steaming raw innards of some on video they post, and have their own kids cut the throats of bound prisoners in other videos they proudly post, so they are pretty nasty too.

    Would al-Qaeda kill rebels from another group for its own advantage?

    Al Qaeda already used chlorine gas weapons multiple times against civilian populations in Iraq as terror attacks. Sarin gas is just another gas weapon filler, like Chlorine gas and Mustard gas. We know they would, they did. We know they have all the same weapon systems as Assad. All we don't know is where they might get the gas, and there are many possibilities. The Turkish police arrested rebels last week trying to get it in Turkey, just outside the rebel camp on the border.

  169. http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/09/who-was-responsible-for-august-2...
    "One thing that must be stressed, is that the UMLACA is a munition that's never been seen in any other conflict, and it's origins are somewhat of a mystery. This has led some people to claim the munition could have been constructed by the opposition, and one popular video shows what's claimed to be a chemical munition being used by the opposition, with some even claimed it's the UMLACA, even though it's clearly a totally different design."

    This either has been manufactured for this particular conflict, or has been manufactured earlier but kept very obscure, perhaps for reasons of plausible deniability.

    As for the 140mm, see the same article; a lot of rebel-controlled weapon systems ARE known, including very specific rocket artillery types, and no 140mm systems are among them.

  170. Various stories have pointed out that studies of the missile fragments found by the UN, and modelling of the trajectories of the missiles, all point to a Syrian military facility controlled by Assad's forces. There is much other evidence in these stories (if you bother to read them) that all points to Assad's forces launching the chemical attack, not the rebels.
    You have a tendency to ignore facts that don't fit your narrative, make up other facts (where is the evidence of use of chlorine gas in Iraq?) and throw out red herrings (yes, some rebels have executed prisoners; so did some US troops in WWII, but did that make the US equivalent to the Germans or Japanese?), all to avoid confronting reality.

  171. That is simply not true. The 140 mm rocket system is one of the oldest in common use. It is made in many countries. It was used by the rebels in Libya, in the 12 round Chinese launcher version mounted on the backs of pickup trucks. It was used against US forces in Iraq, and against US forces in Vietnam.

    Syria bought its first 200 12-rocket BM-14 launcher systems from Russia in 1967. They are everywhere in the Syrian inventory, much of which has been captured.

    It is beyond belief that the rebels who came from so many places that use these, to a country which uses them, to capture whole bases, don't have access to 140 mm rockets.

  172. I'm astonished at the number of commenters here who seem convinced (on the basis of no apparent evidence) that the rebels are to blame for the chemical attacks and that the Assad regime is being persecuted by the American media. I can only surmise that many of them are the same people whose hearts were warmed by the wisdom and goodwill of the Putin op-ed piece.

  173. It is pure hogwash when you say that those of us who lean towards the rebels as being responsible for the chemical attack have no evidence for that assertion. Pay attention to sources other than the MSM. The MSM has NOT pointed out that the White House has not presented any evidence linking Assad to the attack. And the MSM has NOT pointed out that the administration’s report is a political document, not an “intelligence report.”

    When former military and intelligence officials say that their “former co-workers are telling [them], categorically, that the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians,” that is credible.

    The rebels have a motive for carrying out the attack. The opposition wants the US to get involved in the civil war, Assad does not.

    Thomas Drake, Matthew Hoh, Coleen Rowley, Ray McGovern, and other former military and intelligence officials: Obama Warned on Syrian Intel http://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/06/obama-warned-on-syrian-intel/

    “There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East – mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters – providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.”

  174. This is the usual response of conspiracy theorists, who demand that that any explanation rule out every other possible cause, regardless of the strength of the evidence. The burden of proof is on Mark Thomason and others to show that rebel forces engaged in this attack.

  175. Wrong, Jeff. The burden of proof is on the President who is willing to take the country to war – a civil war that the US should stay out of, which has the potential of becoming a regional conflict if we strike Syria – to show that Assad is responsible for the attack.

  176. Invariably people who question Assad's culpability are also people who are philosophically on "his" side. Which points to an age old human folly of presenting arguments that fit your narrative. We, as humans, lack honesty and integrity to simply state that "Yes he did it, and I still support him". We like things to be all black or white and when it gets to gray, we fib, deflect, pontificate, and just about anything else to support our point of view.

    In fact, he did do it. He is a nasty dictator who is clinging to power. And it is also a fact that many who militarily oppose him are crazed fundamentalists who are capable of the same. Why can't we call it like it is?

  177. Right back at you, Yuri.

    There is no evidence that he did. And there never will be. Because he did not do it. At least our "philosophy" does not require us to bomb other countries. So we are clearly morally superior to the warmongers.

  178. "we" as in: Why can't we call it like it is ... lumps together very different groups; very different aims. "We" the ordinary citizens, here and everywhere, have basically surrendered our ability, and even willingness, to "call it like it is" some 120 years ago at least. We found it more convenient to defer to the so-called experts. It is a long story, and we can tell it in another context. The point here is: people without passion and commitment to serious aims in the life of human societies find it necessary to APPEAR to have opinions: black and white as you said. Now the "we" as in thousands of statement by Obama, Kerry, and Co. are the "we" who find no shame or other deterrents, and would "deflect, pontificate, etc." Why? for base pursuits that benefit hardly anyone or anything. Sad.

  179. There was considerable proof that the rebels did it previously in Khan al-Asal. Obama's obstruction of UN investigations there has done little to strengthen the case that the government did it.

    The discussion in the US was whether the US should bomb Syria. In that case strict criteria for evidence should be used. Accidentally bombing the wrong side because you were to lazy to check diligently is plain murder.

  180. If this chemical weapon attack and the subsequent investigation showed anything, it showed the the UN is hapless, the Administration is gutless and the Russians and the Chinese are shameless.

    Is that really news?

  181. If your comment shows anything, it's that you're prone to hyperbole.

  182. This is criminal conduct. The world needs to hold Mr. Assad accountable sooner or later. Sadly, his Syrian political and military opponents are most likely no better.

  183. Ted, the criminals are the rebels. Assad is not an angel but he does hold proper presidential authority in Syria. Who is holding former President Bush or this President Obama accountable for all their ill deeds? Obama ordered the murder with a capital M of a US citizen overseas---by the way that could have been you.

  184. In the days after the chemical attack , Assad forces did shell the area destroying evidence. For me this is the biggest proof who the culprits are. If the rebels were the culprits assad forces would have never tried to destroy evidence as they actually did. No one does dispute that. No one does deny Assad Army did shell the damascus area hit by the chemical attack in the days after the event.

  185. The government forces were attacking the area already before August 21. They just continued those attacks. But to describe that as "destroying the evidence" as the rebel propaganda likes to do strikes me as excessive: it is very hard to hit the same area twice from a distance.

  186. If you were going to plan and execute a gas attack in Syria, the purpose of which was to "cross the red line", and thus provoke a massive American military attack on the country, wouldn't you do your best to make sure that the evidence was "rock solid", that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack? These are the best covert intelligence and special forces operatives in the world, diligently at work. The involvement of "forces loyal to Assad" in the gas attack of August 21, as well as the three rehearsal attacks that preceded it, can be ruled out. Categorically.

  187. So, the stronger the evidence appears, the weaker it is in fact.

  188. The evidence IS rock solid. There really is no question. Only a fool would believe otherwise.

    Assad's shelling of the neighborhoods for days thereafter to keep the UN out, the trajectories of the rockets he fired and from where they were fired, the quality of the chemical .... all point to one source. The actions of the Russians, Iranians and Assad's murderers are all smoke and mirrors. By the way, who sold Assad the rockets that were used, Iran or Russia? Any idea?

  189. Ha! Good one. You read Clancy...

  190. The confirmation of such high-grade quality of Sarin in large quantities raises questions of Mr. Putin's knowledge of and involvement in these attacks of his military client. Although he still retains, like Assad, that these arms were planted by rebels to gain attention for their cause, there is scant evidence that this is the case: the confirmation of azimuths that point to launching from army bases and the acknowledgement from the Syrian government that they possessed high-grade Sarin suggest Putin is attempting to cast a smoke-screen on the extent of his involvement in the desperate violence of the Assad regime. Those who return to the numbers of deaths due to rebel forces in the course of their uprising miss the point that during a civil war, deaths are not significant measure of blame: the monstrosity of using sarin gas to kill in an indiscriminate manner is a crime against humanity, and an unacceptable act. The grade and quantity of poison gas alone bears the fingerprint of Assad's forces, as our government had long maintained. The openness of Assad's lies has already become apparent. Let's please ensure that Putin's attempt to "broker peace" is not the attempt it seems to whitewash the Assad regime.

  191. Daniel;
    Extremely candid analysis of the Syrian conflict. Thanks for being TRUTHFUL and keeping the conscience intact!!!

  192. Russia has reasons to want to get rid of these chemical weapons. If by chance these weapons get in pot the hands of Al Qaeda and sold to the Chechnyan rebels, Russia will suffer the same fate.

  193. This is actually perfect! Assad, goaded by his Russian supporters, will have at least two years to continue his battle against the terrorist-infested opposition while the 1,000 metric tons – an enormous amount, over 2 million pounds – of chemicals are carefully destroyed. (One does not simply pour gasoline on such chemicals and light a match. It’s a painstaking and dangerous process.)

    The more terrorists join the fray and are eliminated, the better. So long as Russia keeps supplying the Assad regime with weaponry and ammunition, and we keep supplying the “rebels” with the means to continue to fight: Our enemies go about killing each other.

    The action we should take? Help the innocent Syrians caught in the crossfire. How? We should provide the aid to enable Jordan and Turkey to care for them as refugees – they already number in the millions, and that number is only a start – and, once the mad dogs have eliminated each other, help them return to create a new Syria, one that might, just might, achieve a peaceful coexistence among its diverse populations.

  194. Even if Assad admitted using the gas, it is still not our fight. We are broke from elective wars and criminal bankers and cannot afford any more wars. It is Syria's problem.

  195. It is the fight of all of the people that live on this planet, and in a civilized world. .

  196. EXACTLY. It is Syria's problem. I have always said, these rebels are criminals and Syria needs to deal with them as that...it is an internal police problem...and these criminals are being supplied by external agents which Syria needs to identify and bring to account. It is very very difficult to go and get heavy arms in places like Syria. VERY DIFFICULT. So, someone has given these criminals these weapons to commit murder.

  197. This is a sadly cynical - and sadly understandable - view. I disagree with you, but cannot debate you.

  198. Unlike the WMDs in Iraq earlier, the case of the deadly chemical weapon presence in Syria, and their indiscriminate use against the innocent civilians seems convincing, particularly after an objective assessment report presented by the UN appointed expert group. The task of the UNSC is clearly cut out, and without losing time now, it should go ahead with considering the US-Russia agreement framework, lending substance to it by passing a resolution that seeks time bound destruction of chemical weapon arsenal in possession of the Syrian regime to be followed next by complete chemical weapon disarmament of Syria. If Russia or China adopt dilly-dallying tactics by way of asking for more evidence to give their protege Assad an undue benefit of doubt, or threaten veto to block the resolution, the other members, without being partisan and overenthusiastic, should still stick to their ground, and let the opposing members be exposed before the international community. For, even a vetoed abortive resolution at the UNSC would be enough to prove the diplomatic duplicity of the Assad backers. In a way, internationalization of the Syrian crisis under whatever circumstances, wouldn't be a futile move, rather it's likely to serve a major objective, which is, bringing back the multilateral international effort back to the centrestage of world politics while dealing with global/ regional problems.

  199. Let us not forget two salient points, First anyway to extract and destroy chemical weapons is a victory. Second, Syria's civil war will continue.
    The refugee problem will grow, another 100,000 plus will die and more.
    The world has a problem, Islam at war with itself, 1 billion Muslims, the middle east a powder keg.
    There is no easy answer, should radical Islam win the war, war with the west is inevitable, if moderate Islam prevails there is a good chance of peace.
    But make no mistake, it is a world problem

  200. Any military action is expensive and pointless. This country is failed.
    But there a millions on the run, human lifes that can be saved. I always wonder why there is so much money and rhetoric for destroying things, but so little research for minimizing human collateral. Build refugee camp in turkey, build camps everywhere, where you can afford them, make allies build them, build schools in those camps, hospitals. One day this war will going to end, you should prepare for this day, when the time has come to build things up. And you will see in the long run it will be cheaper and more rewarding, and it will be political more feasible than drawing red lines.

  201. If we leave chemical weapons in the hands of these extremes, they will, pf course spread to other countries and cost many more lives. That is the reason prisons were invented.

  202. They actually have schools, administrative centers and Hospitals in large-sized refugee tent-cities. More money should be donated to upgrading Refugee centers sure, and I'd even go farther and hand out say, $200 to every refugee-head of family in registered Turkish and Jordanian, similar to how cold cash was handed out to West German families during Marshall plan. But in truth, the fastest way to these refugees back to normal is to accelerate an 'end to war' 'cease-fire' process and push for an orderly political solution which promotes reconciliation and peaceful transition. Syrian National Coalition is split on this 'negotiated' process, and the Kremlin is hesitant to support any process that might create uncertainty for future of it's strategic interests in Syria and naval base, etc. But nonetheless, this 'solution' must be pushed forward via determined diplomatic leadership for sake of ending the human catastrophe.

  203. I contribute heavily to the United Nations relief fund to help those 2 million refugees.
    "but make allies build them..?" Just how will that happen my friend? Where are your Euros?

    My family is also from Germany..well actually old Bohemia. And here in the United States we have a moral imperative to go after those who gas innocents...and I work with Medecins sans Frontiéres. (Doctors without Borders)

    Do more than post a comment on the NY Times. Volunteer your time, give your money, help out our brothers and sisters.

  204. Suppose Assad actually declares and turns over all his chemical weapons.

    He'll just make more. He made these, and his factories (new ones if the old ones are dismantled, but that's not even part of the agreement) can make them again. The ingredients and materials are not difficult to obtain or make.

  205. Assad is one of the cruelest men alive today. Having said that, I first believed that even he wouldn't cross the line and use gas. And if he did, he would believe he was doing the right thing and own up to it.

    I now strongly believe Putin and Assad are liars. I mean, if Putin and Assad can kill friends, family, competitors, nay-sayers, as well as innocent people, why can't they lie straight face and be good at it? And so the evidence pointing to Assad is believable.

    Finally, even after all the gas killings, which I abhor... I am even more afraid of the Islamic extremist rebels. Unlike Putin and Assad who are worldly secular men and can be persuaded with wine, women, song, a little fame and maybe a super-bowl ring, the rebels are on a mission from a devil-god and will never be persuaded to stop.

  206. The far Left and the far Right used to control the direction of American political discourse, but these days they both just sound like a bunch of conspiracy theorizing nutcases. I mean, now we are going to say the UN report is part of some grand pro-war conspiracy? I used to think the guy down the street who believes in UFOs was crazy, but after reading some of the posts here he seems relatively in touch with reality.

  207. I couldn't agree more. So many of the people in this country are completely irrational when it comes to anything remotely related to politics.

  208. What is interesting about the UN research into the chemical weapons is that they obviously left some smoking guns exposed, munitions casings, etc. which could only have come from Syrian government sources, without explicitly saying so, thus revealing that they were, in fact, “sure” of the source. Is this diplomatic erasure, or palimpsest?

  209. Ban Ki-moon rambles perfidy, that thinly-veils Obama's inept timidity; at risk is US Military, played like amateur checkers stupidity.

  210. .. like Mardi Gras figure John Kerry, NYT is now in the business of *interpreting* the data, leaving no mistake in which direction Events will be spun (e.g., continuing to refer to Salafist mercenaries as "the insurgency"). Again: who will speak up for Syria's besieged minorities (Kurd, Christian, Druze, Alawite, etc)? I hope that President Assad *does* give up his chemical deterrent, so next time there's another such attack it will be painfully obvious who carried it out.

  211. Obama said "No boots on ground". John Kerry said, "There will be boots on ground". Question is, just who is the Commander-in-Chief? John Kerry, so inexperienced in international affairs tried to steal the lime light, and MUST be fired, period. No ketchup here, no cigar!

  212. NYtimes and our elites have blown much of its credibility in the lead up to the Iraq War..as well as the whole push to overwhelm the Middle East by American interests as Gen Clark exposed in his talks about the Pentago plan years ago. The cat is out of the bag these days, and the American public will not stand for it anymore. There have been too many set ups to get Americans into wars over decades..enough.

  213. Also I would not call them "American" interests at all...but the interests of a few in the name of the ideals of American democracy.

  214. Come on NYT!

    There is no mention in this article about the fact that Russian markings were found on the casings as reported. Why?

    We now know why the Russians proposed eliminated the weapons. This is a major attempt at a cover up of their duplicity! They undoubtedly have other customers!

    We still don't know the terms of the deal Kerry made. You can bet it includes, no prosecution of Assad, no arming of the rebels, no US attack on Syria, aid to the Syrian people and loose inspections and verification. Of course, this is all positioned to put the blame on Assad if it fails, certainly not Russia, the US or even the UN..

  215. Gene, you didn't see "Cyrillic markings" in the 2nd to last paragraph. Cyrillic is the alphabet the Russians use.

  216. I look forward to even more comments from that champion of peace himself, Vladimir Putin.

    I thought the world had experienced and rejected use of poison gas after WWI? After a hundred or so years, we shouldn't have to be going over this again.

  217. And Obama.

  218. I think the primary fact of this is that President Obama and his administration were correct; and his administration should be applauded by the right and the media. They both conducted a media blitz to discredit President Obama and his administration.

  219. "One annex to the report also identified azimuths, or angular measurements, from where rockets had struck, back to their points of origin. When plotted and marked independently on maps by analysts from Human Rights Watch and by The New York Times, the United Nations data from two widely scattered impact sites pointed directly to a Syrian military complex."

    Assad is cooked and Putin and Iran know this.

  220. These genocidal crimes with the West actually being complicit in preventing the victims from defending themselves are a replay of Bosnia. In Bosnia as well Russia and opponents of intervention on the so called "left" often accused the Muslim victims of Serbian atrocities of having killed themselves in order to gain sympathy.

  221. And Clinton dithered in Bosnia, just as Obama is dithering in Syria. At least Clinton was eventually shamed into taking action, while Obama, in an alliance from hell if there ever was one, is allied with Putin to continue dithering. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Russia, Putin, Syria and Assad knows that the "agreement " is designed solely to prevent and damage to Assad, who supports Hesbollah and is supported by Iran, all allies of Putin.

  222. Khan;
    Spot on.!!!
    Western hypocrisy is shameful AND astounding!!!

  223. Probably one of the worst aspects, and second only to the loss of innocent life, is that the UN is complicit and a part of the war crime as is Russia and Iran. Plain and simple. The overwhelming evidence is that the rockets were fired by Assad Regime forces. To deny it or foster confusion makes you a part of it, and an outright accomplice. Next I want to know the source of Assad's rockets that he fired on the neighborhood killing nearly 500 children? When did he obtain them and from whom? The UN couldn't even enter the area because Assad continued to shell the area for days. And due to the Russians and Chinese, the UN has been neutered. Are you proud of your accomplishment? And now we learn that the cowards are shelling hospitals.

  224. Our leaders will never understand the middle east. Corporal punishment, such has having hands and heads cut off, is the norm. Just as people in the scandinavian countries do not understand our use of the death penalty. To each his own, depending on the culture.

    Gassing in some countries by dictators is considered the norm. Didn't Germany use it on us in WWI? So we allowed Germany to go on and on until WWII when the little austrian tried to take over the world.

    We cannot overthrow Assad without the help of other Arab nations. Otherwise, we've just created another Afghanistan or Iraq. Arm the rebels with conventional weapons and wait and see who wins. Should have armed them 2 yrs ago. The only thing that gets better with age is wine.

  225. We understand "The Norm" -- little insight offered. You don't understand the necessity of "Response."

  226. Denying that Assad is responsible is now clearly only a ploy by him and his Russian patron. Surely, the Russians know, accept, and deliberately lie about the truth. Instead of assailing the credibility of the West, the world should be screaming about the disingenuous Russian and Syrian positions. But, most of the world knows and shrugs at this kind of evil. Most of the world turns a blind eye to tribalistic violence. The West should be proud of its position and pursue removal of CWs with unflagging diligence.

  227. State sponsored gas attacks occurred in WWI; in WWII Ito murder Jews and others,; in Iraq to murder Kurds; in Iraq v Iran and now Syria. Gassing civilians, or anyone at all is "World" crime and unacceptable under any circumstances. I am shocked that the entire world has not piled on Assad like players on a loose football. In my view, if a country gases anyone , then it's open season on that country and all are welcome to take a shot. No excuses, resolution, or permission is required. I cannot understand why others dont see the evil that has ben done to humanity.

  228. So the "evidence" shows that maybe it was Assad's forces.

    Sounds like a wonderful reason for us to lob a few missiles into Syria.

    Our foreign policy is run by a bunch of numbskulls.

    We would be much better off worrying about our problems here at home rather than sticking our nose into other countries' internal politics.

    But then, who would Kerry have to wag his finger at and act all tough to?

  229. The perpetrator of the Aug 21 CW attack (which was reportedly launched from the vicinity of a Syrian Army base) is 'no question a War Criminal'... So it should simply proceed per a UN resolution to investigate which Syrian Army Base commander needs to be interviewed and questioned to find out whom actually is the war criminal that gave the green light. It shouldn't be any more complex than that? And it would further be highly doubtful for the Kremlin to 'veto' any such eventual action to bring said CW attack War criminal(s) before the International Criminal court. One could be nearly certain the Kremlin would stick up for the legal process to work itself out fairly and openly with respect to nailing whomever was actually behind the CW attack.

  230. I don't think it's conclusive that it was Assad's chemical weapons. It does implicate him circumstantially, and I don't think the rebels could make this grade of Sarin, but Saudi Arabia could and they are known to have supplied the rebels. So it is not conclusive.

    This is a war crime and the UN should establish a war crimes tribunal and prosecute those guilty. There are guilty on both sides for past attacks.

  231. Bush=evidence=none=dumb=evil. Oboma=lots of evidence=smart=hero :)

  232. "...strongly implicated Syrian government."At this particular point in time, who really cares who did it. There is no 100% proof who did it. These rebels are criminals and it just as likely that one of their factions did it.

    I am well aware that there are US military personnel who have stolen arms from the US army and sold them to outsiders. Who is to say that someone just like that has not done it in this case...if the implication is that this particular chemical agent came from one of the Syrian depots. One can make all kinds of suppositions.

    The bottom line is that the US government needs to mind its own affairs and not go around creating wars in places who have not waged war against USA. Syrian criminals (rebels) are creating chaos in Syria killing Syrians, etc. etc. etc. We have similar cases in point in the USA. Just yesterday this fella went inside a Naval establishment and killed off 12 persons. What if there were more like him and they had killed of 1200 persons there? What if? There are a lot of disgruntled Americans. In fact, we are killing off 10,000 persons per annum with guns anyway... so that is 100,000 in ten years. Does this mean that there needs to be a US resolution which states that we need UN peace keeping force within the US to stop this mass murder?

    We live our lives, let them live theirs.

  233. Assad ,a murderous creep no doubt, cannot be charged with being so stupid as to using chemical weapons against an enemy he was already starting to get the better of and bringing the World Policeman America and their allies to utterly destroy him and his regime. Parts of Syria are under rebel control, the rebels range from genuine people who want a democratic state to Jihadists and Al Qaeda. They could have Sarin gas shells and certainly the artillery to use them and some people who would use it to bring down the Syrian regime.

    The Inspectors confirm a heinous massacre and now other interested parties have decided that the evidence is persuasive not definite that Assad is culpable.

    This a major step back during the hysteria for a military strike when Kerry and co were broadcasting
    unimpeachable evidence a la Colin Powell. Where is the evidence?

    The focus now, some would say hope, is for Assad not to destroy his chemical weapons and so the military strike can occur after all.

    Again Assad would be an idiot to not destroy all his chemical weapons given Russia's support.

    Methinks that those on opposite sides in the UN are already rehearsing their arguments for n months ahead when some are saying Assad has complied and others saying he has not.

    God forbid let's hope that some degenerate interested party does not try to tip the balance again by
    slaughtering more of the innocent Syrian people for political gain.

  234. None so blind as them that will not see.......

  235. The facts of the use of poison gas are trite. What is important is the determination of who used the poison, on what authority snd move rtionally to bring the culprits to justice. Singling out Assad is a puerile diplomatic facade engaged by the US and her allies.
    Establish the culpability and allow sanity to prevail because the civil war in Syria has cost far more lives thaneven the US backed SAddam Husseins use of poison gas that the US and her allies stymied at the UN then, Selective amnesia and Jusrtice cannot salvage Humanity form dictators nor the Syrians from an instigated civil war over nohing! Nothing because the US and her allies have asserted that regime vhange is not their objective, not even democracy then is it the Sectarian backings from the powefful rich allies of the US in the Gulf?

  236. How does supporting the rebels increase AMERICA'S security? Since when have the long term goals of the Al Quaeda, Al Nusra- and Hezbollah- backed Islamic extremists in rebel's clothing become congruent with ours?

  237. The report points to high potency sarin gas used in ballisitic shells, it does not accuse the Assad government. I fimd a notable bias in the NY Times article. Rebel forces were provided high grade chemical weapons by Saidi Arabia. They have even admitted this. Moreover, the weapons were supplied to al Nusra rebels, who allegedly mishandled them on August 21.

    The UN should establish a war crimes tribunal and prosecute whoever was responsible.

  238. As long as the US and once again allies, do not launch a military strike, an error in the provenance of the CW is of somewhat less consequence. Assad has Chemical Weapons. Removing as many chemical weapons as possible from any combatant is a dim positive and just. There is no question that removing Assad's chemical weapons would not alter the power balance in the way an armed strike would. Chemical weapons are a poor military tool as they are difficult to fully control. There are no good choices in this conflict, just less dreadful. There are few if any "good guys;" just lots of bad guys on all sides and lots and lots of innocents.

  239. To sum up some of the conversation: Assad could have launched the gas attack and he is the villain to this, but it would be very stupid. The rebels could not, but have a good strategic motive. Now, is it possible, that government troops did it without or even against orders from above? Could some officer have been bribed to do it? - Sometimes strange things happen. The WMD in Saddams possession was a straight lie. The Maddox incident, which justified the bombing of North Vietnam never happened. As documents show, it was misperceived by the US commander and the information given to the US government was loopsided. As McNamara said, we may have been misinformed. - If you read Putims oped carefully, he is sufficiently vague, Assad may have told him the truth or lied to him. Never mind for now, let us destroy these weapons and Assad will have to go along. This is constructive and should be fixed. Of course Russia has its own interest, which is not loyalty to any crackpot dictator. Getting all WMD out of Arab and Iranian hands and keep Israel safe would remove the legitimacy for US presence and would make cooperation with the US in isolating and neutralizing jihadists viable. Work with Putin and the Iranians! The Syrians may fight their war and find theit own way to end it.

  240. Churkin's comments do nothing but emphasize the futility of dealing with the Russians. In rejecting US, French, German British intelligence that demonstrated regime responsibility for the attack, Russia repeatedly insisted that the world must wait for the UN inspectors' report. Now that we have a UN report that is more damning than any of the allegedly partisan reports, Russia persists in its ridiculous and untenable position that rebel forces were responsible for this attack. How is it possible to target and miss all your opponents? The answer is clear, and Russia knows it: the use of the weapons was "tactical"; they were deliberately aimed at civilians and families of rebels in order to draw their forces away from the front lines.

    Western nations should not persist for a day longer in playing along with a nihilist regime that has no moral compass and no intention whatsoever of implementing an "agreement" to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Only a fool would believe that Russia has any intention of living up to its obligations. Indeed, Russia has already telegraphed that it will not do so, having laid out a number of impossible conditions that presage an inevitable refusal to live up to the agreement.

    The failure to severely punish a regime for the blatant and cynical use of a weapon of mass destruction against civilians is an abject moral failure for the civilized world.

  241. Non-discerning readers will assume Assad "did it" and your title in google news supports the assumption. There is NO proof Assad did anything and, in fact, if I was a betting person, I'd bet he didn't. I would put money on the rebels or the USA being responsible for the gas attack just to provoke an attack against Assad. We have one of the most duplicitous governments in the world and are perfectly capable of starting wars as we have, historically, from the inception of this country.
    Let us be careful of the language we use. All readers of the NYTs are not necessarily linguists or semanticists.

  242. "The enemies and the allies", is a game played by the US, that closely resembles "Cowboys and Indians" played by children. Along came Putin and drew the US toward the light, briefly. Now the US is acting childish and petulant again. There really isn't much help for this boorish country. But thank you President Putin for trying, and thank you for your op-ed. Americans would rather play Cowboys and Indians.

  243. "Thank you President Putin"? Why exactly are you thanking him? Writing the most hypocritical propaganda piece masquerading as an Op-ed? Russia has aided and abetted Syria's war crimes. Putin is not some peace keeper lover of liberty; he desperately wants the U.S. to say out of Syria. Putin has played the American public in the most cynical manner and you have brought it hook line and sinker.

  244. UN staff and consultants take a lot of criticism, some of it justified, but let's give credit where credit is due. These inspectors, working in difficult conditions -- at times coming under fire themselves -- have demonstrated thorough professionalism in an area often clouded by political manipulation. Their terms of reference ordered them not to report directly on the issue of resonsibility, but they appear to have brought home the goods in terms of the main technical questions, and these details would seem to point overwhelmingly -- at least for anyone not in the service of the Kremlin or Pacifica Radio -- to the culpability of the Assad regime. Bravo for doing your duty in an exemplary way!

  245. But, but.... he was so **articulate**! In English!! With Charlie Rose!!!

  246. This is an Arab civil war for political hegemony between two Muslim sects. It's resolution is best left to the Arab League.

    Assad has used poison gas ad killed about 1500 civilians, The Al Qaeda- / Al Nusra- led rebels have ethnically cleansed (killed or scattered) about 14 thousand Syrian Christians, Shiites, Alawites and Jews. Both sides have committed war crimes. When did America's interests become congruent with Al Qaeda's?

  247. So many commenters express doubt that Mr. Assad's military launched the chemical weapons. Did we read the same article? The large size and particular shape of the munitions and the precise direction from which two of them had been fired point to Mr. Assad's military and not to the rebel forces who do not have the weapons or the training to use them.

    The sarin gas used was of a high quality and not the product of a cottage-industry. The US and its allies seized the volumes of data in the UN report to reaffirm their conclusion that only Syrian government forces had the ability to carry out the strikes.

    The evidence is damning but Mr. Ban declined to assign blame saying the responsibility was up to others. Others have analyzed the data in the UN report and the evidence points to Mr. Assad's military and not the rebel forces.

    All this seems moot because Mr. Assad already admitted to having a chemical weapons arsenal, agreed to join the international convention on banning chemical weapons, and agreed to abide by the US-Russia plan to purge those weapons from Syria by the end of next year.

    Mr. Ban said, “The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. This is a war crime.” Will Mr. Assad face charges for a war crime? Has the agreement between the US and Russia given him immunity for prosecution as a war criminal?

  248. The evidence reported strongly points to the Assad regime as the culprits, despite anything the Russians say, and this also validates President Obama's conclusion that the Syrian regime was responsible. The question remains, is the US imminently threatened, sufficiently to justify an attack by us? I think the answer is no. First, we do need to see if the disarmament "plan" can reliably and verifiably be carried out. Second, the use of force, if Syria fails to follow through with its disarmament representations, requires international sanction through the United Nations. I recognize that the Russians will block this step no matter how convincing the proof is; they will refuse ever to be convinced for political reasons. But the right answer then is to focus blame on them. In the long run the single nation veto in the Security Council needs to be reformed, but that can only be a long-term goal, and the US certainly as used that power itself.

  249. NY Times, what a sloppy headline. You say Assad's use of gas, but deeper in the story you say that "Ban declined to ascribe blame..." So why is it Assad's use of gas? German intelligence has proposed that it may have been Syrian loyalist use of gas without Assad's assent. Other sources propose that the gas may have even been used by rebel forces. At best your headline is sloppy, at worst, irresponsible.

  250. The US was supposedly tracking the preparations for the chemical weapons attack. Aside from not preventing it, why couldn't we see the "very visible" light the launchers display when firing off missiles, in order to determine their origin?

    Tracking the azimuth of lies and deceptions in this whole mess makes me wonder where the truth will ultimately fall?!

  251. My son and I discussed this. I found it hard to explain why the use of of chemical weapons are a "war crime", but a hundred thousand people killed by conventional weapons are not. A few bombs might kill as many as did the nerve gas.

    Or why the fire bombing of Dresden which killed mostly civilians was not.

    Is this condemnation a pathetic attempt to appear civilized?