UN Report to Confirm Chemical Weapons Used in Syria, But Avoid Ascribing Blame
by Zach Pontz
A report set to be released by the United Nations on a chemical weapons attack in Syria last month will not directly accuse the Syrian regime of gassing its own people, according to three U.N.-based diplomats familiar with the investigation, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday night.
The report, authored by a team led by the Swedish scientist Ake Sellström, will, however, provide strong circumstantial evidence that points in the direction of Syrian government culpability. Foreign Policy said Sellström’s role is to determine if chemical weapons were used in Syria, which the report will show, but not to attribute responsibility to either the regime or rebel forces.
In a separate article, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported that in editing the UN report, the U.S. asked Russia to include a phrase calling for a ceasefire in Syria, and insisting that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad step down, all of which Russia, Iran and Syria objected to, saying the U.S. was out of bounds. Ma’ariv cited a report in Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper, which referred to sources close to the Assad regime.
The chemical weapons attack took place on August 21st in Ghouta, a suburb outside of Damascus and left some 1,400 Syrian civilians dead. The Syrian government and Russia denied responsibility, instead placing blame on Syrian rebels looking to draw the West into the conflict. The U.S. and several other countries have blamed the Syrian government for the attack. As part of this week’s diplomacy push, Syria admitted to having chemical weapons, though the country insists they were not used in the attack.