John Kerry gave a speech yesterday, claiming that the UN’s report on the chemical attack on August 21 proves the Assad regime was responsible for the attack.
Kerry claims the UN report “returned with several crucial details that confirmed that the Assad regime is guilty of carrying out that attack, even though that was not the mandate of the UN report”.
The UN report does not, in fact, ascribe blame for the attack but does conclude there was one and describes that nature of the munitions and gas involved. So Kerry’s language in not actually acknowledging that is perhaps a bit deceptive, although one might argue that the munitions likely suggest regime involvement.
However, Kerry, in classic overstatement, overplays once again, in trying to sell his point, he ends up showing himself either ignorant or a fabricator:
We, the United States, have associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report, the 122-millimeter improvised rocket, with previous Assad regime attacks. There’s no indication – none – that the opposition is in possession or has launched a CW variant of these rockets such as the kind that was used in the 21st of August attack.
Equally significant, the environmental, chemical, and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in this attack contained the nerve agent sarin. We know the Assad regime possesses sarin and there’s not a shred of evidence, however, that the opposition does.
And rocket components identified in the ground photos taken at the alleged chemical weapons impact location areas are associated with the unique type of rocket launcher that we know the Assad regime has. We have observed these exact type of rocket launchers at the Assad regime facilities in Damascus and in the area around the 21st of August.
So there you have it. Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime, which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don’t control to fire rockets they don’t have containing sarin that they don’t possess to kill their own people. And then without even being noticed, they just disassembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus, controlled by Assad.
Of course there is in fact evidence that the opposition has sarin. As we noted in a prior report, Syrian al-Nusra Front rebels were actually arrested in Turkey with vials of sarin. Moreover, the UN’s Commission on Inquiry member Carla Del Ponte, in fact, found “strong evidence” to suggest the rebels had actually used sarin.
There has been a specific claim that the rebels were responsible for the August 21 attack, that witnesses attributed it to the rebels.
If we went with what seems to be the administration’s “Youtube video evidence” argument, there are also multiple youtube videos of rebels purportedly using launchers to shoot off what are supposed to be chemical weapons.
There also have been reports of rebels overrunning an Assad regime position and taking chemical weapons, as well as reports of prior uses by both the regime and the rebels.
It is difficult to assess the accuracy of these varied reports and videos, but they are evidence that needs to be investigated to determine or dismiss their validity.
Beyond those reports, there is no question about the Turks finding rebels with sarin, and there is certainly reason to take seriously Carla Del Ponte’s remarks,which do state there is evidence, although not conclusive.
One cannot honestly conclude that there is “not a shred of evidence” that the rebels have access to sarin.