What happened at Ghouta? Do we know?

Courtesy of Mr Peter Hitchens

08 April 2017 11:35 AM

What happened at Ghouta? Do we know?


I have seen it repeatedly stated by political and media figures that the Assad state was guilty of the chemical attack in Ghouta, Damascus.


Seeking confirmation for this, I searched for the United Nations Security Council report on the atrocity, which can be found in PDF form here


or here




The conclusion (on page 8 of 41) states:


  1. On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale. 28. In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka in the Ghouta area of Damascus. 29. The facts supporting this conclusion are: • Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain Sarin. • Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by Sarin. • Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results. • A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound. • Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for Sarin and Sarin signatures. 30. This result leaves us with the deepest concern.’

I see here no attribution of the undoubted crime to any culprit.  This of course does not exclude the possibility that the Syrian state was responsible. I make no comment on that. But for certainty to be expressed, one would surely have to rely on an authoritative finding of guilt based on evidence. Have I missed some passage in this report which blames the Assad government?  Is there another evidence-based report which attributes the atrocity to the Syrian state? If not, on what basis is this assertion being made?

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