Syria's Assad regime likely responsible for chemical attack: rights group

Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:57am EDT

A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Dar

A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Dar

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(Reuters) - Evidence strongly suggests Syrian government forces were responsible for a poison gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, contradicting repeated denials by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S.-based rights group, in a report issued in New York, said it had reached its conclusion after analyzing witness accounts, information of the likely source of the attacks, remnants of the weapons used and medical records of victims.

"The evidence concerning the type of rockets and launchers used in these attacks strongly suggests that these are weapon systems known and documented to be only in the possession of, and used by, Syrian government armed forces," Human Rights Watch said.

"Human Rights Watch and arms experts monitoring the use of weaponry in Syria have not documented Syrian opposition forces to be in possession of the 140mm and 330mm rockets used in the attack, or their associated launchers."

The chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21 killed more than 1,400 people. Syria has been torn by a bitter civil conflict between Assad's troops and rebel forces who want to end the Assad family's four-decade rule.

The Human Rights Watch report comes as the United States pushes for congressional approval for military strikes on Syria and as U.S. President Barack Obama explores a Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control.

Obama has argued that Assad must be punished for the use of poison gas on rebel areas, but his plan faces significant resistance from U.S. lawmakers who are worried that a strike could draw the U.S. into the conflict and spark wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Assad, in an interview on the U.S. CBS television network, denied there was any evidence to link his government to the gas attack and warned the United States to expect reprisals for any military strike on his country.

Human Rights Watch said it also investigated suggestions the chemical attacks came from opposition forces.

"Human Rights Watch has investigated alternative claims that opposition forces themselves were responsible for the August 21 attacks, and has found such claims lacking in credibility and inconsistent with the evidence found at the scene."

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (6)
asd345vera wrote:
Forgot to write …
400 children!
Or about all the children safely forgotten?
And so many children at once can affect the validity of the conclusions of experts …

Sep 10, 2013 1:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Laster wrote:
Amazing the reports that that make headlines with the MSM.

Carla Del Ponte’s reports can’t find a spot in the headlines.

Sep 10, 2013 1:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bloodbond3 wrote:
Exact numbers are 1,429 including 426 children. A British assessment came back with a result of at least 350 fatalities. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed at least 322 deaths. An unclassified French intelligence report revealed an amount of 281 confirmed deaths.

The United States has been known to stretch the truth to achieve its military strikes, or have we all forgotten Iraq’s so-called “weapons of mass destruction”?

If you have a mild growth and your doctor tells you that you need a major surgery as a preventative measure, while 3 other doctors tell you it is a much more benign issue, would you listed to doc #1? What if he’s been known to perform unnecessary surgeries in the past? No reasonable person would say yes. Your government should be no different.

Sep 10, 2013 1:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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