UN probe blames Assad for sarin attack on Khan Sheikhun

UN investigators maintain that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during the country’s civil war, and that they have solid evidence that a Russian-built plane used by Assad’s air force conducted the sarin-gas attack in this last Spring that killed at least 83 civilians and sparked a retaliatory U.S. strike.

The 6th September report says: ‘The extensive body of information gathered by the Commission indicates that a Syrian Su-22 conducted four airstrikes in Khan Shaykhun at approximately 6.45 a.m. on 4 April. Photographs of remnants taken at the sites along with satellite imagery corroborate eyewitness testimony identifying the impact points of the four aerial bombs. Eyewitnesses and early warning reports identified the aircraft as a Su-22, which only the Syrian air force operates….

‘… The Commission identified three of the bombs as likely OFAB-100-120 and one as a chemical bomb. Interviewees consistently stated that this latter bomb produced less noise and less smoke than the other three, and that it released a gas which spread over a distance between 300 and 600 meters. Photographs of remnants provided to the Commission by interviewees further indicate an aerial chemical bomb was employed. Further, weather conditions at 6.45 a.m. on 4 April were ideal for delivering a chemical weapon. The wind speed was just over three kilometres per hour, with no rain and practically no cloud cover. Under such conditions, the agent cloud would have drifted slowly downhill following the terrain features at the location (roads and open spaces), in a southerly and westerly direction.’

In their 14th report since 2011, U.N. investigators said they had in all documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date. Twenty seven were by forces of the regime, including seven between March 1 to July 7. Perpetrators in six other and earlier attacks have not yet been pinpointed. The U.N. investigators interviewed 43 witnesses, victims, and first responders linked to the attack. Satellite imagery, photos of bomb remnants and early warning reports were used.

At the time of the Khan Sheikhun attack I reported that Assad was undoubtedly responsible, and that media reports led by Seymour Hersh and promulgated by such as Robert Parry and David Morrison were completely mistaken. These reports fed off false information spun by a campaign by Western intelligence services, helped by the strong voice of the Kurdish diaspora within alternative media, to discredit Turkey, which also took place during the Ghouta attacks.

The journalists of the alternative media themselves are motivated by antagonism to US imperial adventures, and this is possibly a factor clouding their judgement in this particular case.