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Was Sarin Gas Used in West Ghouta, Syria?


Was the chemical weapon agent Sarin gas used in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyah on August 21 of this year?

Based on the United Nations' Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013, released to much fanfare back in mid-September, I put together this Summary table (below) to help clarify and simplify what the UN team of inspectors actually reported, given the environmental samples they collected in the Moadamiyah area of West Ghouta on August 26, and what the same UN team collected in the Zamalka and Ein Tarma areas of East Ghouta on August 28 and 29.

The UN team’s report states definitively that “The positive blood and urine specimens provide definitive evidence of exposure to Sarin by almost all of the survivors assessed by the Mission” (p. 5).  And in its "Conclusions," the UN team is even more emphatic: “[T]he 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” (p. 5). 

But when one turns to Appendix 7 of this report, where the results of the environmental samples collected by the UN team and analyzed by two independent laboratories are reported, one reads that 100 percent of the tests of the Moadamiyah samples came back negative for evidence of Sarin, and only a minority of the tests (i.e., 8 out of 30) came back positive for evidence of various kinds of degraded Sarin or possible by-products of Sarin.

If these UN-reported results indicate strongly that there is environmental evidence that an airborne version of the chemical weapon agent Sarin was used in East Ghouta on August 21, they also indicate just as strongly or even more strongly that there is no or very little environmental evidence that an airborne version of the chemical weapon agent Sarin was used in West Ghouta on that same date.

So let's let the UN team's results speak for themselves.

Of course, none of what follows has any bearing on questions concerning the agents responsible for these alleged as well as real uses of Sarin that night in suburbs outside Damascus.

(Also see David Edwards, "Structural Inclinations – The Leaning Tower of Propaganda: Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria," Media Lens, October 9, 2013.)

David Peterson
Chicago, USA

 
          Summary of Appendix 7.1, Environmental Sample Results from
          Laboratory Analysis, pp. 27-33
[1]

 

 


        Moadamiyah,
        West Ghouta
        30 Lab Tests

   Zamalka/Ein Tarma,
   East Ghouta
   43 Lab Tests

   Chemical Weapon
   Agent (i.e., Sarin)

 

        Zero Positives
        30 Negatives
 
   28 Positives
   15  Negatives
   [One Left Blank] [2]

   Degraded Sarin or
   Possible By-Products
   of Sarin

 

          8 Positives
        22 Negatives               

   42 Positives
     1 Negative
   [One Left Blank] [2]

 

  [ 1 ] See Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013, United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, September 13, 2013.

  [ 2 ] See Result for Laboratory 2 at Sample 19, p. 31.—I am unable to explain why the result for this particular test was not reported by Laboratory 2, although the test was carried out and its result reported by Laboratory 1.

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