By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2/)
After huge international pressure from the West, the UN and Russia, the Assad Government yesterday agreed to allow UN chemical weapons inspectors to investigate the attack on East Ghouta which took place on 21st August.
UN Inspectors Leave to Investigate Latest Gas Attack
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN General Secretary, has told his inspectors that this attack is now their priority and not the other 3 sites previously agreed with the Syrian Government.
The Inspectors left the safety of their 5 star hotel in central Damascus in 6 UN vehicles this morning, Monday, to start their probe.
Latest reports say that the UN convoy has come under sniper fire as they entered the buffer zone between the 2 sides, their lead vehicle being rendered unusable. As a result the team has returned to a government checkpoint to await a replacement vehicle before proceeding. No injuries have been reported.
As Assad’s forces continued to shell the areas where the attack took place for several days after the event, there is concern that any real evidence will have been severely degraded.
An American official, speaking anonymously, said, “If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN five days ago.
At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime’s persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days.”
Hopefully, the UN investigators will be able to get soil samples, pieces of the rockets that delivered the chemicals and hair and blood samples from some of the injured victims that are still alive.
On Friday Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said that in the first 3 hours after the chemical weapons attack, doctors in Syrian hospitals it supports, saw almost 3,600 people showing symptoms of exposure to a neurotoxic agent and 355 of these subsequently died.
SYRIAN SOURCES SAY CHEMICAL WEAPONS SHELLS SUPPLIED BY ASSAD AIR INTELLIGENCE AND FIRED BLINDLY BY OFFICERS NOT KNOWING THEIR CONTENTS:
Interestingly, “finger pointing” has started to emerge with sources inside Syria saying that Syrian Army officers involved have said that they did not know that the shells they were firing contained “chemical weapons”.
Man Mourns the Death of a Victim of the Gas Attack
Apparently some reports say that the munitions did not come from the Ministry of Defence as was usual, but were supplied by the Air Intelligence branch led by Assad’s cousin, Hafez Maklouf.
The Opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) claims that its own sources within the regime say the missiles were launched by General Tahir Hamid Khalil from a regime army base housing the 155 brigade.
Both reports are not mutually exclusive. You can read more,HERE:
The US, the UK, France and Turkey, in particular, are all making noises indicating that the use of chemical weapons by Syria on its own population demands a “serious response” and are apparently considering a limited military strike, possibly against known chemical weapons stockpiles.
William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, talking to the BBC, said that, “We cannot allow the idea in the 21st Century that chemical weapons can be used with impunity,” and went on to make a case for “legal” military intervention outside the UN and possibly using NATO, in a video interview,HERE:
Russia, opposed to such action, has said it is “alarmed” by warlike statements emanating from the West and warned against the “extremely dangerous consequences” of military action.
President Assad, in an interview with a Russian newspaper, has said that Western claims his regime had used chemical weapons were an “insult to common sense”.
Assad went on to warn the US against attacking Syria, saying, “The US faces failure just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam …”
Retired US General Wesley Clarke has outlined how the West might proceed, forcing Assad to the negotiating table as they did with Slobodan Milošević over Kosovo:
JIHADIST GROUP THREATENS REVENGE ATTACKS ON ALAWITE VILLAGES FOR GAS ATTACK AND HAMA GOVERNOR ASSASSINATED:
To make matters even more complicated. the Jihadist group, the Al-Nusra Front, vowed yesterday, Sunday, to make “revenge strikes” for the deaths in East Ghouta against Alawite villages.
“The Alawite villages will pay the price for each chemical rocket that struck our people in Damascus,” their leader, Abu Mohammed, said in an audio message released on the Internet.
Apart from this latest disaster in Syria, hundreds of others continue to suffer daily throughout Syria, doctors seeing a huge rise in limb amputations because of an increased use by the regime of cluster bombs dropped by aircraft. There is a moving report in this video from Al Jazeera:
Elsewhere in Damascus today, heavy fighting between the 2 sides is reported in the Al-Qaboun neighbourhood and a number of Opposition mortar shells have struck central Damascus, destroying the minaret of the Al-Hassan mosque in the upmarket Abu Rummaneh district and injuring 3 people.
SANA, the Syrian state media, is also reporting that the Governor of Hama province, Dr. Anas Abdul-Razzaq Na’em, was assassinated on Sunday by a car bomb explosion, detonated as his convoy was driving through the Al-Jarajmeh residential neighborhood of the city.
Lastly, this interesting poll has emerged conducted by SyrianCrisis with 448 participants from all sides of the conflict, asking them pertinent questions relevant to the current situation, HERE:
A Child Pays Homage to the Victims of Chemical Weapons Attack