In UN report on chemical weapons attack, evidence points to the Syrian government

Richard Hall

Much has been written about a United Nations report on the chemical weapons attack on the Ghouta area outside of Damascus on August 21, but there is one key piece of evidence in the report that stands out.

While the UN team did not have a mandate to assign blame for the attack, they appear to have supplied enough signposts in their evidence for others to do just that. The most significant of those signposts was determining the trajectory of the rockets that landed on the sites visited by the team. Several maps have been produced, including this one by Human Rights Watch, which plot the trajectory of the rockets as determined by the UN team.

The Independent has produced a more detailed map of its own. As you can see in the image below, the trajectory of the rocket that landed on the area of Ein Tarma leads almost directly to a Syrian military base said to house the elite Republican Guard, in northern Damascus.

The relevant passage from the UN report reads:

“The projectile, in the last stage of its trajectory, hit the surface in an area of earthy, relatively soft, ground where the shaft/engine of the projectile remained dug in, undisturbed until investigated.

The said shaft/engine, presenting to form of lateral bending, pointed precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees that, again, represent a reverse azimuth to the trajectory followed by the rocket during its flight. It can be, thus, concluded, that the original azimuth of the rocket trajectory had an azimuth of 105 degrees, in an East/Southeast trajectory.”

Ein tarma high 1024x539 In UN report on chemical weapons attack, evidence points to the Syrian government

In Moadamiyah, the second site visited by the UN team, a similar story emerges. If you plot the trajectories given by the UN team on a map they lead to the same hill that houses the Republican Guard base. In fact, the rockets would have passed directly above the grounds of Assad’s presidential palace.

Again, the relevant passage reads:

“In the final stage of this trajectory, the projectile hit and pierced through a vegetal screen existing over one of the adjacent walls, before impacting on the ground producing a shallow crater. The line linking the crater and the piercing of the vegetal screen can be conclusively established and has a bearing of 35 degrees. This line represents an inverse azimuth to the original trajectory or the rocket, that is to say, the original trajectory of the projectile, as it hit the ground, had an azimuth of 215 degrees.”

The map below shows the trajectory of the rocket, according to the UN.

second hit In UN report on chemical weapons attack, evidence points to the Syrian government

Some journalists who have spent time studying the munitions used in the attack, such as the New York Times’ C.J. Chivers, have written about how the type of rockets and the delivery systems to fire them are beyond the current capabilities of the rebels. But to me, the maps above provide the most compelling evidence to implicate government forces in the attack.

As The Independent’s Kim Sengupta wrote on the day of the UN report, it would “be hard to explain how [the rebels] managed to carry out the operation from several points inside regime territory.”

The UN did not draw a big red arrow pointing to the Syrian army, but they gave all the information for someone else to do so.

Twitter: @_RichardHall

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  • Rasputinsrevenge

    Old Git Tom,

    I don’t claim this as such. But have found it on a number of sites over the last month. Could be dis-info. But by who and why? I’m just curious. The only reason I post is because I don’t like the idea of innocent people being slaughtered.

  • Old Git Tom

    sure; we lack truthful info. Sadly, that’s becoz those who foment & perpetrate mass murder have every reason to stay in the murk. The mass media should shine the light of publicity, to expose the truth, but they don’t. They collude.

  • Brendan

    There’s no point in doing a detailed analysis of the trajectory of the alleged sarin rocket without first establishing that the rocket in question actually contained the sarin. The inspectors found fragments from a rocket (not very uncommon in a war zone), and they found sarin around it at the site of a chemical attack. Why do journalists assume that one was used to carry the other? If there is any strong evidence, as opposed to speculation, the Independent and other media organisations should present it.

  • Sabremesh

    I’d be interested to see how Richard Hall rationalises that one away. What a ridiculously biased article.

    “The Independent. It isn’t. Why not?”

  • David Kendrick

    Alexander Lebedev bought this paper for a £1 deposit three years ago, he has made an enemy of Vladimir Putin and another Oligarch in Russia hitting him on camera, Sergei Polonski so he has sold off all his Russian assets and is somewhere here in the UK, there is therefore some reson to suspect he has a major bias against his country of origin at least in the fear of imprisonment and asset confiscation and every reason to believe he would follow an instruction from Downing Street if it kept him from Russias form of justice.

    According to Wikipedia the Indie was losing £5 million a year since 2008 and using it as a pro Corporate State mouthpiece is balanced in principal by allowing commentators to freely point this out allowing a form of neutrality to take place in expressing a contrary point of view, of course it also allows M15 and Special Branch to use trolls along with unelected supporters of the system, but they are fairly obvious, i.e in the debates on Scottish independence, commentators claim to be SNP and nazis, in the Global Warming lobby, people anti PV and Wind alway’s get voted down.

    So if Sergei Polonski had not bought the paper we would be left entirely with the Murdoch empire and no right to comment unless by editorial approval, and you already know what that means.

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