Published On: Thu, Jul 11th, 2013

UN Inspectors accept Syrian Invitation after Russian Pressure and Seizure of Massive Chemical Depot from Opposition

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Christof Lehmann (nsnbc),- The United Nations has accepted a Syrian invitation of a UN Investigation Team on the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria. The Invitation was accepted after Syrian Armed Fores seized more than 200 barrels with chemicals, which according to Syria´s UN Ambassador Jaáfari were sufficient to destroy an entire city, if not the entire country, and after pressure from Russia.

Russian investigators have investigated the chemical weapons incident in Khan al-Assal in March and delivered a report to the United Nations. The report concludes that insurgents, not the Syrian military has used chemical weapons. Opposite to the purported evidence that led the Obama administration to approve the delivery of weapons to the opposition, the Russian investigators can document a verifiable and unbroken chain of evidence.

Analysts expect that the political and armed “opposition” and the international alliance supporting them, are planning a major political and military campaign in August and September. The recent development may imply a last chance to initiate efforts toward a political resolution of the Syria war. 

UN Investigators Accept Syrian Invitation after Seizure of 281 Barrels Chemicals from Opposition and after Russian Pressure. The United Nations has announced, that it has accepted the Syrian government´s invitation of the head of the UN Investigation Team on the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, Ake Sellstrom, and the UN High Representative for Disarmament, Angela Kane.  Sellstrom and Kane are expected to leave for Damascus to hold talks about mechanisms in the cooperation between the Syrian government and the investigators. Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for the UN secretary General Ban Kyi-moon stated to international media:

“Sellstrom and Kane accepted the Syrian governments invitation with a view to completing the consultations on the modalities of cooperation, required for the investigations to conduct a UN mission to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria”. 

The UN inspectors have previously rejected the Syrian invitation and demanded that UN inspectors should be granted access to the entire Syrian territory to conduct inspections. Both Syria and Russia have opposed the demand, saying that the demand bore a dangerous resemblance to similar demands prior to the war against Iraq.

The change in the United Nations position and the acceptance of the Syrian invitation came after the Syrian Armed Forces seized 208 barrels of lethal chemicals from foreign-backed insurgents, and after Russia presented evidence that proved, that the chemical weapons attack on the government-held Khan al-Assal in Aleppo, in March 2013, which killed 25 and injured more than 100, had been committed by the “opposition” and not by the Syrian Armed Forces.

The Syrian Arab Army seized more than 200 barrels with chemicals from insurgents at a farm in Banias, Tartus.

The Syrian Arab Army seized more than 200 barrels with chemicals from insurgents at a farm in Banias, Tartus.

Syrian Armed Forces seized 281 Barrels with Lethal Chemicals – Enough to Destroy entire Country. The Syrian Armed Forces have seized a large amount of weapons, computers, communications equipment, and a large stockpile of chemicals from foreign-backed insurgents on a farm in Banias, Tartus, near the Mediterranean coast.

After a gun-battle with the insurgents, the army seized 79 barrels of Polyethylene Glycol, 67 barrels of Monoethylene Glycol, 25 barrels of Monoethanolamine, 68 barrels of Diethanolamine, and 42 barrels of Triethanolamine. The Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja´afari said:

“The Syrian authorities have discovered yesterday, in the city of Banias, 281 barrels filled with dangerous, hazardous chemical materials, capable of destroying a whole city, if not the whole country”.

The seizure of the chemicals from foreign-backed insurgents, which could have been used to produce sufficient amounts of chemical weapons to devastate an entire city, if not the entire country, was neglected by all Western mainstream media, without any exclusion. nsnbc international reported about the seizure in an article published on nsnbc international on 10 July 2013.

The Syrian government reiterated its Russian-backed demand for a full investigation of every single case of chemical weapons use in Syria by an independent commission of experts, including Russian experts. The Syrian government has also demanded a full investigation into the seizure of the 281 barrels with chemicals in Banias, Tartus. Analysts expect that the chemicals cache was established with the intention to mount chemical weapons attacks during a military campaign, which the opposition plans to mount in August and September, and that catastrophic chemical weapons attacks should have been used as a pretext for renewed calls for a no-fly-zone and a direct foreign military “intervention” or aggression against Syria.

Lavrov July 2013Russian Foreign Minister Delivered Full Report on Chemical Weapons Use in Khan al-Assal to United Nations and Washington. On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated that Russia has submitted documents on the use of chemical weapons to the United Nations.

Lavrov stated, that the Russian report answers many questions, and that the use of chemical weapons is a serious issue that should not be used as an excuse for an escalation of the conflict or for achieving geopolitical goals and political maneuvering.

In a joint press conference with his Belorussian counterpart, Vladimir Makei, Lavrov stated, that the results of the Russian investigation show, that the Sarin laden shells used in the attack on the Khan al-Assal area in Aleppo in March were manufactured in areas controlled by opposition groups.

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed, that contrary to previously presented, purported evidence, which did not have a proper chain of evidence, the samples acquired by Russia were not tampered before arriving at the laboratories, and that there was a documented, unbroken chain of evidence.

Lavrov stressed, that Russia has sent a package, containing 80 pages of documents, supplemented with photographs, coordinates and detailed reports of the procedures and results of the investigation to Washington as well as to the United Nations.

Lavrov stressed, British and French purported Evidence is flawed. The Russian Foreign Minister stressed, that British and French affirmations about evidence about the Syrian governments use of chemical weapons were flawed. The samples were delivered without appropriate documentation of any chain of evidence, without indication of time and place.

He continued stressing, that it was not even sure that the samples which were tested were acquired by those who conducted the test, as the said examples were handed over from one person to another, with some of the samples coming from journalists. Some of the samples had reportedly been acquired from journalists from the French daily newspaper Le Monde, who reportedly had entered Syria illegally, and who claimed that they had received some of the samples, including anonymous blood samples, from an anonymous medical doctor.

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed, that all of this contradicts forensic and investigative principles. It was however, based on this “evidence” that the Obama administration as well as the French and British government based their decisions to begin arming the “opposition”.

Russia may Publish Results of Khan Al-Assal Chemical Weapons Probe. The Russian Foreign Minister assured that Russia does not oppose the publication of the results of the investigation into the Khan al-Assal incident. He addressed US criticism and skepticism against the Russian report and asserted, that Russian experts had gathered all samples personally, at the scene of the attack, and tested the samples in a laboratory that was licensed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW.

Lavrov said, that the investigation concludes, that the shells as well as the Sarin gas that was contained in them contained materials and other evidence that showed, that they were home-made rather than professionally produced.

Russia´s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

Russia´s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

Earlier, the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin provided detailed information about the Shells and the Sarin gas, as well as about the insurgents which had used them in the attack that killed 25 and injured more than 100, saying:

“I have just passed the analysis of the samples taken at the site of the chemical attack to the UN Secretary General. It was determined, that on 19 March the rebels fired an unguided missile Bahir-3 at the town Khan al-Assal, which has been under government control. The results of the analysis clearly show that the shell used in Khan al-Assal was not factory-made and that it contained Sarin”. 

Vitaly Churkin added, that the content of the shell did not contain chemical stabilizers in the toxic substance and that it therefore was no standard issue chemical weapon. Churkin also underlined, that the RDX explosive that detonated the chemical weapon, which is an explosive commonly used for industrial and military applications, also is inconsistent with claims that the attack had been carried out by the Syrian Armed Forces. Churkin also added, that the manufacturing of the Bashir-3 chemical laden warheads had begun in February, and that it is the work of the Bashair al-Nasr brigade, which has close ties to the Free Syrian Army.

Seized Sarin gas containers. Photo SANA

Seized Sarin gas containers. Photo SANA

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, concluded that Russia, contrary to its Western partners, does not conceal its deductions, and that Russia sees no reason why the results of its investigation should not be made public, as they are convincing and should answer many questions. Among the questions the report may answer is the question about the alleged involvement of the Turkish/NATO military or military intelligence in the Sarin gas attack on Khan al-Assal. The Syrian government has repeatedly stressed, that Turkish troops were present in the rebel held area from where the missile has been launched. Other indications for direct Turkish involvement are the seizure of 2kg Sarin gas during the arrest of 12 Jabhat al-Nusrah terrorists in Turkey, and the seizure of 2kg of the internationally banned nerve agent in Syria, only days later.

Ahmed Assi Jaber

Ahmed Assi Jaber

Seizure of Chemical Depot from Opposition and Russian Investigation Report may have averted Mass Murder and Demands for No-Fly-Zone and Military Intervention. According to intelligence, published on nsnbc international on 7 July, the political and militant opposition, as well as the international alliance behind the insurgency, are planning a renewed political and military campaign against Syria in August and September.

The election of the Saudi-backed Ahmed Assi Jaber as opposition leader should unite the political and militant opposition and provide a public figure head for a political campaign. According to the intelligence received by nsnbc international, insurgents are currently involved in establishing arms caches throughout Syria. The intelligence also concluded that renewed chemical weapons attacks should lead to renewed demands for a no-fly-zone, humanitarian corridors and a foreign military intervention.

The intelligence report was corroborated when it transpired, that high ranking Saudi, Qatari, British, French and Jordanian intelligence operatives had met behind closed doors at the British Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. 

The UN acceptance of Syria´s invitation may lead to the establishment of the independent commission of experts to investigate every single case of chemical weapons use in Syria, as demanded by Syria and Russia. US, British and French political pressure however, is likely to bias the decisions of Sellstrom and Kane toward demanding an Iraq-style scenario, which would be unacceptable for Syria, Russia and other members of the international community. The UN envoys are expected to begin discussions about the modalities but results are not guarantied.

Aleppo Chemical Weapon Victim

The seizure of the 281 barrels with chemicals may very well have prevented catastrophic chemical weapons attacks in August and September. Combined with the results of the Russian investigation into the attack on Khan al-Assal, mass murder with chemical weapons, leading to demands for a military aggression against Syria may have been prevented.

So far however, Western mainstream media are omitting the seizure of the chemicals while the US Administration disseminates unsubstantiated criticism against the validity of the Russian investigation. The risk for mass murder as a pretext for a military aggression against Syria after August – September has not yet been entirely mitigated.

Continued political pressure towards a political resolution while publishing the full details about the insurgents chemical weapons use is, according to many analysts a final chance for preventing the further escalation of the regional war that has evolved from the crisis in Syria.

Related article from 04 September 2013:

Russia released Key Findings of Chemical Weapons Probe

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at nsnbc.wordpress@gmail.com

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