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Forensic Modular Masters

Lambros C. Gklavopoulos

A Forensic Investigation into the UN Report of the


21st of August 2013 Chemical Attack in Ghouta

Cranfield Defence and Security

MSc Thesis

July 2014

UNRESTRICTED

DISCLAIMER

This report was written by a student on the Forensic Modular Masters


programme at Cranfield Defence and Security, of Cranfield University in
Shrivenham. It has not been altered or corrected as a result of assessment and
it may contain errors and omissions. The views expressed in it, together with
any recommendations are those of the author and not of the Defence
Academy College of Management & Technology, Cranfield Defence and
Security, or any individual member of staff. This document is printed on
behalf of the author by the College, but it has no official standing as an MOD
or College document.

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ABSTRACT

Lambros Gklavopoulos, MSc Forensic Engineering and Science, Cranfield University


Abstract of Masters Thesis, Submitted on 25th July 2014

Although forensic science is an exact science, it is often the case that it cannot
positively without a shadow of a doubt determine culpability or show what really
happened. The tendency to blame without evidence is a human defect, and it takes
scientific discipline to resist it. This thesis is a testament to the fact that an assessment
that bears a governments logo or the UN's logo does not make it immune to mistakes.
The evidence is what always counts.
On 21st August 2013, Syrian opposition activists claimed that a large scale chemical
weapons attack took place in Ghouta, Syria. Most accounts mentioned the use of
chemical weapons. The affected citizens were hundreds. Mayhem quickly spread. The
US, UK and French governments published intelligence reports attributing culpability to
Presidents Bashar Al-Assads regime. Military intervention, was days away. The
scientific community casted doubt on these reports and intervention was halted as the
result of the UN Report would be used as the baseline that determines the course of
action.

The UN Report was published on 16 September 2013 and focused on munitions


forensics, clinical analysis, environmental sampling and chemical analysis. These areas
constitute the backbone of this thesis. They are all examined through the help of the
work of world-renowned CW experts, known standards and common logic and sense.
Essentially, this thesis is a compilation of all popular theories to date that arose from
the UN Report. This is the first attempt to combine all these theories in a document and
examine them as a whole in context and to determine their true forensic value.
Conclusions were drawn regarding the fallback of the UN report. Also, purpose of this
thesis is to raise questions about what really happened on the 21st of August 2013 and to
improve the investigations to come using the UN report as the focal starting point.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my project supervisor Dr Stephen


Johnson for entrusting this dissertation to me. His faith in me gave me the strength to
continually strive for the best. His unique style and approachability will always be
remembered.

I am indebted to the scientific community that helped me with my analysis. Special


thanks to Mr Dan Kaszeta, Elliot Higgins aka Brown Moses, Sasa Wawa from
WhoGhouta blogspot, Subrata Ghoshroy, Denis OBrien, Dr. Abbas Foroutan, Igor
Sutyagin and Dr Julian Perry Robinson of Sussex University. Without their experience
and analysis, this dissertation could not have been made on time.

Thanks to my family for always being there for me and many thanks to Becca for truly
supporting me throughout the making of this thesis.

THE C.
AUTHOR
Lambros
Gklavopoulos was born on 27 July 1992
in Thessaloniki, Greece. He is a third generation
engineer and has demonstrated an inclination to work
in

the insurance,

loss

adjusting and

forensic

engineering industry. His undergraduate was a BEng


in Mechanical Engineering from University of
Brighton which he was awarded a First Class
Honours. He now finishes his Masters in Forensic
Engineering and Science at Cranfield University and
seeks the next challenge.

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Glossary

UN

United Nations

CW

Chemical Warfare

CWC

Chemical Weapons Convention

OPCW

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

NPT

Treaty of Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency

CBRN

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear

MSF

Mdecins Sans Frontires

NCF

Next Century Foundation

SOHR

Syrian Observatory of Human Rights

SRGC

Syrian Revolution General Commission

VDC

Centre for Documentation of Violations in Syria

SNC

National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

LCC

Local Coordination Committees of Syria

FSA

Free Syrian Army

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Table of Contents
List of Figures

10

List of Tables

11

Chapter 1: Introduction

12

1.1 The beginning

12

1.2. The 21st of August 2013 Death Estimates and Role of UN

12

1.3 UN Team

15

1.4 The Mission

15

1.4.1 Fact-finding Activities

15

1.4.2 Analytical Results and Factual Findings

16

1.4.3 UN Conclusion

16

1.5 UN report Its Forensic Value

16

1.6 Syria The country

17

1.7 Key Players in Conflict

18

1.7.1 President Bashar Al-Assad

18

1.7.2 The Free Syrian Army

19

1.7.3 Jihadist Groups

19

1.7.4 Citizens

19

1.7.5 Hezbollah

20

1.8 Timeline of Events

20

1.9 Foreign Government Assessments

20

1.9.1 Russia

20

1.9.2 Israel

21

1.9.3 France

21

1.9.4 Germany

21

1.9.5 Turkey

21

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1.9.6 United Kingdom

22

1.9.7 United States

22

1.9.8 Syrian government

22

1.9.9 Arab League

23

1.9.10 Qatar & Saudi Arabia

23

1.10 Sarin Gas

23

1.11 CW Experts

25

1.12 UN Team Timing of the Attack

26

1.13 Investigative Method

27

Chapter 2: Ensuring Reliability

29

Chapter 3: Munitions Forensics

31

3.1 Introduction

31

3.2 Munitions not used by rebels argument

31

3.3 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 1)

32

3.4 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 2)

33

3.5 Projectile remained undisturbed

34

3.6 Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets

34

3.7 Surface-to-Surface rockets

35

3.8 Flight Path & Investigation of Firing Point (Trajectory)

35

Chapter 4: Clinical Analysis

39

4.1 Analysis of Symptoms (early stages)

39

4.2 Epidemiology of Exposure to Sarin

40

4.3 Fluoride reactivation / regeneration technique

41

4.4 Sarin: Signs and Symptoms out of Proportion

43

4.4.1 Miosis

44

4.4.2 Convulsions

44

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4.4.3 Loss of Consciousness

44

4.4.4 Eye Inflammation

45

4.4.5 Dr Foroutans Clinical Assessment

45

4.5 Choosing the Victims

46

4.6 Clinical conclusion of the UN Report

47

4.7 Clinical Conclusion Speculation

48

Chapter 5: Environmental Sampling

50

5.1 Could sarin have been planted?

50

5.1.1 Moadamiyah site

50

5.1.2 Zamalka site

51

Chapter 6: Chemical Analysis

52

6.1 The military-grade Sarin argument (Part 1)

53

6.2 Binary Sarin

53

6.3 The military-grade Sarin argument

54

6.4 Chemical Analysis of Sarin

55

6.5 Impurities argument

55

6.6 Sarin By-Products

56

6.6.1 Ethyl isopropyl methylphosphonate

56

6.6.2 Isopropyl methyl methylphosphonate

56

6.6.3 Isopropyl propyl methylphosphonate

57

6.6.4 Diisopropyl dimethylpyrophosphonate

57

6.6.5 Dimethyl methylphosphonate

57

6.6.6 Hexafluoro Phosphate

57

6.6.7 Diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP)

57

6.7 Technical-grade isopropanol

58

6.7.1 Large-scale production

58

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6.7.2 Low Budget Production

58

6.7 How difficult is it to produce sarin?

59

6.8 The Hexamine Hypothesis

60

6.8.1 Hexamine

60

6.8.2 OPCW Disposal Schedule

60

6.8.3 Historical use of Hexamine as an acid scavenger

61

6.8.4 Mr Dan Kaszetas Mind-Map

61

6.8.5 Mr Sellstrms opinion

62

6.8.6 Counter to Hexamine Hypothesis

63

Chapter 7: Additional Noteworthy Questions

65

7.1 Leader of local opposition taking custody of the UN team

65

7.2 Find Sarin! Mandate

65

7.3 Inter-lab inconsistencies

66

7.4 Weather Conditions Argument

67

7.5 Potential Evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated

68

7.6 Syrian Government has done it before argument

68

7.7 Where is the Syrian government in the UN Report?

69

7.8 The too big of a quantity to produce underground argument

70

Chapter 8: Conclusions

72

6.7 Technical-grade isopropanol


Chapter 9: Concluding Remarks

78
82

9.1 Who did it?

82

9.1.1 President Bashar Al-Assad

83

9.1.2 Other parties

84

9.2 The importance of 21st of August 2013

84

9.3 The legacy of the 21st August 2013 UN Report

85

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9.4 Questions that matter that are unlikely to be answered

86

Chapter 10: Recommendation for Future Work

87

[Appendix A]: Timeline of Events

89

[Appendix B]: Dr Julian Perry Robinson methology for high reliability

95

[Appendix C]: UN Investigative Methodology

97

[Appendix D]: Graphic Interpretation of the Azimuth Intersection of HRW

99

[Appendix E]: Standard questionnaire provided to reporting States on the basis of


the requirements of Appendix I of A/44/561

100

References

102

List of Figures
Figure 1: Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical
Attack

12

Figure 2:Hazardous circumstances and necessary amount of samples

30

Figure 3: BM 14-17 Multiple Launch System

31

Figure 4: A comparison of warhead dimensions given by Lloyd, HRW, and UNSC


Reports

33

Figure 5: Munition remained undisturbed

34

Figure 6: Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets

34

Figure 7: Surface-to-Surface Rockets

35

Figure 8: sufficient evidence, sufficient degree of accuracy, likely trajectory

36

Figure 9: Azimuth angular measurements of the UN Report

37

Figure 10: Mr Sellstrms comment

38

Figure 11: UN epidemiological Investigation

41

Figure 12: Signs and Symptoms from UN Report/Tokyo Incident

43

Figure 13: Prominent local medical doctor

46

Figure 14: Short time window

47

Figure 15: Clinical conclusion of the UN Report

47

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Figure 16: Lost at least two family members

48

Figure 17: Clear and convincing evidence in Moadamiyah

51

Figure 18: Relevant chemicals, such as stabilizers

53

Figure 19: Leader of the local opposition forcetake custody of the Mission

65

Figure 20: Weather conditions excerpt from the UN Report

67

Figure 21: Potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated

68

Figure 22: Liquid capacity of the UMLACA

70

Figure 23: Excerpt from Mr Sellstrom CBRN interview

83

List of Tables
Table 1: Death Estimates by Source

13

Table 2: Syria People and Society [127]

17

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Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 The beginning

Syrias turmoil began with protests against President Bashar al-Assads Syrian
government regime. These protests were appeased violently by government forces. This
led to an uprising which escalated nationwide and eventually led to the Syrian Civil
War. Peaceful protesters were replaced with armed rebels who demanded more political
freedom, prosperity and civil liberties; branding the regime as illegitimate.

1.2. The 21st of August 2013 Death Estimates and Role of UN


The early morning of 21st August 2013, Syrian opposition activists claimed that a large
scale attack took place in Ghouta, Syria. Most accounts mentioned the use of chemical
weapons. The affected citizens were hundreds. Mayhem quickly spread. The areas
reportedly affected by the 21st August 2013 Chemical attack are shown in Figure 1:

Figure 1: Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack

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The same day, social media was flooded with Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and
YouTube videos by Syrian rebels, citizens and concerned third parties. Open-source
intelligence spread the word rapidly and the world naturally seeked a perpetrator to
point a finger at.
Death estimates of the 21st August 2013 attack varied from 281 to 1,729 fatalities
depending on the reporting body. Understandably, this was a difficult task determine
amidst chaos. Most credible organizations published their own count. Some were based
on named figures, other were calculated through the CW payload and expected
casualties. The result was a minimum of 281 by French Intelligence and the maximum
was 1,729 by FSA. However, both figures show that historically, this attack was the
worst of its kind since Saddam Husseins army gassed Kurds in Iraqi town of Halabja in
1988 [1]. Below, in Table 1the death estimates from are shown:
Table 1: Death Estimates by Source

Deaths Estimates
Number

Source

281

French Intelligence [2]

350

UK Intelligence [3]

355

MSF [4]

394

NCF [5]

494

Damascus Media Office [6]

502

SOHR [7]

635

SRGC [8]

928

VDC [9]

1,222

HRO East Ghouta [10]

1,300

SNC [11]

1,338

LCC [12]

1,429*

United States [13]

1,729

FSA [14]
Non-Fatal

3,600*

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*It is my understanding that casualty figures may have been tweaked. The study that
made the casualty figure of 1,429 seems that it came out of thin air. A commentary for it
came by MIT lecturer Noam Chomsky who said that this figure reminded him of
similarly precise body counts that Pentagon used to issue after encounters with the Viet
Cong. They were largely made up he said [16].

**On March 20, 1995, terrorists placed several bags of the neurotoxin sarin on different
trains on Tokyos subway system. While only 13 died from the exposure and 1,051
people had medical symptoms indicative of sarin exposure, over 4,500 were treated as
psychological casualties of the attack. Therefore, this number is likely to be much less
due to the psychological casualties. A rough estimate would be 1/3 of that = 1200
patients [17].

As reports came in, US, French and British governments were starting to claim that a
massacre took place demanding military intervention [18]. The Arab League blamed
President Bashar Al Assad for the alleged chemical attack accusing him of genocide and
demanding justice [19]. President Bashar Al-Assad denied all claims against him in an
interview with Charlie Rose on CBS and urged for the US Congress to review the
evidence against him and not rely on social media [20, 21].
On 21st of August, the UN stepped in and took the initiative to commence a detailed
investigation on the matter. The UN report was published on 16 September 2013 and
comprised of five pages of analysis and thirty-three pages of appendices. Attached to
the Report a two page cover document could be found denoted as Note by the
Secretary-General, which is not signed, dated, or otherwise identified as to its source
or author. Also attached to the document a one-page transmittal letter could be found
dated 13 September 2013 and signed Professor Ake Sellstrm (Head of Mission), Dr.
Maurizio Barbeschi (Head of and signing for the WHO Component), Mr. Scot Cairns
(Head of and signing for the OPCW Component).

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Military intervention was halted as governments were not convinced beyond reasonable
doubt that the Assads government was behind the attack. The world was waiting for the
UN report findings to see what actually happened and perhaps act accordingly.

1.3 UN Team

At the time, the UN team was already in Syria probing an alleged use of chemical
weapons at Khan al-Asal. However, on the 21st of August, Secretary-General Ban KiMoon assigned the UN team to swiftly investigate the Ghouta incident based on his
authority under General Assembly resolution 42/37C and Security Council 620 (1988)
[22].The UN Mission was headed by Professor ke Sellstrm's (Sweden) and assisted
by expert teams from the Organisation of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
and the World Health Organisation. During a temporary ceasefire for five hours each
day between 26-29 August 2013, the Mission was able to access affected sites in
Moadamiyah, Ein Tarma and Zamalka in the Ghouta area of Damascus.

1.4 The Mission


1.4.1 Fact-finding Activities

Interviews with more than 50 survivors, including patients, other victims, health
workers and first-responders

Documentation of munitions and their sub-components

Assessment of symptoms of intoxicated survivors

Collection and analysis of bio-medical (hair, urine and blood) samples

Collection and analysis of 30 soil and environmental samples

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1.4.2 Analytical Results and Factual Findings

Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable of carrying a


chemical pay load, were found to still contain sarin

Close to the rocket impact sites, where survivors were affected, the environment
was found to be contaminated by sarin

number

of

survivors

clearly

diagnosed

for

intoxication

by

an

organophosphorous compound and clearly presented symptoms of exposure

Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample
corroboration of the medical and scientific results

Blood and Urine samples from the above same survivors were found positive for
sarin and sarin signatures

1.4.3 UN Conclusion
The UN Mission found clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets
containing the nerve agent sarin were used in the Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and
Zalmalka in the Ghouta area of Damascus."

1.5 UN report Its Forensic Value

US Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the United Nations teams evaluation prior
to the UN report being published. He explicitly branded the report as irrelevant [56].
To elaborate, the UN team could not bring to light what the US already knew at the
time:
1. A CW agent was used in Ghouta
2. This CW agent used was sarin

He was right. The UN team had the mandate to determine if CW agents were indeed
used on the 21st August. Determining culpability was outside the scope of the

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investigation. The team based its findings on blood, soil, and environmental samples to
back the CW allegations. What will be examined the true forensic value of the report.

From a legal perspective the UN Report:

1. Is the first independent confirmation that sarin gas was indeed used on the
21st of August 2013.
2. Has the power to bind all parties in a legal process and as such, should be
examined having this in mind. The evidence should be full proof.

Even a single misreported detail can damage the credibility of the report and impede
irreversibly legal procedures thereafter. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the report
has been written under extreme caution. After all, the global eye was focused on it.

The UN inspectors maintained their impartial position and nowhere in the document
blamed either party explicitly. After all, this was beyond their mandate. However, the
media and experts opinion has unequivocally reported that the report pointed towards
President Assads regime. These allegations will be examined and culpability will be
scientifically investigated as well as all the key elements of the UN Report.

1.6 Syria The country

Table 2: Syria People and Society [24]

Population

22,457,336 (July 2013 estimate)

Capital

Damascus 2,527,000

Religion

74% Sunni Muslim, 16% other Muslim (Alawite, Druze), 10% Christian

Ethnicity

Arab 90.3% Kurds Armenians and other 9.7%

Historically, Syria is a country with rich natural resources and a long-term geopolitical
role in the Middle East. Its main ports (Tartus and Latakia) provide the entrance to the
Middle East from the Mediterranean.

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Syria has one of the most advanced chemical warfare (CW) capabilities in the Middle
East. Syrias capabilities emerge from its motivation to defend against a perceived
Israeli threat, as Israel has superior conventional military capabilities and is widely
believe to possess nuclear weapons [25].

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an autonomous


body based in Hague, Netherlands, that oversees the implementation of the CWC,
which entered into force in 1997. Until recently, Syria was one of the six countries that
had "neither signed nor acceded to" the convention, according to the OPCW website
[26]. After the events of 21st of August 2013, Syrian government acceded to the CWC
on 14th September 2013 and promised to dismantle Syrias chemical stockpile by the
UN and OPCW [27].
Although Syria was not a member of CWC, from a legal standpoint, the 21st August
2013 attack was still illegal for the following reasons:
1. Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) [25].
2. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [25].
3. The Tadic Case stated by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia mentions: "there undisputedly emerged a general consensus in the
international community on the principle that the use of [chemical] weapons is
also prohibited in internal armed conflicts [3825
1.7 Key Players in Conflict
1.7.1 President Bashar Al-Assad
The Assad family has ruled Syria for nearly 45 years. Hafez al-Assad, the father of
current President Bashar, allegedly ruled Syria with a firm hand and was accused of
numerous human rights abuses over the years [28]. President Bashar al-Assad has been
president since his father, Hafez died in 2000.

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Several comments have been written and voiced about President Assad by the western
media. Most commentaries brand him as an evil dictator. However, it should be noted
that President Assad has been fighting a bloody civil war for the past 3 years. From his
perspective, he is fighting terrorists that threaten his country.
1.7.2 The Free Syrian Army

The primary opposition group emerged in July 2011, claiming responsibility for an
attack on an air intelligence base [29]. There have been several comments that beyond a
name, it has no coordination or organised political harmony [30]. As anti-regime
demonstrations heated up in summer 2011, members of Assads army began to defect to
the protesters side. These officers and soldiers eventually formed the nucleus of the
Free Syrian Army, the main armed group opposed to Assad. Thousands of further
defectors and volunteers signed up and propelled the FSAs growth over the next year.
But it faces a challenge as Assads army is attempting to stem the tide and prevent other
from leaving. [28] Overall, the rebels have showed that they can effectively attack the
regime. But, they have been unable to hold major cities for long, frequently retreating
under the pressure of a powerful Syrian military that is better equipped and has airstrike
capabilities. [29]
1.7.3 Jihadist Groups

Jihadist groups (Al-Qaeda-linked groups have claimed responsibility for suicide


bombings on Syrian government targets during the civil war. Damascus has blamed the
21st August 2013 attack on the Islamic group Jabhat Al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda
operating in Syria and Lebanon [31].
1.7.4 Citizens

Most citizens are angry at their government. Some choose to take action; others live
their lives as normally as possible. As Dr Rodger Shanahan a Fellow at Lowy University
points out, what theyre angry about is the failure of long-promised economic and
political reforms [32].However, the majority in Syria is supporting the rebel cause.

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1.7.5 Hezbollah
The leader of Lebanons Hezbollah: a Shiite-ally has vowed that his Shiite militant
group will not stand by idly while its chief ally in Damascus is under attack. Mr AlAssad mentioned in his CBS interview with Charlie Rose that Hezbollah is protecting
Lebanons borders only and has not involved actively in the conflict. However, leader of
Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah mentioned that it has actively taken part alongside the
Syrian government [33].

1.8 Timeline of Events


A timeline of all milestone events leading to the 21st of August 2013 attack has been
compiled and can be seen in Appendix-A.

1.9 Foreign Government Assessments


According to public statements, intelligence agencies in Israel, the United Kingdom the
United States, France concluded that the Syrian government was most likely responsible
for the attacks. The most important reports official reports prior to the UN Report are
shown below:
1) United Kingdom: Syria Reported Chemical Weapons Use, 29 August 2013
[34].
2) United States: Government Assessment of the Syrian Governments Use of
Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013 [35].
3) France: Syria/Syrian chemical programme National executive summary of
declassified intelligence, 3 September 2013 [36].
1.9.1 Russia
The Russian government accused the Syrian opposition of responsibility for the 21st
August 2013 attack. Russian officials criticised the American and European intelligence
reports requesting evidence. President V. Putin addressed directly the American people
and their political leader in a New York Times article on 11 September 2013 which

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supported the UN as a function and criticized the with us or against us US attitude


[37].
1.9.2 Israel
The Israeli government has not taken a public stance whether Assad should go or not.
However, Israel has published official statements about potentially launching a preemptive strike against Syrias chemical weapon supplies if its national security came
under threat [38]. Regarding the 21st August 2013 attack, Israeli intelligence backs the
reports supporting government culpability [39].

1.9.3 France
France was one of the first countries that stopped recognising the Syrian government.
France said it would join US military action but could not and would not act on its own
[43]. The nine-page French Intelligence report on the 21st of August 2013 blamed the
Syrian government for the Ghouta attacks. The report said analysis of samples
collected from two separate April attacks had confirmed the use of Sarin.
1.9.4 Germany
The Bundesnachrichtendienst said

it

intercepted

phone

call

between

a Hezbollah official and the Iranian Embassy in which the Hezbollah representative
criticised Assad's decision to attack with poison gas, apparently confirming its use by
the Syrian government. German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on 3 September that
BND President Gerhard Schindler told them that based on the agency's evidence,
Germany now shared the United Kingdom, United States, and France's view that the
attacks were carried out by the Syrian government [41]
1.9.5 Turkey
Turkey had been friendly with the Syrian governments over the last decade. However,
Turkish officials have condemned the Assad government for his violent crackdown
and have requested his departure from office. Allegedly, the Free Syrian Army is under
the supervision of Turkish military intelligence [42].

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1.9.6 United Kingdom


The JIC report was published prior to a vote on intervention by the House of Commons
.The report said it was "highly likely" that the attacks had been carried out by the Syrian
government, resting in part on the firm view that the Syrian opposition was not capable
of carrying out a chemical weapons attack on this scale, and on the JIC's view that the
Syrian government had used chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war on a small scale
on 14 previous occasions.

The report was met with substantial scepticism in the British media, with the Daily
Mail explicitly comparing it with the "dodgy dossier from Blair era the UK
government had published in 2003 prior to the Iraq War [43].
1.9.7 United States
United States has been probably the most prominent support of firm action against the
Syrian government. A controversial "US government assessment of the Ghouta attacks"
report blamed the attacks on the government based on unnamed intelligence, video
footage and common logic. The report was met with scepticism.
1.9.8 Syrian government

Regarding Syrian officials, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was quoted by SANA
as saying that the government did not and would not use such weapons -- in the case
they even exist. "Everything that has been said is absurd, primitive, and illogical and
fabricated. What we say is what we mean: there is no use of such things (chemical
weapons) at all, at least not by the Syrian army or the Syrian state, and it's easy to prove
and it is not that complicated [44]. A similar view was shared by many prominent
figures of Syria including Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Party
leader Salih Muslim [45, 46].

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1.9.9 Arab League


Presidents Assad government was barred from the Arab League in 2011. Over the
happenings of the 21st of August 2013, the Arab League have openly expressed their
appetite for foreign intervention in the international community and the United Nations
urging them to take "deterrent" action against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of
chemical weapons. Member states that opposed such actions from occurring are
Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia [47].
1.9.10 Qatar & Saudi Arabia

Without international consensus, most countries have been hesitant to intervene


militarily. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Sunni-led countries in the Middle East, are
believed to be sending arms to the opposition [48].
1.10 Sarin Gas
Chemical-weapons are broken down into four groups based on an agents physiological
effects: choking agents, blister agents, blood agents and nerve agents. Sarin is a nerve
agent and as such, it is considered the most toxic of the chemical agent. This is because
of its ability to attack the nervous system of the human body. When compared to other
chemical agents, people who survive attacks tend to recover fully. Other classes of
chemical weapons scar lung tissue and blister agents permanently damage anyone who
comes in contact with them [17, 50].

Sarin was created in Germany in 1938 by scientists attempting to create pesticides for
use in agriculture. It is odourless, colourless and very volatile it evaporates quickly
and can be inhaled. It kills quickly and unlikely other war agents, it does not damage
infrastructure. Thus, it is given the name poor mans neutron bomb i.e. great at killing
and great at leaving intact everything like power lines and buildings and water pipes for
the invading army to use[17, 50].

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Sarin works in the following way: muscles in our bodies are perceived as being actively
ON or inactively OFF. In fact, our muscles are constantly in a stage of being ON and
OFF with an active step required to change one state to another. When one moves his
muscles to flex, acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) floods around ones muscle cells
telling them to contract. When your brain tells your muscles to stop contracting this
acetylcholine has to be removed. This is done with acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that
breaks down the acetylcholine into its constituent parts allowing your muscles to relax.
These steps occur every time you flex and relax any muscle in your body, every blink of
your eye, every beat of the heart [17, 50].

Sarin kills by bonding with acetylcholinesterase completely changing its physical


structure. With the enzyme - non-functional acetylcholine is thus never removed, it
never breaks down. So, instead of muscles being able to flex and relax, they are only
able to flex and flex more and flex more. Everything from pupils to fingers becomes
cramped, turning completely rigid. The muscles burn with exhaustion but cannot relax.
The pain is unbearable. If enough of the agent enters the bloods through lungs or skin, it
will cause cramping of the diaphragm which blocks the lungs in place and the victim
will eventually asphyxiate [17, 50].

There are available antidotes (e.g. atropine) to sarin that can block sarin from interfering
with enzymes but they are only effective when taken immediately after exposure which
is generally extremely impractical [17, 50].

Its effectiveness in killing and the fact that it kills indiscriminately and in a very painful
way are the reasons it has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned
from use in warfare [17, 50].

From a forensic point of view, sarin quickly degrades after being produced. In fact, its
shelf life is so short that it is often created from precursor chemicals on the ground, as it
is used. Soon after used, sarin breaks down into harmless chemicals and evaporates
rapidly due to its high volatility. Weeks after an attack it is impossible to determine
whether the gas was even present.

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1.11 CW Experts

Sixty-five (and counting) journalists have been killed since the beginning of the civil
war. Syria is arguably the most dangerous place to report in the world. Major networks
and news stations feel reluctant to expose their crew in those adverse circumstances.
With all the associated risk, most organizations choose to cover Syria from anywhere
but Syria [51]. There have been several accounts of biased reporting by media. Also,
there have been several allegations against articles that report fake photos, videos and
other media. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of British Chemical and
Biological counterterrorism forces, told BBC News that the images were very similar
to previous incidents he had witnessed, although he could not verify the footage [52].

It is understandable; this is not a perfect world. You cannot have news without
physically being there to report them. However, where the source of information comes
is crucial. Information that is issued by Assads government is likely to be one-sided.
News emerging from the FSA is likely to have a propaganda agenda. Al-Jazeera news is
owned by the government of Qatar (believed to be one of the main suppliers of
armaments to the opposition [48]), BBC is 3,000 miles away and the opinions and
views of Syrian people are likely to cave or be lost in the mists due to threats and fear of
or death. Last, it has been difficult to evaluate the accuracy of the information published
by France, Britain, the United States, Turkey and Israel, concerning the actual use of
chemical weapons by the Syrian army due to its uncertain origin, time and way of
delivery, and accessibility to the region [53]. As a result, this gave rise to a new type of
reporting: the opinions of experts that cover the Syrian conflict using open-source
media found on the internet (i.e. eye-witnesses videos on sites like YouTube).
For example, the specialist blogger Mr Eliot Higgins, whose Brown Moses blog
covers the Syrian conflict since its very beginning. From his home in London, his
evidence pool is primarily sourced from online videos, common logic and his expert
opinion. Although this type of reporting inhibits the danger of staged video footage
being used as a source of information or videos of different occasions surfacing to
corroborate a recent allegation. Mr Higgins is just an example; there is a sea of bloggers

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emerging who try to make sense of new information found online in an unbiased
manner. Some more examples include:

Mr Igor Sutyagin (U.K. Royal United Services Institute), who made a presentation on
September 9, entitled Assessing Chemical Weapons Use in Syria.

Mr Dan Kaszeta has 23 years of experience in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and


Nuclear Operations (CBRN) and is an advisor for the White House Military Office and
a specialist in the US Secret Service. He now runs Strongpoint Security, a Londonbased CBRN and antiterrorism consultancy. .

Mr Subrata Ghoshroy, a Research Affiliate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology


published a report on 26 September 2013 named Serious Questions about the Integrity
of the UN Report This piece tries to make a case for conspiracy between Brown
Moses, HRW, some MIC-affiliated US scientists and the UN team.

Dr. Abbas Foroutan is a qualified whose works includes articles reviewed in Neurology
by Col. Jonathan Newmark of the Chemical Casualty Care Division, US Army Medical
Research Institute of Chemical Defense. His work has provided immense insight in the
clinical section of this report.
1.12 UN Team Timing of the Attack

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon authorized a fact-finding tour to investigate


allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. After four months of behind-the-scenes
talks, the Assad regime approved the terms for the mission in July 2013 [28].
The United Nations Mission travelled to Damascus on the 18th August 2013 and began
its factfinding activities in the Syrian Arab Republic on the 19th August 2013 with the
understanding that it would conclude its visit within 14 days, unless extended by mutual
agreement. The United Nations Mission was intended to contemporaneously investigate
the reported allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Khan Al Asal, Saraqueb and
Sheik Maqsood.

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On 21st August, the team was instructed by the UN to visit the Ghouta area as a matter
of priority. The Four Seasons hotel they were staying at was only a few kilometres away
from the sites of the attack. The timing (i.e. a few days after their arrival) and the place
of their stay (a few km away from the attacks) leaves ground for heavy speculation.

Also, it was not until five days later that the UN commenced investigating the Ghouta
incident. This significant time delay between the event taking place and the conduct of
the on-site investigation is a critical factor that cannot be omitted. The probative value
of the UN analysis has suffered. The question that will be attempted to be answered is
by how much?
1.13 Investigative Method

The UN report focused on five key areas shown below:

1. Ensuring Reliability
2. Munitions Forensics
3. Clinical Analysis
4. Environmental Sampling
5. Chemical Analysis

These areas constitute the backbone of this thesis and will be examined individually
with the addition of a sixth chapter:

6. Additional Noteworthy Questions

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These key areas will be examined in this thesis through the help of the work of worldrenowned CW experts, known standards and common logic. The UN reports
methodology and findings will be evaluated and questioned. Conclusions will be drawn
regarding the fallback of the UN report. Lastly, what could be made better will be
explored. The purpose of my analysis is not to prove or disprove anything. The sole
purpose is to raise questions about what happened on the 21st of August 2013 and
to improve the investigations to come using the UN report as the focal starting
point for my investigation.

Additionally, the primary objective is to examine how the UN Mission chose to


approach the Ghouta incident and their subsequent conclusions. As aforthmentioned,
the available data is vast therefore; the scope of this report is limited as much as
possible within the four corners of the UN Report.

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Chapter 2: Ensuring Reliability


If the results of a formal investigation were proved to be tampered with, the
investigating body would lose confidence in their findings in their future investigations.
Therefore, the highest (possible) level of confidence should have been put into the
chemical analysis of suspected CW samples. A list of the confidence factors was
compiled by Dr Julian Perry Robinson of Sussex University in Alleged use of
Chemical Weapons in Syria. The reported outline was drawn from historical
experience, including the investigation of the so-called Yellow Rain in Southeast Asia
that commenced in 1978. It also follows practices developed over the years by the
OPCW Technical Secretariat. It is presented in Appendix-B.
According to Dr Julian Robinsons analysis and contrasting it to the UN Missions
team, it is deducted that the UN report contains appropriate procedures and
methodologies. In more detail, it was guided by the UN Guidelines and Procedures for
the timely and efficient investigation of reports of the possible use of chemical and
bacteriological (biological) or toxin weapons (A/44/561) as well as the modern
scientific standards applied by OPCW and WHO for their respective specializations. A
contrast between Julian Perry Robinsons high confidence checklist and the UN Report
is shown below:

Dr Julian Robinsons Checklist

UN Report

Chain of Custody

Yes

Multiple Laboratories

Yes

Blank and Control Samples

Yes

Methods

N/A

Laboratory Experience

Yes

Independent Review

No

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As shown, both standards meet in 4/6 parts. Methodology was not specifically enclosed
in the UN Report. There was not mention of an independent review in the UN Report.
However, the laboratories that assessed the environmental/blood/hair samples were of
the highest credibility.

It is found, that the UN Team, followed:

1. Appropriate chain of custody of procedures applied to all collection of evidence


2. Validated methodology used for acquiring and analysing evidence
3. Appropriate training for all personnel in contact with evidence

A more detailed analysis of the UN investigative methodology can be found in


Appendix-C.

It is clear that the UN report has been very meticulous in preserving the integrity of the
evidence. Their approach appears full-proof on paper and for an untrained eye. The
fallback of the UN report primarily regard the evidence collected rather than the
subsequent procedures after the evidence was collected. It is my opinion that the
procedures and methodologies in the UN report were excellent. Especially, if one
considers the hazardous and adverse circumstances under which the UN team worked.

As an additional remark, the UN team radiates confidence in their findings; as they


collected the necessary amount of samples. This will be interrogated throughout this
thesis. Both points are illustrated in Figure 2:

Figure 2:Hazardous circumstances and necessary amount of samples

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Chapter 3: Munitions Forensics


3.1 Introduction

Two munitions were examined by the UN team. These munitions were identified as
surface-to-surface rockets; a 140mm BM-14 rocket, originally manufactured in Russia
and 330mm rocket, which will be referred as Unidentified Munition Linked to Alleged
Chemical Attacks from now on (UMLACA A term coined to Brown Moses).

3.2 Munitions not used by rebels argument

At one of the sites, the UN Mission found ordnance which had markings in Cyrillic and
the number 97-179. By analysing video data, HRW reported: Both rockets have never
been reported to be in the possession of the opposition. Nor is there any footage that the
armed opposition has the vehicle-mounted launchers needed to fire these rockets.
Hence, a popular pro-rebel argument emerged, the Chemical weapons were delivered
with munitions not used by rebels argument.
Russian defence expert Ruslan Pukhov, director of Russias Centre for Analysis of
Strategies and Technologies said that the first missile was launched from a BM-14-17
multiple-launch system dating dated from 1952 [54]. The rocket launcher is shown in
Figure 3:

Figure 3: BM 14-17 Multiple Launch System

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Mr Pukhov also said that the code 97-179 showed that the M-14 was likely produced at
the Sibselmash plant in Novosibirsk. He said that these weapons had been taken out of
service by Syria and replaced with BM-21s [55].
Mr Pukhov described that the UMLACA appeared to be home-made [55]. Theodore
Postol, a professor of technology and national security at MIT said that the UMLACA is
something you could produce in a modestly capable machine shop [56]. This could be
safely interpreted as a weapon that rebels could have capabilities to manufacture.

On the contrary, Mr Elliot Higgins has reported that munitions "clearly match" those
used by the Syrian army; thus linking the Syrian Army to the 21st August 2013 attack,
concluding, "it now seems undeniable that the Syrian military has been using this family
of munitions for at least the past 10 months" [58].

3.3 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 1)


This point was first made in Serious Questions about the Integrity of the UN Report
by Subrata Ghoshroy [60].

A credible analysis of the initial evidence came by Russian Dr Igor Sutyagin in a RUSI
interview [60]. In a video of his, he explains the similarity of the UMLACA with the
Russian M14 rocket and describes the number 97-179. He explains that it is a code
for a plant in Novosibirsk, Russia that builds non-standard rockets. First, he gave credit
to Brown Moses for having made accurate measurements on this rocket from the
videos. This is where an issue arises.

Mr Ghoshroy noted in his assessment that photographs of the UMLACA presented bore
close resemblance to the ones appearing in the UN report. In fact, even the red circles
on the highlighted areas gave the impression that they are the same photographs. The
RUSI interview occurred a week after the site visit of the UN inspectors in Ghouta and
a week prior to the publication of the UN report. Hence, the question how did Dr
Sutyagin had access to the UN inspectors photos?

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3.4 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 2)


This point was first made in Serious Questions about the Integrity of the UN Report
by Subrata Ghoshroy [59].
The HRW report and Mr Postols concept were both published after the field
measurements were undertaken by the UN and before the actual publish of the UN
report. This raises questions on the integrity of the report and whether it has been
compromised. Additional commonalities are for i.e. rocket motor where Lloyds length
was measured to be 125 cm whereas HRW is 155 cm and UN is 134 cm. HRW and Mr
Postol claim to have extracted those measurements from video footage of the UN
inspectors while they were measuring the length of the rocket with a measuring tape.

As a remark, the rocket length is not very relevant to an overall assessment (unless you
are trying to estimate the maximum travel-distance of the rocket). However, the
essential dimensions (that are critical) to evaluate the payload and the impact of the
attack (i.e. warhead dimensions) are almost identical. Mr Ghoshroy asks the question
whether the dimensions have been manufactured to provide a scientific explanation to
fit the casualty figure presented. A comparison of warhead dimensions is extracted from
Mr Ghoshroys analysis and presented in Figure 4:

Figure 4: A comparison of warhead dimensions given by Lloyd, HRW, and UNSC Reports

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3.5 Projectile remained undisturbed

The statement shown in Figure 5 was made in the UN report:

Figure 5: Munition remained undisturbed

Certainly, that is a leap. How can they possibly know that the projectile remained
undisturbed until investigated since their visit was 5 days after the projectile hit the
ground?

The ground was relatively soft. This begs the question, if someone had planted the
projectile; could they tell that? However, the real question is how does the UN team
know that the projectile remained undisturbed? Especially after admitting that
evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated mentioned in 7.5 part of this
thesis.

3.6 Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets


The statement shown in Figure 6 was made in the UN report:

Figure 6: Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets

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How many is several surface-to-surface rockets and why were they not included in the
final report? Isnt this information pertinent to the UN Missions Investigation? If not,
why?

3.7 Surface-to-Surface rockets


The statement shown in Figure 7 was made in the UN report:

Figure 7: Surface-to-Surface Rockets

The UN Missions mandate was clear: Was sarin used on the 21st of August 2013? In
their conclusion however, the UN team has deviated from its mission and reported that
surface-to-surface rocketswere used. That comment was outside their scope. From
a legal perspective, the UN team examined five sites out of which only two appeared to
have evidential value. However, they made a leap into assuming that all sites had the
same modus operandi. How can the UN team draw conclusions and furthermore
reassure the reader with clear and convincing? For all we know, half the attacks could
have been pierced bags (Aum Shinrikyo MO) or thrown from an aircraft (?).

3.8 Flight Path & Investigation of Firing Point (Trajectory)

The UN team examined the impact area where the rockets were found and presented the
azimuths , with angular measurements that could allegedly provide the trajectory of the
rockets .

Impact Site Number 1: Moadamiya

Impact Site Number 4: Ein Tarma

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The UN teams confidence in accurate extrapolation of measurements is radiating in the


UN Report. This is shown in Figure 8:

Figure 8: sufficient evidence, sufficient degree of accuracy, likely trajectory

Their azimuth angular measurements ( shown in Figure 9) were all accurate to a degree
of certainty and topped with compass directions. From a scientific point of view, this
part of their work feels somewhat academic. In reality, trajectories are not perfect
physics models, unless its a ballistics range. Even if they were, at the very least, their
results call for attention; which it will get.

By providing the angles of the rockets, you inadvertently provide the reader from
drawing an azimuth-intersection trajectory path. Be ready if you present the reader
with measurements that allow for conclusions to be drawn, expect him to connect the
dots. This is definitely a case of going beyond the original mandate of questioning
whether sarin was actually used or not. It could have been foreseen and it leaves ground
for speculation why the UN team would leave it inside the report before publishing it. It
could also be coprehended as "leading the witness".

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Figure 9: Azimuth angular measurements of the UN Report

Josh Lyons of the Human Rights Watch did an excellent job by mapping the two
locations and the presumed trajectories of the rockets. The sites are approximately 16km
apart but by convering the presumed flight path of both rockets the trajectory should be
calculated. The result is a military base of the Syrian government (104th Brigade of the
Republican Guard) illustrated in Appendix-D [61].
Josh Lyons goes on further to explain that the 140mm artillery rocket of Impact Site 1
has a minimum range of 3.8 km and a maximum range of 9.8 km. The Republican
Guard 104th Brigade is approximately 9.5 km from the base. While we do not know the
firing range of UMLACA on impact site 4, the area is only 9.6 km away from the base,
well within range of most rocket systems [61]. But he fails to underline that no-one
can be certain of the fuel load the rockets had when they left their initial firing point.
Mr Sellstrm in an interview after the UN Report was published said that it would be
misleading to use trajectories to try and find the focal point as they are only travelling
a kilometre or something like that. Although his response was not very scientific, he
gives ground to look more into this. The excerpt of the interview can be seen in Figure
10:

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Figure 10: Mr Sellstrms comment

The range of the UMLACA is calculated to be 9.6km. This is a 60kg warhead with a
relatively small engine. It could never reach that. A very similar rocket, the SLUFAE
has a range of about 150m [62]. Making the assumption that the small engine of the
UMLACA is majorly different or has undergone innovational modifications, it would
still not exceed a 3-4 kilometres. This is corroborated by the two authors of the
trajectory analysis that confirmed that the warheads were likely fired from multiple
launchers and had a range of about 3km [63]. Seymour M. Hersh who conducted flight
path analysis confirmed that the rockets were unlikely to have an operational range of
more than two kilometers [64].

Mr Sasa Wawa from WhoGhouta blog performed a reliable ballistics calculation and
found that the UMLACA had a maximum range of 2.5km. This calculation was
performed using the UN calculations and assuming conditions to be ideal (maximum
possible variables without ballistics breakthroughs). The software (OpenRocket
Simulation) and input parameters used were found credible [65].
Assuming that indeed the range was right an important detail that should be included
in the line of thought is that the projectile hit a vegetal screen existing over one of the
adjacent walls, before impacting the ground to produce a shallow crater. Due to the

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rocket building up a lot of momentum, it is most likely, the direction would not change
significantly. However, this should reduce the reliability of the deduced angles of
trajectory making void the calculations for site 1 (Moadamiyah).

Chapter 4: Clinical Analysis


4.1 Analysis of Symptoms (early stages)

Prior to the UN report being published, the video-evidence accessible online was
compelling in terms of showing an exposure to a neurotoxic agent. Adults were seen
having spasms. Young children could be seen having froth coming out of their mouths.
Dead human bodies and animals could be seen in footage. Most survivors could be seen
clinging from life at the basement of hospitals. The medical and first-aid workers were
affected at some videos as well. All of the above observations corroborated to a
neurotoxin exposure: most likely sarin or a concoction of agents involving sarin [66,
67]. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior associate for the Centre for Biosecurity at the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, said what the group of doctors in Syria is
reporting "is what a textbook would list to say nerve-agent poison. Symptoms like
incredibly small pupils help say it is not agents like mustard gas or chlorine gas, but
instead more like Sarin, Soman, VX and Tabun [68].

In reality, Doctors without Borders who were operating three hospitals at the time of the
attack reported seeing "large number of patients arriving with symptoms including
convulsions, excessive saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress
[66]. Fred Abraham of HRW reported that symptoms included "suffocation, muscle
spasms and frothing at the mouth [69]. A compelling witness statement mentioned that
he could see people coming out of their homes but they would fall down [70].
A commentary, Richard Spencer - a telegraph reporter said the following: if the world
is looking for evidence, it is not hard to find. The poison that poured from the skies over
several suburbs of Damascus on Wednesday may have killed hundreds but it has left
twitching, fainting, confused but compelling survivors [71]

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However, as Dr Stephen Johnson mentioned in Euronews, there have been cases where
the symptomology in those videos seemed hyper-real and almost as if it has been set
up. Foaming seemed too white, too pure. The consistency of symptomology from
video footage is a lengthy task and out of the scope of this report; it sets however a
trend of an appetite for faking symptoms [72].

As aforthmentioned, several videos have been found to be staged over the past three
years, serving a pro-rebel agenda [73, 74]. However, this has primarily an impact on the
casualty figures and the wests response (bigger shocking factor = more likely foreign
military intervention). From the forensic perspective, the evidentiary threshold of a
neurotoxic agent being used on 21st of August 2013 was unequivocally crossed by the
scientific community. The questions that emerged were: was it indeed sarin? If yes, was
it only sarin?
4.2 Epidemiology of Exposure to Sarin

People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air may
experience the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure [7]:

Watery eyes

Diarrhoea

Small, pinpoint pupils

Increased urination

Eye pain

Confusion

Blurred vision

Drowsiness

Drooling and excessive sweating

Headache

Cough

Nausea,

Chest tightness

Rapid breathing

Slow or fast heart rate

Weakness

Low or high blood pressure

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vomiting

and/or

abdominal pain

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Standards for epidemiologic determination of cause-and-effect were first laid out in a


systematic fashion by Hill in 1965. The criteria to be fulfilled could be distilled down to
three basic iron rules [76]:

There must be a biologically plausible link between the exposure and the
outcome

There must be a temporal relationship between the exposure and the outcome

There must not be any likely alternative explanation for the symptoms.

The UN investigation found compelling evidence in their epidemiological investigation.


Their investigative approach and well-established methodologies developed and enforce
by the WHO were found to be in accordance with approved procedures. The standard
questionnaire provided to reporting states on the basis of the requirements of Appendix
I of A/44/561 shown in Appendix-E is also found to be consistent with the expectations
of a reliable inspection. Figure 11 is an excerpt of a later UN report regarding the
epidemiological investigation in 21st of August incident [77]:

Figure 11: UN epidemiological Investigation

4.3 Fluoride reactivation / regeneration technique

The elapsed time between exposure of alleged victims/survivors and the collection of
samples was worrying the scientific community. The methodology and procedures

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behind these techniques shown below were not reported in the UN report. They were
presented first in Mr Kaszetas assessment- who is believed to be a credible source [78].
UNs human sampling yielded plasma and whole blood samples. These samples were
prepared for definitive analysis by using a technique known as fluoride regeneration or
fluoride reactivation [78]. UN Teams successful sarin detection was achieved through a
breakdown product of sarin (created after a day or two when it is hydrolysed) called
isopropylmethylphopsphonic acid (IMPA), which can be persistent for weeks. A
secondary breakdown product is methylphosphonic acid (MPA) [79]. Measurement of
direct Sarin, IMPA and MPA levels is rather time limited, due to hydrolysis of Sarin
and the bodys gradual elimination of IMPA and MPA.

Fluoride reactivation is a technique that obviates some of the deficiencies of older


procedures. Sarin not only reacts with the water in the blood plasma through hydrolysis
(forming so-called free metabolites), but also reacts with various proteins to form
protein adducts. These protein adducts are not so easily removed from the body, and
remain for a longer period of time than the free metabolites. One clear advantage of this
process is that the period, post-exposure, for determination of Sarin exposure is much
longer, possibly 5 to 8 weeks according to at least one study [78].

The fluoride reactivation process adds fluoride (often by use of a sodium fluoride
solution) to the protein adducts to re-create the original sarin, which can be measured by
a number of conventional techniques. As there are no other reasons why Sarin would be
generated by fluoridation of protein blood sample, this technique is a very good
indication that the person had been exposed to Sarin. Also the fluoride reactivation
specifically creates Sarin molecules; this technique discriminates between the various
organophosphates. In other words, this technique is found to have great specificity it
rules out exposure to other nerve agents or organophosphate pesticides as the causative
agent.

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4.4 Sarin: Signs and Symptoms out of Proportion


Mr Kaszeta made an excellent analysis in Observations on the UN Report published
on 19th September. While concluding that Sarin was used in the attack, he mentions that
testing only 36 survivors cannot conceivably be considered a scientifically or
statistically accurate sample of the population of affected victims. It would be
considered scientifically unsound to draw widespread conclusions based simply on this
sample [80].

Mr Kaszeta has made a commentary on expected signs and symptoms based on the
Tokyo case study. This difference in symptoms between the Tokyo incidents and the
UN report is shown in Figure 12. It should be noted that the exposure of the Tokyo
incident victims was upon admission. On the contrary, the UN teams examination was
5-7 days later.

Figure 12: Signs and Symptoms from UN Report/Tokyo Incident

The main symptoms that were found to be off and will be expanded on are: Miosis,
Convulsions, loss of consciousness, eye-inflammation and the survivors response to
atropine.

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4.4.1 Miosis
Mr Kaszeta correctly points out the relative lack of Miosis - the universally
encountered by emergency responders CW exposure symptom - in Ghouta patients,
which was found in only 14% of those tested, compared to 99% of survivors in the 1995
Tokyo Sarin attack.

Miosis [constricted pupils] is a nerve agent exposure that can last a number of weeks
and is atropine-resistant. Additionally, Miosis is a symptom that is encountered in all
amounts of exposure; from small (local effects) to large. The fact that Miosis was not
found in all victims that tested positive for sarin creates questions. Also, Dr Foroutan
correctly pointed out that although Miosis has been observed in 14% of the cases;
disorientation has been seen in 39% of the cases. In his dispielief, he mentions that
this ratio is not logical.
4.4.2 Convulsions
Convulsions are considered an advanced symptom and 19% of the survivors allegedly
experienced them. However, in part 7.2 of the UN report, six patients who had
experienced convulsions did not concurrently display Miosis. Mr Kaszeta in his
assessment mentions in disbelief: That is very strange to me.
4.4.3 Loss of Consciousness
Loss of consciousness is a severe symptom experienced within thirty seconds to two
minutes and is followed by flaccid paralysis and cessation of breathing [81]. Mr Kaszeta
asks in disbelief: how is it 78% of the survivors had lost consciousness without dying?

From a legal perspective, a survivor reporting he experienced convulsions is not


acceptable as they would have been unconscious at the time. Hence, this account is
unreliable, unless another credible witness (e.g. family member) reports that the
survivor experienced convulsions at the time of the attack.

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4.4.4 Eye Inflammation


Eye inflammation could not be found as a sign of sarin exposure in any reliable
literature. Dr Foroutan corroborates this statement saying. We have observed many
cases during Iraqs war against Iran and victims presented with only brief and
temporary redness in the eye. However, the UN investigation reported that 22% of the
survivors displayed inflammation after 5-7 days. This is very strange.
4.4.5 Dr Foroutans Clinical Assessment
As a commentary to the UN reports symptomology sections a reliable analysis comes
from an Iranian chemical weapons expert, Dr Abbas Foroutan. These observations were
voiced in a medical gathering at the Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences
led by Dr Foroutan [82].
The following points regarding the clinical problems with the UN report were extracted
from Dr Foroutans assessment:

1) It is obligatory that complete raw data charts of the patients be published so


that the correlation index between signs and symptoms of this case and other
cases could be drawn.
2) Mentioning the vital signs like the pulse rate and blood pressure, which
because of sarin classically become slow and low and subsequently atropine
raises it up, is also an important diagnostic sign which unfortunately has not
been recorded in the patients documents.
3) An important sign of sarin exposure is auscultation of wheezing in the
victims lungs, similar to the noise coming from an asthmatic patient. This has
not been mentioned anywhere in the report. Dr Foroutan assesses that this
neglect by the UN team is abnormal.

4) Activity of acetylcholinesterase in the plasma and red blood cells will be


reduced immensely with nerve gases like sarin; and will reactivate (re-

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synthesize) after weeks until it becomes normal. Sarin is an acetylcholinesterase


inhibitor substance. Experts across the world are well informed of the
importance of this lab data [reporting enzyme activity]. During the holy Defence
(Iran Iraq war) we could measure it in the frontline emergency centre as a
routine diagnostic test. The importance is that in moderate to severe cases, it
decreases heavily without exception. It could be used as a lie-detector. The
question that arises is why this examination was not performed on the survivors
as a routine test.
4.5 Choosing the Victims

The statement shown in Figure 13 is made in the UN Report:

Figure 13: Prominent local medical doctor

This prominent local medical doctor mentioned is a direct interference between the
interface of alleged victims and rebel forces. Doctors and medical staff are attacked on a
daily basis by the Syrian army, it can be safely expected that they are not going to be
sympathetic to the governments cause. Furthermore, their areas were either contested
or fully rebel-held at the time of the attack. This further increased the chance of them
being rebel-friendly. As a result, a significant bias is expected; this may have had an
influence on the UN team and may have reflected on the teams findings. How, is
unknown.

As leverage to the UN team, it is understandable that the pressure was on and time
frames to be met were tight. The missions success depended on the local doctor and
nurses whom without the missions time frame could not have been met. This is
illustrated in Figure 14.

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Figure 14: Short time window

4.6 Clinical conclusion of the UN Report


The statement shown in Figure 15 is made in the UN Report:

Figure 15: Clinical conclusion of the UN Report

Is the evidence truly definitive"?

1. The symptoms have been examined and were found to have deviated substantially
from an expected medium when compared to the Tokyo incident.

2. The clinical assessments could have been compromised by doctor and clinicians
serving a pro-rebel agenda.

3. Data was sparse and narrowed down to a yes/no verdict.

4. The survivor pool consisted of 36 survivors (N>100 would be reliable beyond a


doubt from a legal perspective).

5. The UN Mission did not check for other chemicals apart from Sarin.

Dr Foroutan dismisses the use of Sarin from a clinical perspective. Mr Kaszeta


mentions the following: Is it possible that we are looking at exposure to multiple

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causes of injury? Were some of the examined victims exposed to other things in
addition to Sarin? I am not stating that Sarin was not used. It clearly was. My point is
that it is either not behaving as we have understood it in the past or that other factor
were at work in addition to Sarin.
4.7 Clinical Conclusion Speculation
Figure 16 shows that the UN investigative methods took into account that 70% of the
alleged victims/survivors had lost at least two family members. After losing your loved
ones, it is only natural that feelings of retribution or revenge may emerge. Especially
after a tragic incident where yourself were subject to a chemical attack and lived
through the same agony and despair your loved ones went through. A safe bet would be
that the person would probably blame President Assad for this wrongful act.

Figure 16: Lost at least two family members

The fact that the clinical results were so much off from the expected medium creates
questions. In fact, only the following scenarios emerge:

1) The methodology/procedures followed by UN were faulty


2) The UN made up the clinical assessment
3) Alleged victims were exposed to Sarin and other unknown chemicals
4) The alleged victims/survivors were compromised
Point 1 was covered in 4.2, 4.3 and the procedures were found reliable. Point 2 is
excluded because the reputation of the UN team is of the highest standard. Point 3 was
covered in 4.6 and is found to be a plausible scenario. However, Point 4 is a plausible
scenario and as such, should be entertained.

Could the alleged victims/survivors have answered the UN inspectors question falsely
and instead given them what they wanted. Mr Kaszeta assesses that exact presentation

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of signs and symptoms seems skewed from our conventional understanding of nerve
agent exposure. If this is true, the UN Report has been irreparably compromised. This
scenario would explain why the clinical assessment is off, but would still not explain
eye-inflammation; unless that was somehow staged as well. This suspicion cannot be
investigated further because the UN report has not provided a quantitative blood
analysis to compare and contrast reported symptomology with.

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Chapter 5: Environmental Sampling


5.1 Could sarin have been planted?

The lab results from east and west Ghouta reveal a massive discrepancy between the
two. In more detail, not even one environmental sample from Moadamiyah site
tested positive for Sarin. This fact raises the question whether sarin could have been
planted.

5.1.1 Moadamiyah site


The samples were collected from impact sites and surrounding areas identified by
numerous parties, not just random areas in the town. Furthermore, in Moadamiyah the
environmental samples were collected five days after the 21st of August 2013 attack
took place. Whereas, in Zamalka the samples were collected 7-8 days post 21st of
August 2013. The problem arises through the observation that degradation products are
expected to have been more pronounced in Moadamiyah and therefore the final result
would be different. However, the UN teams results are the opposite,

In more detail, Moadamiyah alleged victims/survivors tested positively 93% and 100%
in Lab 1 and 2 respectively. In Zamalka, the positives were 85% and 91% for Lab 1 and
Lab 2 respectively. It would be a logical thought that the Moadamiyah victims would be
expected to be significantly less. As a baseline, a smaller percentage to the Zamalka site
should be expected.

As a scientific remark, it is highly improbable that alleged victims/survivors would test


that highly for exposure to Sarin without a single trace of environmental evidence
testing positive for the chemical agent. However, the UN team did not mention anything
about this anomaly in their report. On the contrary, the UN team included Moadamiyah
in the clear and convincing evidence group of sites. This is shown in Figure 17

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Figure 17: Clear and convincing evidence in Moadamiyah

Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British military chemical defence regime


and CEO at CW specialists SecureBio Ltd voiced his concern saying the following: I
think that it is strange that the environmental and human samples dont match up. This
could be because there have been lots of people trampling through the area and moving
things. Could the patients have been brought in from other areas?

5.1.2 Zamalka site

Regarding Sample 25 and 28 shown below (evidence found in Zamalka site), Mr Elliot
Higgins made the following assessment [83]:

Sample 25: Metal bold removed from rocket head combined with paint rust
scratched from the surface surrounding the bolt

Sample 28: Rubber gasket from window

These are the two most important samples in regard to concentration. In his assessment,
Mr Higgins mentions that screw threads can trap nerve agents for a long time and paints
and coating can trap sarin between the paint and the metal greatly increasing its
persistence. Also, many rubber and plastic substances can be quite good at absorbing
Sarin liquid and vapour, and only slowly absorbing the agent. Both are also similar in
the nature that it is highly unlikely for anybody to have planted sarin there. It is my
opinion that his analysis offers invaluable insight and in this case is highly relevant.

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Chapter 6: Chemical Analysis


The following is an excerpt from the Report of the independent international
commission of inquiry of the Syrian Arab Republic, A/67/997-S/2013/553

28. The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and


quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the
perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile
of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment
necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.
Concerning the incident in Khan Al-Assal on 19 March, the
chemical agents used in that attack bore the same unique
hallmarks as those used in Al-Ghouta.

129. Other allegations of chemical weapons use investigated


displayed markedly different circumstances and took place on a
significantly

smaller

scale.

In

no

incident

was

the

commissions evidentiary threshold met with regard to the


perpetrator.

In my opinion, this is most likely the most important element of the UN investigation
that could prove/disprove culpability. My simplistic analysis would be to compare the
sarin found on the environmental samples to the one held at Syrias government stock.
An August Scientific American article has described difficulties that could arise when
attempting to identify the manufacturer of sarin from soil or tissue samples [84].

As a footnote, it is uncertain what the author meant using the term unique hallmarks.
WhoGhouta wrote an interesting analysis on this statement. According to their analysis,
the commissions quote seems to be based on the Hexamine findings and the amount
of agent used. Both arguments and more related to the Chemical Analysis of the UN
Report will be examined in this chapter.

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6.1 The military-grade Sarin argument (Part 1)


In Figure 18 shown below, the UN investigators mention stabilizers. However, no
stabilizers are to be found on Appendix 7. Instead, the chemicals listed are linked only
with sarin degradation and by-products or trace of explosives. All the impurities found
were grouped under other Interesting chemicals column. It is also not explicitly
mentioned anywhere in the report that no stabilizers were found. This proved to be a
very misleading sentence that led reporters to misinform the public saying chemical
analysis suggests sarin likely came from controlled supply quoting relevant
chemicals, such as stabilizers [85].

Figure 18: Relevant chemicals, such as stabilizers

There was some truth in the reporters statement. Conventional military-grade sarin
contains chemical stabilizers to elongate its shelf-life. The reason is, because sarin has a
notorious degradation rate (25-30 per cent in two months at least [86]) and therefore
elongating its shelf-life is important. Tributylamine and Diisopropylcarbodiimide (DIC)
are two common stabilizers for sarin [87]. Neither was found in the Appendix 7 of the
UN report. Therefore, the Sarin gas on the 21st August 2013 was very likely to have
been prepared shortly prior to the attack in a binary form; aka. Binary Sarin. This does
not prove culpability for either side and will be examined in more depth in part 6.2

6.2 Binary Sarin

Sarin can be kept as two (sometimes more) precursors (MPF and alcohol) that are
mixed together in factory settings, on-site prior to flight or when the projectile is in

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flight. The mechanism behind the latter is by installing a membrane inside the warhead
that separates the two precursors. This membrane breaks upon firing due to the violent
forces and uses the in-flight spin to mix the materials together. The retrieved missiles
did not have the latter capability.
Mr Kaszeta highlighted the OPCWs finding of 1,230 Syrian unfilled chemical
munitions referring that the modus operandi of the Syrians regime appears to be binary
mixing in factory conditions prior to shipping. This procedure is mixing the sarin in a
factory setting with appropriate safety controls prior to sending the warhead to the field
[88]. Assuming the Syrian government was behind the attack, Mr Kaszetas assessment
is correct.

6.3 The military-grade Sarin argument


The following quote was reported by Mr Sellstrm who confirmed that the quality of
the sarin was superior both to that used in the Tokyo subway but also to that used by
Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war [89]. In regard to the Iraqi sarin purity in United Nations
Annex S/2006/701, in an investigation of the chemical munitions found in Iraq, it was
found on average that the purity of the sarin produced by different methods was within
the range of 45% to 60% [86].
Mr Sellstrms statement ignores the fact that Syrias chemical program is considered
far more advanced than Iraqs. In fact, Iraqs CW program is one of very low quality
[86]. Nevertheless, Mr Sellstrms statement was extensively misinterpreted by
reporters as a sophisticated attack involving military-grade sarin [91].

A lot of materials simply evaporated and were not detected. So unfortunately the
chemical analysis done at this point is going to be non-quantitative and cannot be used
to reconstruct the true composition of the chemical weapons used. The limit of what can
be said is what was probably present but not in what amounts/concentrations. On
the ground (after impact) what will be left is the residue from the sarin. Its not possible
however to ascertain the per cent purity of the sarin. It simply cant be done.

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6.4 Chemical Analysis of Sarin

There are a lot of production pathways to produce sarin. An open-literature way to


produce it is through the following stages.

1. White Phosphorus + Chlorine = Phosphorus Trichloride


2. Phosphorus Trichloride + Methanol = Trimethyl Phosphite (TMP)
[Arbusovs rearrangement]
3. Trimethyl Phosphite + Halo-Methane = Dimethyl Methyphosphonate (DIMP)
4. Dimethyl Methylphosphonate + Thionyl Chloride = Methylphosphonic
Dichloride (MPC)
5. Methylphosphonic Dichloride + Potassium Fluoride or Hydrogen Fluoride or
Sodium Fluoride = Methylphosphonyl Difluoride (MPF)
[Then, a Binary Weapon System combines]
6. Methylphosphonic Difluoride (DF) + Isopropanol = Sarin + Hydrogen Fluoride
(HF)
6.5 Impurities argument
Several concerns have been voiced on the purity of the sarin used on the 21st of August.
Most commentaries mention the fact that the Sarin found had many impurities and
thus was produced by the rebels.

As it can be observed in part 6.4, production of Sarin is exact Chemistry. To elaborate,


several steps take place and each one requires matching exact quantities of the reacting
chemicals. Unless this happens, chemicals are not going to fully react and remaining
chemicals from earlier steps may react with later stage chemicals thus producing
undesired impurities. As a footnote, serious military-grade CW programs such as
Syrias is expected to have very low levels of impurities or none at all. Hence the
Impurities argument was created.

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With regards to the purity of the Sarin used in the 21st of August, binary Sarin is
necessarily going to be impure. The reasoning behind this statement is the following
(assuming no acid scavenger was used to react with HF):

1 mol DF + 1 mol Isopropanol = 1 mol Sarin +1 mol Hydrogen Fluoride

Therefore, by nature, the process of combining sarin in binary munition produces a


cocktail of Sarin and HF that is at best, 50% Sarin by mol or 7% if you go by weight.
6.6 Sarin By-Products

By definition, a by-product is an incidental or secondary product made in the


manufacture or synthesis of something else [92]. In Appendix 7 of the UN Report Lab
1 has a column marked Degradation Products and by-Products whereas Lab 2 reports
Degradation Products alone. Both labs then have a column for Other interesting
chemicals. Interestingly, Lab 1 has nothing listed under Other whereas Lab 2 has
listed a long list of chemicals. Since these chemicals are not listed as sarin degradation
products, they should be the sarin by-products: These chemicals are shown below:

6.6.1 Ethyl isopropyl methylphosphonate

Ethyl isopropyl methylphosphonate is one of the most common by-products of sarin. A


sarin production involves chemicals only within the methyl groups. Ethyl groups should
not be present in the final product. However, evidence shows that one of the alcohols
used contains ethanol. It can either be methanol in step 2 or isopropanol in step 6. This
constitutes an impure manufacturing production and is a sign of a low grade of ethanol
used. An advance CW operation is expected to have access to high-purity alcohols. This
is a very important argument that supports that the Sarin used did not originate from
government supply and is examined in 6.7 [93].
6.6.2 Isopropyl methyl methylphosphonate
Isopropyl methyl methylphosphonate is a breakdown product of Sarin (IMPA) and
appears to be an impurity from step 4 not going to completion. (Only 1 methyl-

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phosphorus bond replaced by Phosphorus-Chlorine rather than both in dimethyl methyl


phosphonate).
6.6.3 Isopropyl propyl methylphosphonate

Isopropyl propyl methylphosphonate could hint at technical grade materials being used
if its an n-propyl group. This cannot be determined through the analysis of the UN
Report.
6.6.4 Diisopropyl dimethylpyrophosphonate
Its less likely that Diisopropyl dimethylpyrophosphonate is a production impurity as
much as an environmental degradation product. In organic chemistry, wed call this an
acid anhydride: two acid molecules that have condensed together to form a single
molecule. This could form if some Sarin is partially hydrolysed (i.e. Fluorine (-F)
replaced by Hydroxy (-OH) group) and this reacts with a second Sarin molecule.
6.6.5 Dimethyl methylphosphonate
Dimethyl methylphosphonate is a product of step 3 and as is named Arbuzov reaction.
6.6.6 Hexafluoro Phosphate
Hexafluoro Phosphate is an anion that could potentially shed light in the manufacturing
processes that took place. A prerequisite of it being that it needs to have impurities or
have a different cation (sodium, potassium or ammonium) with it. This could not be
established through the analysis of the UN Report.
6.6.7 Diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP)
DIMP is well-known by-product of sarin and possibly an indication of low quality
production. DIMP is an unavoidable by-product of binary sarin. The only way it could
be avoided (or minimize) would be to slow add Isopropanol to DF, with a
stoichiometric excess of DF. However, this is not possible in binary sarin. This is
because the precursors mix both rapidly and violently. Since DIMP is not harmful to
Sarin, it is probably not worth the effort to remove. Hence, DIMP cannot be interpreted
as a signature of low-quality production.

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6.7 Technical-grade isopropanol


As aforthmentioned in 6.6.1, Ethyl isopropyl methylphosphonate may be interpreted as
sign of a low grade of ethanol or as reported, technical-grade. This argument could go
both ways. Either, it was a low budget production, or it was a large-scale production.
6.7.1 Large-scale production
If sarin originated from a large-scale production it would mean that it was probably
bought in bulk. The next step would be to clean-up/purify it rigorously. This step was
not performed in the precursor chemicals, nor were they used on intermediate products
in the process. At first glance, this could indicate sloppy work.

Organic chemists and chemical engineers are always keen to make their processes as
efficient as possible. They wont do extra work unless its critical to product success.
Chemical plants usually use the cheapest of reagents possible because it maximizes the
profits through minimising the costs. Product success with absolute product purity is the
concern of academic researchers and the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, it could
possibly be the case that the technical-grade chemicals were just good-enough.

6.7.2 Low Budget Production


The Iraq sarin production did not start purifying their reagents until they noticed the
impurities were decreasing the shelf-life of their unitary Sarin [94]. Also, ethanol is
difficult to separate from isopropanol. Their boiling points are too close (78C vs. 82C,
respectively) for distillation to be effective. To be clear, the amount of ethanol present
in technical grade isopropanol would probably be less than 1% by weight. Hence, a
low-budget production might have settled with having small amount of ethyl sarin
present as it would not drastically affect the final product. Purification steps are often
more time consuming and expensive than the synthetic steps. Perhaps, they did not have
the budget capabilities, or had to meet a strict time frame, or just did not care enough.

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6.7 How difficult is it to produce sarin?

President Assad in an interview with former Representative Dennis Kucinich on Fox


News said that First of all the sarin gas is called kitchen gas. Do you know why?
Because anyone can make sarin in his house [95]. Naturally, this leads to the following
question; how difficult is it (realistically) to produce sarin?
The simple answer is it depends. The literature way to produce sarin has been
presented in 6.4. Therefore, what are left are the critical chemical elements that are
needed and cannot be routinely available.

Those critical materials for the manufacture of sarin are phosphorus trichloride; DF;
DC; hydrogen fluoride; isopropanol [96, 97]. A shopping-list with those materials, is
bound to draw attention by international investigative bodies. Sarin precursors have
multiple commercial applications. Sodium Bifluoride is normally manufactured by the
reaction of hydrofluoric acid and soda ash (sodium carbonate), or caustic soda (sodium
hydroxide); uses are cleaning of stone and brick surfaces, food processing equipment
sanitation, commercial laundry, tin plate production, zinc galvanizing. It is also used in
pest control and insect proofing agent for leather, for removal of iron rust and as a
neutralization agent. Sodium fluoride is a chemical used in foundry fluxes, insecticides,
enamels, glass mixes, electroplating, water fluoridation, dentifrice fluoride, and other
applications [96, 97].

As a case study where a successful non-government manufacture of sarin happened was


in Japan by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The cult used sarin twice; once in the 1995 attack
on the Tokyo subway killing 13 people and another time in Matsumoto [98]. The cult
made significant investments (over 10 mil. US dollars todays value) in lab equipment
intended to produce 70 tons of sarin. In practice, technical problems and government
investigations limited their production to less than 100kg over their year and a half of
operation [99].

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6.8 The Hexamine Hypothesis


The Hexamine Hypothesis is coined to researcher Mr Dan Kaszeta and endorsed by
Mr Elliot Higgins in his Brown Moses blog. A hypothesis I have chosen to examine
since the latter analysts claim it may very well be the smoking gun of the Syrian
government [100, 101].
6.8.1 Hexamine
Hexamine (also referred to as Hexamethylentetramine) is a known reagent for heating
tablets for stoves and use in RDX explosives. It could also be used as an anti-corrosion
agent for small metal parts/paints. Alternatively, it could be used as an acid scavenger in
binary sarin. Also, the core of the Hexamine argument lies in the fact that in all the field
samples that tested positive for sarin, hexamine was present [102].
6.8.2 OPCW Disposal Schedule
OPCW issued a document Request for Expression of Interest for the disposal of
chemical from Syria. This document described the OPCWs requirements to safely get
rid of various chemicals from the Syrian governments CW program. The high-grade
chemicals, such as CW agents themselves and immediate precursors are not listed. So
this document represents the effort to get rid of the various feedstock, additive and
waste chemicals that represent less of a proliferation hazard. This very list includes 80
tons of hexamine in the hands of the Syrian government [103].

In Guideline 1 (iii) for Schedules of Chemicals published by OPCW the following is


said:
The following criteria shall be taken into account in considering whether a toxic
chemical or precursor should be included if it may be used as a precursor in the final
single technological stage of production of a toxic chemical list Schedule 1, regardless
of whether this stage takes place in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere [104].
Hexamine was listed in Priority 2 chemicals in the OPCW tender [105]. Therefore, it is
not recognised as an immediate precursor of Sarin. However, the reason why Hexamine
is a Priority 2 is because disposing of 80 tons of hexamine is not cheap or easy [103].

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Nevertheless, if OPCW thought that hexamine was not highly relevant in CW


production, it would not undertake the disposing task at the first place.
6.8.3 Historical use of Hexamine as an acid scavenger
Hexamine can be used in binary sarin as an acid scavenger. Historically, this use is
unprecedented. The only documented use of hexamine was an older form of Sulphur
Mustard (a CW agent) Levin stein Mustard in 1945 and adopted by US Armys CW
Service [105].

However it is generally accepted that the Syrian government was not using hexamine as
a gas mustard stabilizer. To support this statement further, hexamine is used as a
mustard stabilizer at 1% concentration. Based on the 80 tons of hexamine submitted by
the Syrian government, this would equate to 8,000 tons of gas mustard. Syria has
reported only 400 tons of gas mustard in the OPCW disposal schedule. The difference is
substantial enough to exclude that hexamine was used as a precursor of gas mustard.
6.8.4 Mr Dan Kaszetas Mind-Map
The reasoning behind Mr Kaszetas statement follows that hexamine has the unique
ability to bind one molecule of hexamine to up to four molecules of HF, thus making it
an ideal acid scavenger. Because this is an off-label use of hexamine, and one never
done before, if hexamine was in the Syrian government recipe (as implied by the
inventory) and in the field samples, it is strong evidence that the 21st August 2013
attacks likely came from the Syrians government.
A flow chart of Mr Kaszetas mind-map is shown below:
Nobodys used hexamine previously as a Sarin additive
+
Theres hexamine in the field samples
+
Theres 80 tons of hexamine in the declared inventory of the Assad Regime [103]
+

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+
The Syrian governments admission to Sellstrms team
=
The Assad Regime did the Wicked Deed

6.8.5 Mr Sellstrms opinion

In an interview with Gwyn Wingfield of CRBN, Mr Sellstrm, acknowledged the role


of hexamine in the following manner (his comment did not make the edit) [107]:

"Q - Why was hexamine on the list of chemical


scheduled to be destroyed - it has many other
battlefield uses as well as sarin? Did you request to
put it on the list or had the Syrians claimed that they
were using it?

A - It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger."

Although Mr Sellstrm says it is used as an acid scavenger, he does not mention that it
is used as an acid scavenger for Sarin.

In a December press conference with the UN Mission, the hexamine findings were
discussed. In more detail, Mr Sellstrm was explicitly asked by a reporter to comment
on the hexamine findings in the report and why it was there. He immediately turned and
pointed the finger to the chemist of the UN team and did not comment on it further.
He gave the impression to the viewer that his understanding of Hexamine was little.
Therefore, his CRBN statement although pertinent is not convincing. The Chemist
of the UN Mission does not answer the question in hand; is hexamine the smoking
gun?

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6.8.6 Counter to Hexamine Hypothesis

Mr Sasa Wawa of WhoGhouta blog has made an excellent analysis regarding the
Hexamine argument. Several of their counter-arguments have been examined and are
presented below [108]:

1. There is no conclusive evidence/proof that hexamine was used in production of


sarin. For all we know, it could have been used as an acid scavenger for another
agent, or for a completely other use (e.g. safe neutralization of by-products).

2. Hexamine is common in chemical processes. There is no strong tie between


sarin and Hexamine in the field samples. Add to that, that hexamine was found
in Samples SN 5, 6, 7, 9 that subsequently tested negative for CW agent.

3. Syria has specifically declared Isopropanol in its stock piles, which is the
standard amine used in binary sarin. Mimi al-Laham aka. Partisan girl, a chemist
that provides a commentary on the Syrian conflict, made the following
interesting observation. Hexamine solubility in Isopropanol is 0.6% by weight.
That means that there is no way that it could be used as an in-flight or immediate
pre-launch HF absorber and it would be wildly impractical to use in a
manufacturing process [109].

4. The reported Isopropylamine by the Syrian government (40 Tons) matched the
120 Tons of Isopropanol in a standard 28% / 72% mix in binary sarin.

5. Hexamine is a very common agent for chemical processes/purposes. As


aforthmentioned, hexamine is a precursor of RDX and is found in RDX residue
of RDX amongst other explosives. Hexamine can also be used as an anticorrosion agent for small metal parts including screws. Therefore, the fact that it
is there, does not mean that its source, is necessarily from sarin.

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6. Assuming the Syrian Army made an unconventional tweak in their CW


production. Could not the opposition have this intelligence leaked to them
somehow? E.g. one of the many defectors. Assuming they have CW capabilities,
one would expect they would stage everything to the last detail.

7. Assuming hexamine was used as an acid scavenger, it would have generated


hexamine degradation products or acid-reaction products i.e. Hexamine fluoride
salt. However, there are no traces of hexamine salts in any of the field samples.
Could the UN investigators have missed this clue? Unlikely, however in my
opinion, this may very well be the Achilless heel of the Hexamine Argument

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Chapter 7: Additional Noteworthy Questions


This chapter includes all questions that stem from the UN Report and do not fall in the
Chapter 2-6 categories.
7.1 Leader of local opposition taking custody of the UN team

In total, the UN spent seven and a half hours sampling at the two sites. The person that
guided them to the sites was a leader of a local opposition forces group. This person
was given power over the UN mission to guide its movements and access to the sites
during their sampling visit. Questions that need to be answered are who this man is,
how he was chosen and how does he affect the integrity of the UN report. It is a logical
thought that he could have been served a pro-rebel agenda in his endeavours to assist
the UN team if he wanted to. From a legal standpoint, was the UN team even shown a
real site??? The excerpt of the UN Report is shown in Figure 7.1

Figure 19: Leader of the local opposition forcetake custody of the Mission

7.2 Find Sarin! Mandate


The UN Report answers to the mandate Was sarin used on the 21st of August? with a
little extra (i.e. surface-to-surface) on top (reference to 3.6 part of the report). The
question that arises is concerned with a core forensic science question:

Does a forensic investigation stop at a given mandate?

The answer is Yes and No. The job of the UN Mission was inside a tight circle of
yes/no to Sarin and under no circumstances the investigators were to leave that circle.
However, that does not mean that the UN investigators should have their blinkers-on

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and turn a blind eye to all other evidence. To explain this even further; in the report,
there is not even one account of the UN Mission looking for other agents apart from
sarin.

Could not the Mission have searched for other organophosphate agents like VX? What
about phospgene like hydrogen cyanide, CN, dimethylheptylpyran, chlorine? A
different approach would have been to examine for a similar list of agents and then say
something in the lines of: We have concluded with confidence that we looked for 1, 2,
3 and we found X.

Also, the UN Team failed to provide full proof evidence as a legal document that has
the power to bind all parties in a legal process. It would most likely fall apart in court.
Mr Denis R. OBrien in his Critique of the report on the UN Mission to Investigate the
Use of Sarin in Damascus makes a critique of the UN Report judging it as
unambiguous and confused. The way Mr OBrien proposes to improve the format
would be something like this (an assessment I am most agreeable with) [110]:

At the time of the attack, subject Mr. X was asleep at location L, which was M meters
to the east, down-wind, of impact site S where rocket R landed. Blood and urine
samples obtained from Mr. X 2 days after the attack tested positive for IPMPA. Metal
fragments from R, and dirt samples immediately adjacent to S tested positive for sarin
and IPMPA. Weather reports indicate that at the time the wind was blowing at 7 mph
from the west, which would have dispersed any sarin released by R directly toward Mr.
X. Mr. X reported symptoms A, B,C, and D immediately after the attack.

7.3 Inter-lab inconsistencies

Dr Denis R. OBrien mentions the inter-lab inconsistencies in his assessment as a


function of what chemical is reported. His assessment (shown below) is insightful and
written in his very personal style [110]:

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In detecting DIMP the two labs agreed 80%of the time. But in detecting sarin, the labs
agreed only about 50% of the time, and in detecting IPMPA there was a meager 25%
agreement. And when we put it altogether, you get complete inter-lab agreement for
only 2 samples out of 30, or 7%. Keep in mind we are not talking about quantitative
agreement how much was there. We are talking the far easier task of just determining
whether or not a chemical was present. I dont believe this sort of inter-lab
inconsistency would be acceptable in a court of law. If one lab finds DIMP or sarin in a
sample and the other lab finds nothing, then one cannot fairly conclude that DIMP or
sarin is present. By analogy, if one laboratory finds a defendants DNA at a crime
scene, and a second laboratory finds no DNA, the defendant walks. Unless you explain
the discrepancy, 50% isnt good enough for a conviction. Lets hope its not good
enough to start a war.
7.4 Weather Conditions Argument

Although not explicitly mentioned, according to the UN Report the Weather Conditions
at the time of the 21st of August 2013 attack pointed towards strategic military attack.
This is because the choice of weather ensured that the maximum amount of people were
killed (i.e. killing the ones seeking shelter). This statement is shown in Figure 20:

Figure 20: Weather conditions excerpt from the UN Report

The UN missions statement is correct by luck. Although in their assessment they


describe how Sarin penetrates into lower levels, they do not explain how or why.
The theory behind this surrounds air stability the chemical officers indicator of
vertical movement is the critical variable of the equation. The fact that the strike

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occurred in the early hours of the morning suggests that the air stability was in the
inversion category rather than neutral or lapse i.e. the best time of day to use a
chemical warfare agent. This follows that the Sarin vapour is heavier than air. It will
sink to low-lying areas and create a greater exposure hazard there. The weather
conditions part of the UN report could have been expanded on further.
Additionally, the UN report (according to their story) says that people were seeking
shelter at the time of the attack. There was no evidence of victims seeking for shelter
whatsoever. If there was, why was that not explicitly mentioned somewhere? The
natural state people at that time would be for them to be asleep at their homes 10-30
meters above ground-level (i.e. video footage has shown several high-stories buildings
around the area of attacks). The weather conditions part of the UN report could have
omitted this colourful comment.
7.5 Potential Evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated

The statement shown in Figure 21 is a typical example of what lawyers drool over. The
potential manipulation that is insinuated is undoubtedly a big hit to the credibility of the
UN report.

Figure 21: Potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated

7.6 Syrian Government has done it before argument


UKs JIC assessment mentions that the Syrian regime used lethal CW on 14 occasions
from 2012. French intelligence assessment had a part of their report explaining
Chemical attacks previously led by the Syrian regime.

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In the report by Dr Julian Perry Robinson of Sussex University in Alleged use of


Chemical Weapons in Syria the following conclusion is made:
The picture we currently have of chemical-weapons employment in Syria originates in
descriptions by local civil society and by journalists. The descriptions since 2012...refer
to 20, perhaps 30, episodes of chemical warfare during the past eighteen months in
which a total of more than 95 people apparently died from poison and at least 700 more
were affected by it.
Contrasting Dr Julias numbers, against the stunning figures of the 110,000 casualties of
the Syrian conflict (prior to 21st of August 2013 [111]) makes them look truly trivial.

However, human loss is human loss and thus should be investigated thoroughly when
applicable. However, this point comes to show that a giant leap happened on the 21st of
August 2013. A leap that does not fit the foreign governments assessment criteria of
past-attacks.

From a forensic point of view, the fact that somebody has committed a crime in the past
does not constitute culpability to a new unsolved crime. Every case should be examined
afresh and past experience should always be put into context.

7.7 Where is the Syrian government in the UN Report?


Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergy Ryabkov makes this point in his 18th September
2013 interview on RT. As Mr Ryabkov points out, if Mr Sellstrm was really trying to
produce an objective report why did he ignore the evidence given to him by the Syrian
government?

It has been reported that the UN Missions was most likely exposed to a pro-rebel
agenda in 4.5 and 7.1 part of this thesis. One would think that out of a sense of
objectivity (if not fairness), Mr Sellstrm would also consider President Assads
information and evidence that were available to him at the time. After reading the

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report, there is no indication whatsoever of the governments role in the UN


Investigation.

The questions that arise are multiple with the main ones being:
1. Why was the government not involved in the 21st of August Investigation?
2. Is the accused innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent?

7.8 The too big of a quantity to produce underground argument


The HRW group in their published report mentions that The August 21 attacks were a
sophisticated military attack, requiring large amounts of nerve agent (each 330mm
warhead is estimated to contain between 50 and 60 litres of agent), specialized
procedures to load the warheads with the nerve agent, and specialized launchers to
launch the rockets.

The UN team did not assess the chemical payload for the 140mm. However, they
estimated the capacity of the UMLACA which is shown in Figure 22:

Figure 22: Liquid capacity of the UMLACA

Assuming the UN UMLACA initial calculations are correct then the calculated capacity
is probably correct since the math used was elementary. A simple calculation, assuming
10 rockets were launched on 21st of August, shows that that over 500kg of sarin was
used in the 21st August 2013 attack. Syria is known to have in its possession a CW
arsenal capable of performing an attack of this calibre. It is therefore essential to
examine the likelihood of the opposition realistically being able to obtain those
quantities.

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In more detail, HRW voices this popular argument in the following manner:
The amount of sarin used in the attack hundreds of kilograms, according to Human
Rights Watch's calculations also indicates government responsibility, as opposition
forces have never been known to be in possession of such significant amounts of Sarin
[112].

As aforthmentioned, a case study where a successful non-government manufacture of


sarin happened was in Japan by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. A study by Sasa Wawa of
WhoGhouta shows that the Syrian opposition has the following advantages compared to
the Aum Shinrikyo cult mentioned in 6.7 part of the thesis [113]:

1) Weak government supervision: Although, Syria still has the rule over Syrian
ground, it does not possess government supervision over its entirety of territory.
This follows that, there are a lot of areas under rebel control. The cult had strict
supervision of the Japanese government and had to destroy its labs several times
due to police investigations [99].

2) Advanced technology: certainly technology has involved and has become much
more refined than 20 years ago. Equipment has become smaller and easier to
conceal underground and the processes should have become faster to complete
due to experience.

3) Open-source intelligence: Sarin production is not a secret anymore. Details


about it and accounts of professional are available on the internet. This is bound
to accelerate the sarin-making process and avoid trial and error exercises, thus
saving time and money.

4) International allies: When it comes to getting your hands on chemicals that may
draw attention, allies is always a plus. Although it is a speculation the existence
of CW experts that have either defected from the Syrian army, or imported from
Iraq or Libya cannot be ruled out.

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Chapter 8: Conclusions
This chapter is a compilation of the Conclusions of the constituent parts of the Report
accompanied at times with remarks by the author.

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.5 Foreign Government Assessments
As Mr Kaszeta correctly points out: all government assessments lack the level of detail
found in the UN report. By comparison, the US, French and UK assessments are
unencumbered by hard facts and seem quite parsimonious in their level of detail. This
raises the inevitable question of why? It would seem to be in the best interests of the
US and UK to give the type and level of detail that the UN report gave [80].

1.11 UN Team Timing of the Attack


Assuming a master-plan behind the 21st of August 2013 attack: diverting the UN to
the Ghouta attack would mean the following:
1) The Khan-Al-Assan investigation would be paused as Ghouta was of highest
priority. According to Russian intelligence, the Khan-Al-Assan attack was most
likely performed by rebels.

2) The UN Mission would investigate rebel-held areas, under which the rebels
could influence both access and evidence.

However, allegedly, the Syrian army proceeded militarily the next day by bombarding
suburbs of Damascus. So, could the attack have been part of a tactic of Syrias military
[114]? Nevertheless, according to the above, timing is likely to favour the opposition.

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Chapter 2: Ensuring Reliability


The team did specifically an exceptional job in ensuring the sanctity of the collected
evidence. This verdict stems from a comparison of the UN Missions standards set by
OPCW and WHO and Dr Julian Perry Robinsons of Sussex University in Alleged use
of Chemical Weapons in Syria
Chapter 3: Munitions Forensics
3.1 Introduction
Syrian rebels are not known to be in possession of the weapons systems used in the
Ghouta attack. However, lack of evidence does not constitute evidence. It would be a
fallacy to attribute culpability to the Syrian Army based on this fallacy.
3.2 Munitions not used by rebels argument
Munitions could have been used from either side for the following reasons:
Pro-government
1) The UMLACA munition could be homemade in a modestly equipped
machine shop
2) These weapons were replaced by the Syrian Army
Pro-rebel
3) Mr Elliot Higgins mentions that the Syrian government is seen using them in
video footage
None of these arguments is conclusive. They just come to prove that both sides had the
capabilities to manufacture and use the munitions. From a legal perspective; couldnt
the rebels have seized control of the governments capabilities and subsequently used
it?

3.3 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 1)


Mr Ghoshroys conclusion appears legitimate: the UN team likely provided for analysis
photographs of the smaller rocket to Dr. Igor Sutyagin. His analysis was then
incorporated in the UN report as its own. HRW also incorporated his analysis without
crediting him. If this is true, it reflects poorly on the UN Mission.

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3.4 UN Mission possible leak of information (Part 2)


Mr Ghoshroys conclusion appears legitimate: how could Mr Postol and HRW be so
accurate in their canister calculation assessment? It even involves internal calculations
that cannot be seen clearly from video footage let alone calculate to a discrepancy of 5
cm. My speculation is that somehow those essential calculations leaked from the UN
team to the public. If this is true, it reflects poorly on the UN Mission.
3.5 Projectile remained undisturbed
Remained undisturbed until investigated comment should have been omitted from the
UN report.
3.6 Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets
Details about the Several Surface-to-Surface Rockets should have been included in
the report. This remark gives the impression that evidence was omitted from the final
report.

3.7 Surface-to-Surface rockets


Surface-to-Surface remark was outside the mandate and should have been omitted
from the UN report.

3.8 Flight Path & Investigation of Firing Point (Trajectory)


It is a subject that should have been omitted because:

1.

It was outside the mandate of the UN Mission.

2. Sufficient degree of accuracy results could not be guaranteed since the risk
inhibited by locals tampering with evidence was high. Especially after admitting
that Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled or
moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

3. The case for culpability through trajectory intersection will need much tighter
evidence than azimuth angular measurements and a facile intersection on a map.
Even if situation was ideal, in order to calculate the trajectory reliably, you need

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at least the type of projectile (affects aerodynamics), the weight distribution and
the rocket motor spec to begin with.
Chapter 4: Clinical Analysis
4.1 Analysis of Symptoms (early stages)
Based on video footage, the evidentiary threshold of a neurotoxic agent being used on
21st of August 2013 was unequivocally crossed by the scientific community. The
questions that emerged were: was it sarin? If yes, was it only sarin?

4.2 Epidemiology of Exposure to Sarin


The UN Missions epidemiological investigation was based on correct methodologies
and correct epidemiological determination based on known standards.
4.3 Fluoride reactivation / regeneration technique
According to Mr Kaszeta this technique is the best available today for sarin detection
after an elapsed time of 5-7 days. Literature research corroborates his assessment [115].
4.4 Sarin: Signs and Symptoms out of Proportion
The main symptoms that were found to be off were miosis, convulsions and loss of
consciousness, eye-inflammation and the survivors response to atropine.
One of the primary questions was whether sarin was the only agent used on the 21st of
August? Testing for other agents is a sign of a serious investigation and it would have
likely provided:
1. Confidence in Results
2. Establishing validity in methods
3. Possible insight on Culpability
After all, negative evidence can be as probative as positive evidence. But, apart from
that, it could potentially give insight on how much sarin were the survivors exposed to
according to the time frame. Perhaps, what the peak dose was and to plot that according
to their position at the time of the attack.

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4.5 Choosing the Victims


A bias is expected in the UN Report findings based on the fact that a prominent
doctor had influence on the UN team a findings. How, is unknown. As leverage
though, to the UN team, it is understandable that the pressure was on and time frames to
be met were tight.

4.6 Clinical conclusion of the UN Report


Is the evidence truly definitive"?

1. The symptoms have been examined and were found to have deviated substantially
from an expected medium when compared to the Tokyo incident.

2. The clinical assessments could have been compromised by doctor and clinicians
serving a pro-rebel agenda.

3. Data was sparse and narrowed down to a yes/no verdict.

4. The survivor pool consisted of 36 survivors (N>100 would be reliable beyond a


doubt).

5. The UN Mission did not check for other chemicals apart from Sarin
According to point 5 and Mr Kaszetas assessment, the exposure and symptomology
could be different than that of a pure-sarin exposure (although in the same ball-field).
Dr Foroutans assessment correctly highlights the shady areas of the UN report
regarding human sampling. However, the clinical assessment is not used a whole to
reach a verdict- rather as a constituent of a whole picture. It is therefore my
assessment that the weighting factor regarding the clinical conclusion leans towards
Sarin usage, but not only Sarin.

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In order to avoid suspicion in the future and to increase credibility the following
recommendations are made for future reports:
1. What chemical(s) were being investigated?
2. Specificity in the method and the parameters that were used
3. The LOD for that method *
4. Produced Results!
* The Level of Detection (LOD) is the minimum amount of the target chemical that the
method can reliably detect.
The most important of Dr Foroutans observations in my opinion concerns the possible
use of measuring acetylcholinesterase inhibitor substance in the future. It could be used
as a routine diagnostic test in addition to visible symptomology. Such an approach is
expected to drastically increase confidence in results.

4.7 Clinical Conclusion Speculation


Mr Kaszeta assesses that exact presentation of signs and symptoms seems skewed
from our conventional understanding of nerve agent exposure. Could the alleged
victims/survivors have answered the UN inspectors question falsely and instead given
them what they wanted. Or where the symptoms staged?

If this is true, the UN Report has been irreparably compromised. This scenario would
explain why the clinical assessment is off, but would still not explain eyeinflammation; unless that was somehow staged as well.

This suspicion cannot be investigated further because the UN report has not provided a
quantitative blood analysis to compare and contrast reported symptomology with.

Chapter 5: Environmental Sampling


5.1 Could sarin have been planted?
Yes in Moadamiyah, No in Zamalka.

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Chapter 6: Chemical Analysis


6.1 The military-grade Sarin argument (Part 1)
The Sarin gas used on the 21st August 2013 was very likely to have been prepared
shortly prior to the attack in a binary form. Based on stabilizers, the fact that it was
branded as military-grade was a something the media made up.
6.2 Binary Sarin
The Sarin gas used on the 21st of August 2013 was binary.
6.3 The military-grade Sarin argument (Part 2)
Most of the thermal degradation products are the same as environmental degradation
products-so it isn't always possible to distinguish which came from where. All that's left
at ground zero are the residues from the chemical weapon. It's not possible to ascertain
the % purity of the chemical weapon based on this. It simply cant be done. Therefore,
allegations that the Sarin used was military-grade are not valid.
6.5 Impurities argument
Binary Sarin like the one used in the 21st of August is necessarily going to be impure.
6.6 Sarin By-Products
The chemical analysis performed by the UN is going to be qualitative and nonquantitative. As the UN did not provide any raw data, we cannot reconstruct the true
composition of the chemical weapons used. Let alone the chemical percentage/purity of
the chemicals used. The limit of what can be said is what was probably present but not
in what amounts / concentrations .Hence, a list of chemicals that are consistent with
Sarin by-product expectations were extracted from Appendix 7 of the UN Report. Their
forensic value was investigated.
6.7 Technical-grade isopropanol
Perhaps technical-grade isopropanol was just good-enough for government
production. Perhaps, rebels did not have the budget capabilities, or had to meet a time
frame, or just did not care enough. Technical-grade isopropanol does not shed light into
culpability because there are numerous arguments and counter-arguments why
isopropanol is technical-grade for both sides.

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6.6 How difficult is it to produce sarin?


A shopping-list with Sarin-related materials is presented along with a case study
where sarin production was successful.
6.8 The Hexamine Hypothesis
The Hexamine hypothesis was examined:
Assuming hexamine was used as an acid scavenger, it would have generated hexamine
degradation products or acid-reaction products i.e. Hexamine fluoride salt. However,
there are no traces of hexamine salts in any of the field samples. Could the UN
investigators have missed this clue? - Unlikely.
In my opinion, this may very well be the Achilless heel of the Hexamine Argument.
Additional argument regarding the hexamine findings are that they are not reliably
linked to the Hexamine from Syrias chemical stockpiles. Even if sarin gas was
produced with the hexamine pathway, wouldnt the Hexamine-HF complex somehow
show traces of that chemical reaction? The UN team had atomic spectrometer at their
disposal, which could be more than capable for that task.
Chapter 7: Additional Noteworthy Questions
7.1 Leader of local opposition taking custody of the UN team
Legitimate questions arise from a legal standpoint: was the UN team even shown a real
site?
7.2 Find Sarin! Mandate
The UN investigators are found to have their blinkers-on and turn a blind eye to all
other evidence. Could not the Mission have searched for other organophosphate agents
like VX? What about phospgene like hydrogen cyanide, CN, dimethylheptylpyran,
chlorine? A different approach would have been to examine for a similar list of agents
and then say something in the lines of: We have concluded with confidence that we
looked for 1, 2, 3 and we found X.

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7.3 Inter-lab inconsistencies


Overall, Lab 1 and Lab 2 mutually agree for only 2 samples out of 30, or 7%.

The complexities faced in a chemical analysis of suspected CW samples are multiple.


This can be observed when one considers that even highly regarded national
laboratories participating in the Official Proficiency Tests overseen by the Technical
Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have,
on occasion, reported false positives and false negatives [105]. However, what is
expected from the UN mission is a more detailed documentation of the different
methodologies that took place in the identification of Sarin due to the high chance of
technical error. What are shown in the UN report are lab results and a yes/no verdict. A
different approach (understandably) would increase the volume of the report
substantially. However, the tradeoff would be more reliable results. This begs the
debate between quality vs. quantity and which one is more important. In my opinion, by
omitting the latter inhibits the chance of being accused of concealment if one is oversuspicious. As a proposal, the different methodologies could have been published
alongside a qualitative analysis as an additional side-report for the more scientifically
inclined.

7.4 Weather Conditions Argument

The choice of time and weather was not left to chance by the perpetrator. Therefore, the
likelihood of the 21st of August attack to be a strategic choice is highly likely. However,
this does not lean the evidence to either party. However, assuming all parties had CW
capabilities, it would be the next logical step that the attack would be carried out with
tact. The UN Report Meteorological assessment lacks insight and speculates
unnecessarily.

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7.5 Potential Evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated


Questions that emerge regarding the extent of the manipulation:
1. How much evidence has been moved?
2. How much evidence has been manipulated?
3. How much was the area travelled prior to the Missions arrival?
4. How does it affect the integrity of the overall report?
5. In a nutshell, where does limitation start and where does it end?
6. Could this explain the lack of positive environmental samples in the Moadamiyah
site?
All those, are questions that will probably remain unanswered. However, it is
imperative next time, the UN report to somehow follow-up a paragraph like this with a
statement like the following: However, it is believed that the impact of this possible
manipulation has not (severely?) Affected our results or the integrity of this report.
This would be more reassuring to the reader. Alternatively, either dont mention it at all,
or explain exactly what you saw.
7.6 Syrian Government has done it before argument
Past-attacks were completely out of proportion compared to the 21st of August 2013
attack. Also, this line of thought does not constitute evidence or demonstrate culpability.

7.7 Where is the Syrian government in the UN Report?


The questions that arise are multiple with the main ones being:
1. Why was the government not involved in the 21st of August Investigation?
2. Is the accused innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent?
7.8 The too big of a quantity to produce underground argument
Therefore, a rebel function capable of sarin production is not a scenario that cannot be
ruled out. It has been done and it can be done. It cannot be done in anyones kitchen
as most commentaries mention. However, an organization with sufficient funding and
trained professionals can produce large quantities of sarin within several months.
Additional arguments include the fact that capabilities have been seized by the Syrian
government since the beginning of the civil war. An example is in 2012, Al-Nusra

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seized a chemical factory. To this day, we cannot reliably know if Al-Nusra has CW
capabilities or not. Any information is as good as its source and may equally be true to
false [30].

Chapter 9: Concluding Remarks


This chapter voices the authors opinion on the happenings of the 21st of August 2013
and the UN Report:
9.1 Who did it?

All available arguments to date (originating from the UN report) have been examined in
this thesis. The verdict is that most of these arguments could be attacked both legally
and scientifically. At times, they were pertinent and useful, at other times, unreliable
and of speculatory nature. The fact that the verdict of this thesis is undetermined,
does not give absolution either to the Syrian government or to all other parties. This
thesis is an attack to all popular straw-man arguments that rely on the publics lack of
information.

As a concluding remark, the UN Report is found to have had a passive-aggressive


approach. Although the UN investigators claim to be completely neutral and focus on a
CW yes/no verdict, they fairly obviously drop little hints to suggest the guilty party that
go well beyond the mandate. Nevertheless, the UN Missions efforts and work are
highly respected. Ultimately, the UN Report does not tell us who, how or what exactly
happened in Ghouta on August 21st 2013. While the UN itself may not be allowed to
point a finger at either side in this conflict, they must produce water-tight forensic
conclusions that help the international community reach a decisive verdict based
on evidence.

Unfortunately, to this day, we still cannot say with certainty who was behind the 21st of
August 2013 attack. Was it a rogue Syrian commander? What it Syrian army defects?
Was it the Syrian government? Was it Al-Nusra? Was it Al-Qaeda? Was it FSA? Was
it a third unnamed party? Nobody knows who did it but the perpetrator himself. This

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Question has many uncertain" answers and only scientific evidence is certain. In
Figure 23, Mr Sellstrm appears to share a similar mentality:

Figure 23: Excerpt from Mr Sellstrom CBRN interview

9.1.1 President Bashar Al-Assad

Although forensic science is an exact science, it is often the case that it cannot
positively without a shadow of a doubt determine culpability or show what really
happened.

It is an inherent human trait to blame the party that has a face. President Bashar AlAssad has been fighting a bloody civil war the past three years. In conflicts where the
military is involved, there are going to be victims, there are going to be wrongful
prosecutions and for sure civil liberties will be apprehended for the countrys benefit.
Yet, this does not justify the use of CW and if President Assad was behind the 21 st of
August 2013 attack; he should be brought forth to justice when conclusive evidence is
gathered against him.

However, in my opinion President Bashar Al-Assad has been demonised by the media
on global scale. People, normal people without a scientific background, know his
face. His opposition however, does not have a face. Sometimes, it does not even have a
name. President Assad calls them terrorists. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. This
is for historians to decide in the years to come. However, this tendency to blame without
evidence is a human defect, and it takes scientific discipline to resist it.

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9.1.2 Other parties

As a commentary to all parties but President Assad, it is my opinion that they are
portrayed as incapable in the western media. In reality, they have capabilities, they have
brains, they have access to open-source intelligence and CW-related literature and they
could potentially be dangerous. As for the sceptics that are not convinced, FSA has been
documented to have CW capabilities [118].
As a footnote, if the Ghouta incident was indeed a staged attack, then whoever set it
up knew exactly what to do and how to do it - with zero errors. But since there cannot
be a perfect crime and since all available evidence was collected meticulously, there
should still be evidence that was not detected. If not, perhaps the culprits where at the
top of the genius scale and they had intimate knowledge on how Chemical Warfare
works. Perhaps they hid their tracks prior to the UNs field work. Perhaps the UNs
rushed investigation missed something?
9.2 The importance of 21st of August 2013

The 21st of August 2013 is one of the many milestones for the scientific community
which cast serious reasonable doubt on the culpability of the Syrian government. The
Ghouta puzzle shows that the world today is a stones throw away from total extinction
if evidence is not clearly interpreted. The UN acted wisely and halted any outside
military intervention within Syria's territory. If there was not Russia's and China's strong
and justified opposition to the United States proposed military intervention, we could
very well today have a global WWIII. Especially since, the United States gave Israel a
48 hour advance warning that an attack was on its way [119].
There is a lesson to be learnt. The fact that an assessment bears a governments logo or
the UNs logo does not make it immune to mistakes. The evidence is what always
counts. Mistakes like Iraq will hopefully never happen again. Mr Sasa Wawa from
WhoGhouta blogspot distilled a similar opinion: Its not me and my bedroom. Its. the

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combined work of dozens of people around the world, including local activists that
visited several impact sites and shared direct evidence. Its not at all surprising this
could be more accurate than the work of two people visiting a scene for 30 minutes.

9.3 The legacy of the 21st August 2013 UN Report


The legacy of the UN report is that science must prevail before any action taken. The
halt of outside military intervention within Syria's territory is a celebration for both the
UN and for Science. One can only wish that all cases must be based on physical
evidence. But in general, if physical evidence dictates the outcome of an everyday Legal
Trial, then what would be the role of the Court System where Judges not only take into
account the physical evidence but also the statements of human beings acting as
witnesses.

The UN Council decided that for the present case evidence must prevail. Perhaps this
approach opens the road strongly and widely to forensic science underlining that if a
witness statement is not backed by solid physical evidence, then there is ground for
injustice. One can only wonder what would happen if President Assad had been referred
to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with/without the evidence present in the UN
Report.

The UN intervention was a brave decision towards the preservation of world peace. It
also showed, that if someone competent, capable and with a motive knows how things
work, one can easily influence decisions by manipulating creation of evidence.

Politics is Politics and is based on words that are put together to form thoughts, but
Science will always be Science regardless of words.

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9.4 Questions that matter that are unlikely to be answered

The motivation behind the attack remains a puzzle to this day. Additional noteworthy
questions that will probably never be answered include:
1) Why did the take place during the UNs visit?

2) Why did they choose to attack a residential neighbourhood behind the front lines
for little military gain?

3) Why invite the UN and then divert them from the Khan Al-Assal investigation
especially as we now know Khan Al-Assal to be a sarin attack against Syrian
soldiers and pro-government civilians? It appears that the government had a lot
to gain from the published findings of the Khan Al-Assal report.
4) Why was Sarin manufactured using technical-grade chemicals? Could it be
the Syrian Government setting up the stage for the cast of reasonable doubt?

5) Why was a low-grade alcohol used in the process? (Was it the Syrian
Government setting up the stage for the cast of reasonable doubt?)

6) Why was a low-quality rocket, originally designed as an incendiary weapon


chosen? (Was it the Syrian Government setting up the stage for the cast of
reasonable doubt?)
7) Why didnt Western Intelligence sensors detect activity at Syrias chemical sites
prior to the attack? (Was it a calculated plot by the rebels setting up the stage for
foreign intervention or even WWIII?)

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Chapter 10: Recommendation for Future Work


10.1 Ballistics experts in future missions

The benefits of including a ballistics expert in future missions should be investigated.


The benefits would include more reliable ballistics analysis. Perhaps, a reliable
trajectory of the projectile could have been established. Also, the potential insight of a
ballistics expert on-site could have been invaluable.

10.2 CW experts with military experience in future missions

The benefits of including CW experts with military experience should be investigated.


Such experts could have assisted the UN Team with insightful comments on how to
proceed with the investigation. To explain this further, in the Zamalka site, Mr Elliot
Higgins Zamalka analysis mentions that the screw threads can trap nerve agents for a
long time and paints and coating can trap sarin between the paint and the metal greatly
increasing its persistence. This insightful comment is something that only a CW expert
would know after serious hands-on experience. Comments like this prove the
imperative necessity to include CW experts with military experience in all future
endeavours of the UN and other investigative bodies.

The benefits would include more reliable analysis i.e. these experts could provide
valuable insight beyond the standard forensic disciplines/procedures. They could have
experience on modus operandi of the attack and most likely they could see more and
they could tell more with less judging with experience rather than textbook knowledge.

After all, the main commentaries judging the UN Report have been made by this
category of individuals. There are allies to any investigative body, not enemies.

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10.3 Clinical part of the report should be re-examined


The clinical part of the report has left Dr Foroutans and myself with concern. Dr
Foroutan mentions that it should be received/accepted medically with great caution
and should be observed again by a team of international expert clinicians. In his
assessment, my intention is not the denial of Sarin but at least from the clinical point
of view, the evidence of this report are not enough to prove the existence of Sarin in this
incident.
As Mr Kaszeta mentions, much of the worlds knowledge of Sarin exposure is based on
a handful of incidents and studies on animals which have been extrapolated to humans.
It is certainly possible that there is more to know about Sarin than what is included in
the existing literature. August 21st 2013 could have been a breakthrough case-study to
study humans exposure to sarin agent.
10.4 Smell Investigation
There have been a lot of accounts claiming to have smelled rotten garbage etc. during
the attack. This may prove that the weapons may have been low purity/ technical grade
based on the fact that pure sarin is odourless. This should be investigated further as it
could provide insight on the chemicals used when contrasted with their consistency with
the reported smells.

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[Appendix A]: Timeline of Events


March 6, 2011

The civil war begins: 14 children were arrested for writing antigovernment graffiti in Deraa. Some were killed whilst they were
incarcerated which led to public protests [121].

March 18, 2011

Security forces open fire during a peaceful protest, killing four


people. Within days, Deraa had spiralled out of control and
protests turned into a full-scale armed rebellion. Unrest spread
across the country in the form of anti-government protests [121].

July 15, 2012

Red Cross formally declares the conflict as a civil war; a status


with implications for potential war crimes prosecutions [122].

July 23, 2012

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman threatens to unleash chemical


and biological weapons against outside forces if exposed to
external aggression. This is the countrys first acknowledgement
that is possesses CW agents [123].

August 20, 2012

Obama states that U.S. will reconsider its opposition to military


involvement in Syria if Assads regime deploys or uses chemical
or biological weapons, calling such action a red line for the
United States [124]. Since his speech, and prior to 21st August,
the UN has received 13 separate instances of alleged chemical
weapons use in Syria [125].

April 23-25, 2013

Israel declared that it has found evidence that the Syrian


government repeatedly used chemical weapons [126]. Two days
later, US defence secretary Chick Hagel told reporters that it was
likely that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on a
small scale[127]. British intelligence backed the US findings.
Evidence regarding culpability was inconclusive.

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May 28, 2013

A reporter from French newspaper Le Monde has witnessed


chemical attacks taking place is Syria over his two months stay
with a rebel group. He has witnessed numerous victims being
exposed to chemical agents and gives fresh impetus to strengthen
existing claims [128].

June 13, 2013

The Obama administration has proof that the troops of President


Bashar al-Assad have used chemical warfare weapons against
rebels. Evidence include: symptomology and accounts unnamed
intelligence, victims vary between 100 and 150 [129].

August 21, 2013

At around 3:30 a.m. local time, a wave of attacks against towns in


East and West Ghouta (Jobar, Zamalka, Ain Tirma, Hazzah and
al-Moadimiyeh) were attacked by chemical agents. Open-source
intelligence reports emerged immediately; chaos emerged [130].

Syrian government forces press ahead with a large-scale military


offensive in the suburbs targeted with chemical weapons [131].
The timely manner of the attack raises questions.

August 22, 2013

Officials from the U.N., Europe and the United States demand
that UN weapons inspectors who entered Syria in early August
go to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons and
to be given immediate access to the sites of the most recent
alleged attacks. [132]

August 25, 2013

President Al-Assad grants U.N. inspectors access to the sites of


alleged attacks. [133]

August 26, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry says that the Syrian regime


bears undeniable responsibility for what was a chemical

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weapons attack. [134]

U.N. weapons inspectors visit the site of the alleged attack for the
first time. They encounter gunfire from unidentified gunmen
while en route to the sites of alleged attacks. [135]

August 27, 2013

It is widely reported that President Obama wants a military


intervention to take place over the weekend of 30 August 1
September 2013; but by this stage there are indications of doubt
in Congress about the possible military strikes and calls are made
for a Congressional vote to authorise the action.

The Prime Minister David Cameron speaks again to President


Obama and says afterwards that the UK cannot let the use of
chemical weapons stand. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel
says that US military forces are ready to go if given the order;
French President Francois Hollande says that France is ready to
punish those responsible for the chemical weapons attack. [136]

August 29, 2013

UN inspectors make a second visit to the affected areas. The UK


Government publishes a summary of its position concerning the
lawfulness of military action against Syria, [137] and a note from
the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) stating the JICs
assessment that it was highly likely that the Syrian regime was
responsible for the attack. [138]

August 30, 2013

David Cameron's motion to take military action lost in the


parliament by a vote of 285 to 272. US-led strikes are not backed
by the UK. The US administration and the French government
say that they will still proceed with military action without the
UK if they decide that it would be in their national interest. [139]

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Obama administration says it has high confidence that Syrias


government carried out the chemical weapons attack that killed
more than 1,400 people. [140]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one of the main


groups monitoring casualties in Syria, said on Saturday that it has
only been able to confirm 502 deaths, identifying victims by
name. [141]

The US Administration publishes a declassified version of the US


intelligence assessment of the 21st August 2013 chemical
weapons attack, which states with high confidence that the
Assad regime was behind it. [142]

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says information


compiled by Turkish secret services removes any doubt that the
Syrian regime is responsible for chemical attacks near Damascus
on 21st August 2013 [143].

August 31, 2013

UN weapons inspectors leave Syria. President Obama says he has


decided the United States should take limited military action
against Syrian regime. He says that he sees no need to wait for
the UN weapons inspectors report, nor for authorisation from the
UN Security Council. However, will seek congressional
authorization for the use of force [145].

September 2, 2013

The French Government publishes a declassified version of its


intelligence assessment of the 21st August 2013 chemical
weapons attack, stating that the Assad regime was responsible
[145].

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September 9, 2013

In London, US Secretary of State John Kerry says that US


military action would be halted if the Assad regime turns over
all its chemical weapons stockpile to the international community
for destruction [145].

Russia asks the Assad regime to put its chemical weapons under
international control. [147]. President Obama confirms that the
US would pause their plans for military action if Syria ceded
control of its chemical weapons. The planned Congressional vote
on military action is postponed. [148].

France announces plans for UN Security Council resolution


requiring Syria to place its chemical weapons under international
control; the UK and US join the initiative [149].

The Syrian Foreign Minister announces that Syria accepts the


Russian chemical weapons initiative and is willing to accede to
the Chemical Weapons Convention [150].

September10, 2013

The Human Rights Watch group report is published with the


conclusion that the Syrian Government Forces Responsible for
the attacks [145].

September 14, 2013 The US and Russian governments announce that they have
agreed a plan for the destruction of Syrias chemical weapons to
be implemented via a decision of the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), backed up by a UN
Security council resolution [145].
September 16, 2013 The UN inspectors report is released. The report confirms the
nerve gas sarin was used on a large scale in the attacks on 21st
August 2013. The report however does not specify which side

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was responsible for the attacks and it does not give an exact
number of victims [145].

April 24, 2014

New-born babies are born as stillborn or with defects after


exposed to the CW attack of 21st August 2013 [62].

Current state of Syria: almost 3.5 million civilians in Syria are


dying needlessly every day as violence and extremism escalates.
Humanitarian help is nowhere to be found and civilians do not
have access to goods or services. UN has stopped updating its
death toll before it can no longer verify the information [28] The
situation is deteriorating [151].

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[Appendix B]: Dr Julian Perry Robinson methology for high reliability

Chain of custody: High confidence requires that the chain of custody and the treatment
of samples before they reach the participating analytical laboratories be accurately
known and without possibility of tampering, contamination or influences that might
interfere with subsequent chemical analysis. Although the chain and conditions of
custody are highly important, the discussion below is confined to chemical analytical
and evaluation procedures once the environmental or biomedical samples from the field
have arrived at the participating analytical laboratories. If maximum international
credibility is desired, the sample collection should have been undertaken and
documented by the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the analyses should then be done
under its auspices. Circumstances may demand a formal triggering request from the UN
Secretary-General, for example in cases where a state allegedly using chemical weapons
is not party to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
Multiple laboratories: High confidence in a positive finding would require that all
participating laboratories, of which there should be at least two and preferably three,
conclude without reservation that the agent or its distinctive breakdown products are
present in the provided samples.
Blank and control samples: The analyses must include suitable blank samples and
control samples in matrices similar to those of the field samples. The purpose of such
samples is to ensure that there is a safeguard in place to verify that containers, wipes
and solvents were not contaminated or cross-contaminated with anything that would
give a false positive [86]. Also, the blanks and controls should be provided by an
outside laboratory (one not doing the analyses). Analyses of blanks and controls should
be interspersed with analyses of the environmental and/or biomedical samples of
interest. The identity and provenance of all samples should be unknown to the
laboratories doing the work.

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Methods. Laboratory findings should be based on two different generally accepted


methods of analysis based on different physical principles.
Laboratory experience: The laboratories must have excellent prior records in such
analysis. Some but not all of the national laboratories collaborating with the Technical
Secretariat of the OPCW have such records.
Independent Review: Laboratory methods and findings should be reviewed by an
independent group of technically qualified and experienced experts with unimpeded
access to laboratory personnel who had done the analyses and to their laboratory
records. High confidence requires unanimous approval by the review group

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[Appendix C]: UN Investigative Methodology

In their investigative methodology, the UN team followed:

1) Appropriate chain of custody of procedures applied to all collection of evidence

All witness statements/interviews were recorded and the recordings were


documented as evidence

Local medical professionals under the supervision of UN inspectors collected all


biomedical samples. Inspectors in the UN Mission office completed biomedical
sample pre-processing

All solvent-impregnated sampling wipes were pre-prepared by the UN Missions


chemists using analysis-grade solvents and material. Such pre-prepared wipes
were sealed in clean vials for use by the field teams. The whole process was
recorded on video.

The collected samples were in the possession of at least one UN inspector from
the time of collection to the transport back to the UN Mission office.

At the UN Mission office, the environmental samples were fully documented,


packaged, sealed and packed appropriately for safe transport.

The integrity of the samples was ensured through tamper-proof seals and/or
through their physical possession by a UN inspector until the handover to the
OPCW laboratory personnel upon arrival in the Netherlands. The handover was
documented, photographed and witnessed, where applicable, by Syrian
Government representatives

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All seals and accompanying documentation were confirmed correct/intact prior


to the issuance of handover/takeover receipts.

2) Validated methodology used for acquiring and analysing evidence.

3) Appropriate training for all personnel in contact with evidence.

Staff training was regularly performed and documented in the various sub-topics
essential for the performance of safe and efficient inspections.

All sampling and taking of evidence was performed by qualified and fully
trained inspectors.

All Local medical professionals were under the supervision of UN inspectors.

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[Appendix D]: Graphic Interpretation of the Azimuth Intersection of


HRW

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[Appendix E]: Standard questionnaire provided to reporting States on


the basis of the requirements of Appendix I of A/44/561
1. General information and narrative about the incident, e.g. place, date, time, area,
Numbers affected, initial response by rescuers, mode of transport to hospital/clinics,
subsequent evolution of incident.
2. Detailed information about the incident site:
(a) General map of the area, including topography
(b) GPS coordinates of impact site(s)
(c) GPS coordinates of launch site(s)
(d) Detailed map of impact site(s). Please include location of bodies of deceased
persons and animals on map, where possible.
(e) Details of meteorological conditions at time of incident, e.g. temperature,
wind speed and direction, precipitation, humidity

3. Copies of statements from the following:


(a) Survivors of the incident (civilian and military)
(b) Local rescuers (civilian and military)
(c) Uninjured primary witnesses
(d) Treating emergency medical personnel (first responders)
(e) Treating medical staff in emergency department(s), clinic(s) and inpatient
wards(s)/intensive care unit(s)

4. Names and locations of treating health facilities (hospitals and clinics):


(a) Names of patients treated by health facility
(b) Names of patients referred by each health facility

5. Medical records from all patients presenting to hospital, including those who
subsequently died. As far as possible, medical records should include:
(a) Time and date of admission
(b) History of presenting illness
(c) Symptoms and signs
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(d) Pulse oximetry recordings, if taken


(e) Results of relevant laboratory investigations, e.g. toxicological screening,
arterial blood gases, clinical chemistry, haematology, bacteriology, etc.
(f) Results of other relevant investigations, e.g. X-rays
(g) Treatment provided, including pharmacological and supportive
(h) Discharge diagnosis (for survivors)
(i) Cause of death (for deceased)
(j) Date of discharge or death
(k) Death certificates for deceased

6. Forensic evidence and reports:


(a) Post-mortem report for each of the deceased

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/23/syria-gas-attack-blood-tests

(as

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