Talk:UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism

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OPCW Investigation

moved from Talk:Alleged Chemical Attack, March 16, 2015)

Reuters reports that OPCW will investigate the 16 March attack. If this is officially announced, we should consider preparing a written submission. I think we have enough consensus on this talk page to prepare a front-page article now. Pmr9 (talk) 15:09, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

I was thinking we should draft a PDF report from this, send them that, and then use the report to structure the main page. It's a bit of work, best done by e-mail. I'll be in touch on this.--Caustic Logic (talk) 22:28, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Okay, for a submission, we should use their language/format, and go by the right timeline, with whatever best form we have at the moment. In the meantime, we should work on getting the PDF up, mention that to them (it'll be public and pretty explicit, if it isn't already done). And direct them to the front page, which could be done anytime, and might start soon. The report, I'm heading up, with Pmr9 at least agreeing to contribute. Will take many days at least, likely a few weeks, depending... Just before one month after would be a good time if I can swing that. But done right and promoted, it could be big. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:16, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Submission idea: we should acknowledge the limits of our probe - just video ('telemedicine"). But also how much better that is than what anyone else provided yet (the poison and the symptoms actually match here!), and so noting we have the best-yet, ask for a better-yet: a scientific investigation, with tissue samples/etc. from these six victims, verified, and not some stand-ins mildly does with the right poison. Also, a verification of the sixth victim actually dying instead of, say, being sold into sex slavery in one of the Gulf Monarchies - would also be helpful. Maybe not these exact words, but that kind of request, from a position of strength. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:16, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

April 2: Still nothing on their site about Syria and chlorine newer than about May last year. Nothing on Syria at all since August, when the last sarin precursors were destroyed. That is a long time out of the chemical spotlight. No wonder "Assad" had to come up with this useless reminder. Just now, Al-Arabiya reports U.N. official says no Syria chlorine probe yet: "U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane told reporters Thursday that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has not yet started looking into the latest claims." Well, at least they're not done already, that's good in a way. Maybe someone in Turkey saw the science coming and got Uzumcu to permanently stall the thing? --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:39, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Apparently the US is still pressing for a UN/OPCW investigation and has drafted. Bring it on - we're ready. Pmr9 (talk) 14:21, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

June 2 Fact-finding team heads to Syria to probe toxic chemical use Cleared by Damascus to fly there to start. "The team will look into allegations reported by the Syrian government as well as separate allegations by activists and doctors who say chlorine has been repeatedly used against civilians in recent weeks." --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:09, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

OPCW Tasked with Blame-Setting

Reuters reports that UNSC will vote tomorrow on a resolution to set up an investigation to lay blame for toxic gas attacks in Syria. "That team would "identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups, or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, in the Syrian Arab Republic." It's not clear if the investigation is limited to the alleged chlorine attacks in 2014-15, or if it includes the sarin attacks in 2013 where the original OPCW investigation was barred from overtly laying blame. Pmr9 (talk) 10:22, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

The resolution was passed unanimously. As far as I can tell, this investigation will extend to all chemical weapons use, including the sarin attacks in 2013. I'm puzzled that the US was so keen to reopen this issue, as it's not obvious how they can guarantee to get the verdict they want. With the chlorine attacks, the regime can be blamed on the basis of eyewitness statements that the bombs were dropped from helicopters. But with the Ghouta rockets, it's not so easy. It's hard to see how a UN investigation can exclude the UN's own report that JAN was bringing CW "products" through the border. Maybe Russia has laid a trap for the US. Anyway, we should prepare a formal submission Pmr9 (talk) 16:44, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
And maybe Russia will drop the ball. Citizen involvement is called for. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:01, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
  • UN: 'document is under embargo' (sometimes it's done for 24 hours--unclear is this the case here).

The United Nations Security Council today gave the greenlight for the establishment of a Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body requested the UN Secretary-General, in coordination with the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to submit recommendations for the establishment of the Mechanism within 20 days. The Council will then respond to the recommendations within five days of receipt.
The Security Council adopted the document that "strongly condemns the use of any toxic chemicals, like chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic" and decides "to establish a joint mechanism to investigate" with the participation of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for "a term of one year with possibility of extension if necessary. "
--Resup (talk) 23:14, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Xinhua Bashar Jaafari: "the neutrality, the transparency, the credibility and the integrity and removal from politicization -- as well as cooperation and coordination with the Syrian government -- must be the guiding principles of the activities of the mechanism created by the resolution," al-Ja'afari said. "We are saying this due to our experience with preceding missions which, in the past, have transgressed all of these principles in their work and their practices, specifically because they were counting on false witness statements."

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said, "the question of who used chlorine is still unanswered, partly because the existing mechanisms of the UN-OPCW do not have a mandate to identify those participating in such acts. Moreover, we became witnesses of many politicized statements in this regard which were clearly meant to be propaganda."

Samantha Power: "Until we adopted today's resolution, there was no mechanism to take the obvious next step, determining who is involved in such attacks," the Washington envoy said. "Even when there were obvious signs pointing to the parties responsible, investigators were not empowered to point the finger. This has compounded an already- rampant sense of impunity in Syria."

  • UN Multimedia US Ambassador Samantha Power said the chemical attacks had continued despite the Council's previous efforts to stop them.
"……Today's resolution has been adopted with the Council's unanimous support. This sends a clear and powerful message to all those involved in chemical weapons attacks in Syria: the joint investigative mechanism will identify you if you gas people." --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:27, 8 August 2015 (UTC)


Full text of the UNSC resolution is now online. As the remit is not limited to alleged chlorine attacks from 2014 onwards, it appears to include the 2013 sarin attacks: "an OPCW United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups, or governments who were perpetrators, organisers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, in the Syrian Arab Republic where the OPCW FFM determines or has determined that a specific incident in the Syrian Arab Republic involved or likely involved the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical". The SG is requested to draft Terms of Reference within 20 days, for the UNSC to respond to.

The text of Samantha Power's address to the UNSC is also online. She focuses entirely on the alleged chlorine attacks in 2014-2015. It looks as if she doesn't expect the investigation to cover the 2013 sarin attacks. Pmr9 (talk) 09:39, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

Thanks much for your digging on this. Too much/too vague to add otherwise. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:04, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

VoltaireNet has in addition to the Resolution 2235 text the full following debate incl. statements by Power, Churkin and (at the very end) Ja'afari. Ja'afari on Helicopters, pointing the finger straight at Turkey:

[...] various Council members have spoken of helicopters. That is a very important point that is a typical example of the fabrication included in various documents of witnesses purporting to have heard helicopters — in Turkey, not over Syrian territory. That makes such statements questionable, for reasons known to all. In addition, two years ago in the Council we showed a film, taken in Turkish territory, in which rabbits were used [...]

--CE (talk) 11:41, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Gamba

The UNSG has appointed Virginia Gamba to head the "joint investigative mechanism" (JIM) to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria. She is originally from Argentina, and has a fairly solid track record as an academic on conflict resolution and disarmament specifically small arms rather than WMD. She now has to put together an investigative team and a political team. I think we need a new page for the JIM - will look out for any details of how they will take evidence. Meanwhile, I haven't seen anything further on the OPCW investigation of the Sarmin incident, since they visited Damascus in June. Pmr9 (talk) 10:21, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

I saw somewhere that Virginia Gamba was expected to be appointed. Someone had pointed to her Wikipedia article listing qualifications ... I saw it, but no such article now (was waiting for more news) There's a European parliament CV for her in PDF with a long list that seems to show the same and more - disarmament and demilitarization expert, especially in South Africa and in Latin America back to the Falklands war (an expert) and transition of Argentina to civilian-controlled military afterwards, member of International Institute for Strategic Studies since 1987, shared a Nobel peace prize in 1995, etc.
She has been honorary professor of the United States University for Defence (technical college), the US Army War College, the US Naval War College, the Canadian Naval War College, the UK Joint Forces course (Camberley), the Argentine Naval, Army, Air Force and Gendarmerie colleges, Yale University, Oxford University, and Princeton. Her areas of expertise as lecturer are: small arms control, disarmament policies, crisis prevention, theory and practical of conventional deterrence, civil-military relations and constructs, transformation of conflict, naval strategy, boundary disputes and conflict resolution, peace keeping evolution, and coercive international relations.
The last sounds intriguing in context. --Caustic Logic (talk) 05:53, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
This article of hers in an Argentine newspaper is interesting. She argues that the UK bases in the Malvinas/Georgias are part of a plan for the EU to project itself as a global military power. Although the article is neutrally written, her readers will get the message Pmr9 (talk) 15:21, 10 October 2015 (UTC)

Gamba interview, UN Press center 30 August, 2016

There were a last set of three, and these ones the Leadership Panel has determined that they are inconclusive – we cannot get sufficient information, or that there is information that is too contradictory for us to be able to continue with this – so there will be no further investigation in these three cases, that is: Kafr Zita (11 April 2014); in Al-Tamanah (29 to 30 April, 2014); and in Al-Tamanah again (25 to 26 May, 2014).

Criminal vs Scientific

Who Dunnit is a Criminal Question, not a Science One. ‘No evidence of Assad forces using chlorine on rebels’ - RT interviews Charles Shoebridge. He points out something I was about to mention - asking the OPCW, chemical and science experts - to decide who used the chemicals. This is not something they were built to answer, is it? It's like a Scotalnd Yard murder investigation, with complexities, uncertainties, cover stories that hold or don't, etc. Mr. Shoebbridge knows the kinds of questions:

...there’s always been this question as to what the possible motivation could be for Assad to be using chlorine against these targets, when it’s almost agreed as a consensus amongst most experts that chlorine is a highly ineffective – that’s to say, not effective at all. ... (in the past) it hasn’t been part of their mandate to ascribe blame. But they mount what can be called a criminal investigation… The problem with chlorine is that it’s difficult to get the evidence at the scene so we’re talking about circumstantial evidence. For example, it’s alleged that this weaponry is dropped by helicopter, and yet there is almost none if any video [of such attacks].

I mean, do they have a chemical test to prove someone's telling you the truth about these helicopters, or "Shabiha," or whatever? No. They have ... not sure. We'll see. Preparing some tools for them over here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:11, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

I've approached him on Twitter about collaborating on a sort of investigator's manual for them. I also asked myself somehow. Anyone who can help make sure he sees that and considers it, please do. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:01, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
(Not very clear on CL point--you would like to see a criminal investigation -under UNSC?) I can see a danger in criminal investigations. What if detective BC, from the land of Sherlock Holmes, conducted his criminal ...you know... and it is than presented to a jury of 12 sheepes, from...whatever... who will nod in approval to lock the beast in jail. If laws are vague and colliding (and usually they are ) it ends up to depend whose lawyer did a better job presenting the case. And than, how it will play up on appeal--which is not about merits but whether those convoluted laws were followed. In actual criminal cases, this ends up with a guy getting behind bars, and maybe not the right one, or more deserving to be there. But if you take this and magnify to apply to countries, or multinational companies (I mean something like YUKOS case here), it may have even more severe consequences. (Note that Russia is consistently against a UN-run criminal case on MH 17, although actual evidence-wise, they do not seem to have something to fear; but they may well loose a criminal case still.)--Resup (talk) 14:44, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
Being fuzzy here--criminal investigation and tribunal not the same thing, and Russia is opposing the tribunal--still criminal investigations are conducted for the sake of presenting the outcome in court, and this affects how they are conducted. --Resup (talk) 17:57, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
I mean, that's what they're tasked with, like it or not. And it's dangerous. They might not know how, trust rebels totally, and get believed because they're "scientists," as if that matters here.... but it's also an unknown (as far as I know) and an opportunity. Maybe they can be gotten to make a rare good call that moves the truth forward. Somehow. --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:47, 9 August 2015 (UTC)


And on prosecutions, didn't think this would lead directly - it's not a tribunal. As BBC reports, the Americans hope the investigation will "accumulate evidence that could be used in future prosecutions. The Americans concede, however, that those prosecutions are not imminent, and could be years or more than a decade away. Although the resolution paves the way for the creation of an attribution mechanism it will not trigger automatic punishment - a weakness seized upon by human rights groups." HR groups want instant tribunal, with instant punishment for Assad, not for any rebels. Too bad, they'll have to settle for investigative results for now. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:28, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

Bretton-Gordon

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon gave a seminar at University College London on 3 March 2016 for which he provided a resume

"Since the Syrian conflict started, Hamish has been deployed to the conflict area a number of times, where on behalf of OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon) he has helped set up a CBRNE task force. Additionally, he helps run 32 hospitals and clinics across Syria, where he has trained doctors how to treat chlorine casualties and how to collect evidence that can be further used in a court of justice. His efforts in Syria also include training civilians how to protect themselves against chemical weapons. Hamish shared his experience on sampling and analysis of chemical warfare agents in Syria. "

If Bretton-Gordon was working "on behalf of OPCW" to collect evidence on CW use in Syria, why was this information withheld from OPCW's reports and why wasn't it publicized on his company's website to impress customers and investors? Who was paying him, or his company, for this? What does it say about the independence and integrity of the OPCW investigations? Pmr9 (talk) 15:37, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Report explicitly mentions a 3 member panel

  • Virginia Gamba of Argentina, Head, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism; CV includes shared Nobel peace prize, for being on Pugwash Executive Council from 1985-1996. She seems to be into arms control from the political side of it; MSc (econ) in Strategic Studies of the University of Wales at Aberystwyth; BA (Hons) in Spanish and Latin American Studies of the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; Philology Bachelor of the University of Salamanca, Spain.
  • Adrian Neritani, the permanent representative of Albania to the United Nations
  • Eberhard Schanze: a German diplomat

So no chemistry expertise in this list.

Report, p. 19:

83. The Leadership Panel wishes to convey its appreciation for the full cooperation received from Member States, international organizations and other entities in support of its work to date, including the generous financial contribution received (do not see further details).

Bretton-Gordon is a former military, and OBE (knighted, Officer of British Empire).

Guardian: He was commanding officer of the UK Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment and Nato's Rapid Reaction CBRN Battalion
--Resup (talk) 00:17, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

On what evidence?

I'd say in comparable known instances, a lot depends on answers to two questions: --Resup (talk) 20:01, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

  • What evidence is admissible? (e.g. videos of events, witness statements made on video but not cross examined, etc...)
  • What evidence is 'subpoenable'? --How far the freedom of information goes--what information can be called in? (e.g. is it possible for the court to demand that some evidence -say classified--is released to the court?).


BBC radio broadcast on 7 January suggests that OPCW labs could establish culpability.

URRY: Following the chemical attack last August in Ghouta, a suburb on the outskirts of Damascus, UN inspectors brought back samples to be analysed. Hugh Gregg is in charge of the laboratories, on the first floor of a small discreet building on an industrial estate in the suburbs of The Hague.

GREGG: There is a syringe in here that picks up a small amount of that sample, then injects it into this gas chromatograph. Basically the smaller, lighter chemicals – things like Sarin – will come out earlier, and larger chemicals – things like VX, which is a heavier nerve agent – would come out much later.

URRY: So you can tell it’s Sarin. Can you also tell who made it? Does it have an individual fingerprint?

GREGG: In a mixture of things such as we found in Syria, some of the trace impurities that are there could be indicative of who produced it if we had a reference material that we could then compare it to.

URRY: Syria’s declared all its precursor chemicals, so OPCW has access to those chemicals now, don’t they?

GREGG: Our inspectors have access to them. Whether there’s a legal agreement or not for taking a sample and shipping it to a designated lab or to our laboratory is now a political question, not a technical one.

URRY: Technically, you could narrow this down if you had the mandate to do so?

GREGG: We have the technical capability to do that, that’s correct.

Hersh's article "The Red Line and the Rat Line" stated that Porton Down analysed Ghouta samples provided by the Russians and that their finding that the sarin didn't match what was known of the Syrian government's product was relayed to the US DIA just in time to persuade Obama to call off the attack on 31 August. Pmr9 (talk) 14:05, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

"We have the technical capability to do that, that’s correct." This is a capability that apparently has not been fully used so far (we would have heard about it if the samples matched Syria's stocks, wouldn't we?). Why has this not been used? Because the answer isn't convenient to their boss and his folks in Turkey, of all places, and allied governments? --Caustic Logic (talk) 06:04, 29 October 2015 (UTC)

Shroud of secrecy/selective release

Despite broadly releasing propaganda, crucial substantive information is leaked through some selective few, on dubious basis. Why only Hersh knows results of professional chemical lab tests in Syria, and only Parry seem to know something about satellite photos, or whatever else? Even if those individuals are certified as totally brilliant, selected few are much easier to manipulate than a larger thinking audience. --Resup (talk) 16:22, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Initial report submitted to UNSC

The report will not be made public till 30 August, but a copy has helpfully been shown to the NYT and the Guardian.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/world/middleeast/syria-used-chlorine-in-bombs-against-civilians-report-says.html "There was sufficient information, the report said, to conclude that the Syrian Air Force had used “makeshift weapons deployed from helicopters” that contained chlorine on the town of Talmenes in April 2014 and the town of Sarmin in March 2015"

So it appears that the Joint Investigative Mechanism has, without a qualm, swallowed the story that a huge barrel containing flasks of potassium permanganate flasks and R22 cylinders filled with hydrogen chloride was dropped from a helicopter down the ventilation shaft of the Taleb-Qaq family apartment where it blew up in their kitchen, causing their infant son to die in the emergency room because something had made him too sleepy to breathe and no respiratory support was provided.

We may as well wait till the report is available before preparing a response. Maybe an RT journalist would run a story on this.

I'll start something tonight. It could be half-done by the 30th. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:12, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

Statement on the Report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism on the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria. Ambassador Samantha Power, August 24, 2016

Isn't it wonderful to release PR on the report, before releasing the report? (Coinciding with Kerry and Lavrov having free lunch in Geneva...) --Resup (talk) 10:57, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
And almost on the Ghouta annivesary too - chlorine is a full-on chemical weapon now. "Members of the Security Council cannot claim ignorance of the devastating, inhumane effects of these weapons," says mrs. Brain Power, after she showed them video of Dr. Tennari (in his invisibility cloak) saving the Taleb children. No, now we all know the gruesome effects of chlorine, contrary to all prior learning, is just about exactly like an opiate overdose. And Syria must pay. Now that's smart power, way smarter than science and fact. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:21, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

TASS (Rus.), August 25, 2016, describing report claims : --Resup (talk) 12:14, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

"remnants of shells found at the site of attack in Sarmin, "correspond to the design of barrel bombs - weapons used by Syrian air force."
It was taken into account that "government forces lost control of six airfields in Idlib province. At the time, at one of the airbases there were 15 helicopters, nine of which were operational". However investigators doubt the version that rebels were piloting those helicopters

U.S. Plans to ‘Corner’ Russia on Syria’s Chemical Weapons, The Daily Beast, Christopher Dickey Noah Shachtman, 25 Aug., 2016 --Resup (talk) 11:10, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

...a U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast... You know the way the Russians treat anything Syria-related,” the official said. “If we bring it forward, the Russians would reject it out of hand. So we helped OPCW uncover it on its own.

Russia downplays conflict with US over Syria weapons report, Daily Mail, 25 August 2016--Resup (talk) 11:10, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Churkin called the 95-page document produced by the international team from the U.N. and the chemical weapons watchdog "a very complicated report which needs to be studied by experts." He said it was "very important" that the team said definitively that Islamic State extremists were responsible for an attack using mustard gas "because usually all talk we heard about any use of chemical weapons was an effort to ascribe things to the Syrian government." But Churkin repeatedly sidestepped questions about the team's conclusion that the Syrian government used chlorine gas in two attacks, reiterating that the report is "very technical," quite complicated" and needs study.

August 30: UNSC meeting, but still no news of report release, but some pre-reports:

  • Terrible Flaws in OPCW's Syria Chlorine Investigation (by me, Aug 29 with edits to now) Recaps our relevant findings, mostly re: Sarmin attack - the main doctor is not honest and other sources are terrorist-linked - the children didn't die from chlorine but by a deliberate overdose and negligence - someone else was apparently gassed by local terrorists using on-site syhnthesis of chlorine - any helicopters involved had nothing to do with any of that. --Caustic Logic (talk) August 30, 2016
  • Virginia Gamba interview: JIM chief says " the fact that we were able, in such a short time-span, to reach conclusions that were positive in at least a third of our cases, I think is quite extraordinary." (three cases of believing verbal helicopter claims in just one year? Wow!)
  • Reuters: Russia has doubts: "When asked if he thought the report was enough to impose sanctions on Syria, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "Frankly, I don't, but we continue to analyse the report." "There are two cases that they suggest are the fault of the Syrian side; we have very serious questions," he told reporters after the council met behind closed doors to discuss the issue.
  • Press TV: "These conclusions lack any physical evidence, whether by samples or attested medical reports that chlorine was used," said Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Ja'afari after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting over the report on Tuesday. The report was "totally based on witnesses presented by terrorist armed groups," he added.


Unfortunately Churkin appears to have accepted the preposterous story about a permanganate barrel bomb being dropped from helicopters and is trying to rebut the report by suggesting that rebels could have had access to helicopters. https://www.rt.com/news/357712-syria-chemical-report-evidence Pmr9 (talk)
Unless it gets more specific, I'd say he accepts or makes a nod to the helicopter issue, and helps keep it at the center of the picture, which is bad. But it's a valid point, to the extent helicopters were involved. But by extension, that's what it would have to be, if so ... I think the seizures of helicopters, at leasy 9 functioning, per the report, was/would be late March and after, and the one attack highlighted so far was on the 16th. So it's probably irrelevant anyway. That's only logical if the investigators acknowledge rebel helicopter seizures: they emphasize the earliest one, when rebels had no (air) choppers yet, and also the deadliest and most famous case, and use that to color the rest. The catual color is pale and flaccid, but ... the Russians haven't even noticed it yet? They are known to mishandle things. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:56, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
There are different official /'open door' Churkin comments here. No helicopters in that text, but a curious part is there is a smoking gun, we know that chlorine most likely has been used. That was already the finding of the (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission before . I am not sure what he is talking about but it may be about OPCW fact finding on 2014 events, here.--Resup (talk) 11:11, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

Synchronized success: On the 30th, news emerged that the OPCW had brokered a deal whereby the last chemical weapons precursors were finally removed from Libya, 5 years after the fall of the Gaddafi government. This helps show how awesome and accomplished they are. (sources all over)

Presumably, they were not re-directed to Syrian rebels... --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:25, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

Interim report released around the 30th but not noticed (no news stories noting it) - UN PDF link --Caustic Logic (talk) 01:43, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

Looking at pages 82-84... I'd say, there does not seem to be a tight causal connection. OK, that chemical reaction took place and there was a barrel, fins, canisters, and plastic bottles on the spot. There were traces of chlorine, smell and other effects, which is not surprising as the reaction did happen. What is not really there, it seems, is a clear cut case that it was this reaction that killed those people; and that barrel came down from a government helicopter. Maybe once you are already set on viewing the regime as evil on earth and require a justification, there is no other possibility left for you here to consider. But there is no military purpose here, that same barrel filled with conventional stuff will be more deadly, easier to make, and much less taxing internationally; with no added benefits at all (like testing it here to use elsewhere or terror effect desired). In an open field likely next to none deadly effect; and cannot count on hitting ventilation shaft from a helicopter. While staging this and blaming on regime is doable and has obvious benefits. The barrel may be heavy enough to launch from a mortar, but not that heavy for people to carry it in, or to the shaft, and setting a blast. So it does not seem strong enough altogether to be clearly convincing, beyond doubt, on the issue who did it (and the report does not seem to clearly state who is to blame, as far as I can understand). --Resup (talk) 10:26, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

A ballistic expert analysis supports the statement of the witnesses, improbable as it sounds, that the device impacted through the ventilation shaft.
Indeed. --Resup (talk) 10:26, 4 September 2016 (UTC)
  • https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/08/un-team-heard-claims-of-staged-chemical-attacks/ Robert Parry has made some good observations. The report even passes on how the investigators heard about apparently fabricated incidents, including the April 29 Tamana incident the decided to shelve. Locals suspected some attacks were staged - warning were issued but there was no attack - people took shelter as instructed, and came back to find their homes were looted. Huh! Makes me think I need to finally read this report... --Caustic Logic (talk) 03:48, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
From the JIM report, pp 52-59, what Parry says and more. Here's a cool point:
51. One witness said that people were knocking on the door. People on motorcycles and cars told people to leave the house because a plane was going to attack. Children of different ages were running after them. Apparently the people, which the witness believes to belong to the Nusrah Front, went to the school, took the children out and gave them diapers soaked with a liquid in order to use them as gas masks, claiming that chlorine would be used in the air strike. The witness stayed at home despite the warning and did not smell or see any thing.

Something new? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 17:43, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

An international inquiry has identified two Syrian Air Force helicopter squadrons and two other military units it holds responsible for chlorine gas attacks on civilians, a Western diplomat told Reuters. “It was the 22nd Division, the 63rd Brigade and the 255 and 253 squadrons of the Syrian government,” the envoy said.
I could not find those details in the official report. It can be searched after downloading PDF, however could not find 63rd Brigade or 255 and 253 squadron; though search works in principle. But unnamed 'Western diplomat' could say whatever? (See also is there any defense against a runaway steamroller? ) --Resup (talk) 18:29, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
That sounds like a new specific allegation, from an unnamed Western diplomat. I'll trust Resup's check that it isn't in the report. Maybe they had this on file but kept it out of the report, and the diplomat just decided to push that detail now. It would be based on deciding who did or would have flown in that area - known units based here or here would be easy enough to identify, if Damascus has cooperated and shared such info. --Caustic Logic (talk) 06:48, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Final Report

Reuters reports, September 23

The U.N. Security Council has given an international inquiry five more weeks to complete its report on who is to blame for toxic gas attacks in Syria as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, France, Britain and others push for those responsible to be punished.
The inquiry was due to submit its report this week, but Ban told the 15-member council in a letter, seen by Reuters on Thursday, that the inquiry needed extra time and wanted to delay its deadline until Oct. 21. The council has extended its mandate until Oct. 31.

...

"There have been two incidents documented by the UN/OPCW of the dropping of chlorine gas. How can we sit by and let that happen? Burning, blistering, barbaric chlorine gas being dropped on innocent people," British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a Security Council meeting on Syria on Wednesday.

This was released recently, and people are looking at it. I checked the OPCW site, and still don't know where a copy can be found to review. Any help? --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:06, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

Searching for UN documents is always a kafkaesque task. I think I managed (don't ask how) to locate the most recent, third report this article is about, issued on August 30. The two incidents the SAA are blamed for are Talmenes (21 April 2014) and Sarmin (16 March 2015). I don't think the final report is out yet. --CE (talk) 09:28, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
That's the previous one with "terrible flaws." The new ones explains the 3rd blamed incident in Qmenas (same night as Sarmin attack, many rep. affected, none killed) I thought it was released, but apparently people aren't looking at it, but at bits about it. Released to some, but not the public yet. So, ok this is a spacer. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:59, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

UN reports

Video of a response by SAR representative is available in Russian here (RT). --Resup (talk) 15:33, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
  • TASS: the mission identified as "potential cases to investigate the" two alleged attack in the village of Kafr Zita in Hama province of 11 and 18 April 2014; the incident in the village in the province of Idlib Talmenes April 21, 2014; Two cases in Kumenase and Sarmin in the same province March 16, 2015; and the last - in the town of Marea (province of Aleppo) August 21, 2015.

Yahoo News: The report did not provide details, but four of the five cases point to the alleged use of chlorine gas in barrel bombs, that the West blames on the Syrian regime. These took place in Kafr Zita on April 11 and 18, 2014, Talmenes on April 21, 2014, Qmenas on March 16, 2015, and Sarmin on March 16, 2015. A more recent attack in Marea on August 21, 2015, pointed to the likely use of mustard gas by Islamic State militants.

--Resup (talk) 20:39, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Aleppo, April 7, 2016

Answer given by UN SG at a press conference, April 8, 2016:

Q: Recently, there was an information on an attack with the use of chemical weapons in Aleppo. Reportedly, Jaysh al-Islam, which is part of the cease-fire agreement, took responsibility for this attack. How do you think these actions could impact the Intra-Syrian talks that tend to lay the ground for the fight against terrorism, the real fight against ISIS and al-Nusra?

SG: As you know, the United Nations has established a Commission of Inquiry and an investigation team two years ago, and we delivered this report, and all the chemical weapons which had been registered by the Syrian Government had all been destroyed.

Now, we have received the second such allegation and reports that chemical weapons might have been used again, and I established another investigation team, in close coordination with OPCW, the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons. It has completed the first stage of the investigation, and now they are going to enter the second phase. I received the report, but we may have to continue this. We are very closely coordinated with the OPCW.

As you know, at this time, what is a most serious concern is the possibility [that] terrorist or extremist groups could have some access to nuclear or chemical materials or even weapons. That is the main purpose of the fourth summit in Washington, D.C. last week, organized by [US] President Obama, on nuclear security. There were 52 Heads of State and Government who participated, and they were all committed to work in unity, in solidarity, and by sharing intelligence and information, and working very closely among the countries to prevent such kind of situations where extremists and terrorism may have access to nuclear and chemical materials and weapons.--Resup (talk) 15:51, 8 April 2016 (UTC)