recommended reading

Evidence that Syria used chemical weapons is stacking up

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP

After a report last week presented some startling evidence that Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people, a follow up this week only bolsters the case. The news came fromForeign Policy's Josh Rogin who'd managed to nab some snippets from a cable signed by the U.S. consul general in Istanbul, Scott Frederic Kilner, suggesting that the Assad regime had already crossed Obama's "red line," an offense offensive enough to spur the U.S. into military intervention. As such an Earth-shattering report tends to be, however, the evidence stopped short of being conclusive, though a State Department official couldn't "definitely say 100 percent, but Syrian contacts made a compelling case that Agent 15 [a chemical weapon] was used in Homs on Dec. 23."

Then, on Tuesday evening, Rogan got ahold of the entire memo, and something was illuminated. The full secret cable reads:

On December 23, [Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO)] implementing partner ARK reported through their media project BASMA on a possible chemical weapons attack in Homs, Syria. This is the first time fighters from Homs, who are fighting to break a three month long siege of the city, had come across such a possible attack. The suspected attack was originally reported by doctors receiving patients exhibiting symptoms of chemical exposure.

CSO officers spoke with three contacts, including a former Chief of Staff of the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) chemical weapons arsenal, and confirmed the events and the symptoms and the number of casualties. CSO is not able to definitely say whether chemical weapons were in fact used in the December 23 attack.

So, while the skepticism endures, the original claim that a chemical attack did indeed occur seems bolstered by additional details about what was happening. Furthermore, the consulate's own contacts said that the Syrian victims' symptoms were "consistent with poisonous gas inhalation," including temporary blindness, numb joints, difficulty breathing and temporary paralysis. The cable also backs up reports from the rebels themselves who not only claimed to have suffered a chemical weapons attack but caught the victims' symptoms on camera

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.