A report on chemical weapon use in Syria was released by the White House on Friday. The report was presented to the press by Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said that he and other US officials now have no doubt that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 21 nerve gas attacks.
From the declassified intelligence report Kerry said that at least 1,429 people died in the Damascus chemical weapon attacks, Mashable reports. This included 426 children, he added. These attacks have been shown to have occurred in rebel-controlled neighborhoods or contested areas, according to US intelligence.
The report says that word of an impending government chemical weapons attack was received from several sources in the days before August 21. The Syrian military spent the three days before the attacks preparing rockets. Satellite images also showed missile launches from government-controlled areas shortly before the first reports of the attack.
It is known that the Syrian government has stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin and VX nerve gas. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has the final say on their use, the report says.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in the press conference that the report was based on information from a number of sources. According to Business Insider, the findings come from “human, signals, and geospatial intelligence” as well as social media sources. Kerry explains that because of the secretive nature of the US intelligence system, specifics could not be released about the report’s sources. However, he says there is “high confidence” is the evidence.
One potentially key piece of evidence includes an intercepted conversation between officials about the army’s use of chemical weapons. One of the officials showed concern that UN investigators would find evidence pointing to the Syrian government.
UN inspectors are currently in Syria investigating sites of the Damascus attacks. They are expected to leave the country this weekend and release their findings next week. Secretary of State Kerry says that the UN report will not show anything different from the new White House report on the August 21 use of chemical weapons in Syria.
You can read the entire White House report here.
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