— Close to the impact sites, in the area where people were affected, inspectors collected 30 soil and environmental samples — far more than any previous U.N. investigation — and in a majority of the samples, “the environment was found to be contaminated by sarin,” its by-products, and “other relevant chemicals, such as stabilizers.”
— Blood, urine and hair samples from 34 patients who had signs of poisoning by a chemical compound provided “definitive evidence of exposure to sarin by almost all of the survivors assessed.”
— More than 50 interviews with survivors and health care workers “provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results.”
“The large-scale use of sarin, the direction of the rocket attacks, and kind of rockets used in the attacks all point to use by Assad’s forces beyond reasonable doubt,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
“The conclusions reached by the United States and European governments would now appear to have received corroboration by a source the Russians and Syrians will have trouble discrediting,” Kimball said.
The inspectors described the rockets used to disperse the sarin as a variant of an M14 artillery rocket, with either an original or an improvised warhead. The report said the rockets that hit two of the suburbs — Zamalka and Ein Tarma — were fired from the northwest, but it didn’t say who launched them.
The inspectors did not provide a location for the rockets’ launch site, but Qassioun Mountain, where the Syrian military is known to have bases, is roughly northwest of both suburbs.
“This was no cottage industry use of chemical weapons,” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.
“To put it in perspective, just on those rocket samples that they were able to examine, they had a payload of a total of 350 liters, which is 35 times the amount that was used in the Tokyo subway” in 1995, he said, adding that the inspectors also confirmed “that the quality of the sarin was superior” both to that used in Tokyo and also to what was used by Iraq against Iran.