U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power noted that chief inspector Ake Sellstrom said the weapons “were professionally made.”
“It defies logic that the opposition would have infiltrated the regime-controlled area to fire on opposition-controlled areas,” she said. “Only the regime could have carried out this large-scale attack.”
But Churkin wondered why there were no reports of casualties among opposition fighters if government forces fired rockets filled with sarin to try to oust opposition groups from the area.
“Is it theoretically possible to fire five or six rockets and miss your opponent?” he asked.
The inspectors cautioned that the five sites they investigated had been “well- traveled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the mission.”
“During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated,” the report said. The areas were under rebel control, but the report did not elaborate on who the individuals were.
In the report, Sellstrom said the team was issuing the findings on the Ghouta attacks “without prejudice” to its continuing investigation and final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in three other areas. Ban said he expects the inspectors to return to Syria “as soon as possible” to complete their investigation.
Under an Aug. 13 agreement between the U.N. and the Syrian government, Sellstrom’s team was scheduled to investigate an alleged chemical weapons attack on March 19 on the village of Khan al Assal outside Aleppo and alleged attacks on two other sites that were kept secret for security reasons. The inspectors’ report for the first time identified the two sites still to be investigated as Sheik Maqsood and Saraqueb.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his French and British counterparts worked on a two-pronged approach to Syria: They called for enforceable U.N. benchmarks for eradicating the chemical weapons program and an international conference bolstering the moderate opposition.