Rights group: Assad forces behind attack

New York-based Human Rights Watch says rocket-debris suggest chemical attack was launched by Syrian government forces.

    Hundreds of people were killed in the August 21 chemical attack [Reuters]
    Hundreds of people were killed in the August 21 chemical attack [Reuters]

    A rights group has said evidence "strongly suggests'' that Syrian government forces fired rockets with warheads containing a nerve agent into a Damascus suburb in August, killing hundreds of people there.

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it examined documents from the alleged chemical attack on August 21 in Ghouta, a sprawling, rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital. The attack is at the centre of a US push for military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    HRW on Tuesday said it analysed witness accounts, physical remnants of the weapons used, and the symptoms exhibited by the victims, as well as Youtube videos and photographs provided by Syrian opposition activists.

    “Rocket debris and symptoms of the victims from the August 21 attacks on Ghouta provide telltale evidence about the weapon systems used,” Peter Bouckaert, author of the report, said in a statement.

    “This evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government troops launched rockets carrying chemical warheads into the Damascus suburbs that terrible morning.”

    The group said the nerve agent used was "most likely, sarin.''

    “The increasingly evident use of chemical weapons in Syria’s terrible conflict should refocus the international debate on deterring the use of such weapons and more broadly protecting Syria’s civilian population,” Bouckaert said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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