Major CW attack reported in outskirts of Damascus

Reports are coming in of a major chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus.

Syria conflict: ‘Chemical attacks’ near Damascus
21 August 2013 Last updated at 07:08 GMT

Video footage very disturbing:

More footage and pictures at

Poisoning/suffocation looks certain; not sure if nerve agent.

More to come over next hours, I am sure.

See my early comment at The Trench.

Jean Pascal


6 Comments on “Major CW attack reported in outskirts of Damascus”

  1. S. Batsanov says:

    I would be total idiotism on the part of the Syrian Gvt to use chemical weapons in the capital, while the UN inspection team is there. The idea that inspectors should rush to the scene would certainly appeal to public at large, but that would be a deviation from the agreement reached between the UN and Damascus; so if New York now demands access to this new site as well, there might be complications and at least delays, undermining the whole mission, which then can well be used against Assad government. If the access is given and some samples are positive, the team may well confirm the use, but will not try to establish the perpetrators (not in the mandate), so everyone would be left to think it was the government. My instinctive reaction, subject to further information, is that we may be observing a well prepared anti-Assad provocation.

  2. Johnboy says:

    OK, so the Assad government agrees to let the CW inspectors into the country, and THEN unleashed a CW’s attack in Damascus…

    Riiiiiiiiight. And that is supposed to sound plausible, is it?

    • JP Zanders says:

      As I have written on my own CBW blog at (, things look quite different this time. I have also noted this apparent implausibility, as did Sergey in his reply above.

  3. The timing raises some suspicions, but something seems to have taken place. It would be difficult to stage something like this but not impossible. Another plausible scenario is that there has been a breakdown in command and control of these weapons and either a local commander has used poison weapons avaiable locally or an air force commander has suddenly authorised use.

  4. Regarding the timing, there is something else to bear in mind. In June the EU and US both amended their embargoes so as to allow arms to be supplied to the Syrian opposition, and cited the alleged chemical attacks as a reason for doing so (among others). Since then almost nothing has happened – their actual supplies have been minimal. So it may be that Assad simply doesn’t care about international opinion – that the US an EU are just full of bluster and won’t do anything of any consequence no matter what he does. He may well be correct – they haven’t done very much after an estimated 100 000 have died from other means.

    I also agree with Richard Guthrie’s comment about a breakdown in command and control.

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