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Syria intelligence report regarding chemical weapons - Preparation and the Attack.



08/30/2013 - Washington D.C. ( USA ) - We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior tothe attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra fromSunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that theregime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilizationof gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in thedays prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.

Syria intelligence report regarding chemical weapons - The Attack

Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroboratethat attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacksreportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah.This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in themorning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in socialmedia.

The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regimeused rockets in the attack.Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. localtime on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports onthis attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displayingsymptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization.

The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reportsfrom international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show largenumbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agentexposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the noseand mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videosshow what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent withdeath from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosivemunitions or blister agents.

At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos,and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locationsdescribed in the footage.We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude thatregime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N.inspectors obtaining evidence.

On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrianchemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regimeintensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacksoccurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocketfire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to seeindications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’sresponsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21.

As indicated, there isadditional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.


 

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