UN Report: Sarin Gas Used in Syria Attack

Sep 17, 2013 18:55 IST

U.N. chemical investigators on 16 September 2013 confirmed the use of Sarin nerve agent in 21 August 2013 poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital Damascus. The investigation team headed by Ake Sellstrom of Sweden submitted its report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The U.N. team was investigating only whether chemical weapons were used in a deadly assault on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta. It was not charged with concluding who launched the attack.

On the basis of the evidence obtained during the investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.

In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples provided clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used.

The report also stated the weather conditions on 21 August 2013 ensured that as many people as possible were injured or killed. Temperatures were falling between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m, which meant that air was moving downwards toward the ground.

Chemical weapons use in such meteorological conditions maximizes their potential impact as the heavy gas can stay close to the ground and penetrate into lower levels of buildings and constructions where many people were seeking shelter.

Erlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also announced that sarin had been used in the chemical attack on the Ghouta region. The United States stated 1400 people were killed, including more than 400 children.

The United Nations Mission has now confirmed, unequivocally and objectively, that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

About Sarin Gas

• Sarin is a man-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. (chemical formula: C4H10FO2P)

• Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. They are similar to certain kinds of insecticides called organophosphate insecticides in terms of how they work and what kind of harmful effects they cause; however, nerve agents are much more potent than insecticides.
• Sarin originally was developed in 1938 in Germany as an insecticide.

• Sarin is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form. However, sarin can evaporate into a vapor (gas) and spread into the environment.

• Sarin is also known as GB.

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