The center of controversy now is around who did it?
For the people of East Ghouta, the answer was obvious. They had been under a rocket attack for months from a regime base in central Damascus, only this time the rockets carried poison gas. Usually, when they heard the incoming rockets, they ran to their basements. This time that was exactly the wrong thing to do. That is why so many were found dead in their basements.
The opposition has said from the beginning that the Assad regime did it, so have reports from independent investigators, and a growing list of countries including the Arab League, France, Britain and the US.
But the Assad regime has denied responsibility and blamed it on "terrorists," the Russians have support them on this and there are many people in the US that seem inclined to believe them.
Here is a question for all these Assad believers:
If the Assad regime is not responsible for the chemical attack in Ghouta on 21 August 2013, why did they initially deny that a chemical weapons attack had even taken place?
If it was really done by "terrorists" why didn't they rush aid, UN investigators and the media to the area to give this world-shaking "terrorist" attack maximum exposure? Instead, they resumed conventional rocket attacks for three days while they engaged in a coverup - denying that a chemical attack had even taken place while frantically attempting to destroy evidence and murder witnesses.
Dr. Zaher Sahioul, who is volunteering with the Syrian American Medical Association in Jordan raised this contradiction:
The regime should have held a press conference next day blaming the attack on the rebels, the terrorists, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as it has done after Khan Alassal CWA attack in Aleppo in April 2013. This is a great chance for the regime to discredit the rebels once and for all. Instead the regime denied the attack completely as if it did not happen for the first 3 days.From the the Journal of Turkish Weekly, 21 Aug 2013, we have this report on the initial reaction of the Syrian government to reports of the chemical attack:
Syria denied reports on Wednesday that chemical weapons had been used in an attack on the eastern suburbs of Damascus which activists said killed more than 200 people.
State television quoted a source as saying there was "no truth whatsover" to the reports, which it said were aimed at distracting a visiting team of United Nations chemical weapons experts from their mission.
"The reports are untrue that chemical weapons were used in Al- Gotta Al-Sharakiyeh, and what is being aired by television like Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera and others only supports terrorism and is an attempt to obstruct the mission of the UN experts of chemical weapons to Syria," the official Syrian news agency, SANA, reports.
It dismissed as "unfounded" the reports from opposition activists carried by Al-Jazeera, Sky and other satellite news channels "which are implicated in the shedding of Syrian blood and support terrorism."
"It's an attempt to prevent the UN commission of inquiry from carrying out its mission," SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said an army operation launched early on Wednesday against rebel forces in the Ghouta suburbs had left at least 100 dead.
A security source in Damascus rejected as "lies" the reports of chemical weapons use in an army drive against rebel strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus.
"There is nothing new happening here because there's fighting every day. Operations are under way in all regions to chase armed groups," he said.
Or look at this article from Syria Arab News Agency [SANA] from 22 August 2013. The headline first attracted my attention because I thought it would blame that attack on the day before on the opposition, but it doesn't even acknowledge the chemical attack that just took place. It is blaming earlier chemical attacks on the opposition:
He is talking about chemical attacks and yet he leaves out the largest and most recent. Now why is that? Is it because they had not yet decided to acknowledge it, let alone blame it on "terrorists?"
Information Minister: Syria has evidence on chemical weapons use by terroristsAug 22, 2013
As for the international investigation committee on the use of weapons of mass destruction in some areas in Syria, al-Zoubi stressed that it is Syria that invited the UN to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal area in Aleppo and the committee will be investigating in three sites, including Khan al-Assal, and it will finish work in two weeks.
He added that Syria has clear-cut evidence on the use of chemical weapons by the armed terrorist groups through eyewitnesses and soil and air samples, stressing that the Syrian state did not and will not use these weapons –in case they exist- under any circumstances. More...
In the immediate aftermath of the chemical attack, the Syrian government didn't act like an injured party. It acted like a guilty party. It hoped that it could cover up the chemical attack completely. Rather that act to rescue the injured and preserve the evidence for the UN investigators, it denied the investigator access for four days while it bombarded the area, destroying evidence and killing witnesses.
Now Human Rights Watch is also saying that they think the Assad Regime is responsible for the chemical attack:
Those who continue to cling to the notion that the Assad Regime wasn't responsible for the chemical weapons attack should seriously examine their relationship to the planet.
Syria: Government Likely Culprit in Chemical Attack
New Evidence based on Rocket Analysis, Witness Accounts
10 Sept 2013
New York) – Available evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces were responsible for chemical weapons attacks on two Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. These attacks, which killed hundreds of civilians including many children, appeared to use a weapons-grade nerve agent, most likely Sarin.
The 22-page report, “Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria,” documents two alleged chemical weapons attacks on the opposition-controlled suburbs of Eastern and Western Ghouta, located 16 kilometers apart, in the early hours of August 21. Human Rights Watch analyzed witness accounts of the rocket attacks, information on the likely source of the attacks, the physical remnants of the weapon systems used, and the medical symptoms exhibited by the victims as documented by medical staff.
“Rocket debris and symptoms of the victims from the August 21 attacks on Ghouta provide telltale evidence about the weapon systems used,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “This evidencestrongly suggests that Syrian governmenttroops launched rockets carrying chemical warheads into the Damascus suburbs that terrible morning.”
The evidence concerning the type of rockets and launchers used in these attacks strongly suggests that these are weapon systems known and documented to be only in the possession of, and used by, Syrian government armed forces, Human Rights Watch said