Secret State Department Cable concludes Syria probably used Agent 15 in Homs
The claim was allegedly made in a secret U.S. State Department cable after an intensive, previously undisclosed investigation. An Obama administration official who read the cable called it a compelling case that Assad's military used chemical weapons, according to Foreign Policy.
The cable, signed by U.S. Consul General in Istanbul Scott Frederic Kilner, was sent to U.S. State Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C., last week. It outlined the results of investigation that included a series of interviews with activists, doctors and defectors. The administration official called it the most comprehensive effort to date to verify chemical weapons claims made by internal Syrian sources.
Mustafa al-Sheikh, a former major general in Assad's army and a key official in the Syrian military's chemical weapons program met with consulate staff before the cable was sent.
"We can't definitely say 100 percent, but Syrian contacts made a compelling case that Agent 15 was used in Homs on Dec. 23," the official said, Foreign Policy reports.
The Obama administration has not indicated that any major policy changes have been made as a result of the report, but top administration officials are set to discuss it later in the week.
Activists and doctors in Homs have spent the last three weeks trying to convince the international community that a chemical attack took place. Activists have been circulating video of victims seen struggling for breath and choking on their own vomit. Experts believe the symptoms, further detailed in an Arabic-language medical report, match the effects of Agent 15, an incapacitating agent known by its NATO code BZ.