In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, senior U.S. administration officials said they had a large volume of clear and compelling information, both of chemical weapons use and of President Bashar al-Assad’s culpability in the attack. “The information we have points to the use of both chlorine and sarin, both of which are chemical weapons,” one official said.
The officials said they had videos and photos showing the remnants of at least two chlorine barrel bombs from the attacks with features consistent with chlorine barrel bombs from past attacks. Photographs and video from Douma documented victims suffering from symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals, such as asphyxiation and foaming at the mouth, the officials said.
Eyewitnesses reported multiple government helicopters over Douma on April 7th, and said barrel bombs were dropped from those helicopters, the officials said. They said the only forces with military aircraft such as helicopters in Syria belong to Assad’s government.
Doctors and aid organizations on the ground reported strong smells of chlorine, and described symptoms consistent with exposure to sarin, the senior U.S. officials said.
The officials said that while the available information is much greater on the chlorine use, they also had significant information that also points to use of sarin, which is a nerve agent. Symptoms such as convulsions, in addition to the dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries reported, suggest sarin, which is a much more efficient weapon, they said.