Senate Intelligence panel posts videos of sarin gas victims

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released to the public 13 videos showing victims of last month's alleged chemical attacks in Syria.

The videos detail what appears to be victims of the chemical attacks convulsing and foaming at the mouth. It includes graphic images of children who were apparently victims of the attack, which the U.S. says was carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and left 1,400 dead.

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They also show the dead bodies of adults, children and the elderly lying side by side on the floor. The victims have no signs of blood or other wounds.

The release of the videos appears to be part of a major effort by the Obama administration and those in Congress who back a strike to convince the public of the need for a military response.

President Obama will conduct a round of network television interviews on Monday and will address the nation from the White House Tuesday.

Public opinion polls have shown opposition to a military strike, and lawmakers say the calls their offices are receiving are overwhelmingly opposed to military action.

The videos of the attacks were first played for the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday at the request of Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

At the time, she said that she hoped to show the videos to all senators and possibly House members as they weigh whether to authorize U.S. strikes in Syria.

Instead, the committee has opted to post the graphic videos to the committee's website.

The videos were first leaked to CNN on Saturday afternoon, bringing the graphic images into the public eye.

The committee said in a statement on its website that the 13 videos were compiled by the U.S. Open Source Center from footage taken in the Damascus suburbs Aug. 21, the day of the attack.

"All of the videos were posted on YouTube by pro-Syrian opposition users," the committee said. "With one exception, all 13 videos were posted by a pro-opposition Internet news channel that consistently posts user-created videos concerning the Syrian conflict. The news channel does not primarily generate content, but instead re-posts content originally posted by others."

Feinstein said on Thursday that she'd asked for the DVD to provide "specific instances of evidence, largely victims, and what we see means, what pinpointed eyes mean, what the convulsions mean, a number of aspects."

"They took 170 videos and siphoned them down to 13, which have very probative points in them — and dispositive — with respect to the use of chemical weapons," she said.

Obama administration officials have said that the evidence they have from the attack has tested positive for sarin, a nerve gas.

Feinstein said she hoped the videos could help convince the public — and lawmakers —  opposed to military action why it should be taken.

"There's no question, what's coming in is overwhelmingly negative. There's no question about that," she said. "But you see, then they don't know what I know. They haven't heard what I heard."


— This story was first posted at 2:10 p.m. and has been updated.