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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Is Assad to Blame for the Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria?

It seems obvious to anyone willing to look for the truth that it makes no sense for Assad to have used chemical weapons last week. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose. He was winning and in a stunning reversal of policy, the White House was behind him. Assad may be evil and brutal, but he is not stupid.

On the other hand, his opponents, backed by America and Saudi Arabia and others had just found out that they had little hope of winning with America willing to keep Assad on. That had to change or the war would be lost.

No proof has been offered of Damascus' involvement and yet great criticism is vented upon anyone who expresses doubt. It's like the man-made global warming movement - no proof, just condemnation for those who express doubt. 

Yet, in 2013, Assad was accused of using chemical weapons and everyone jumped on the band-wagon from the White House to MSM. It was soon proven that it could not have been Assad's regime but was, in fact, from a rebel group, a rebel group sponsored by the USA and Saudi Arabia. 

If you think the pattern is coincidental, think again. Remember Iraq? The only weapons of mass destruction they ever found there was American intelligence.

Saudi Arabia wants desperately to replace Assad with a Salafist regime and will do anything to make it happen. 

Donald Trump is being manipulated by the military industrial establishment that he has surrounded himself with and probably by NATO, neither of whom want peace in Syria or with Russia. You can't move weapons in great numbers during peace-time and you can't justify the existence of an organization created to maintain peace if there is a threat of peace breaking out. NATO needs a villain and a threat and is willing to create one where it doesn't exist.


Deutsche Welle

Is the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria? Experts suggest it could have been jihadi rebels. It wouldn't be the first time.



More than 80 people were killed by suspected chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun. That is about the only thing certain about the attack. Western statements place blame at the feet of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, an accusation Damascus and Moscow contest.

The Syrian regime may not have had a compelling motive, believes Günther Meyer, the director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. "Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons," he told DW. "With their backs against the wall, they have next to no chance of opposing the regime militarily. As President [Donald] Trump's recent statements show, such actions make it possible for anti-Assad groups to receive further support."

Former President Barack Obama famously drew a "red line" in 2012. "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus," he said at the time. Meyer views the statement as an "invitation for Assad's opponents to use chemical weapons and make the Assad regime responsible for it."

Rebels' chemical weapons

In 2014, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported on opposition forces' ability to use chemical weapons. In an article for the "London Review of Books," Hersh obtained documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon's own spy organization. They suggested that the Nusra Front, a Syrian offshoot of al Qaeda, had access to the sarin nerve agent. A chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013, which was blamed on Assad, was carried out by rebels, according to Hersh's article. They wanted Washington to presume Assad had crossed Obama's "red line" and draw the US into a war.

There are doubts over whether the suspected chemical weapons strike in Ghouta came from Assad's forces.

The Ghouta attack

Obama's Director of National Intelligence at the time, James Clapper, was able to dissuade Obama from ordering a cruise missile strike, according to a newly-published book by Mideast expert Michael Lüders. Presumably, a deciding factor was an analysis of the chemical weapons used in Ghouta, conducted by a British military lab, which found the gas to be of a different composition than the Syrian army possessed.

The attack took place while UN weapons inspectors were in the country, on Assad's invitation, said Meyer. Assad had asked them to investigate a chemical weapons attack from March 2013 outside Aleppo, which killed Syrian soldiers.

"It makes no sense that the regime would carry out an attack with inspectors in the country," he said.

Former weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and MIT professor Theodore Postol cast further doubt on Assad's role in the Ghouta attack. They reported in 2014 that the chemical weapons could have only been fired from rebel-held territory, with a range of up to 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles).

Chemical weapons as a deterrent

At the time of the Ghouta attack, the Syrian government had access to about 600 tons of material necessary to make sarin and mustard gas. The stockpile was to counterbalance Israel's nuclear arsenal, Meyer said. "Israel has an estimated 200 nuclear weapons," he said. "Chemical weapons are something of a poor man's atomic weapon."

The US reported these chemical stockpiles had been destroyed in 2014, although the state of confusion surrounding such a war zone makes that hard to confirm. (see below).

In Idlib, the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front maintains significant influence

Al Qaeda's role

No one can say how the situation has evolved since the DIA's assessment in 2013 of the Nusra Front's weapons. The al Qaeda affiliate is today the most significant rebel group in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Meyer said. Along with other jihadi extremists, it has turned itself into the "de facto ruler of Idlib."

Assad has not hesitated to use ruthless means to stay in power. In confronting the most recent use of chemical weapons in Syria, credible questions remain as to why Assad would bring world opinion against him at a time when his continued rule is beginning to be accepted.

Another excellent read - The New American - Was the chemical attack a 'false flag'?


Declassified intelligence brief


On Tuesday, the White House released a declassified intelligence brief accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering and organizing the attack, in which Syrian planes allegedly dropped chemical ordnance on civilians in the rebel-held town.

The report “contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft,” wrote Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Theodore Postol, who reviewed it and put together a 14-page assessment.

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun,” wrote Postol.

A chemical attack with a nerve agent did occur, he said, but the available evidence does not support the US government’s conclusions.

“I have only had a few hours to quickly review the alleged White House intelligence report. But a quick perusal shows without a lot of analysis that this report cannot be correct,” Postol wrote.

It is “very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who conducted this attack itself,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Sean Spicer also said that doubting the evidence would be “doubting the entire international reporting crew documenting this.”

Sounds like an argument without any facts.

The report offered by the White House, however, cited “a wide body of open-source material” and “social media accounts” from the rebel-held area, including footage provided by the White Helmets rescue group documented to have ties with jihadist rebels, Western and Gulf Arab governments.

The White Helmets are not what they appear to be on MSM. It is clear they are agenda-driven and anti-Assad. Check out this report by a Canadian journalist.


Sarin canister crushed from above not exploded from within

“Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real,” he wrote. “No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.”

This was probably why Putin suggested that it was a rebel chemical weapons plant that was hit by Syrian bombs.

Instead, “the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.”

“We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report,” he concluded, recalling the 2013 situation when the Obama administration claimed Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels in Ghouta, near Damascus.

“What the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true,” Postol wrote, “and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security.”

On Tuesday, Russian General Staff spokesman Colonel-General Sergey Rudskoy questioned the “authenticity” of media reports concerning the attack. He said that using social media to reconstruct the course of events raised “serious doubts” not only among the Russian military but also “among many respected experts and organizations.”

Rudskoy noted that, under the 2013 agreement to give up its chemical weapons, the Syrian government destroyed its stockpiles at 10 sites that were under its control. This was verified by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). However, the remaining two facilities were in territory controlled by the rebels, he said, and it remains unclear what happened to the chemicals stored there.