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Did Assad Order the Syrian Gas Attack?

On the morning of April 4, a Syrian Air Force Russian-made Sukhoi-22 fighter bomber dropped or fired something at a target in rebel-held Idlib Governorate. A cloud of some chemical substance subsequently materialized and drifted to the adjacent inhabited village of Khan Shaykhun, where it killed between 50 and 100 people. We also know that the Russians used a “hotline” [1] prior to the attack to alert the United States military that the strike would be taking place against what was apparently described as an arms depot.

We also know about what might be considered collateral damage. The deaths and alleged use of chemical weapons were described [2] by President Donald Trump as a “vital national-security interest” and served as the pretext for a strike by 59 U.S. cruise missiles two days later, which was directed against the Syrian air base at al-Shayrat. The U.S. attack did little damage and the base was soon again operational. The White House also reversed itself regarding possible Syrian peace talks, declaring that Bashar al-Assad must be removed [3] as a condition for any political settlement of the ongoing crisis. It also described Russia as complicit in protecting the Syrian president. Secretary of State Tillerson declared that bilateral relations with Moscow cannot improve [4] as long as Russia is supporting al-Assad. The relationship with Russia is, according to President Trump [5], at an “all-time low.”

The U.S. government, in support of its narrative justifying the cruise-missile attack, has issued a four-page assessment [6] entitled “The Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017.” The report was issued by the National Security Council, which is part of the White House, and was authored by Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national-security advisor, rather than Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. The provenance suggests that it might not be what it is touted as, a “Summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Assessment …” It makes a number of claims, some of which might be considered fact-based, while others seem questionable.

Bear in mind that nearly all the information and physical evidence available from the attack site in Syria has come from anti-Assad sources linked to al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra, which controls the area. This includes the so-called White Helmets, who are opposition surrogates [7]. The established narrative derives from this material as well as from bipartisan assertions of Assad’s “certain” guilt, even from normally liberal Democrats [8], which are being presented as fact. 

The four-page White House report is supplemented by commentary [9] provided by McMaster and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (also a former general) on the day of the U.S. attack, as well as a more recent interview [10] with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, which describes the decision-making process and the military options. Each official, as well as President Trump, took it as a given that Syria had carried out the attack. Regarding the motive for such an attack, the report claims that Damascus was seeking to halt a rebel advance. Others in the media have claimed that it was done to “test” the United States or intimidate the Syrian population, but some other observers find those explanations elusive. After all, Bashar al-Assad would have had no good reason to stage a chemical attack when he was winning the war, while the rebels theoretically had plenty of motivation to stage a “false flag” attack to alienate Damascus from Western Europe and the Americans.

There is considerable repetition in the White House report describing Syrian involvement, rebel inability to mount a chemical attack, physical remains, and symptoms of the dead and injured. It says that the U.S. government is “confident” that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack using “a neurotoxic agent like sarin … against its own people” on the morning of April 4, and that it would have been impossible for the rebels to fabricate the incident because it would be too complicated for them to do so. The alleged U.S. intelligence relating to understanding the attack included Sigint, geospatial monitoring, and physiological examination. Plus “Credible open source reporting … tells a clear and consistent story.” This included commercial-satellite imagery, which shows the impact sites of the weapons used, and opinions registered by civilian agencies like Medecins Sans Frontieres and Amnesty International.

The U.S. government report also maintains that Syria has violated its international obligations by retaining chemical-weapons capabilities even though it agreed to destroy all stocks in 2013. The narrative also insists that the still highly controversial attack made on Ghouta in 2013 was, in fact, carried out by Damascus. Syrian chemical-weapons experts were probably “involved in planning the [current] attack.” Symptoms of the victims were consistent with exposure to sarin.

Since the attack, per the report, the Russians and Syrians have been spinning out “false narratives” employing “multiple, conflicting accounts [of what took place] in order to create confusion and sow doubt within the international community.”

As noted above, beyond the bare bones of the Syrian attack, the U.S. retaliation, and the casualties, there is little in the incidents and the surrounding analysis that can be regarded as hard fact. Little in the National Security Council report is unassailable, and one should note that almost none of it is based on U.S. intelligence resources. The possibility that a Syrian chemical-weapons expert was “probably” involved expresses uncertainty, suggesting that an intercepted telephone call is being generously interpreted. And the geospatial monitoring is either a satellite (or even a drone) overhead, or possibly an AWACS plane operating along the nearby Turkish border, which would register the flight path of the Su-22 and the subsequent explosion(s), hardly conclusive evidence of anything beyond what we already know to be true.

The thinness of the U.S. intelligence came through in an April 13 talk by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who described [10] the pressure from the White House to come up with an “assessment.” As a bottom line, he commented that “Everyone saw the open-source photos, so we had reality on our side.” One might observe that that reality was derived from Google satellite photography possibly adjusted by the rebels and freely interpreted by the media, not from the $80 billion per year intelligence community.

Observers should also reexamine the assumption that rebels would be unable to either mount a chemical attack or create a “false flag” operation. There have been numerous instances of ISIS and al-Nusra use of chemicals both in Syria and Iraq, the most recent [11] being just this past week in western Mosul. And the similar Ghouta “false flag” in 2013 almost succeeded [12], apparently aided by Turkish intelligence [13], stopped only when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper paid a surprise visit [14] to President Obama in the Oval Office to tell him that the case against Damascus was not a “slam dunk.”

And the physical evidence that the Syrians launched a chemical attack from the air has been challenged. The only eyewitness to surface [1], a 14-year-old, has described how she saw a bomb drop from an airplane and hit a nearby building, which produced a mushroom cloud. It is just as the Russians and Syrians described the incident and rules out sarin, which is colorless. And then there is the testimony of Professor Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national-security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Postol has examined the evidence [15] in the photos and concluded that the toxin was fired from the ground, not from the air, adding that no competent analyst would believe otherwise—suggesting that there was a rush to judgment. Postol concluded that “it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the U.S. government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack.”

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter has also disputed the findings [16] in the White House report, noting that what evidence there is points to the use of conventional weapons by the Syrians. He also notes that the Su-22’s available weapons cannot deliver a chemical or gas attack from the air, something which Donald Trump and his advisers might not have been aware of.

And then there are the victims. The tests confirming [17] the presence of sarin were carried out in Turkish hospitals and Ankara is far from a neutral party, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan having demanded repeatedly [18] that al-Assad be removed.

It is all too easy to forget that the rebels and their associates are killers, with little to differentiate them from the crimes that are being laid at Bashar al-Assad’s door. Two recent examples of rebel brutality include the beheading [19] of a child and the recent bombing [20] of Syrian refugees waiting to cross into government-controlled territory. The latter attack killed more people—including women, children, and babies—than the incident at Khan Shaykhun, but it was not so much as mentioned by President Trump. It was only briefly reported in the U.S. media before being dropped down the memory hole, presumably because it did not fit the prevailing narrative.

Other videos and pictures of Khan Shaykhun victims cited by the White House show survivors being assisted [21] by alleged medical personnel, who appear not be wearing any protective garb. If the chemical agent had actually been sarin, they too would have been affected. And the symptoms of sarin are similar to the symptoms experienced with exposure to other toxins, including chlorine and smoke munitions. One survivor noted a smell of rotten food and garlic. Sarin is, in addition to being colorless, odorless.

And then there is the question of al-Assad’s chemical-weapons supply. It is now being asserted by the White House that the Syrians retained a significant capability, but that is not what Secretary of State John Kerry said in July 2014, when he claimed everything was destroyed [22]: “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.” The United States, working with Russia, was instrumental in destroying the Syrian chemical stockpile.

It certainly appears that there was a rush to judgment on the part of the White House and the top presidential advisors. It is possible that al-Assad did what he has been accused of, but the Trump administration decided to assign guilt to the Syrians before they could have known with any clarity what had happened. As in the case of Iraq, the available intelligence was made to fit the preferred narrative. All that remained was to call a meeting of top advisors to determine exactly how to punish Damascus. The truth about what occurred in Syria on April 4 remains to be discovered, and is almost certainly possessed by many in the U.S. intelligence community. Perhaps someday, someone who understands what happened will feel compelled to reveal what he or she knows.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the incident and the U.S. retaliation is severe and potentially catastrophic. As Princeton Professor Stephen Cohen, America’s leading expert on Russia, put it recently [23]:

I think this is the most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations, at least since the Cuban missile crisis. And arguably, it’s more dangerous, because it’s more complex. … So the question arises, naturally: Why did Trump launch 50 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian Air Force base, when, God help us, he did kill some people, but was of no military value whatsoever? Was this meant to show ‘I’m not a Kremlin agent?’ Because, normally, a president would have done the following. You would go to the United Nations … and ask for an investigation about what happened with those chemical weapons. And then you would decide what to do. But while having dinner at Mar-a-Lago with the leader of China, who was deeply humiliated, because he’s an ally of Russia, they rushed off these Tomahawk missiles.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

42 Comments (Open | Close)

42 Comments To "Did Assad Order the Syrian Gas Attack?"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 24, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

If there’s a slam dunk here, it’s that the US is constantly being played.

#2 Comment By MEOW On April 24, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

Who benefits? Not Syria. Not the US?

#3 Comment By Lee On April 24, 2017 @ 11:11 pm

Exactly, when was the last time US Intelligence proved valid on ANYTHING where a high level decision was made?

#4 Comment By Troy On April 25, 2017 @ 12:22 am

The idea of a mass murderer regime orchestrating a flotilla of 400,000 plus lies and
to simultaneously implement it as a political tool amazes me that the us was only able to believe in 59 of them.

#5 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 25, 2017 @ 3:40 am

“Make America Great Again” == “Full Spectrum Dominance”?

Another guy in the WH who prefers his “gut” and thereby believes he creates reality ex nihilo?

But…

He was prescient some weeks back when he said he knew it wasn’t to his political benefit to get along with Russia and that people would applaud firing on a Russian ship off the east coast, but that it wouldn’t be great at all, but terrible.

It does seem true that political survival demanded the about face. The only way to prove in our hysterical political climate engendered by the fury of the Clinton loss, that the President is not a Russian agent, demands a war with Russia.

Since the applause for this is so great across the political spectrum, excluding present company, that is what we will get.

#6 Comment By bacon On April 25, 2017 @ 3:42 am

When did US government lying to justify some action come to be seen as unusual? Maybe the Assad government did carry out this chemical attack, but our record of being casual with the truth raises doubts. Maybe the North Vietnamese were responsible for whatever actually happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, eh?

#7 Comment By Douglas Burton On April 25, 2017 @ 4:06 am

This is a welcome contribution to the reportage of what appears to be a tragic rush to judgment. Well done!

I was astonished by the speed of the US response given the fact that intel on the ground is notoriously complex. The White House coulda shoulda woulda waited two days to verify. It now may be a case of acute and toxic need to save face.

#8 Comment By Hassan On April 25, 2017 @ 7:26 am

Great analytical piece that puts the main stream journalists to shame. Let me add one instance of suspicious reports by Al-Qaedhe affiliate: the supposed attack happened at night or early morning, according to rebel reports. “when people slept” , it was repeatedly said. Then, there is talk of “we saw a bomb dropping”, or “a mushroom cloud”, etc. Obviously, these observations could not happen in dark.

#9 Comment By Daath On April 25, 2017 @ 8:07 am

There is no hard proof one way or another, but the circumstantial arguments here for the false flag theory aren’t very strong.

1. Assad is winning, so why would he have done this? This is the exact same argument that was repeatedly given after Ghouta attack, and yet the war goes on. The government won an important victory in Aleppo, but most of Syria is outside its control. Its own forces are also weak and often disloyal, so it depends on Russia, Hizbollah and Iran. These allies don’t necessarily care that much about total Assad victory.

2. Rebel chemical weapons. ISIS and apparently Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (ex-Nusra) have used chlorine and mustard gas, yes. These are considerably easier to manufacture than nerve agents. In any case, Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen’s on-ground report referred to meeting with Ahrar al-Sham’s officials there, and that’s a different bunch of Islamists. They cooperate with other throat cutters, though.

3. Testimonies. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable (was there really a mushroom cloud or just some billowing dust?). Postol’s is more interesting, but also seems compatible with air attack not using a dedicated chemical weapon dispersion device. Syrian air force’s signature weapon is the barrel bomb, so assuming the use of another improvised device here isn’t illogical.

4. First responders not affected. Locals claim they were. AFAIK sarin degrades fast in heat and sunlight, so by the time photos were taken later in the day, the danger would have been much lower. This would have also been a reason to launch the attack in early morning – and the airstrike did indeed happen at 6:30am.

5. Odorless sarin. In theory it is, yes. Impurities can impart strong smells to it, and binary sarin mixed within delivery device doesn’t necessarily mix perfectly.

6. Kerry’s statement. Well, duh. Of course he said that. It was a somewhat embarrassing episode, and the deal saved face, so of course it had to be 100% successful, even if it wasn’t.

#10 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On April 25, 2017 @ 8:32 am

as noted in other thread (re: North Korea), this feels like Iraq v2.0, and we all know the 45th POTUS has no problem throwing the CIA and “the generals” under the bus. the phrase ‘pressure from the white house’ is particularly chilling. then again, when the Commander-in-Chief is a member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, and reality TV game show host, who tweets and yammers incessantly about “fake news” (the ultimate false flag operation), should we not expect him “value” fake intelligence and/or alternative “facts” when it comes to waging war? who could have imagined a person of this ilk would actually be a neocon in populist/anti-establishment clothing? or maybe he is just a patsy being handled deftly by “agents” of the Military-Industrial establishment?

#11 Comment By Jim Bovard On April 25, 2017 @ 8:33 am

Great piece – best thing I have seen yet on the latest Syrian uproar.

#12 Comment By collin On April 25, 2017 @ 9:28 am

Does this truth really matter in the Trump Presidency?

He got to his sugar bombing of empty fields next to airstrips that the Russian & Syrians knew in advance of the bombing. Cable News got their fireworks show and Trump got be President. It seemed like everybody benefited except Syria.

#13 Comment By Hanna Khayyat On April 25, 2017 @ 10:29 am

Remember WMD and Saddam? What did the top papers say after Colin Powell’s speech to the UN “proving” that Iraq had WMD?

New York Times: “[Powell’s speech] may not have produced a ‘smoking gun,” but it left little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal one.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Powell evidence will be persuasive to anyone who is still persuadable. …The only question remaining is whether the U.N. is going to have the courage of Mr. Powell’s convictions.”

Washington Post: “To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make…”

Different year; different country, but for the msm in the USA, some things never change.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 25, 2017 @ 11:46 am

“It does seem true that political survival demanded the about face. The only way to prove in our hysterical political climate engendered by the fury of the Clinton loss, that the President is not a Russian agent, demands a war with Russia.”

And it was a mistake. A deep mistake. He was winnning the Russia Manchurian candidate issue. Th tide was turning even among democrats and it was beginning to sour faster each day. He should have fought it. The short term gain of turning the tables in this manner has now hemmed into the camp of interventionists. And what worse gained him but momentary praise unless he continues to bend.

Further it plays the other edge of that sword, that he is easily turned, cowed frightened and more, he will betray those he befriends for support to so as to avoid criticism by noise makers. The fact, that we should not be in Syria in the first place should have been his foundational stance as it was during the campaign.

That he should have weighed evidence based on disinterested parties. Because what was presented was dubious on its face. We have been down this road before and nothing about this charge made any more sense than the previous attempt to bait US involvement. As for the nonsense about the rebels not having the capabilities — excuse me — but if you have a chemical weapon on a canister all one need do is open it — these arguments are, I agree familiar to the Iraq advances for war — as if developed by a class of high school students. Photos of explosions – you have got to be kidding.

I have some responses to the 6 counters presented.

a. The Syrian government is winning. And the reason there is still war is because the US and others continue to foment and encourage the rebels, Known as terrorists by any other name.

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b. Rebels and chem weapons, their availability is far wider than suggested. No they could have easily released said chemicals and they didn’t have to manufacture them — they were provided (a brief history):

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c. So the first respondents waited leaving people to die. I don’t buy it. In addition, the gas would have spread immediately, not later in the day. As reported in drifted into the communities yet the impact is very slight.

The entire advance here gets thinner with each defense. Oddly no one is putting those blood tests on the table. As for people choking since all bomb munitions are designed to cease life function by direct hit or secondary reaction, I have no doubt that people experienced shortness of breath.

But most importantly, no one is disputing the Russian claim. Because if they were they would accuse Russia of using chemical weapons, after all, it was a Russian mission. That what this charge ought to be, that Russia knowingly used a chemical compound forbidden by international law.

Make that charge and I might begin to take the advance as having some sincerity.

It’s pressure not from the white house, but that band of interventionists that the current executive has surrounded himself with.

And it may prove his undoing.

A cadre of Mr. Wolfitzs and Vice Pres Cheneys.

#15 Comment By Winston On April 25, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

1. The small crater in an asphalt road which you can find an image of online looks exactly like the craters left by a very common, surface-to-surface (note – NOT air-to-surface) 122mm unguided artillery rocket. 122mm debris is specifically mentioned in reports about the debris left in the crater.
2. The US report makes no mention of the type of munition used while it claims to be certain about the specific type of aircraft used. A 122mm rocket fired from the aircraft would have been extremely obvious for many miles around. WHY no mention of the specific munition type used – rocket or gravity (dumb) bomb? A 122m surface-to-surface artillery missile SOMEHOW fired from an aircraft when a much simpler dumb bomb attack which would have been more appropriate is both unusual and suspicious.
3. Only if the sarin weapon used was of the binary type would an attack on the airbase which launched the supposedly guilty aircraft not released sarin when all of the munition storage bunkers were destroyed as they were. If the US was that certain of even the specific sarin device type used and, therefore, the safety of striking those munition storage bunkers without releasing sarin everywhere, why aren’t they more specific about the weapon supposedly released from the aircraft? They say:

“A significant body of pro-opposition social media reports indicate that the chemical attack began in Khan Shaykhun at 6:55 a.m. local time on 4 April. Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack. Additionally, our information indicates personnel historically associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program were at Shayrat Airfield in late March making preparations for an upcoming attack in Northern Syria, and they were present at the airfield on the day of the attack.”

Delivered HOW, by what kind of weapon? A 122mm rocket made only for surface-to-surface weapons systems? If they are so certain about the chemical weapons personnel at the airbase how would they not know at least that? Did the “pro-opposition” tell them about those personnel, the same people who would be most likely to launch a false flag attack?

#16 Comment By Donald On April 25, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

Daath–the point is not that we know it was a false flag attack. The point is or should be that we don’t know it wasn’t. We don’t know much of anything besides people dying. And some of your claims are debatable anyway. Could sarin be stolen from an Assad stockpile? Why not? The rebels have done amazingly well, killing at least 100,000 armed opponents (with an amazingly low civilian death count according to the anti-Assad reporters, which as some have pointed out, means the Al Qaeda forces are among the most humane fighters in history.) People who can fight a conventional army with an air force to a standstill over a period of years might have been able to capture a few poison gas munitions along the way. Not saying this happened. I am saying that given our sources of info, most of the time we don’t really know what is happening.

#17 Comment By Mary On April 25, 2017 @ 1:35 pm

“Bear in mind that nearly all the information and physical evidence available from the attack site in Syria has come from anti-Assad sources” — Unlike the author of this piece, Phillip Giraldi, who is a pro-Assad source. Seriously? Calling the White Helmets “opposition surrogates?” Saying “It is all too easy to forget that the rebels and their associates are killers”? And repeating the Russian talking point about how we don’t know who did this? There was a time when American media didn’t repeat Russia’s transparent lies.

Assad used chemical weapons in 2013. Under threat from Obama, he turned over such stockpiles as observers knew about to Russia — who have since *joined* Assad as allies on the battlefield. Even after that, Assad never really stopped using chemical weapons — he just switched to industrial chemicals like chlorine.

In addition to horrifically gassing civilians, Assad operates a death camp. Half of the population of his country is now displaced, either internally or as refugees. 400,000 civilians have been killed, the majority by Assad’s forces, which mounted sieges on cities filled with civilians. The White Helmets are among the only humanitarian workers who are able to operate in the region. Philip Giraldi should be ashamed of himself.

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#18 Comment By Paul On April 25, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

Where is our current ‘Adlai Stevenson’ showing everyone at the UN this definitive proof of the Syrian regime’s and Russia’s role in this ‘attack’?

#19 Comment By Alex On April 25, 2017 @ 5:35 pm

Claim about hotline notification from Russian is based on anonymous “former US official”, saying information was hidden because of political sensitivity but apparently despite the fact that Russians know this too and can expose at any moment. They never mentioned it. Scott Ritter is wrong, Su-22 has B-13L rocket pod capable of delivering S-13 or similar 122mm rockets including ones with chemical warheads. OPCW tested samples at its own laboratories, not in Turkish hospitals. And exposure to nerve agent like sarin has noticeably different symptoms than exposure to chlorine gas. There are too many dubious claims in this article.

#20 Comment By Bridger On April 25, 2017 @ 6:37 pm

@DAATH

ISIS and “the rebels” are rumored to be receiving chemical weapons from Turkey and perhaps Saudi Arabia. So their inability to manufacture Sarin or other chemical weapons doesn’t vindicate them when they appear to have access to it via state actors.

They have used various chemical agennts 52 times according to the NYT.

#21 Comment By Dr.Diprospan On April 25, 2017 @ 11:36 pm

As always, a good question from Mr. Giraldi, but I would have looked at the event differently. Did Assad Order the Syrian Gas Attack? I really doubt. Chemical weapons are inefficient, indiscriminate, provocative…
Let’s look at the event in the context of other events of April 2017:
Another Russian American crew flew into space. The Exxon-Mobil oil company is negotiating with Russian partners to explore oil reserves in the Black Sea.
The Russian national currency is rapidly strengthening. Finally, a group of Russian students whom I know well get an American visa without obstacles with the program “work and travel.”
For several years in Russia, international competitions in military equipment have been popular. Every year, the Russian military before the competitions in “Tank biathlon” and “Air darts” send an invitation to their American colleagues, but Americans always ignore the invitations.
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For the US military there are more interesting contests with the Russians – those that are 90 percent close to real combat conditions.
A good excuse is already available.
So 2 destroyers in the Mediterranean are ready to attack the airfield.
The US warns Russia 2 hours before the launch of cruise missiles.
The first destroyer fires 40 missiles and they fall unexploded in the Syrian deserts.
Thus Russia demonstrates new system of
EW – “Lever”.
Then the Russian military disconnects the device and allows 20 missiles from the 2nd destroyer to hit hangars with decommissioned aircraft.
Why did Xi Jin Pinge smile so good-naturedly, tasting Donald Trump’s gorgeous chocolate cake? He probably anticipated that if the Russian EW facilities prove themselves well, then, at the meeting with Putin in Moscow this summer, they will discuss a new multibillion-dollar military order while trying Russian ice cream with tea.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 26, 2017 @ 2:58 am

“The White Helmets are among the only humanitarian workers who are able to operate in the region.”

Unfortunately Amnesty International has become an advocacy group or the rebels. They are not neutral. After Iraq, they have abandoned their neutrality for choosing sides.

“Assad used chemical weapons in 2013.”

The rebels have been caught with their pants down on the use of chemical weapons. In fact, Turkey arrested rebels with chemical weapons. The cases of 2013 have been thoroughly dissected, fine tooth combed and it leaves advocates wanting and naked.

In the articles I noted its clear that death is no stranger to those who prefer Pres Assad admin. Death camps, battle is always a death camp.

Just a reminder: should advocates desire less death perhaps that y should start by advocating less unnecessary war.

#23 Comment By DedBrian On April 26, 2017 @ 7:03 am

Alex says:
April 25, 2017 at 5:35 pm
“Scott Ritter is wrong, Su-22 has B-13L rocket pod capable of delivering S-13 or similar 122mm rockets including ones with chemical warheads.”

Is that an intentional lie? No one ever heard about S-13 with chemical warhead. Not mentioning that there were never any airplane-carried rockets with chemical warheads invented in the USSR or for Soviet planes. And not mentioning that there are no B-13L on Syrian SU-22, they are equipped only with UB-32 pods with 57mm S-5 rockets.
They are beautifully seen on many pictures including the ones from Khan Shaykhun:
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#24 Comment By Winston Snith On April 26, 2017 @ 7:07 am

Mary,

the “White Helmets” are a known propaganda operation by the British foreign office.

As for your attacks on the Syrian government – “Assad”- why do you repeat your own regime’s demonization propaganda ?

The use of poison gas is a characteristic of the American regime under Obama – check the news items – and the Jihadist paramilitaries that work for it.

#25 Comment By bill On April 26, 2017 @ 8:24 am

im pretty sure that its established that the tweets by the Jihadist ” doctor”- thats the guy where the case of kidnapping against him was stopped as witnesses had vanished-were made 19 hours BEFORE the alleged attack…case closed…..
Where i live i have personal knowledge of 2 people intimately involved 1) the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights often used as a source!! by the BBC is one man who hasnt been to Syria for over a decade…for this reason alone anything he says should be treated with real suspicion 2) Rev Andrew Ashdown travelled to Aleppo to see how he could help,and to comfort the ordinary people caught up in this terror- his reports from there ( and he is a friend of the local bishop) show that everything being pushed out by the mainstream media with a few occasional exceptions from Fisk et al is more or less the opposite of what is reported,THAT INDEED SYRIANS support their army,have great regard for Assad and his wife,were imprisoned in Aleppo,suffered great deprivation,torture,murder,theft,rape,kidnapping etc etc from their terrorist captors and are deeply grateful to Russia and Putin for coming to their rescue, and have never heard of the White Helmets who like the SOHR are responsible for much of the propaganda……

#26 Comment By Marko On April 26, 2017 @ 11:10 am

If the fix ain’t in yet , it won’t be long before it is. France says Assad must hang :

National evaluation
Chemical attack of 4 April 2017 (Khan Sheikhoun)
Clandestine Syrian chemical weapons programme

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#27 Comment By Alex On April 26, 2017 @ 11:49 am

DedBrian, Syrian army is known to use many improvised munition, like barrel bombs and modified rockets. There is no reason to deny the possibility of using modified S-13 rocket, considering that similar 122mm caliber rocket 9M22/9M23 for GRAD has known chemical warheads. Also, thermobaric warhead can be modified to carry toxic agents. And concerning Scott Ritter’s statement, he said that Su-22 is not capable of delivering such munition (which is false), not that Syrian Su-22 don’t have such equipment (which is not known for a fact and can be investigated). Cheers!

#28 Comment By Michael Kenny On April 26, 2017 @ 2:08 pm

The more people try to rescue Assad, the more they dig him in deeper! It seems to be established that the Syrian air force attacked a building, causing a cloud of gas to be released. That cloud then drifted, at or near ground level, towards the village concerned and caused the damage that doesn’t seem to be denied. Professor Postel’s claim is thus irrelevant inasmuch as it seems to be agreed that the gas was not dropped from the air. His claim, indeed, supports the thesis that the gas drifted across the countryside. “A smell of rotten food and garlic”, which Mr Giraldi avoids claiming came from the gas, proves nothing. It could simply have been rubbish that had not been disposed of and I doubt if getting a bad smell in a remote Syrian village would surprise anyone! It appears that the videos and photos came from open sources on the internet and no one seems to have verified their authenticity. Such material is very easy to falsify. When was the last time you were in Khan Shaykhun? Remember “Wag the Dog”, where the “incriminating” material was simply fabricated in a studio? This material could very easily have been fabricated precisely so as to discredit claims that the gas was Sarin. Thus, the Syrians admit that they caused the gas to escape and the consequences of that escape also are not disputed. The manner in which the gas reached the village is also not disputed. The only thing that seems to be disputed is whether or not the gas was Sarin. Presenting that as proof of Assad’s “innocence” is like claiming that someone is not guilty of murder because he shot the victim whereas the police claimed he had stabbed him!

#29 Comment By Winston Snith On April 26, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

Michael Kenny,

the smell of rotten food and garlic is consistent with the smell of Phosgene, not sarin.

It is chemically very easy to produce.

According to the White House’s authoritative report, the building wasn’t bombed, a bomb fell in the middle of a road 100 yards to the rhw north.

Analysists now insist the small crater and metal remains in it are of a device placed on the ground.

#30 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On April 26, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

The more people try to rescue Assad, the more they dig him in deeper! It seems to be established that the Syrian air force attacked a building, causing a cloud of gas to be released. That cloud then drifted, at or near ground level, towards the village concerned and caused the damage that doesn’t seem to be denied. Professor Postel’s claim is thus irrelevant inasmuch as it seems to be agreed that the gas was not dropped from the air.

If you are agreeing that (i) the gas came from containers within the building that was bombed by the Syrian jet, and (ii) the building was under the control of the opposition (aka Al-Qaeda), it seems logical to conclude that the Syrian government did not gas its own people, as President Dump has claimed, and that the explanation offered by the Syrian and Russian governments is true.

#31 Comment By Marko On April 26, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

” Presenting that as proof of Assad’s “innocence” is like claiming that someone is not guilty of murder because he shot the victim whereas the police claimed he had stabbed him!”

Bombing suspected CW facilities must be OK to do because the U.S. has knowingly done it several times. Why not OK for Assad ?

When the U.S. or one of its allies does it, it’s all just a regrettable but excusable mistake! Double standards!

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 26, 2017 @ 6:53 pm

“Thus, the Syrians admit that they caused the gas to escape and the consequences of that escape also are not disputed. The manner in which the gas reached the village is also not disputed.”

Well,

you seem to be making a case for which there was no chemical attack and therefore Pres Assad must go.

I agree here was no chemical attack. And no, should one be killed by knife or gun or standard munitions condoned means of killing — there is no dispute. Nor is there any dispute that there is a nasty civil war gong on in Syria in which civilians are caught in the middle. That depot if sarin gas was in fact housed there was a rebel building, containing their ordinance. Based on your logic, they caused the chemical attack by maintaining illegal weapons of mass destruction ad they should be prosecuted forthwith.

Since there is ample evidence that Turkey, Saudi Arabia the EU and the US knew and in some cases provided the chemicals of WMD, they should be indicted as co-conspirators planning to commit war crimes. And at the very least guilty of sale, ad transport of such weapons.

There is a dispute over whether the US or Europe gets to decide who governs Syria.

#33 Comment By Oncefired On April 27, 2017 @ 1:33 am

I think it was definitely a False Flag Attack probably carried out by the White hats. There was not reason for Assad to do it, he had the terrorists on the run.I think Trump’s Rush to shoot a bunch of missiles was a warning to both sides that he will not tolerate the use of Chemical Weapons. The Bad part is Trump’s insistence that Assad be removed, now Assad & Allies will slow walk their offensive because the territory in question is really not that important to him and the quicker he clears them out, there will be demands for him to step aside. Russia is a Nasty Wildcard in all this!

#34 Comment By Winston On April 27, 2017 @ 3:55 am

And check this out:
[36]
Afghanistan’s girls show the dark side of America’s influence on the world

#35 Comment By DedBrian On April 27, 2017 @ 6:14 am

“Alex says:
April 26, 2017 at 11:49 am
DedBrian, Syrian army is known to use many improvised munition, like barrel bombs and modified rockets. There is no reason to deny the possibility of using modified S-13 rocket, considering that similar 122mm caliber rocket 9M22/9M23 for GRAD has known chemical warheads. Also, thermobaric warhead can be modified to carry toxic agents.”

There is no reason to deny the possibility of teaching a bull to dance ballet. That is a task of equal complexity as the one you described with modification of a grad rocket. Especially when you don’t have the necessary rocket pods.
Best regards!

#36 Comment By Hank On April 27, 2017 @ 10:33 am

The most important question should be- why would Assad use chemical weapons when he knew full well what the response would be(and was!)? The USA always expects Americans to believe the improbable/impossible and deny the obvious! Only a lunatic would derail the Syrian/Russian campaign to fight the foreign-based “terrorists”. Just the fact that people in the media are still asking this question about Assad is almost the ssame as bringing Lee Harvey Oswald into the JFK assassination discussion- they are beating a dead dog!

#37 Comment By Djosha On April 27, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

Here is how you can distuingish false flags :
If one opponent is doing something that is directly against its own interests, that means only one thing :he was set up.
Nobody is stupid enough to work against itself, in a short run.
Evil guys that do evil just for the heck of it, exist only in Hollywood movies.

#38 Comment By Eileen Kuch On April 27, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad never ordered any gas attack on the village of Khan Shaykhun. What really happened was, a bomb was dropped, hitting a warehouse in which the poison gas Phosgene was stored, and the fumes wafted toward Khan Shaykhun, causing the casualties.
Sarin’s an odorless nerve gas that kills quite quickly; Phosgene has the smell of garlic and rotten food and kills more slowly than sarin. Before the USG and others rush to judgement and pin the blame on Assad, they should hold their tongues and wait for a thorough investigation .. However, that didn’t happen, and Trump ordered a Tomahawk cruise missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase in retaliation.

#39 Comment By Simon Gunson On April 29, 2017 @ 10:59 am

Rebels in Khan Shaykhun identified a small crater in the road next to the grain silos & warehouse at the Northeast end of town as where the Sarin came from. Inside that crater was a crushed 122mm artillery rocket. Khan Shaykhun was too far from the front lines to have been the target of an artillery rocket fired by Syrian Govt forces. Also the Syrian Air force does not use these rockets on fighter planes.

The crater however is surrounded by oily stains on the asphalt splattered out from the crater. This is known as ANFO splatter and only occurs when home made explosives are poorly mixed with too much fuel oil in ratio to Ammonium Nitrate.

What this proves is the 122mm rocket may indeed have been filled with Sarin, but the rocket was not fired there. The crater was caused by an IED placed over the 122mm rocket.

Put very simply this whole gas attack was a hoax staged by the Rebels.

#40 Comment By Brewer On April 29, 2017 @ 3:08 pm

There remains the problem of the time line.
According to the Syrians and Russians, the air attack occurred between 11.30am. and 12.30pm. local time. The White Helmets film was delivered to Al Jazeera and Orient News at least four hours previously, most say earlier – at 6.30am. local time which means the film could not have been made on that day (sunrise was at 6.13am.).
Surely it must be relatively easy to establish these facts if one has access to satellite data and the newspaper records.

#41 Comment By Simon Gunson On April 30, 2017 @ 12:00 am

The presence of ANFO splatter around the road crater proves this blast used home made explosives in an IED… Therefore the gas attack was a Rebel hoax

#42 Comment By Tom On May 7, 2017 @ 2:43 am

Who were the people who filmed the scenes we watched on our TVs and where are they ? Why don’t they come forward and be interviewed and questioned by our mainstream media and Rt.