Tags: al-Nusra Front, Ari Rusila, BalkanBlog, Bashar al-Assad, Chemical weapon, chemical weapons attack, clandestine operations, crisis management, Damascus, MENA | Tagged: BalkanBlog, Middle East, Obama administration, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Syria chemical weapons, Turkey, U.S. foreign policy
The Obama administration’s public case for attacking Syria is full of inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence, While a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime is ready to start immediatelly the public reasons for attack are losing ground every day while the risks about escalation of conflict are rising simultaneously. In my opinion the U.S address of missile-strike might not be the right one so before any actions it would be wise to spend some time to clarify – whodunnit.
There’s little dispute that a chemical agent was used in an Aug. 21 attack outside of Damascus – and probably on a smaller scale before that – but there is a reasonable doubt if the Assad regime used sarin gas in this operation. For me it is difficult to see what desperate situation would have caused al Assad to use chemical weapons (CWs) and take the risk about intervention as he already is winning the war . His opponents however have the motivation. Below I have tried to collect information from different sources about alternative explanations for Damascus gas-attack in Aug.21. I try to show that besides motivation the rebels had also the opportunity and CWs to implement this ”casus belli”.
Do Syrian rebels have CWs
Some say they have some of the known Libyan stockpile. Some say Turkish agents made it for them. Some say Qatari agents delivered small amounts of chemical weapons to certain factions of Syrian rebels.
One of the U.S. government’s main justifications for its claim that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack is that the rebels don’t have chemical weapons. However they have CWs from different sources as follows:
a) Looted Syrian CWs
The Washington Post noted that a terrorist organization were among rebels who seized the Sheik Suleiman military base near Aleppo, where research on chemical weapons had been conducted. Also the al-Nusra Front — an anti-Assad group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and is also known as Jabhat al-Nusra — had seized a chlorine factory near the town of Safirah, east of Aleppo. Safirah has served as a major production center for such munitions.
Gerard Direct reported in article Syria: Jihadist Al-Nusra Front Siezes Chemical Factory Near Allepo on December 2012
Late Saturday night, it was reported that FSA fighters captured a Syrian chemical factory used to make toxic chlorine. Some reports suggested that the chloride factory at Al-Safira, southeast of Aleppo, is a also a chemical weapons depot and research station with chemical tipped scud missiles. The town, along with the factory has reportedly been overrun by jihadists who are purportedly fighting the Syrian government. The jihadists are members of al Nusra, a terrorist group associated with al-Qaeda.
Sure the U.S officials would hope to rule out that CW stocks had fallen out of the government’s control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war; this is however a real possiblity.
b) Imported Libyan Chemical Weapons
“The Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has acquired and used very powerful conventional arms and probably also has non-conventional arms, basically chemical, as a result of the loss of control of arsenals.”( Enrique Baron, The head of National Police counter-terrorist intelligence )
There is also the possibility that jihadists, who flocked to Syria to fight a religious war there, gathered chemical weapons in Libya after its strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, was deposed and murdered in late 2011. The Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Security Newswire cited a story in The Wall Street Journal saying an ammunition complex in the desert near Sirt was left unsecured after government forces were defeated, “allowing looters to walk in and steal guided missiles, rockets and artillery shells capable of dispersing chemical warfare agents.” There is at present no viable Libyan government-sanctioned force with the capacity to keep freelancer fighters from taking what they please from the warehouses, according to the Journal. In one structure, the word “warhead” was stamped on dozens of sealed containers. At another depot, empty chemical agent munitions were found. Britain’s The Telegraph later reported Spanish concerns that terrorists “could have acquired” chemical weapons “in Libya or elsewhere.”
Even mainstream sources confirm that Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya have since flooded into Syria to fight the Assad regime … bringing their arms with them. And the post-Gaddafi Libyan government is also itself a top funder and arms supplier of the Syrian opposition.
c) Self-made CWs
According to a report in Turkey’s state media agency Zaman, agents from the Turkish General Directorate of Security (Emniyet Genel Müdürlü?ü) ceased 2 kg of sarin gas in the city of Adana in the early hours of yesterday morning. The chemical weapons were in the possession of Al Nusra terrorists believed to have been heading for Syria. The EGM identified 12 members of the AL Nusra terrorist cell and also ceased fire arms and digital equipment. This is the second major official confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria after UN inspector Carla Del Ponte’s recent statement confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Western-backed terrorists in Syria.
A prominent member of the Free Syrian Army claims the rebels have all the components to produce chemical weapons and have the know-how to put them together and use if necessary.“If we ever use them, we will only hit the regime’s bases and centers,” the political adviser of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Bassam Al-Dada, was quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency.
A former member of a city council in the Turkish province of Hatay says that the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey,Press TV reports.
“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said. The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor. The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor.
Al-Alam reporter who accompanied the Syrian army on their mission in Jobar’s al-Manashir district, located in Rif Dimashq governorate, said there were packs of poisonous materials and deadly chemicals in the storage. A video showed packs of chemical materials labeled “Made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. – See more at:Chemicals found in Syria were from Saudi Arabia
d) Factories in Syria
This video from a Syrian TV news report claims to show chemicals (some of labels on these chemicals are in English) and weapons seized by the Syrian government in the rebel stronghold of Jobar.
On August 25th 2013 it was reported that the Syrian army managed to take suburb in the Khan al-Assal area by storm they found the warehouse and laboratory where shells were stored and stuffed with poisonous agents. Boxes with new gas masks were also found, they carried labels ‘Made in US’.(Source:Syrian Rebels Manufactured Chemical Weapons Outside Damascus)
Russian media sources have consistently reported Syrian military have discovered rebel warehouses containing chemical weapons agents and have documented rebel chemical weapons attacks on the Syrian civilians the military. Here is one example: Toxic Catch: Syria rebels’ chemical lab uncovered near Damascus
In addition the Syria Tribune released a video in December 2012 allegedly showing Syrian rebelskilling rabbits with chemical weapons, and threatening to use them against supporters of the Syrian government. Syria Rebels testing Tekkim chemicals to use as chem weapons
And here one more:
Do Syrian rebels use CWs
There are at least two instances where the opposition is said to have used chemical weapons:
First in March 2013 in Khan al-Asal. Neither the rebels nor the government denies that amongst the victims were military personal. In fact, it is said that out of the 26 dead 16 were Syrian soldiers.This incident was referred to the Security Council by Russia:
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters Russian experts had taken samples at the site in Khan al-Asal and tested them in a Russian laboratory certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Asal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin. The sarin technical specifications prove that it was not industrially manufactured either,” said Churkin.“Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was the armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Asal,” he said.Ambassador Churkin said he has given U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 80 pages of photos, formulas and graphs that support the Russian analysis. He said he would send this same information to his Western counterparts.(Source: Voice of America/ Russia: Syrian Rebels Used Chemical Weapons in Aleppo
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Mar. 24, 2013 in article Mar. 24, 2013 as follows:
The mysterious explosion in March 2013 near the city of Aleppo, which killed 26 people and wounded dozens, was swiftly labeled by Western intelligence agencies as a chemical incident perpetrated by forces loyal to Assad. The explosion claimed the lives of Syrian Armed Forces soldiers who are apparently loyal to Assad, and the Syrian government was quick to demand an international investigation of the incident. These two facts would indicate that Assad’s forces were not behind the attack. It appears that the target of the attack was a checkpoint manned by Syrian Armed Forces, which reinforces the theory that rebel forces, probably jihadists known to be operating around Aleppo, were behind it.
On Aug. 23, 2013, LiveLeak.com hosted an audio recording of a phone call broadcast on Syrian TV between a terrorist affiliated with the rebel civilian militia “Shuhada al-Bayada Battalion” in Homs, Syria, and his Saudi Arabian boss, identified as “Abulbasit.” The phone call indicates rebel-affiliated terrorists in Syria, not the Assad government, launched the chemical weapons attack in Deir Ballba in the Homs, Syria, countryside. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined “Two phone calls affirm the use of chemical weapons in Homs by terrorists,” saying:
“A phone call between a terrorist affiliated to the so-called ‘Shuhada al-Bayada Battalion’ in Homs and his boss who was called Adulbasit from Saudi Arabia uncovered that terrorists used the chemical weapons in Deir Ballba in Homs countryside.” “During a phone call broadcast on the Syrian TV Channel, the terrorist said that his group which comprises 200 terrorists escaped from al-Bayadah to al-Daar al-Kabera through a tunnel, adding that they needed to buy weapons to attack the City of Homs.” “The Saudi financier who was present in Cairo asked the Syrian terrorists about details on his group and the way they will receive the money, admitting his support to terrorists in Daraa and Damascus Countryside, in turn the Syria terrorist told him that one of the achievements of his ‘Battalion’ was the use of chemical weapons in Deir Ballba.” “In the same context, another phone call reveled the cooperation between tow terrorist groups to bring two bottles of Sarin Gas from Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus.”
Another video posted on YouTube shows what appears to be Syrian rebel forces loading a canister of nerve gas on a rocket to fire presumably at civilians and possibly government forces.
Damascus 21.08.2013: Whodunnit?
FM Kerry claims that there is scientific evidence to support the U.S. narrative that the Assad regime used sarin gas in an operation that killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. However neither Kerry’s remarks nor the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence explained how the U.S. reached this mentioned death toll. Old practice – at least since Bosnian war – of numergame seems to used again asthe British assessment was “at least 350 fatalities” while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and “tens” of rebel fighters, and an unclassified version of a French intelligence report confirmed only 281 fatalities. Besides numbers there is a doubt if all deaths are due sarin gas. The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, an anti-Assad group, said that it had been able to document 678 dead from the attacks, including 106 children and 157 women.
Assad has rejected charges that his government forces used chemical weapons as “preposterous” and “completely politicized,he argues Syrian forces were in the targeted area. “How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?” Assad asked in the interview with Izvestia, according to a translation provided by Syria’s official news agency and published by the Los Angeles Times. The Obama administration recognizes that the rebels and their supporters have an incentive to assume or even exaggerate the use of such weapons because it may be the one thing that could draw in direct Western military intervention against Mr. Assad. The rebels have access to information online about the effects of the weapons, so they may know what symptoms to describe to make their claims seem real. (Source: NYT)
When experts saw the first video-clips from massacre there was some doubt if it really was sarin gas in question. As Haaretz reports:
“Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. “Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: ‘None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,’ he says, ‘and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.’”If the “massacre” at Ghouta involved military-grade nerve gas, all those doctors and others milling around the fallen victims would be dead or in serious trouble. That’s because the poison would stick around for days, penetrating the skin and being inhaled by anyone who came close to them or even entered the vicinity.
“One alternative is that a large concentration of riot control agents were used here, which could have caused suffocation of large numbers of people who were pressed together in a bunker or underground shelter,” says Gwyn Winfield, a veteran researcher and editor of CBRNe World, a professional journal the effects of chemical, biological and nuclear warfare. While riot-control substances, mainly various types of tear gas, are usually deployed in small quantities using hand-grenades, they can be used in much larger quantities in artillery shells or even dropped in barrels from aircraft as the U.S. Army did in Vietnam, trying to flush the Vietcong out of its underground bunkers. In large concentrations, these substances can cause suffocation, especially in closed spaces where many of the Syrian families would have been hiding from the bombing. “
A key point in the government’s white paper is “the detection of rocket launches from regime-controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media.” It’s unclear why this is supposed to be persuasive. Do rockets take 90 minutes to reach their targets? Does nerve gas escape from rockets 90 minutes after impact, or, once released, take 90 minutes to cause symptoms? One other evidence is a video published by ”Brown Moses Blog” which seems to show Syrian army preparing CW attack whereas it is debunked with anonther video - Syria CW “Evidence” by “Brown Moses Blog” Debunked .
Syrian government forces may have carried out a chemical weapons attack close to Damascus without the personal permission of President Bashar Assad, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag paper reported on Sunday, citing German intelligence. Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last 4½ months, according to radio messages intercepted by German intelligence, but permission had always been denied, the paper said. (Source: Israel Hayom ) The report in Bild am Sonntag, which is a widely read and influential national Sunday newspaper, reported that the head of the German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Schindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German intelligence officials that Assad did not order or approve what is believed to be a sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people in Damascus’ eastern suburbs. (Source: McClatchy)
With the assistance of former PLO member and native Arabic-speaker Walid Shoebat, an independent news company WorldNetDaily (WND) has assembled evidence from various Middle Eastern sources that cast doubt on Obama administration claims the Assad government is responsible for attack in Damascus. Their findings can be found in WND/Politics article Evidence: Syria gas attack work of U.S. Allies by Jerome R. Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D.
Despite the Obama administration’s supposedly “high confidence” regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) wrote in their memorandum for President Obama as follows:
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this…Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you…There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war. According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.(Source: Consortiumnews.com )
One key example used by the Obama administration to justify an attack on Syria is the material related to dead children with the claim that the Assad regime carried out the chemical attacks. The true story seems to begin over week before tragedy in Damascus and the location was in Latakia – 200 km away from Ghouta.A quote from Voltairenet.org article:”Identification of the dead children in Ghouta”:
August 11, 2013 a reportin The Telegraph discussed the rebels attacking the Latakia village and Sheikh Mohammed Reda Hatem, an Alawite religious leader in Latakia said ”Until now 150 Alawites from the villages have been kidnapped. There are women and children among them. We have lost all contact with them.” Some of those children were found less than two weeks later, in Ghouta. They are in fact children who were abducted by jihadists two weeks before in Alawite villages in the surroundings of Latakia, 200km away from Ghouta. Contrary to the sayings of the Free Syrian Army and the Western services, the only identified victims of the Ghouta massacre are those belonging to families that support the Syrian government. In the videos, the individuals that show outrage against the ’’crimes of Bashar el-Assad’’ are in reality their killers.
Some photographs had already been distributed by the Atlanticist media to accuse the Egyptian Army of a massacre at a camp of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. The same phote has been ”recycled” to describe CW attack in Ghouta, Syria.
Using fake pictures to support a fake claim makes sense to me. Secretary of State John Kerry opened his speech Friday by describing the horrors victims of the chemical weapon attack suffered, including twitching, spasms and difficulty breathing.Attempting to drive the point home, Kerry referenced a photograph used by the BBC illustrating a child jumping over hundreds of dead bodies covered in white shrouds. The photo was meant to depict victims who allegedly succumbed to the effects of chemical weapons via Assad’s regime.Also the BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria. The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.
In the message August 22 Eugene Furst congratulates Col. on successful operation and refers him to Wasington Post publication about chemical attack in Syria. From the Anthony’s wife dialog with her friend it’s clear the video with the children killed in the chemical attack near Damascus was staged by U.S. Intelligence.This is a huge coup for the people. This proves that the chemical attack was indeed a false flag operation.
M.SHAPIRO: I can’t stop thinking about that terrible gas attack in Syria now. Did you see those kids? I was really crying- They were poisoned, they died. When is it over? I see their faces when in sleep. What did Tony say you about this?
J.MACDONALD: I saw it too and got afraid very much. But Tony comforted me. He said the kids weren’t hurt, it was done for cameras. So you don’t worry, my dear.
Critical U.S view by insiders
“So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?” “President Obama wants America involved in Syria’s civil war pitting the antagonistic Assad regime against equally antagonistic Al Qaeda affiliated rebels. But he’s not quite sure which side is doing what, what the ultimate end game is, or even whose side we should be on”…“if we are dangerously uncertain of the outcome and are led into war by a Commander-in-chief who can’t recognize that this conflict is pitting Islamic extremists against an authoritarian regime with both sides shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ at each other, then let Allah sort it out.” (Sarah Palin)
AP hit the nail on the head when it wrote:
U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.
The Iraq experience informs us that secretaries of State can express great confidence about matters that they are completely wrong about, and that U.S. intelligence assessments can be based on distortion of evidence and deliberate suppression of contradictory facts. (Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible? by Jim Naureckas)
One motivation for U.S attack might be interests of military-industrial-complex. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), however, pointed out that opposition to a strike on Syria is not universally opposed:
I did notice, for what it’s worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they’re not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.
Indeed the “pressure” to strike Syria comes from corporations which profit from war, including private central banks, and corporations which make the instruments of war – not from the so-called “red line” that was supposedly crossed with use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
The official ”public” truth in U.S claims that Assad’s regime is perpetrator of Damascus gas-attack as the rebels don’t have chemical weapons. However, multiple lines of evidence show that the rebels do have chemical weapons. One should remember that the opponents of Assad regime have possiblity and motivation to use chemical weapons and indeed they probably have already used them in Spring 2013. It might be also possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad’s military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. Anyway even in this case there is no reason to military attack against al Assad. One should remember that the opponents of Assad regime have possiblity and motivation to use chemical weapons and indeed they probably have already used them in Spring 2013. It might be also possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad’s military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. Anyway even in this case there is no reason to military attack against al Assad.
Syria, Iran and Russia are promoting a proposal for a diplomatic compromise that could prevent such an attack. The proposal includes a plan for a “democratic transfer” of power in stages. This seems to be an improved version of the proposal presented in the past, according to which elections for the president of Syria will be expedited and President Bashar Assad will not run again . In another proposal, which was reported in Haaretz last week, Syria will agree to completely remove its inventory of chemical weapons from the country and transfer it to Russia or another country. (Source: Haaretz )
- Syria: From War To Dissolution With Help Of Media by Ari Rusila, August 2013
- Syrian Rebels Admit Chemical Attack In Damascus??? by Ari Rusila, August 2013
- U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syriaby Ari Rusila, April 2013
- War on Syria:Gateway to WWIIIby Tony Cartalucci & Nile Bowie, November 2012
- Required Sorties and Weapons to Degrade Syrian Air Force Excluding Integrated Air Defense System (IADS), 31 July 2013 by Christopher Harmer, Senior Naval Analyst/Institute for the Study of War
- Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria.A Human Rights Watch report