Finding Truth in Syria

16 Nov

I have been perplexed by the intense divergences of perception when it comes to the Syrian reality, and the allocation of blame and responsibility for the havoc that has been experienced by the Syrian people.

In ‘the fog of war’ there are many ambiguities that allow ideological predisposition to color what we believe is happening. There is very little basis for trust, and the extraordinary complexity and shifting priorities of the many participants precludes a simple diagnosis.

This makes it all the more crucial not to succumb to explanations that confirm our political outlook, especially by doubting the conclusions that have been confirmed by multiple generally reliable sources of information. George Monbiat, a prominent and respected Guardian columnist supports the view that the main element of the anti-Assad narrative are true, and truer than the contrary interpretations offered by a variety of anti-imperialist commentators and dissident journalists:

<https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/15/lesson-from-syria-chemical-weapons-conspiracy-theories-alt-right&gt;

23 Responses to “Finding Truth in Syria”

  1. Gene Schulman November 16, 2017 at 4:26 am #

    Richard,

    I do not think this should be a new post, rather a continuation of your previous post. Otherwise, leaving out much of the previous post implies that you think it is irrelevant. For the first time in our years of exchanging opinions, I am in disagreement with you. You seem to overlook the causes of the Syrian conflict, which go back as far as the 1967 war when Israel, with the connivance of LBJ (USS Liberty), occupied the Golan Heights, if not before. From my view, it is the Western policies of intervention that are the cause of the current ME turmoil. Assad, and some of the other tyrants in the ME may not be the kindest leaders in the world, but they ran stable countries prior to the Western and Israeli interventions. I wouldn’t call these ‘failed states’, rather destroyed states. From Iraq to Libya.

    This all puts me in mind of the book I mentioned to you before; Tunisia, an Arab Anomaly, by Safwan Masri. It is an excellent history of Tunisia which tries to explain why Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, came out a successful (?) democracy, while all the others sank back into tyrannies. Unfortunately, the author blames Islamic extremism without taking into consideration Western interference and influence in this region.

    • Richard Falk November 16, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

      Gene:

      You are right about the failure of this new post should not have been presented as so separated from its predecessor. The
      debate on Syria is incredibly polarized at this point as strident comments confirm.

      On the relevance of Western responsibility for the troubles in the region, I agree, but the response of Damascus from the
      start of the anti-government uprising was extremely repressive, including against the children of Deraa. Several mediators
      gave up after feeling misled by Assad, including Kofi Annan and Brahimi, both persons I respect and know.

  2. Fred Skolnik November 16, 2017 at 5:04 am #

    I can imagine you congratulating yourself for having the integrity to overcome your biases and acknowledge what any bright ten-year-old would have understood right from the beginning, but once again you are citing and relying on still another journalist who doesn’t even understand the languages of the countries he reports from and comments on. (The cheap rhetorical trick of sticking positive adjectives like “prominent” and “respected” in front of your sources is a little transparent.) You do realize that any historian gathering information the way you do would simply be laughed off the stage. Once again, why do you bother? What compels you to exprees opinions about peoples and countries about which you have next to no direct knowledge? And what value do you think these opinions have other than to reinforce the biases of a following that includes a few too many people whose mental stability is questionable.

    • Richard Falk November 16, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

      I fail to understand why you are so preoccupied with discrediting me on my own blog.
      There must be better uses of your time and energy. If my words are so worthless wouldn’t
      you serve your cause better by ignoring them? I doubt that your knowledge claims are free
      from the bias and selectivity that you attribute to me..I am not trying to start a dialogue,
      but expressing curiosity as to why you keep bothering..

  3. rick sterling November 16, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    The Syrian conflict is serious and deserves a much more serious investigation than this. If you look at the direct quotations in the first article below, it will be apparent that Monbiot did not read the JIM/OPCW report. I will include a couple other links for those interested in going deeper into this hugely important conflict which is not over. In fact the events at Khan Shaykhun may still be used to launch a new escalation.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/04/the-trumped-up-syria-sarin-case/

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/09/did-al-qaeda-dupe-trump-on-syrian-attack/

  4. Down with 'greater Israel' stooges November 16, 2017 at 10:42 am #

    Those who bring a note from MI6 propaganda outlet, (Guardian or BBC) to support the criminal west plot against other government, are either ignorant or imposter propagandist at the best.

    https://cultureandpolitics.org/2017/01/29/unmasking-the-msm-lies-on-syria/

    Regime change/Ghouta & Houla

    Given the context described, it comes as no surprise that much of UK journalism had decided that the Wests current official enemy was responsible for the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013. This was the year former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas announced that Britain had been planning the war on Syria “two years before the Arab spring” which was to involve the organizing of an invasion of rebels into the country.

    On September 16 of that year, the UN published the evidence in its report on “the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area”. The UN did not blame the Syrian president, Assad, for the attack, but instead expressed “grave doubts” that the Syrian government was responsible.

    Just one day after the attacks, a Guardian leader claimed there was not “much doubt” who was to blame, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West’s “responsibility to protect” (see below). The media’s response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, similarly reported the Assad government as having been mainly responsible for the deaths.

    On June 27, 2012, a UN Commission of Inquiry delivered its report on the Houla massacre by concluding that they were unable to determine the identity of the perpetrators. However, the gruesome nature of many of the deaths pointed to the kinds of atrocities typical of Al Qaida and their affiliates in the Anbar province of Iraq. Nevertheless, the clear intention of the media was to attempt to cast Syria into the ‘civil war’ of the Wests making. The propaganda offensive continued two months later when Barack Obama announced his “red line.”

    On cue, on April, 2013, the White House claimed that US intelligence assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that “the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin”. This was flatly contradicted by former Swiss attorney-general Carla Del Ponte on May 6, 2013. Speaking for the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria, Del Ponte said, “We have no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons.”

    September 16, 2013 UN report

    Seemingly undeterred, Washington continued with the accusations following the chemical attacks in Ghouta over three months later, long before the UN published the conclusions in its September 16, 2013 report. The reports findings were cautious in terms of blaming the Assad regime for the attack. Nevertheless, as far as the U.S administration was concerned, Assad had crossed the ‘red line’ and was pronounced ‘guilty’. As a result, the U.S president announced on television that he was going to respond with a ‘targeted’ military strike on Syria, despite widespread public opposition to any such attack.

    In response to the opposition to mission creep and war, the BBC produced the now infamous documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, arguably the most overt piece of war propaganda ever made. Sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 that purported to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school in Urm Al-Kubra were, in the words of journalist Robert Stuart, “largely, if not entirely, staged.” Broadcast on the day the House of Commons was due to vote for military action in Syria, the documentary was clearly intended to influence the vote which the Cameron government ultimately lost. Stuart’s brilliant and meticulous analytical demolition of the documentary is discussed here.

  5. destroy zionism/imperalism, two side of the same coin November 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    Richard falk a member of the criminal organization – council on foreign relations- where his president, a criminal zionist jews believe:

    Long-time foreign policy insider Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes democracy is when the guys he likes win. Free elections that produce “enemies” of the US or Israel are by definition not democratic and the winners should be overthrown by the US and its allies.

    Last month, in a column urging President Obama to avoid the “democracy-elections trap in Egypt,” he argued that pushing democracy too strongly may bring unacceptable results, as happened in Gaza. He wrote:

    Remember, President George W. Bush and his advisers pushed the people of Gaza into quick elections in 2006 that were free and fair. Guess who won? Hamas, by far the best organized party, whose mottoes were filled with hatred of Israel and the United States.

    http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/neocon-watch/2013/august/18/leslie-gelb-on-egypt-hold-your-nose-and-back-the-junta/

    Condemn and reject imposters who deceive the dummies

    http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/neocon-watch/2017/september/29/iraq-and-syria-genocide-relief-and-accountability-act-hijacked-by-neocons/

  6. We are angry at the criminal west and their stooges November 16, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

    US MUST FUCK OFF FROM SYRIA AND THE REGION NOW. The real war criminals and mass murderers who have done numerous war crimes against humanity are US-Israel-Britan. ICC should bomb them, otherwise is nothing but behind licker of power where should be destroyed now. HRW is a whore house and a pressure tool on the weaker states using hoax human rights. All must fuck off from the region. Russia should give them warning, if they don’t leave Syria, Russia must bomb their position to destroy these mass murderers.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-received-no-permission-from-the-un-to-intervene-in-syria-despite-their-false-claim-russian-foreign-ministry/5618585

    The United States received no permission from the United Nations to intervene in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

    “We were surprised to hear a statement made by US Defense Secretary James Mattis when talking to the US media representatives on November 13 that the US Armed Forces are in Syria “with the permission of the UN,”” Zakharova said.

    Her comments were made on Monday after Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that Washington’s intervention in Syria had been approved by the United Nations.

    “I want to remind you that the Security Council is the only body under the UN Charter that is entitled to take decisions on using military force in the international community,” she said, adding that no such decision has been taken. “The US units are there in disregard of the country’s legitimate government in fact acting as occupants,” the diplomat stressed.

    Zakharova emphasized that the US tries to “withhold part of Syrian territory.”

    “The task, which is again seen as part of this approach, is to achieve the necessary result of settlement by force,” she said.

    “We are very concerned by the US attempts to settle in someone’s house while they apparently do not bring peace and calm to that house. We hope that the US will still formulate its fair and legal position on the issue of its presence in Syria, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier said,” Zakharova said.

    This follows on from an earlier report by FRN of Jim Jatras, a former US diplomat and adviser to Senate Republic leadership, who also said Washington is violating international law by intervening in Syria following on from Mattis’ false claims.

  7. Brewer November 16, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    Oh dear Richard – you have given me quite a task. This incident was a long time ago and I had quite a lot of information which I will now have to try and track down.
    First a little housekeeping and some general remarks before we get down to specifics.
    Your link to Monbiot’s article is a dud (on my server at least). Here is one that I hope works:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/15/lesson-from-syria-chemical-weapons-conspiracy-theories-alt-right

    Firstly, propaganda is a potent weapon in every conflict and is often recognizable by its illogical nature. Aimed at the general public who rarely analyze, it often builds irrational monsters and Assad is no exception in the popular press.

    It is worth considering what possible motive Assad might have for deploying CW at the times and places alleged. CW may be potent within a defined battle environment but it is useless in urban, asymmetric warfare. In Syria’s case, the downside is huge (more of this later).

    I don’t think anyone now believes the first alleged CW attack (Ghouta) was carried out by the SAA but the efforts to establish that narrative are strikingly similar to that surrounding Khan Shaykhun. On that occasion however, it seems beyond credibility that the Assad Government would have allowed a CW attack in a suburb of Damascus on the very day U.N. inspectors arrived at Assad’s invitation. Assad is not unhinged (though many would like us to believe he is).

    When the news of the alleged CW attack on Khan Shaykhun broke I noticed an anomaly. The reports were filed with Al Jazeerah and one other news group before the time of the aerial attack. It has taken until now for someone else to notice:
    “Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al Qaeda dupe, reports Robert Parry.
    A new United Nations-sponsored report on the April 4 sarin incident in an Al Qaeda-controlled town in Syria blames Bashar al-Assad’s government for the atrocity, but the report contains evidence deep inside its “Annex II” that would prove Assad’s innocence.
    If you read that far, you would find that more than 100 victims of sarin exposure were taken to several area hospitals before the alleged Syrian warplane could have struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun.”

    As I blogged my information on Robert’s “Consortium News” site months ago I expect him to buy the first round if I ever meet him!!
    The article is here:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/09/did-al-qaeda-dupe-trump-on-syrian-attack/

    That Assad would conduct this attack a week after President Trump signaled a willingness to let him continue in power beggars belief. In both of these incidents, the opposite conclusion is far more logical i.e that they were perpetrated by those whose interests were best served.

    Now to Monbiot.
    He says “The Syrian government has a long history of chemical weapons use” and links to an article that can only be described as a litany of allegations citing dubious sources such as our friend in the Coventry semi-detached (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights). In fact, there is not one bit of “History” in it.
    Monbiot then tells us “a major propaganda effort has sought to discredit such testimony, and characterize the atrocity as a “false-flag attack”. This effort began with an article published on the website Al-Masdar news, run by the Syrian government loyalist Leith Abou Fadel. It suggested that either the attack had been staged by “terrorist forces”, or chemicals stored in a missile factory had inadvertently been released when the Syrian government bombed it.” He goes on to link to Infowars. This looks like a smear by association. The impression gained is that the counter-narrative is entirely the work of dubious websites. This is simply not the case. Robert Parry (who broke the Iran Contra story), Seymour Hersh, Theo Postol and Noam Chomsky (be they right or wrong) are not propagandists and they were in the vanguard.
    Theodore A. Postol is a professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Monbiot cherry-picks some off the cuff remarks to allege “the “solid scientific source” he used to support his theory about the origin of sarin used in Syria was “Syrian Sister”. This is rubbish. Postol’s report relies entirely on meteorological, photographic, basic physics, video evidence, and solid analytical methods. There is a copy here:
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/04/67102.html

    At first reading I was somewhat dismayed but as I pulled at a few threads, Monbiot’s piece disintegrated into a large measure of innuendo with very few facts. His attack on Hersh is typical. Consider:
    “In June the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an article in the German paper Die Welt, based on information from a “senior adviser to the US intelligence community” who maintained that there had been no sarin strike on Khan Shaykhun. Instead, a meeting of jihadist leaders in “a two-storey cinder-block building” had been bombed by the Syrian air force……..So which building was he talking about? I asked Hersh to give me its coordinates: the most basic evidence you would expect to support a claim of this nature….”
    That Hersh was unable to give the coordinates is unsurprising. His report was “based on information from a senior adviser to the US intelligence community” – not his own observation.

    Monbiot states “The Guardian visited Khan Shaykhun (also known as Khan Sheikhun) in the aftermath of the attack – the only news organisation in the world to do so. It established that there had been no weapons depot near the scene of the contamination.” – in order to defeat the thesis that “the Syrian government had bombed a rebel-run toxic gas manufacturing plant in Khan Sheikhun” and links to an article by Kareem Shaheen who says: “There was no evidence of any building being hit in recent days or weeks near where so many people were killed and wounded by a nerve agent. The homes across the street appeared undamaged from the outside. There was no contamination zone near any building. Instead, the contamination area radiated from a hole in a road.”
    I would question how he identified the contamination zone without scientific analysis. In the photographs given to Al Jazeera there are many buildings visible. The article then goes on to quote a “a civil defence volunteer” (presumably White Helmet) who says:
    ” So the second and third teams went with just face masks. We could smell it from 500 metres away.” Somebody needs to tell Kareem Shaheen that Sarin is odourless and if could be smelt, the smeller would be dead. As far as the building is concerned, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but that is too complex to elucidate here. One final anomaly is in “There was no evidence of any building being hit in recent days or weeks near where so many people were killed”. The alleged attack was part of a conventional bombing run. How did it happen that one small chemical bomb landed so far from the path of the raid?

    That is all I can spare time for right now. I hope Monbiot’s piece will inspire some rebuttals and we can keep this conversation going. I will keep searching my archives and may add to this later.
    Regards.

    • Richard Falk November 17, 2017 at 2:31 am #

      Thanks for the major effort to enlighten me. I will consider carefully after returning from Vietnam.

      • causticlogic November 17, 2017 at 3:15 am #

        To add and subtract to/from Brewer’s post
        – First, if I can, an incomplete but powerful abd briefer-tna-it-could-be review of this “OPCW” report Monibot finds so convincing: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/10/a-confident-final-failure-of-un-opcw.html
        – many people believe the SAA did the Ghouta attack. They shouldn’t but do. Even the claims that fell apart and experts discredit were reported to lots of numb folks and never retracted.
        – Monibot is wrong to imply Postol relies much on Susli, who does seem pretty sharp anyway. His work is still very flawed and overrated, but he makes some good points.
        – the early hospital admissions evidence is interesting and WOULD be potent proof, but it’s more unclear than people understand – it’s all one hour early, and there are a couple of time zone/border/DST type issues that could explain that. They have some 109 casualties (between those admitted too early, or too far away to have started out after the incident), nearly half of them, treated in a realistic span offset maybe exactly one hour. That’s quite some error to make, gassing half the people an hour early, in hopes that jet does appear “in the vicinity” and making it just about exactly one hour … I don’t like how the report says this was “revealed” by records, not just “suggested.” That feels like bait. I predict it will be shown to be a simple mix-up, AFTER many have adopted it as their main point. Sound paranoid? People are taking it up, so let’s wait and see. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/11/idlib-chemical-massacre-early-hospital.html
        – The stuff used in the sarin attacks in Syria is always foul-smelling (like rotting things), is caustic or irritating, and has colors that seem to vary (liquid seems black, gas seems pale yellow or yellow-green, etc.). It tests as sarin (or something slipped in to the events associated with it does), but with very high impurities (France says 40%). That hexamine is part of these impurities, now taken as a fingerprint pointing to Syria. It’s not military grade, but it’s been used in every attack BLAMED ON “Assad,” so… oh yeah, that’s always accepted but never proven, and terrorists could be behind all of these attacks. If it can be shown in several cases, as it has, the rest will have to follow (to those with intellectual integrity and who have the misfortune of becoming aware).

  8. causticlogic November 17, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    I was looking for the part where you got to how to sort out claims. But it’s not in the (missing other half?), but here? So basically, trust in the “multiple generally reliable sources of information”
    Like: UN CoI, run from New York, headed by a Washington think-tanker with the Middle East Policy Council, and they blame Syria for most things. The OPCW, headed by Turkey’s former ambassador to NATO and Israel, and his agency blames Syria for most CW attacks. various corporate-owned or institutionally-funded mainstream and “alternative” media, New York human rights groups who believe the word of Islamist fanatics and their more-shaven allies without question… plus each US administration, the Saudi and other royal families, France and UK, Turkey, Israel, etc. – all independently decided Syria’s government must be criminally insane. Huh.

    Whatever the cause, I’ve caught the OPCW and UN CoI and their Joint Investigative Mechanism, the supposed neutral and reliable ones on that list, in dozens of dubious claims or outright distortions, all of them aiding their clearly desired case against Syria. Details available on request.

    Monibot does point out a number of serious problems with the exact claims run against the slanted findings, the exact people making them and ways of making them. As usual, outsiders take outsider arguments, and here it’s largely unsavory outsiders. Even leaving David Duke out of it, sadly, while they’re closer to the truth than most, IMO, the Russians, Ted Postol, others can’t quite be trusted. I can, more or less, but I’m not a government or an esteemed MIT professor. Why the Russians and other fare so poorly is a bit of a mystery to me, but it helps make a case like Monibot’s seem legitimate. Plus he exaggerates it a bit. They all make some good points as well, like Russia’s military recently noticing the radar tracks for the two alleged KS attack jets show one was 4-5 km from the sarin crater at closest, and the other never came near the town.

    But the fact is, there’s a far more serious problem with the western bias that’s now so pervasive it’s invisible to most and can appear like reality itself. In Syria, this might be covering up an upside-down genocide by our Islamist proxies, where every massacre is by them, against hostages they’ve seized. That part of the counter-claims, sadly, seems true and is worth much more scrutiny. There’s actual compelling evidence for this in case after case, even if it’s not evidently in every single case. But that very serious possibility is kept invisible to most and the Islamist claims appear like reality itself.

    The best way to figure things out is avoid pre-packaged answers, dig into the available evidence for yourself, read both sides and take both seriously, doubt but don’t flippantly dismiss all claims, read between the lines of what they each don’t say, keep your nose alert for any whiff of a rat, etc. It is hard work that someone credible and reliable should be doing, but so far we have only efforts ranging from terrible to not bad and averaging at sub-par. Monibot helps remind us of the need to do better.

  9. Bring down ICC, Western tool against humanity November 17, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    ICC is a Western tool against weaker states to establish western hegemony all over the world. Its judges and members are complicit in crimes against humanity committed by the US -Israel – Britain, against Muslims and other gourps. ICC judges must be arrested and put on trial and their headquarter should be destroyed. ICC is a black stain on the face of humanity.

    ICC is western brothel house full of pimps.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/burundi-exits-the-icc-an-interview-with-david-paul-jacobs/5618753

    Burundi is the first African nation to withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction. Neither the US, Russia, China, nor Israel have ever accepted its jurisdiction, and it has prosecuted Africans almost exclusively. In 2011, it indicted Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi for alleged human rights crimes and issued an arrest warrant that became part of NATO’s case for bombing Libya. Other African nations have said they plan to withdraw from the ICC as well, but they haven’t yet filed formal notice.

    At the ICC, Rwanda is absolutely immune from prosecution for the crime of aggression against Burundi. The problem is that without a mechanism for trying crimes of aggression, what you’re left with is simply violence and problems going on within a state without the context. The fact that the violence and the problems within the state can be instigated by aggression from an outside state is outside of the court’s purview.

    “Burundi has made very credible claims that it’s been attacked by agents of neighboring Rwanda, but the attackers have escaped back into Rwanda.”

    To understand this, you have to roll the clock back to look at what should be our lodestone for understanding international law, and that is the Nuremberg Tribunal. And the Nuremberg Tribunal declared fairly famously that:

    “War is essentially an evil thing, and the consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime. It is a supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulative evil of the whole.”

  10. Brewer November 17, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    The Russian P.O.V.

    Key points (courtesy of Adam Garrie):

    1. “Victims” appear before alleged attack happened

    The Russian investigation into the events surrounding the incident discovered that 57 of the 200 alleged victims of a chemical weapons attack, arrived at hospitals hours before the attack was said to have occurred. In some cases individuals arrived at hospitals over 100km away from the alleged attack site, before any planes were even in the area. This is crucial as the US contends that a Syrian Su-200 jet dropped a chemical bomb on Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun, thus causing the incident.Russia has been presented with the original hospital logs of all facilities which saw alleged victims in order to confirm the impossible timing of the scenario.

    Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry also remarked that no one in the Khan Sheikhoun area asked anyone for the antidote required when one is exposed to Sarin gas.

    2. Eyes of “victims” inconsistent with exposure to Sarin gas

    Russian authorities examined the same photographs of alleged victims that the OPCW and United States examined and concluded that the dilated eyes of the victims were medically inconsistent with those which would have been exposed to Sarin gas.

    Photos of the eyes of the subjects were included in a detailed slide show, which is embedded below.

    3. Crater from bomb blast was from ground based device not a Syrian jet

    Russian authorities examined the same videos and forensic photos of a blast crater at Khan Sheikhoun that the US and its allies allege is the point of impact from a chemical bomb dropped from a Syrian jet.

    However, Russian forensic experts discovered that due to the shape and nature of the crater, as well as the scattering of shrapnel and other debris, it is certain that the blast occurred due to the exploding of a ground based static object, such as a crudely made bomb.

    Russian aerospace experts further concluded that according to the statistics provided by the US, which were considered by the OPCW report, it would be impossible for a Su-200 jet (which is a Soviet made aircraft) to hit the target where the crater was discovered based on the places altitude, speed and flight trajectory. A Russian Aerospace Forces officer said that such allegations “contradict physics”.

    Furthermore, if the crater was made by a chemical bomb, there would have been signs of a chemical mixing device which is present in all such chemical weapons. No such artefacts were found by anyone at the blast site.

    4. Fake White Helmet first responders were no where near Sarin gas

    The well publicised video of first responders made public by the White Helmets organisation, a group with known links to al-Qaeda, was deemed to be totally inauthentic. The video shows White Helmets members surrounding the crater where a Sarin bomb had allegedly just been dropped, not wearing any of the proper protective gear including gloves, body suits and proper respirator masks.

    The Russian official describing the event said that those men would all have died nearly instantly, if they were really handling items that were covered in Srain.

    The only logical conclusion is that the “rescue” effort was a staged display used for propaganda purposes, in order to frame the Syrian government.

    Russian officials blasted the OPCW report for not even considering the obvious fact that the event was staged.

    5. Sarin samples were poured into the crater after the alleged attack and staged rescue operation

    The only way that any Sarin could have been at the site was for it to be poured into the crater created by an earlier ground blast, manually. The only people with access to the site who could have done this were the terrorist groups in control of Khan Sheikhoun.

    6. Flawed methodology in OPCW report

    Russian officials called the OPCW report “superficial, amateurish and unprofessional”. Russia remains flabbergasted that no one from the OPCW went to the site of the alleged chemical bombing, even though safe opportunities were afforded, allowing them to do so.

    Instead, the investigation was slammed as being conducted remotely from New York, Geneva and locations in Turkey. Furthermore, the so-called “eye witnesses” questioned in Turkey lacked credibility as none could prove they were actually at the site of the incident on the 4th of April, 2017. Russia was also surprised that the OPCW accepted samples from known opposition groups based in Turkey who are at best wholly unreliable scientific sources.

    Russia further stated that it was “scandalous” that the OPCW also never visited the Shayrat Air Base, the location from which the US claimed the chemical weapons were loaded into a Syrian jet.

    Russia lamented that such conclusions drawn for clear political purposes, resulted in an illegal US bombing of the Shayrat Air Base.

    Russia was also critical of the OPCW for failing to provide Syria with any of the samples used in their investigation, as is required under international law.

    7. US politicising the entire process

    Russia was critical of the US for endorsing and participating in remote investigations which were based on “slogans”, while Russia relied on facts. Russia examined the same evidence as the US and OPCW and reached entirely different conclusions, based on the same set of available evidence items.

    A Russian official slammed the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley as someone with no real knowledge of foreign affairs, calling her someone whose experience is only in domestic issues. Because of her inexperience, Haley resorts to “hysteria”, blaming Russia for aiding and abetting the use of chemical weapons, a charge which Russia finds insulting.

    While the report itself uses highly inconclusive langue, qualifying most of its findings with words like “possibly and probably”, the US has accepted its own version of events as actual fact while still refusing to visit the actual site of the alleged attack.

    CONCLUSION

    The weight of the evidence and the nature of how many first hand accounts were gathered, makes it clear that the event was a staged provocation and that the only groups with any chemical substances at the site of the incident were the terrorist groups that Syria has been fighting.

    The US has allowed the OPCW to make a mockery of itself and Russia, as a country which helped to establish the OPCW, is correct in finding this a travesty of justice.
    http://theduran.com/russia-exposes-flawed-opcw-report-into-staged-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria/

  11. Kata Fisher November 17, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

    “The folks that don’t rest — look and see a halariously murky mess.”

    • Gene Schulman November 18, 2017 at 12:38 am #

      This has been a very interesting and enlightening exchange of opinion on the Syrian crisis. Whichever side one believes, based on evidence and innuendo, this will always be a difficult case to crack, and it is easy to have doubts about all the arguments. What carries the most weight for me in this discussion is the history of lies by the Western powers all the way back as far as one can remember. One tends to doubt every argument coming out of the US and/or its allies in these crimes. And watching the two videos supplied by Brewer show Assad as a pretty classy guy and much more believable than his interlocutors.

      And it is nice to see the return of interesting interventions by Skolnik and Kata! What would we do without them?

      • Brewer November 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

        Eva Bartlett is impressive:

  12. Laurie Knightly November 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    Actually, there was considerable credible information submitted here as to why the issues regarding Syria are suspect in nature and reactions/blame are presently in suspension – very impressive and a better trolling ratio. I would add in emphasis that Assad had no incentive to use chemicals and much to lose. His enemies, however, could reap huge benefits – and they did. Looking tough was the only suggested motive and that seems most unconvincing. It’s uncertain, moreover, as to whether Assad has full control of his army under the present conditions.

    One would question those who would oust Assad as to where/who is this projected honorable takeover group waiting in the wings? Also, that most of the Moslem world would obliterate Assad because of his brand of Islam. There are huge oil deposits in Syria which are located in the stolen Golan Heights and Israel is exuberantly celebrating the theft. The gas fields located off the coast of Gaza is yet another Israeli heist. There is foreign intervention and backing of militia groups of very questionable backgrounds and motives. The variables are many and the context important. Is this about Syria or Russia/Iran? Destabilizing the MidEast has been an exposed US agenda item.

    Chemical weapons have been labeled the poor man’s atom bomb. Would that the horror of ‘conventional’ weaponry could generate such moral indignation. The more civilized folk blow humans to bits and include the destruction of everything in the piece of the world on which they depend for survival.

  13. Brewer November 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. I have always found her reportage reliable.
    Here she takes on the origins of the Syria violence at Daraa:
    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

  14. Brewer November 20, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    The rebuttals are starting to surface. Ryan Dawson demonstrates Monbiot’s smear technique against him:
    “When Postol and Susli both appeared on a podcast run by the Holocaust “revisionist” Ryan Dawson”
    ….here:

  15. Brewer November 22, 2017 at 9:57 am #

    Jonathon Cook weighs in:
    “In what has become an ugly habit with Monbiot, and one I have noted before, he has enthusiastically adopted the role of Witchfinder General. Any questioning of evidence, scepticism or simply signs of open-mindedness are enough apparently to justify accusations that one is an Assadist or conspiracy theorist. Giving house room to the doubts of a ballistics expert like Ted Postol of MIT, or an experienced international arms expert like Scott Ritter, or a famous investigative journalist like Seymour Hersh, or a former CIA analyst like Ray McGovern, is apparently proof that one is an atrocity denier or worse.”
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/22/syria-experts-and-george-monbiot/

    Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Here she examines the events in Daraa:
    ” April 2011: The killing of soldiers

    What we do know for certain is that on April 25, 2011, nineteen Syrian soldiers were gunned down in Daraa by unknown assailants. The names, ages, dates of birth and death, place of birth and death and marital/parental status of these 19 soldiers are documented in a list of military casualties obtained from Syria’s Defense Ministry.

    The list was corroborated by another document – given to me by a non-government acquaintance involved in peace efforts – that details 2011 security casualties. All 19 names were verified by this second list.

    Were these the soldiers of the “Daraa massacre?” April 25 is later than the dates suggested by multiple sources – and these 19 deaths were not exactly “hidden.”

    But even more startling than actually finding the 19 Daraa soldiers on a list, was the discovery that in April 2011, eighty-eight soldiers were killed by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria.

    Keep in mind that the Syrian army was mostly not in the field that early on in the conflict. Other security forces like police and intelligence groups were on the front lines then – and they are not included in this death toll.

    The first Syrian soldiers to be killed in the conflict, Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub, were killed on March 23 in Daraa.

    Two days after those first military casualties, Ala’a Nafez Salman was gunned down in Latakia.

    On April 9, Ayham Mohammad Ghazali was shot dead in Douma, south of Damascus. The first soldier killing in Homs Province – in Teldo – was on April 10 when Eissa Shaaban Fayyad was shot.

    April 10 was also the day when we learned of the first massacre of Syrian soldiers – in Banyas, Tartous – when nine troops were ambushed and gunned down on a passing bus. The BBC, Al Jazeera and the Guardian all initially quoted witnesses claiming the dead soldiers were “defectors” shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians.

    A protester in the flahspoint central Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back towards security forces, on December 27, 2011. (AFP photo)

    That narrative was debunked later, but the story that soldiers were being killed by their own commanders stuck hard throughout 2011 – and gave the media an excuse to ignore stories that security forces were being targeted by armed groups. “

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

  16. Brewer November 23, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the alternative case. I feel I have had a fair go so I will leave you with this brief summary which conveys approximately what I have come to believe is the back story in Syria. A key to understanding is the technique, now well known, of covertly placing riflemen amongst civilian protesters in the target nation. It does not matter who they kill or maim – opposition or Government – the result is the same. It is a very simple technique by which even largely cohesive societies can be polarized into civil war. Syria is just one example. There is evidence of its use in Iraq, Libya, the Ukraine and possibly many other regime-change operations in History such as Chile.

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