Saturday, 8 April 2017

Did the Syrian armed forces use sarin?

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Some readers say I have been too quick in believing that the Syrian government forces used sarin, but I think they did.

I don't know for certain, but the sarin was delivered by rocket. This is clear from the account of the Guardian woman, who was the first to report from the scene in Khan Sheikhun.
Her evidence is supported by the view of the magnificently named Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment, who dismissed the Russian theory that they accidentally blew up a rebel supply of sarin, when he told the BBC:
Axiomatically, if you blow up Sarin, you destroy it.
Sarin and other nerve agents are also usually stocked as two distinct chemical precursors that are combined just before use. Colonel de Bretton-Gordon is not a disinterested observer - he has written in support of a no fly zone over Syria, which, as the doughty Vanessa Beeley says, means regime change. Still, he sounds authoritative.

There is no proof, of course, and no proof that the regime used sarin in 2013. 
If it wasn't the Syrian forces, this time, it would have had to have been a false flag operation. The strong argument for a false flag operation is the 'cui bono?' argument, that the regime using sarin clearly benefits the rebels. However, the one writer on the Middle East whom I trust is the (very left-wing) Patrick Cockburn, son of Claud. He says, in a very insightful piece that you should read, that
Those who argue that the Syrian armed forces would not have done anything quite so foolish and against their own interests as to launch the strikes, probably underestimate the extent of the stupidity present in all armies. There is an old Israeli military saying, employed about a number of their commanders, which is apposite and says that the general “was so stupid that even the other generals noticed”.
It seems to me that using sarin fits with the stupid cruelty of the regime and of other similar regimes.

Former British Ambassador in Damascus Peter Ford disagrees. He does not think the Syrian armed forces used sarin this time, any more than he believed a massacre was going on when the regime captured East Aleppo.

An American woman who calls herself 'Sane Progressive' makes an interesting case for this being a false flag operation. It includes Stephen Cohen, a left-wing American pro-Trump voice who has taken a pro-Russian line since the days of Gorbachev. 

Paul Watson also makes an enjoyable case from another political position. He was, until yesterday, a huge fan of Donald Trump, but no longer is.

But I think it was the Syrian forces. 


Interestingly, I looked on the internet thingy and found Carla Del Ponte saying that the Syrian rebels had used sarin, in a BBC story in May 2013. It was in August 2013, remember, that the US and UK came close to bombing Syria because of the Syrian government's alleged use of sarin.



Testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests rebels have used the nerve agent, sarin, a leading member of a UN commission of inquiry has said.
Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that there were "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof".
Ms Del Ponte did not rule out the possibility that government forces might also have used chemical weapons.
Later, the commission stressed that it had "not reached conclusive findings" as to their use by any parties.

A UN report last year identified two incidents in which the Assad regime unleashed chlorine gas in Idlib province on April 21, 2014 and March 16, 2015, but despite its deadly and very cruel effects, chlorine falls into a grey zone under international law and is not usually classed as a chemical weapon. It was not one of the chemical weapons that Syria purported to hand over in 2013.

Gentle reader, if you know more on the subject of who used what chemicals in Syria please say.

13 comments:

  1. There's no way to make the Assad gassing story plausible. He had effectively won the civil war. He was in no need of desperate measures. Whether or not the 2013 attack was a false flag this one certainly must have been since Assad knew how close he and his family came to being Gaddafied by the West the last time.

    Putting it down to Assad being a "madman" stretches credulity too much. It would require a special type of suicidal madness and no national leader is that mad, certainly not Assad or he would not have remained as leader for 17 years. If it wasn't an accident then it was a false flag by somebody else. Whoever is responsible it wasn't Assad. That we can be sure of.

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    1. I doubt if Bashir himself is really in charge. I am told by someone who met him often that he is a weak nonentity. His mother and wife are very powerful just as Ivanka is in Washington. Mrs Cameron is said to have persuaded her husband to create a no fly zone in Libya. Despite feminism petticoat government still exists.

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    2. This convinces me. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/26/syria-assad-forces-carried-out-sarin-attack-says-french-intelligence?CMP=share_btn_tw

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  2. Chlorine gas isn't usually classed as a chemical weapon? In what universe?

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    1. It is and it isn't apparently. It's in a grey area, I read. I am no expert.

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    2. 'Chlorine was first used as a weapon by the Germans on French, British, and Canadian troops in World War I on the battlefield in Ypres. A decade later, the Geneva Protocol of 1925, the first constructive international laws banning the use of chemical weapons, was introduced.

      But despite its deadly effects, chlorine isn't classified in the same league as sarin or mustard gas. It exists in somewhat of a grey zone under today's international laws and is only regarded as a chemical weapon when it's used maliciously. Chlorine's complicated status on the spectrum of chemical weapons raises tough questions about the definitions of chemical warfare.

      For instance, why are some lethal chemicals internationally prohibited, while others aren't?

      "The difference between chlorine and sarin is [that] chlorine is readily available," Sahloul explained. "Chlorine is used for many other beneficial ways, to clean water and so forth, in many industries but that's why the Syrian regime has been using it because it's easily done and weaponised easily."'

      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/chlorine-gas-weapon-syria-civil-war-170314110043637.html

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  3. Without new or additional facts it's all speculation, a "what if" exercise in mental masturbation...
    And btw, the title needs to be fixed "use" not "used" :P

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    1. Thank you very much.
      Colin Powell said you had to act when you had 40% of the facts, otherwise it is too late. A shame that he and George W Bush didn't wait till they had 80%.

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    2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/26/syria-assad-forces-carried-out-sarin-attack-says-french-intelligence?CMP=share_btn_tw

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  4. When it's deployed as a weapon it's always NBC.

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  5. An interesting article.

    "Putin’s negotiating position will depend a lot on whether Moscow was complicit in the use of chemical weapons. Pentagon officials said there was a Russian military presence at Shayrat, so the chemical attack appears to have been launched from under Russian noses. In Rex Tillerson’s words, “either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been incompetent”.

    If Russia was complicit in the chemical weapons attack, with the aim of demonstrating US impotence in Syria, Putin could raise the stakes. If he was taken by surprise by Assad’s recklessness, he will look to mend relations with the US as fast as possible and focus pressure on Damascus to end the use of its covert chemical arsenal."

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/07/by-bombing-assad-base-trump-made-his-point-but-what-happens-next

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