By Gareth Porter
Scrutinizing the Evidence in an Incident Trump Used to Justify Bombing Syria
A closer look at the evidence suggests the official narrative is based on a crudely staged deception.
The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued a report this September that reinforced the official narrative that the Syrian air force dropped a bomb containing nerve gas sarin on the insurgent-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria on April 4. That conclusion comes several weeks after the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a report that supported sarin exposure as the cause of death and injuries.
The reports by the two official international bodies appear to be aimed at closing the book on what happened at Khan Sheikhoun, where at least 83 deaths and 293 injuries occurred. But a months-long investigation by AlterNet into the questions around the attack raise serious questions about whether a sarin bomb was the source of the deaths. Relying on analysis from forensic and weapons experts, as well as a senior intelligence official with decades of experience in assessing bomb damage, the investigation suggests that a conventional weapon dropped by a Syrian plane struck barrels of a pesticide that created deadly phosphine gas that caused symptoms paralleling those of sarin and capable of causing mass casualties.
The evidence gathered in this investigation undercuts the credibility of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) laboratory test results that showed exposure to sarin, demonstrating how the organization violated its own protocols and opened the door for tampering. Further, the investigation raises questions about whether Russian and Syrian intelligence knew — or should have known — that the conventional strike on the target in Khan Sheikhoun carried a serious risk of mass casualties.
By Jonathan Power
April 11, 2017
Are our governments economical with the truth, if not maliciously misleading? Do governments the world over lie? Of course yes, because there are always occasions when realpolitik appears to demand it.
Most recently, many are arguing, we have seen an attempt to obfuscate the truth when President Donald Trump ordered missiles to be fired at an airbase in Syria in, he said, retaliation for an attack using sarin gas by the Syrian government on unarmed civilians. Critics blame the rebels.
I’m no chemical weapons expert but an hour chasing links on Wikipedia has taught me that making sarin gas without enormous scientific expertise and without a sophisticated manufacturing set up is not easy. Indeed too difficult for any of the rebel groups now operating in Syria. Moreover, if they wanted to mount a chemical weapons’ attack they would have chosen mustard gas which can be made in the “kitchen sink”.
This suggests since it was not mustard gas but sarin that was used, it is probably true, as Trump claims, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is behind it. Even though the government is supposed to have given up all its chemical weapons in a deal brokered jointly by the US and Russia it wouldn’t have been hard to hide away the small amount necessary for this attack.
Why do people on the left rush to assume that in this case Trump has lied? Read More »
By Richard Falk
In early morning darkness on April 7th the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian al-Shayrat Airfield from two American destroyers stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean. It described the targets as Syrian fighter jets, radar, fuel facilities used for the aircraft. It asserted prior notification of Russian authorities, and offered the assurance that precautions were taken to avoid risks to Russian or Syrian military personnel.
Pentagon spokespersons suggested that in addition to doing damage to the airfield, the attack had the intended effect of “reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”
President Donald Trump in a short public statement justified the attack as a proportionate response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the western Syrian province of Idlib a few days earlier, which killed an estimated 80 persons, wounding hundreds more.
Although there were denials of Syrian responsibility for the attack from Damascus and Moscow, a strong international consensus supported the U.S. view that Bashar al-Assad had ordered the attack allegedly as a means of convincing opposition forces concentrated in Idlib that it was time to surrender.
In the background, is the conviction among the more militaristic policy advisors and political figures, including Trump, that President Barack Obama’s failure Read More »