Did the Syrian Army Ever Use Chemical Weapons in the Recent War? I Very Much Doubt It.
Originally published Apr 27, 2018
The claims that the Syrian government was responsible for the sarin gas attacks at Ghouta in 2013 and at Khan Sheikoun in 2017 have been roundly debunked by leading investigative journalists and analysts, including Sy Hersh, Robert Parry, Dr. Ted Postol, Ray McGovern, and Gareth Porter. Have a good wallow:
Robert Parry — Was Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack?
Ray McGovern — The Syrian-Sarin ‘False Flag’ Lesson
Robert Parry — Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack?
Rick Sterling — The Trumped-Up Syria-Sarin Case
Dr. Theodore Postol — The New York Times Video Analysis of the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017: NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims
Robert Parry — NYT’s New Syria-Sarin Report Challenged
Gareth Porter — Have We Been Deceived Over Syrian Sarin Attack? Scrutinizing the Evidence in an Incident Trump Used to Justify Bombing Syria
Seymour Hersh: There Was No Chemical Weapon Attack On Khan Sheikhoun
Jonathan Cook — Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Even an amateur like me can occasionally put two and two together:
Mark McCarty — Al Qaeda Kidnapped Syrian Civilians, Gassed Them, Filmed Their Death Throes, and Blamed It All on Assad — and the US and Its UN Puppets Swallowed It Whole
But what about the raft of chlorine attacks that have been reported, and often attributed to the Syrian army?
Here’s Robert Parry’s take on these episodes — from September 2016:
Robert Parry — UN Team Heard Claims of ‘Staged” Chemical Attacks
Chlorine gas is a lung irritant, not a nerve agent. For a person to die from it, he needs to be in an enclosed space when a large volume of gas is released into it — rather like being in a gas chamber. For that reason, from a military standpoint, it might be analogized to a stronger version of tear gas; you can’t use it to put enemy troops out of commission for more than a short while (unless you release hundreds of tons of it, as the Germans did in WWI when they ran short on nitrate for bomb-making). So, even when things were going poorly for the Syrian army in its battles with the jihadis, why would they have any motivation for using such a feeble weapon — when they surely would have known that any such use would bring down international condemnation on them?
In contrast, the jihadis knew that they could employ false-flag chlorine gas attacks for precisely that purpose — to bring down international condemnation on the Syrian army. Plus they had ready access to chlorine, which has many peaceful purposes. Note that a jihadi chemical weapons lab recently discovered in Douma contained canisters of chlorine:
Further, why do the victims of chlorine attacks always appear to be civilians? Evidently, gassed civilians create more international sympathy than gassed jihadis — and when you do a false flag, you don’t afflict your own troops, whom you need to keep in top fighting form.
Pulling off such false flag scams was easy: Wait until Syrian army helicopters are overhead; open a canister of gas; film the choking civilians; get the film out to the Western press, along with helpful commentary from the White Helmets — whom our MSM will characterize as international relief workers performing heroically. No need to worry about forensic evidence proving that canisters were actually opened on the ground, because investigators will have no access to the site. These provocations always happened in rebel-held territory where investigating scientists dare not tread. Repeat as desired.
If anyone can locate truly compelling evidence that the Syrian army really did drop chlorine gas-laced barrel bombs during the current war, I would be grateful to them for bringing it to my attention. But logic screams that the Syrian army had zero motivation to conduct such attacks, and the jihadis had every motivation to employ them as false flags. And conclusions of international investigative bodies are worthless when they are based solely on testimony and clinical samples provided by the “rebels”.
In the run up to the Iraq invasion, I studied the numerous claims by Iraqi defectors that Saddam was hiding an important chemical weapons capacity. One after one, I examined these claims, and found reason to suspect that, in each case, the claim was quite dubious. After I had debunked quite a number of these claims, I realized that ALL of them were lies, and that I didn’t need to debunk every last one of them to realize that the whole thing was a scam. That’s because there was a mechanism in place that encouraged defectors to invent defamatory lies, for our Deep State to reflexively believe and broadcast these lies, and for our MSM to pass them along with total credulity. The same phenomenon has been at work in Syria throughout the duration of the war. Our MSM take their news reports about Syria almost solely from the jihadi-affiliated propaganda organs, created and funded by Western neocons, that are represented as independent humanitarian medical organizations helping the terrorized Syrian people cope with the brutal assaults of the arch-villain Assad. And when brave independent journalists such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett have actually gone to Syria and talked with Syrians on the ground — reporting that most Syrians actually back Assad in the war with jihadis, and that the White Helmets are close affiliates of the jihadis, serving as their propaganda arm — they are denied any MSM air time, and dismissed as conspiracy theorists and Assad apologists by MSM “experts” who bravely do their reporting from air-conditioned offices in New York and London.
Mark McCarty — Meet the Heroic Journalists on the Ground in Syria who are Exposing the Truth
But this time the White Helmets have screwed up royally. Their most recent scam might well have worked, if not for the fact that the Syrian army succeeded in wholly uprooting the jihadis in Douma, forcing them to flee to Turkey along with their White Helmet colleagues. Naturally, the White Helmets in Turkey, along with and their comrades-in-arms the Syrian-American Medical Society, are describing a brutal chemical attack that afflicted over 500 civilians and killed over 40 of them.
SAMS, Syria Civil Defense Condemn Chemical Attack on Douma
White Helmets, jihadis, and their hangers-on, who fled from Douma to Turkey, are now dutifully reporting tales of a chemical assault, their claims being transcribed by the Western MSM. We are even told that clinical examination of some “victims” of this attack show evidence of chemical exposure.
But the flight of the jihadis means that independent journalists — including notably the esteemed British war correspondent Robert Fisk and OAN reporter Pearson Sharp — have had access to “ground zero” of the “chemical atrocity” in Douma, to be followed by international inspectors from the OPCW. What has been revealed is that the only functional hospital in Douma received no chemical attack victims on the day of the alleged attack, that no one died at the hospital that night, and that the White Helmets used the hospital to make a patently staged video of terrified “gas attack victims”.
Robert Fisk — The Search for the Truth in the Rubble of Douma — and One Doctor’s Doubts Over the Chemical Attack
Moreover, reporters have been unable to locate a single victim of chemical attack in Douma. (A few people have claimed that they heard about such an attack , or “smelled something” — while blaming the jihadis.) At this point, we don’t need a report from the OPCW to realize that the April 8th report from the Syrian-American Medical Society, referring to over 500 victims and over 40 deaths, is an overt sham — a sham that, thanks to the shameful gullibility of our MSM and our political leaders, led to a cruise missile strike on Syria.
So I have severe doubts that the Syrian army ever employed chemical weapons in the current war. And I think we now need to do a forensic analysis of each of the media reports that has appeared over the last 7 years that has served to demonize Assad and the Syrian army. What were the sources for these reports, how were they vetted, and were serious efforts made to corroborate them from alternative sources?
The notion that Bashar al-Assad is a sociopath who delights in gassing his own civilians — even when this risks international condemnation and armed intervention from the West — has always struck me as loony. Until his older brother died in a car wreck, thrusting upon Bashar the presidency of Syria, he was a mild-mannered ophthalmologist living in London with his beautiful and accomplished British wife and charming family. Every time I have heard Assad interviewed, he has struck me as calm, logical, straightforward, and bright. I’m not in a position to judge whether he has tried to be constantly truthful — politicians rarely are — but in any case he has never impressed me as a sociopath or madman. It’s undeniable that Assad’s father was ruthlessly brutal in dealing with his enemies. And it’s not an accident that, during our “war on terror”, we utilized the services of Syria for “enhanced interrogation” of jihadi suspects. The Syrian army and police doubtless employ some people capable of barbaric behavior — as do most armies. But I have no sense that Assad himself is encouraging needless brutality. Yes, in their assaults to reclaim Syrian cities from the jihadis, many civilians have been killed, and some hospitals bombed. But that’s largely because the jihadis use civilians as human shields — preventing them from fleeing, and sometimes holding them in cages as literal shields — and often commandeer hospitals as their headquarters. US efforts to reclaim cities from ISIS have been comparably bloody. There is no reason to believe that Assad or the Syrian army take any pleasure in killing or maiming their own noncombatant citizens.
And a person so daft and self-destructive as to employ chemical weapons just as he was on the brink of winning his war, could not have succeeded in seeing Syria through the last 7 years of onslaughts from ruthless jihadi mercenaries (paid $1500 a month, as compared to the $50 monthly wage of patriots in the Syrian army) funded and armed by the Western powers and their Middle East allies. Here’s a perspective on Assad quite different than what you will get from our MSM outlets:
Chris Kanthan — Assad is Not a “Brutal Dictator”
The Douma farce now gives us an opportunity to unmask the scam that Deep State neocons and their stenographers in the MSM have been pulling on the world for 7 years. Let’s be diligent in pulling back the curtain on the neocon liars and their MSM cohorts who have served as accomplices in the indescribable brutality that has been inflicted on the Syrian people.