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Sunday, February 5, 2017

What Happened on March 19, 2013?

The First Bodies Tossed Across Obama's "Red Line" in Syria, Part 1:
What Happened on March 19, 2013?
By Adam Larson, aka Caustic Logic
February 5, 2017
last edits Feb. 12, Nov. 2)

Let's re-visit a pivotal day nearly four years ago, when news broke of the first  undeniable and seriously deadly use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. March 19, 2013 witnessed the first clear crossing of then-U.S. president Obama's “red line.” And it happened, or tried to happen, in three places at once, across Syria, on a particularly loaded day. 
As usual, this takes some good explaining, and runs a bit long. A good skim might suffice to get the main ideas.
"Red line," of course refers to Obama's threat to intervene military against Syria's government if it was believed to have used or was planning to use its feared chemical weapons. As I noticed at the time, this could be an appealing invitation to rebels: create the impression of an Assad gas attack, and you can get military help.
That threat was first issued by Obama on August 20, 2012, exactly one year (almost to the hour, adjusted for time zones) before the infamous Ghouta alleged sarin attack of August 21, 2013. No clear attack reports emerged at first, but a reminder in early December was followed by Syria's only chlorine factory being seized by Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda), and a slew of small-scale CW allegations from both sides (7 Syrian soldiers reported killed near Damascus on December 22, and 6 civilian men and a rebel fighter in Homs, on December 23).
These alleged attacks were dismissed at the time, and then there was a pause in accusations of three months before the events in question. So to start, chemical attacks were not an everyday event at this time, but had barely happened at all, and it was months earlier. So it would be odd if not just one but two, or even three, incidents should occur in one day.

The Ides of March Window of Opportunity
The days surrounding March 19 feature an odd abundance of invitations to rebels to cross the “red line,” sharpening the motive consideration to their disfavor.
On the 15th, the armed rebellion had its symbolic two-year anniversary, with chances for everyone to mark the occasion. That day, the U.S. treasury issued a decree allowing US citizens to ignore sanctions and directly finance the Syrian rebels. On on March 18, as Britain and France continued lobbying the European Union to lift the arms embargo, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that "the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that have made a decision to provide arms" to the rebels.
Further, the top U.S. military commander in Europe - Adm. James Stavridis - said that NATO was laying out plans for possible military attacks on Syria, if an adequate reason should surface. Of course, president Obama had already offered one clear-sounding path to make this happen.
On the 18th, the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition finally elected what they called a new Prime Minister of Syria. With a few dozen votes cast, Ghassan Hitto, a naturalized U.S. citizen and member of the Syrian American Council from Texas, was chosen. CNN reported that the council "said the decision should assuage the Obama administration's concerns about who would lead Syria should President Bashar al-Assad be deposed. "This question has now been answered," the council's statement said." (see ACLOS for citations) Hitto would resign in June after failing to form a workable government there in Turkey, but that wasn't known on March 18.
Considering confluence of other people's decisions, it's clear that the morning of March 19 was an especially poor time for Damascus to cross Obama's red line of its own accord. Conversely, it would be a very opportune moment for any rebel provocateurs to do it for them.
The only question, in some minds at the time, is whether they had the capability. Western leaders acted like this could be known in the negative. But we now know at least some – like Jabhat al-Nusra - and perhaps other opposition groups did have the capability to produce sarin, chlorine, and other chemicals. They probably had this in both the Aleppo and Damascus theaters, and they might have at least thought they had it in Homs as well (see below).

What Happened in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo?
From Syrian Radio and TV coverage of the attack
Ironically, the first solid news of the feared chemical attack came in the form of a Syrian government announcement on March 19 that their forces had been gassed by "terrorists" in a town just west of Aleppo.
Khan al-Assal is a majority Shi'ite town that was overrun by opposition forces sometime in 2012. By this time, they still occupied a nearby police academy, but otherwise had just been chased out by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Alex Thomson of UK Channel 4 News reported the area “has been in government hands since 17 March.” That victory was tainted by the CW attack that came around 7:00 or more likely 7:30 am on the 19th.
According to Syrian officials, the attackers – reportedly with Jabhat al-Nusra, although no one claimed responsibility - were about 5km to the north, in Kafr Dael. They used a certain rocket, locally made and dubbed Bashair-3, loaded with chemicals. It landed about 300 meters from an SAA checkpoint, with a deadly plume – said to be yellow-green in color - drifting on the wind into nearby homes to the south.
farm animals killed by the sarin plume in Khan al-Assal
Some people dropped dead or paralyzed while other suffered difficult breathing, heart problems, foaming at the mouth, confusion, pupil constriction and vision problems, and loss of consciousness, besides a strange itching. At least 12 and perhaps 22 or more civilians were killed, including a treating physician at one of the involved hospitals. Dozens more were seriously effected, and a reported 16 soldiers, or just one, were killed (that's a point of confusion). A UN report issued in December found one soldier and nineteen civilians were killed, and another 124 people were seriously effected but survived. (see UN report and ACLOS page for more details and sources)
Syria demanded a UN investigation, but this was complicated and stalled by Western powers (see below) so the work was only done by the December report. In the interim, Russian scientific tests showed sarin was used in the Khan al-Assal attack, a "cottage industry" kind, in line with the delivery method.
Military grade sarin appears and behaves just like water; it's colorless and odorless. But improvised stuff usually has a shorter shelf life, besides an impure smell and varying color. The smell might vary and be hard to describe. "Like burning nylon" was reported by gassed soldiers in February, 2015. (link) Wikipedia says “impure sarin can smell like mustard or burned rubber.” In Khan al-Assal, people reported a chlorine smell (early reports), but also a sulfur-like smell (UN report), perhaps mustard-like.
There's also the yellow-green cloud in Khan al-Assal, which sounds like the color of chlorine, oddly enough. I've heard sarin and chlorine can't work together in the same munition - the sarin would be neutralized. But perhaps this was just its color, and its smell was something hard to place – it might smell like chlorine, to one seeing the color. It's also possible, if unlikely, that something else was added to obscure the bad sarin smell, or just to sow confusion and make it easier to dismiss (an industrial accident was proposed by some, upon hearing chlorine mentioned)
Whatever was used, we should wonder was this a direct chemical attack on the army, with no concern to outside opinion? Maybe. Was it a rebel screw-up? A reasonable target in their own turf nearby was just missed? It's hard to see what else they would be aiming for; the nearest target of note if the SAA security post missed by 300 meters, while the rebel-occupied police academy was reportedly over a kilometer away.
The attack might have been unapproved, an official mistake from Jabhat al-Nusra's point of view. But it was probably at least some commander's conscious choice. And as we'll see, it seems to line up with the plans of other groups across the country.
Obviously, gassing soldiers and the civilians they were guarding is not the clearest way to cross the red line and get Assad blamed for a CW attack. But rebels alleged just that, saying a regime fighter jet or a scud missile was seen delivering the poison (both were reported but both cannot be true). It was presumed this was an accident, as they were trying to gas rebels at the police academy, or Sunni civilians somewhere.
Not surprisingly, Western leaders and their professionals have tended to credit this dubious claim, with as little detail as possible. So this might potentially have worked, even on its own. But most importantly, Khan al-Assal was not the only alleged attack of the day. It was, and was perhaps meant as, just one part of a bigger picture. And in that bigger picture we might see a more workable logic to the the allegation.

What Happened in Otaybah, Damascus?
"it was dark. It emitted a very foul smell." Look who's talkin'!
Just after 8 am on the 19th, the first videos were being posted, from the rural Damascus suburbs, of a separate alleged CW attack. This was in Otaybah (alt, Uteybah, Ateibah, etc. - Arabic: العتيبة ), a ways east of the capitol, and then occupied by opposition forces. The Cham (Syrian) Media Organization of al-Ghouta interviewed bearded survivors who seem to be Islamist militants. They described a rocket impact that emitted “something like water, but it was dark. It emitted a very foul smell,” and caused serious medical problems. One "martyr" is seen in this clinic (seems dead or comatose), apparently a fighter as well. (see newACLOS page).
In another video, a rebel doctor says “The cases we’re getting that are still alive are exhibiting asphyxiation, spasms, slow heart rate, very low blood pressure.” He makes it sound like there are many victims he's seen, and “most cases we’re getting are deaths.” (via Robert Mackey, NYT blog)
But opposition records eventually reflected only seven people killed, with six known at first and one added later. These are: the man who looks like a fighter, five civilian men, and an infant boy. Records suggest two of the civilian men men (or teenagers perhaps) were brothers, and the other three men were also brothers or relatives, with a rare, Aramaiac name, suggesting they were from a Christian family. The baby, listed late, seems unrelated, but is said to be from an internally displaced (IDP) family. They fled from, were driven from, or kidnapped from Harasta, only to have a baby die in Otaybah.
The gender imbalance, with few if any females killed, along with those other clues, are all frequent features of the victims of all sorts of alleged Syrian government crimes. These and other frequent clues suggest the victims could actually be pre-selected and gender-segregated hostages of the terrorists.
With that in mind, whatever was in some rocket, or left molecules in some dirt, may be irrelevant. The victims would quite likely be gassed the simple way, efficiently in some enclosed space, probably at basement level, with whatever is on hand and fatal.
Furthermore, five of these seven victims are shown on video or photos, and none appears much like a sarin victim, although it can't be ruled out. Besides the oft-cited miosis (contricted, pinpoint pupils), sarin will usually trigger the SLUDGE syndrome - Salivation, Lacrymation (tearing eyes), Urination, Diaphoresis (sweating), Gastrointestinal upset (often causes diarrhea), Emesis (vomiting). I credit Denis O'Brien, PhD, for pointing this out to the U.S. congress and to ACLOS at the time of the Ghouta incident (the signs would also be lacking there, on a larger and clearer scale). It's a messy scene I don't think is in one single Youtube video of this, Ghouta, or any CW attack in Syria.
The Khan al-Assal attack victims should display the SLUDGE, but the attack was not shown on video, and some details may have been left out of reports. But Otaybah victims were shown; three of the men are seen full-body on video, in unsoiled clothes. This might be sarin anyway, or something else, like chlorine perhaps.
The Abu Kheir brothers, I think, display mild cyanosis (a purple hue first evident in the lips and the beds of the fingernails). This can happen with sarin or many other things. They do not seem washed off (no wet hair), and so it seems they died this cleanly, with no fluids pouring out.

Hasan Qashishe, on the other hand, died with a yellow-ish layer of apparent mucous or perhaps vomit from his mouth and across his face, later crusted with dirt. He has squeezed shut eyes that could be damaged and swollen, though that's not obvious here. He may display cyanosis (purple face) under the crust. His two apparent relatives that also died are not shown. 
The unidentified apparent fighter looks a bit like Mr. Qashishe, with no purple evident. He seems to have yellow mucous or fluid across his face, almost like he was hanging upside down as he coughed it out. He also has white crumbled material, varying from clumps to dust, dried on to this and on his clothes. This white stuff might be from a local limestone gravel, for example. Or it could be DIMP powder, used to fake out crude tests for sarin. It shouldn't have worked here, but they might have tried it anyway (minor point). 
So two men display cyanosis, and two others have yellow stuff across their faces. This might be the result of two or more different poisons used, or the same one used two different ways.
(None of these cases is very clear as to what it was, but they may fit a common pattern I've been following that extends wider and get clearer in spots. Men or older boys who seem like captives, with cyanosis, skin burns, and chemical damage to the eyes, coughing mucous and also blood up their faces, as if hanging upside-down – this is a phenomenon, of which this might be a part, to be explained finally in a follow-up report …)
The Otaybah incident was reported at the time, but made little mark in the news. With no hint of the apparent sectarian kidnapping aspect, Western leaders brought it quietly to the UN's attention almost immediately; France and the UK included it on a short list of two fatal alleged CW attack by Damascus that the UN needed to investigate, besides Khan al-Assal.
Within a few weeks, samples were said to test positive for some kind of sarin, or at least an organophosphate (the class of chemicals sarin, some common pesticides, and other chemicals belong to). Questions remained: were the tested samples from Aleppo, or Damascus, or neither? Were they soil or blood samples? Stories differ. It matters because, for example, biological samples cannot tell if it was military-grade or improvised sarin, whereas soil samples can. (see ACLOS:British MI6 Operation) Further, contaminated soil or tissue can be gotten anywhere, by people with access to the contaminants, to captive people, and to dirt.
Let's say there was sarin in the rocket(s) described by the rebel survivors. If it had a foul smell like they said, it's more likely to be stuff improvised by their own terrorist allies, the same stuff used that day up in Khan al-Assal. Further, if it was dark in color, then obviously it's not military grade sarin, which is clear just like water.
Also note that no details ever surfaced on the type of weapon used to deliver that dark fluid. Later claims have said it was a regime scud missile, but no one ever showed remains from it or even described it, that I know of. So what happened here remains unclear, but it certainly smells bad in itself, and especially coming alongside the Khan al-Assal incident.

Coordinated Terrorist Attacks?
The Otaybah attack apparently happened around 8 am or earlier, and probably not much earlier. Compare this to Khan al-Assal, happening at around 7:00 (UN witness) to 7:30 (official sources) or perhaps around 8:00 (somewhere else), all sounding rounded-off. 7:30 seems the best option, which means the two events happened very close in time, most likely within minutes of each other.
The incident in Otaybah was most likely later, and it's possible it was launched in reaction to quick news of the attack up north; an obvious rebel crime needed to be "complicated" by an obvious regime one. But some preparation time would be needed, the time gap is unknown, and it might be so small they happened basically at the same time. Logically, in that case, we could presume it's no coincidence, and the Khan al-Assal and Otaybah incidents were planned to line up.
Update 2-12: The big list of alleged attacks I'm compiling (PDF link: forthcoming) has two preview events in the area, 5-6 days before, suggesting it was planned to do something here, and not improvised at the last moment. Records suggest no one as acknowledged as dying in either of these.  In Daraya, on March 13, something happened,  U.S. sources told UN investigators, but they "did  not  receive  sufficient  or  credible  information." On March 14, French paper Le Monde reported, there was an incident in Otaybah. These could condition people to accept the next claim, five days later, where people are said to die.
This would clearly mean both incidents were by the same party, or allies on the same side, which only makes sense anyway. And as explained above, it's the opposition side that has the best motive, besides the impure kind of sarin everyone seemed to see and smell.
That terrorist attackers operating across the country from each other would use the same kind of poison is less obvious. And even if they both used sarin, it would probably be a different quality in each case. In one case, a yellow-green cloud was described, and in the other a vapor of dark colored fluid. In both cases vague or varying bad smells were reported. Both incidents have allegedly tested positive for sarin, and the record suggests it was all impure terrorist-made stuff.
And these attacks happened, it seems, within minutes of each other.

And What About Homs?
At a less clear time perhaps later on, a third CW allegation of March 19 was lodged, this time in in the central city of Homs. This has subsequently been ignored by everyone, but was caught and noted here at ACLOS at the time, and it's seemed relevant ever since. The detail is scant, so I can share it all here.
The opposition Local Coordinating Committees (LCC) reported for March 19: “Homs: Several cases of asphyxia were reported in Baba Amr due to releasing toxic gases by the regime’s forces on the neighborhood." No further details were given. The gas and delivery method are not described, but it caused breathing problems at least. The other incidents had this, but most would, whatever the poison.
The Baba Amr district, at the southwest corner of the city, was the prime rebel hotbed in Homs, but under heavy attack and about to fall. Reports were already calling it a ghost town by March 11. By the 19th, soldiers would have been holding some areas, as they worked towards pushing out the last rebels on or by the 24th.
The rebels of Baba Amr would flee south by then, perhaps with some captives, and then find many dead bodies in a brutal string of “Assad massacres” around Abel from the 25th to 29th, totaling about 100 people of several families, including some women and children (ACLOS). Were some of these meant to die in the gas attack? (note: rebels also found a few massacres, of only men and boys, after fleeing Baba Amr the first time back in February, 2012 - ACLOS.)
So both sides were present and either side could have been the targets here. But still, being besieged Baba Amr, this would have looked better for the “red line” case than Kahn al-Assal did. But it didn't stick.
A same-day Debkafile report (now premium content) declared that the nerve gas Agent 15 was used in the Aleppo attack earlier that day, and reported "extensive preparations" for more chemical use by the Syrian army "in the northern town of Homs." They cited "Western intelligence agencies" for telling them about a boosted military presence in Homs, with forces "issued in the last few hours with chemical warfare gear."
That was filed Tuesday, March 19. The exact time is unclear, but it would be hours later then in Syria; these “preparations” quite likely came after the incident reported by the LCC. There's no mention of that from Debka, but this “gear” is quite likely gas masks. The SAA might have just been taking precautions against more terrorist incidents like the one in Aleppo, or that plus an actual gas release in the area.
Otherwise that I've seen, there's no report mentioning such an incident in Homs on this day, either in the following weeks or in the intervening years. It's not clear why it was briefly reported and then never repeated. It could have been a fluke industrial accident or, quite possibly, something went wrong with this false-flag plan, or with some other plan it was a part of.

The Whole Picture: A 3-Part False-Flag Event?
So there were three reported attacks or "releases" of chemical agents the same day, with at least two seeming coordinated. As such, it seems quite likely three events were planned for this same day. We can see they were set for Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs - Syria's three largest cities, spread north, south, and middle. What better way to show what a threat Assad is to all his people and all of Syria?
They also chose a great day to cross the red line in a spectacular, nation-wide manner. But oddly, it seems they may have chosen this formula:
* Aleppo: gas SAA soldiers and mainly Shia civilians, blame the army anyway: that will be supported by:
* Damascus: gas some rebel fighters, most non-fatally, and fatally gas some gender-segregated Christian hostages, call them just civilians, blame the army. This was maybe meant to be bigger and clearer.
* Homs: unclear, but the army was blamed for a gas attack. No soldiers were reported hit, but they were getting gas masks, it seems, afterwards. Maybe this was meant to kill a few rebel fighters and several civilians, but it seems to have fizzled out short of its goal.
The reason behind this plan seems clear overall, but why attack an army position as part of it? As mentioned above, it could be a accident, but to me that seems unlikely. Perhaps they hoped the package of three attacks would clarify the regime must be behind all of it; whatever one thinks, they clearly gassed their own - presumably by mistake.
If that had worked, maybe rebels hoped to make it work as they gassed soldiers again and again. Eventually the powerful could decide it's not a coincidence, and Assad was intentionally killing his own - probably in a bid to make rebels look bad, which of course would fail. Consider the spin we'd likely hear if the plot worked: sarin was found in all three locales, recovered and tested, and they'd insist it was possibly military grade. Or the military used improvised stuff to implicate the rebels. But by the scale and nature of the attacks, it must be the government – terrorists are incapable of synchronized attacks, or something. And so, again, “Assad” gassed his own. Air raids hitting SAA soldiers or civilians afterwards would seem little issue in this light. They should be happy to be on the path to freedom from the clumsy rule of chemical Assad.
So collectively, this might have seemed a good enough plan to roll with. But the Homs attack failed somehow, and the Otaybah one fared little better. Only the supposed regime accident really made the news, with the help of Syria's announcement and demand for a probe. With that looking like a rebel attack, and with the danger that could get even clearer, there was likely a fear that the whole 3-attack idea would be exposed as the work of rebel provocateurs. So they dropped all of it they could at first, and the Homs part at least stayed quiet for good.

Put to Action: The Same Plan?
So the three-city CW false-flag plan - if one existed – was stillborn. The Aleppo portion looked bad, Otaybah was vague and seemed connected, and the Homs part had apparently already been called off by day two. The picture of a coordinated chemical attack by “Assad” against his people didn't come together that day.
But Western sponsors had their experts on the case, and they managed to paint about that same picture anyway. In time, all publicly agreed Assad must have fired those sarin rockets in Damascus, and obviously in Aleppo too, presumably hitting near a checkpoint on accident. They seemed less convinced than usual, and offered caveats, speaking of caution in light of the Iraq war's WMD claims and so on. But collectively, they held this impression aloft before the global audience, as Obama and crew used it as a basis for issuing threats. 
Leaders and experts who know to say they have no doubt it was the "regime" say just that. But from how they say it, and from what we can see, it seems the evidence does not say the same thing. Russian tests found the Aleppo attack used improvised sarin in a rebel-made rocket. It seems likely western intelligence had their own look at these samples, or found the same signs in one or both locations. Unlike Syria and Russia, western intelligence claims to have samples from Otaybah, but the results are shrouded in the same vagueness. (see ACLOS:British MI6 Operation)
With total confidence, Western powers knew from the start the presses needed to be halted for something. The UN-OPCW probe was called for on the 20th, and before the day was out the UK and France, with U.S. support following, were clear it would have to stop, and resume on a different track. The next day they added Otaybah, and the alleged incident of December 23, 2012 to the list of what the UN should investigate.
The latter allegation was from Homs, and had been dismissed at the time as a tear gas mishap (ACLOS), but suddenly people decided it was urgent again. And so the UN and OPCW were tasked, on March 21, with probing something very much like the Damascus/Homs/Aleppo attack rebels had apparently planned for March 19.
The anti-Syria coalition seemed less interested in the Aleppo part of this than they were in any other part, and kept adding new incidents that also must be probed. Following the events, it seemed to me they repeatedly showed hostility and bad faith to Syria, and simply got UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to agree with their intransigent position. Ban helped keep the onus on Syria to allow the CW "inspectors" - partly the same ones sent to Iraq before war was launched there in 2003. They would investigate all these incidents in some order, as well as Syria's CW stockpiles and facilities, in hopes of somehow “securing” them. (Monitor)
In this climate, Syria formally refused the project after all on April 8, with UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari declaring that Western powers had “torpedoed” the investigation. New alleged CW attacks began in earnest at this time, and were added to stalled queue. More claims were published of experts with guarded certainty sarin was used, here or there but more than once. Israeli experts weighed in acting more convinced than anyone: it was happening, it was systematic, and it was the regime.
It seems the intelligence agencies of were closely following events though their opposition proxies, seeing the videos and reports, collecting samples where possible, from whoever, and cautiously spinning this data. Seeing the soldiers in Homs getting gas masks, they spoke of “extensive preparations” for an Assad crime.
In fact, they may well have known all about the 3-city attack plan, as if embarked on a joint project over it. It could be the spooks were so in love with intended picture for March 19 that they had to push a new version of it even after the original plan had fallen apart. That's about what they did, at first chance by March 21. The case was pushed forward into the summer, still trailing dead bodies from the Khan al-Assal attack. They were just made to trail further and further behind as accusations were added.
"As a matter of priority," they did this instead
With some struggle and much delay, Syria was able to get the UN-OPCW investigators inside the gates of Damascus on August 19. This force arrived just in time to serve as a trojan horse, getting sidetracked by one more accusation, the grandest of them by far, in East and West Ghouta on August 21. Hundreds of bodies (officially, 14 hundreds) at once were dumped across Obama's red line, as a first birthday present. (Sorry, I just cannot get over that). The investigators took a while to collect soil samples with traces of some kind of sarin, and then had to leave without looking much into Khan al-Assal or anything else. As with Iraq, it was "inspectors" out, war plans in.

All this acceptance of opposition claims added to the perceived moral reasons for more “pressure on Assad.” The flip-side of this is it also added to the motive for terrorists – if they were the ones behind it – to keep it up. And of course the attacks kept coming, up to August 21 and past, and to the present day.
In fact, a little-noted recent attack would be the second largest so far, if true. Some 93 people or more were reportedly killed at once, in ISIS-held turf in Hama province, by sarin – not the usual chlorine of recent years. ISIS and others claim this was dropped on several towns at once by Russian jets, back on December 12. I had popcorn ready, but it got stale. Hardly anyone noticed. (ACLOS)
But between this first big plan of March 19 and its 27 dead, the follow-up reminders of mid-2013 and the second big plan of August 21, and the reminders and efforts since, the death toll has added up. Many hundreds of Syrian citizens, perhaps several thousand now, have been killed either in chemical attacks or in gas chambers so far. In my well-researched view, probably all of those – civilian, military, and rebel alike - were killed by Islamist terrorists, cashed in on false-flag incidents in pursuit of regime change, or at least more support to themselves.
As always, the paramount importance is on ending this conflict once and for all, with the clearest truth possible informing as just a peace as possible. I hope this closer inspection of March 19, the humble start to this one horrible sub-pattern, will help more people grasp the true nature of the unprecedented crimes committed against Syria's people in this ongoing regime change campaign. We must, as US rep. Tulsi Gabbard says, stop arming terrorists. Furthermore, we must stop giving these terrorists a free pass to launder their crimes as reasons to keep arming them. This bloody racket must end as soon as possible. 

<Add Nov. 2, 2017>I had forgotten about this twist I now add here. James Miller, Enduring America report, 3-22-2013: "Two competing stories have featured in the last 48 hours over Tuesday's "chemical attacks" near Aleppo and Damascus. The first is a statement posted yesterday from the Syrian opposition in which they claim that Echothiophate, a chemical often found in insecticides, was used in both incidents, having been delivered by a Scud missile." US-based Syrian Support Group  statement via Twitter (and shown below): Echothiophate was used in both attacks, dispersed with a scud missile fired from Damascus in both cases. They didn't hear anything about another Scud landing in Homs. It's noted the "FSA" has no missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons, which along with the wide scale of the attack was supposed to prove this was a regime plot.

Miller finds the poison to fit with reported symptoms: bradycardia, vasodilation, nausea and vomiting, and bronchoconstriction. He thinks a smell like chlorine was reported, when it should be like rotten cabbage. I haven't heard chlorine, just "foul," which fits. (Chlorine odor was first reported in Aleppo, apparently in error?) So was this the poison all along? It's been claimed or suggested samples from the Ateibah incident later tested positive for sarin, and everyone agrees Khan al-Assal was a sarin attack. 
And as Miller had to note even at the time "US declared no SCUD launches were detected. " (citing CNN) Oops. A little lack of coordination there.
By the time of a December UN report (PDF), only Khan al-Assal was under discussion, and the conflicting stories they heard were a surface rocket from the north, as the Syrian side always claimed, and a fighter jet, as multiple opposition-supplied witnesses also told them. ("according  to  other  witness  statements  to  the  UNHRC  Commission  of  Inquiry,  an  overflying  aircraft  had dropped an aerial bomb filled with Sarin. ") <end Nov. 2>

1 comment:

  1. 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


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