In the British parliament debate on military action against Syria George Galloway noted that the leader of the opposition conceded “there is no compelling evidence that the Assad regime is responsible for this crime yet!” And Galloway said “The reason for the (public) unease is that people can see the character of the Syrian opposition on videos downloaded by elements of the Syrian opposition… heads sawn off – not chopped off – sawn off with bread knives… Every religious minority in Syria – and there are 23 of those – is petrified of the victory of the Syrian rebels that the British prime minister and foreign secretary have been doing their utmost to supply with weapons and money these last two years.”
Galloway added: “When did Russia and China, two and a half billion people, cease to be members of the international community? Who are you on the other side to decide what the international community thinks should do? If you are unable to persuade the Security Council to go along with your point of view, who are you to decide that you will launch a war in any case?”
There is a serious disconnect between what the leader of the opposition in the British parliament conceded (i.e. “there is no compelling evidence that the Assad regime is responsible for this crime yet!”) and what The Wall Street Journal reported on 29 August 2013 (i.e. “the White House had yet to release details about the intelligence, but said its findings “conclusively showed the Assad regime used chemical weapons on a large scale against civilians last week. U.S. intelligence agencies believe the main poison used was likely sarin, and estimate the death toll at 500 to 1,000 people,” according to a senior U.S. official.”)
Syrian government officials have denied the Assad regime used chemical weapons, and accused their opponents of staging the attacks to provoke international action. Logic supports this probability as United Nations weapons inspectors are in Syria at the direct REQUEST of the Syrian government to prove that they have not used chemical weapons at any time and the latest attack from rebel-controlled Douma that landed on East Ghouta took place a mere ten miles away from the inspection team, on the very day they arrived, with a video of the victims appearing on the internet BEFORE the actual attack! (a playlist of videos entitled ‘Alleged Chemical Attack in Eastern Ghouta August 21st 2013‘ contains 159 videos – every one of which was uploaded to YouTube on August 20th while the attack happened on August 21st . <See
The credibility of the video of the alleged chemical attack is being widely questioned by chemical weapons experts. The victims are not displaying the proper symptoms of having been struck by a Sarin nerve gas. The people shown treating them are not wearing proper equipment.
On 12 May members of the Syrian rebel forces were arrested in Turkey. The rebels possessed 4.5 pounds of Sarin, the neurotoxin gas alleged to have been used in the recent attack. <http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_05_31/Moscow-expects-Turkey-s-explanations-for-Syrian-rebels-sarin-Lavrov-4286/ and http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/30/us-syria-crisis-turkey-idUSBRE94T0YO20130530>
In January, the British “Daily Mail” reported that the Syrian rebels were planning a chemical attack which they would blame on the Syrian government in order to justify U.S. intervention. The report was based on leaked emails from military contractors. <See http://www.globalresearch.ca/britains-daily-mail-u-s-backed-plan-to-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-on-syria/5346912>
The Assad government has fully cooperated with the weapons inspection teams. Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom says the high numbers of killed and wounded being reported “sound suspicious.” He told Swedish broadcaster SVT that this “sounds like something we need to look into.” <http://news.yahoo.com/un-team-syria-wants-probe-gas-attack-claim-111820649.html>
”Reports on the attack are extremely inconsistent. The numbers are unclear and totally unsubstantiated. The report being circulated by “Doctors Without Borders” is not based on their own information, but based on reports they received from a Syrian rebel group by their own admission. Evidence strongly suggests that previous chemical weapons attacks in Syria were carried out by FSA rebels and then blamed on Assad, in an attempt to fulfil Barack Obama’s “red line” for US military intervention.
Back in May, UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte said that according to evidence her team had gathered, “The rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas.” <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10039672/UN-accuses-Syrian-rebels-of-chemical-weapons-use.html>
Two months earlier, an audio recording emerged of a phone conversation between two members of the Free Syrian Army during which discussion centered around a plan to carry out a chemical weapons attack capable of impacting an area the size of one kilometer. (The conversation is featured at the end of the YouTube clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BLAMVtLq2V0)
The U.S. is currently urging the U.N. weapons inspection team to halt its work. The U.N. weapons inspectors insist that they must be allowed to continue their investigations and to determine actual facts. Over the weekend, unidentifiable snipers in a rebel controlled area began shooting at UN inspectors who were trying to carry out investigations into all of the attacks.
Russia’s ambassador in the UNSC, Vitaly Churkin, presented conclusive evidence to the Security Council, based on satellite images, of two rockets carrying toxic chemicals, fired from Douma, controlled by the Syrian rebels, and landing on East Ghouta. <Churkin supplied the Security Council with an 80 page document of conclusive evidence! <See http://webtv.un.org/media/media-stakeouts/watch/vitaly-i.-churkin-russian-federation-on-syria-security-council-media-stakeout-11-july-2013/2540226511001>
Materials implicating the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad in a recently alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus were prepared prior to the incident on August 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said in a statement.
Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of “delay”, the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday… Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident. “Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,” he said. <from http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/08/in-rush-to-strike-syria-u-s-tried-to-derail-u-n-probe/>
Specialists on chemical weapons also suggested in interviews with IPS that the U.N. investigating team, under a highly regarded Swedish specialist Ake Sellstom and including several experts borrowed from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, should be able to either confirm or disprove the charge of an attack with nerve or another chemical weapon within a matter of days.
Dan Kastesza, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and a former adviser to the White House on chemical and biological weapons proliferation, told IPS the team will not be looking for traces of the nerve gas sarin in blood samples but rather chemicals produced when sarin degrades. But Kastesza said that once samples arrive at laboratories, specialists could make a determination “in a day or two” about whether a nerve agent or other chemical weapons had been used. <from http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/08/in-rush-to-strike-syria-u-s-tried-to-derail-u-n-probe/>
The real reason for the Obama administration’s hostility toward the U.N. investigation appears to be the fear that the Syrian government’s decision to allow the team access to the area indicates that it knows that U.N. investigators will not find evidence of a nerve gas attack.
The administration’s effort to discredit the investigation recalls the George W. Bush administration’s rejection of the position of U.N. inspectors in 2002 and 2003 after they found no evidence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the administration’s refusal to give inspectors more time to fully rule out the existence of an active Iraqi WMD programme.
In both cases, the administration had made up its mind to go to war and wanted no information that could contradict that policy to arise. <from http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/08/in-rush-to-strike-syria-u-s-tried-to-derail-u-n-probe/>
Below is the latest news from Dave Gavlan in Ghouta, the site of the 21 August chemical attack:
Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh wrote on 29 August 2013 that rebels and local residents in Ghouta have accused Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group. <http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/> Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta, said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels. Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons. When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution. A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said. “We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.
Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault. More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government. <Besides Mint Press News this article is also published at http://original.antiwar.com/Dale-Gavlak/2013/08/30/syrians-in-ghouta-claim-saudi-supplied-rebels-behind-chemical-attack/> Gavlak also refers to an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph stating that Prince Bandar threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia doesn’t agree to change its stance on Syria. “Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” the article stated. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Saudi Prince allegedly told Vladimir Putin.
Mint Press News stated that some of the information couldn’t be independently verified and pledged to continue providing updates on this topic.