June 12, 2013
Syria: The Insurgency's New Weapons
While there is much talk and hand wringing if or when or how the "west" should or will or not supply new weapons to the Syrian insurgency, some new types of weapons have already recently appeared on the battlefield. We can be sure that Washington, London and Paris are aware of this and that the current political talk about eventually
delivering further arms is just pretending.
Over the last weeks videos uploaded by the insurgents showed increasingly hits on Syrian government tanks with wire-guided anti-tank missiles. These weapons are new arrivals. The sole anti-tanks weapons so far have been unguided rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and M-60 recoilless rifles. This stuff is new.
In this video mix several successful hits on tanks can be seen. An anti-tank missile can be seen as it starts at 0:44min. It appears to be an old French SS-11 like type of missile on a ground mount. At 0:30min an SA-7 Grail/Strela man-portable anti-air missile is fired against a helicopter and seems to hit. At 2:07 a launcher for a different type of (likely) an anti-tank guided missile is shown.
These weapons have only recently appeared. Weapons like the SS-11 can not be used without at least some professional training. Who sponsored and who delivered these weapons? Who is training the insurgents how to use them?
P.S. Dear Syrian Arab Army tank commanders. Some tank tactic 101: You are targets. Do NOT EVER park your tank on the top of a hill. ALWAYS get your hull down as deep as possible and secured from at least three sides. If possible hide your tank behind a hill and have your gunner or loader on the ground with binoculars watching surroundings from the rim. When you see an anti-tank missile launch flash immediately fire your canon roughly in that direction. Don't waste time aiming. Your shot is not supposed to hit the missile but to distract the guy who guides it. Then throw fog and get away or flank and attack. Your welcome.
Posted by b on June 12, 2013 at 07:41 AM | Permalink
Syria rebels 'kill Shia residents of eastern village'
This is the first headlined report of Sunni rebels massacring Assad supporters that I can remember on the Beeb (or much of the Western press).
Posted by: johnf | Jun 12, 2013 7:51:10 AM | 1
Actually i'd suggest the syrian army actually just set up tanks as bait for snipers to pop off the missile crews. It might mean the end of some T55s and 62's but thats a price worth paying.
Posted by: heath | Jun 12, 2013 9:10:48 AM | 3
It's not a headline - just news. Assad's supporters are fair game. We can't have incidents such as these undermining the impending decision by the US and its minions to openly arm militants with everything at their disposal. A final declaration of war by proxy.
Posted by: Pat Bateman | Jun 12, 2013 9:52:55 AM | 4
Funny thing is, these same weapons will be turned back against the West's allies in the region..This is like Afghanistan on steroids..
Posted by: Zico | Jun 12, 2013 9:58:21 AM | 5
"Your shot is not supposed to hit the missile but to distract the guy who guides it. You r welcome."
Bloody good tip, b! (Simple solution for a simpleton problem).
Oz had wire-guided a-t missiles in the 1960s; "IKARA" if memory serves.
If FUKUS are supplying '60s anti-tank weapons to their 'rebels' it's because they STILL don't trust them - which raises questions about the MANPADS. Could the footage be fake/sourced from elsewhere/spliced into the mix?
If the MANPADS are modern (which seems a bit risky) the Russians should (theoretically) be able to provide countermeasures. I've got my doubts that FUKUS would supply primitive anti-tank weapons and modern A-A weapons.
It doesn't add up.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 12, 2013 10:34:03 AM | 7
@Hoarsewhisperer - Bloody good tip, b!
Once upon a time I was a tank platoon commander in the German army :-)
they STILL don't trust them - which raises questions about the MANPADS. Could the footage be fake/sourced from elsewhere/spliced into the mix?
SA-7 manpads are not against "fastmovers", i.e. jets. They are against helicopters or against planes when those are starting or landing. The heli-down shot seems real though it is impossible to tell when and where it was taken.
Posted by: b | Jun 12, 2013 11:27:52 AM | 8
The SAA has been modifying their tanks the same way the US modified their in Afganistan, against shaped charges and heat rounds. Welding a stout steel mesh about 18 inches from the turret, and more importantly, the sides of the hull, extending down to the mid way point of the road wheels can pre explode the weapon before it contacts the armor. The mesh has to be made of steel rod at lead 3/8ths of an inch thick, and 1/2 would be better. The charge hits the mess and sometimes the detonator on the front doesn't hit the mesh, and the body of the warhead is torn up by the thick mesh before it explodes, or it detonates against the mesh, shooting its concentrated, superheated melted copper through 18 inches of airspace where it dissipates dramatically. This type of modification can cut tank losses by 75%. This doesn't work for Kinetic energy weapons, armor piercing discarding sabot rounds....but the rebels don't use kinetic energy penetrators....they don't have the large riffled cannon needed to fire them...they must rely on low recoil weapons, rockets, which can be defended against
Posted by: Matt | Jun 12, 2013 12:15:27 PM | 9
Where the hell Is putin the bear to supply counter measures? cmon man, a lot of good SAA soldiers will die before they decide to supply the SAA with good weapons!
Posted by: Shoes | Jun 12, 2013 12:21:26 PM | 10
@10 - And there lies the crux of the argument that the Russians are content to see this drag on. I don't know why, perhaps because Russian growth forecasts have fallen to beneath 3%, from highs of more than 9%, in no small part due to falling oil prices. Putin would rather see the implosion of Syria and Iran, and in fact the entire middle east, if it meant more money in the pockets of Russian citizens - which is begrudgingly understandable.
Posted by: Pat Bateman | Jun 12, 2013 1:03:00 PM | 11
b @ 8. The 'This' video contains a doctored hilight so what else is doctored?
But my point was that we know what lily-livered liars and squibs FUKUS are and what fair-weather/lip-service friends they've been to their 'rebels'.
When Assad surrenders, I'll believe that the 'rebels' were NOT more disorganised and incompetent than their masters. But until he does surrender I'll continue to believe that FUKUS's 'rebels' are even stupider than FUKUS.
And that ain't easy...
This helps deflect attention from the Afghan withdrawal/bloodbath-in-waiting (an Afghan Tr-r-adition). And let's not forget that Russia has, so far, resisted the temptation to help the Afghan 'insurgents'.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 12, 2013 2:12:20 PM | 12
Yes, the introduction of ground to air and anti-tank missiles into Syria is a serious escalation of the civil war. Today’s headline in today’s Washington Post says it all “Iran on ascent as Syria churns”.
The Oligarchs, Qatar Oil Sheiks and Israel Firsters are hell bent on starting a Sunni Shiite Jihad spreading from Beirut to Karachi; damn the consequences.
The Surveillance State is the natural outcome of the corporate seizure of western governments.
When the profits of the transnational elite who control the strings of government are based on war and financial gambling, those States are inherently unstable and take crazy risks. To keep power, once again, police surveillance states have been reborn in the West.
Posted by: VietnamVet | Jun 12, 2013 2:22:33 PM | 13
The troops in Afghanistan could be made to suffer if Russia decided to "lose" caches if weapons. The damage done could be huge. I saw the videos posted about Afghanistan, I was shocked, simply shocked our poor soldiers. Afghanistan is truly the graveyard of empires.
Posted by: Fernando | Jun 12, 2013 3:38:52 PM | 14
Where the hell Is putin the bear to supply counter measures? cmon man, a lot of good SAA soldiers will die before they decide to supply the SAA with good weapons!
The battle to be won requires infantry weapons and tactics. I think Iran Syria and Hez have enough experience and weapons to win this one.
Posted by: hans | Jun 12, 2013 4:14:30 PM | 15
I think that heath (3) has a point there.
But those old tanks are more than bait. Considering the structure of the theater, i.e. mainly badly (or basically not at all) trained adversaries and low-end combat (guns, mgs, grenades, pickup trucks with low-end and/or old rather small caliber weapons mounted) those old tanks serve well - and very cheaply - armoured personel carrier, cover, bulldozer, mine cleaning carrier, and more.
That kind of armouring is little more complex (and expensive) that welding some old rods to a mesh. One point, for instance, is angles because it's not so much about some 18 inches of air but rather about deflection. Possibly the SAA has some tanks with those upgrades but almost certainly not on old material.
Shoes (10), Pat Bateman (11)
First, this is still not a Russian war and Putin is wise to prudently contemplate when and where to engange/interfere and when/where not.
Second, who says that Russia doesn't help Syria in one was or another in that regard? The mere fact that media aren't shouting about it?
Third, what's the urgency? The fact that a couple of rather old AT weapons have arrived at the theater? Hardly. After all, there is no such thing as a free war with casualties and losses.
Maybe most important though is another aspect: Should Russia - and for that matter Syria - really be interested in increasing the speed and intensity of a, gladly until now spinning rather slowly, caroussel of third parties pushing/injecting ever more powerful and modern military material into the theater?
Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 12, 2013 5:41:14 PM | 16
The FSA likes to complain that its losing the war because it doesn't have advanced weapons. Sure everyone has heard the repeated claims that the FSA could take Aleppo in a month if the West gave them the gear. Or blaming running out of Ammo as the reason for withdrawing from towns. J
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 12, 2013 5:50:26 PM | 17
@10, there's always the danger of leaving it too late.
Posted by: ruralito | Jun 12, 2013 5:51:03 PM | 18
Syria war is not about Syria but ultimately about the destruction of Iranian influence in Lebanon. High ranking Iranian officers are being killed for that purpose.
Posted by: wes | Jun 12, 2013 5:52:58 PM | 19
The FSA likes to complain that its losing the war because it doesn't have advanced weapons. I'm sure everyone has heard the repeated claims that the FSA could take Aleppo in a month if the West gave them the gear. Or blaming running out of ammunition as the reason for withdrawing from towns. Reminds me of the old saying "A bad carpenter blames his tools". Sure advanced tools can help, but the FSA has more fundamental problems.
After all if the side with advanced weapons wins how to you account for the North Vietnamese or Taliban or Algeria's FLN. Plenty of guerrillas win wars without advanced weapons. You didn't hear Hezbollah complaining about Israeli fighter jets in 2006. The biggest problem for the FSA is not advanced weapons its that they haven't followed guerrilla war tactics.
Chairman Mao said that in guerrilla warfare, rebels are like fish and the population is the water in which they swim. If the population supports you, like a fish you can swim through them undetected. But if the population turns against you, a fish without water cannot survive. Latest figures out show 70% of Syria has turned against the rebels with another 20% neutral. 10% support is mighty shallow waters for these rebels to swim in.
What is the bigger problem. Not having a few Anti-Tank missiles or Not having the support of the population? I know which one I would prefer.
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 12, 2013 6:21:39 PM | 20
"High ranking Iranian officers are being killed for that purpose."
What do you mean with this?
Curbing Iranian influence in the region (predominantly Hezbollah) is indeed one of the many reasons for this proxy war. Balkanizing Syria to divide its spoils is another one.
One thing that is interesting is this bit of news which got snowed under by the Turkey riots.
Here is another article on this.
A while ago there was a row in Jahbat al Nusra between the Syrian part and the AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) part. In essence a powergrab. Apparently Al Zawahiri decided in favor of al Julani/Golani (Syrian JaN). What will happen next is what interests me. Wil AQI abide by his decision or fight it and try to usurp JaN thus defying AQ's leadership. I think such a move could ultimately lead them to leave the AQ franchise (much like Belmokhtar's move). What will AQ do? In essence it's a franchise and all they can do is try to stipulate a goal and ideological/financial guidance but how far do their powers reach?
Posted by: Gehenna | Jun 12, 2013 6:30:38 PM | 21
I'd take that Daily Star article with a few grains of salt:
1) the Daily Star is sympathetic to March 14
2) it quotes an article from the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera (which is not as neutral as it seemed three years ago)
3) the source of the quote is a letter from Zawahri which cannot be independently verified
4) it inaccurately reports what AQI's initial statement actually said: not that Iraq and Syrian AQ were merging, but that AQ-Syria has always been a seed-project of AQI and now AQI saw no further reason to hide their close association. THAT is why Assad jumped all over AQI's statement -- because it confirmed his allegation that he had been facing terrorists disguised as activists from the beginning of the protests:
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV reported that Al-Qaeda’s No. 1 Ayman al-Zawahri urged leaders of the Iraqi Al-Qaeda branch and the Nusra Front in Syria to end their disagreements and “stop any verbal or actual attacks against one another.”
The TV said Zawahri’s call came in a letter sent to the station and posted on its website late Sunday.
The letter’s authenticity could not be independently verified. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, said it also acquired a copy of the letter but did not provide other details.
In April, Al-Qaeda in Iraq said it had joined forces with the Nusra Front, and that the two had formed a new alliance called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Hours after the announcement, Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani appeared to distance himself from the merger, saying he was not consulted. Instead, he pledged allegiance to Zawahiri.
In Sunday’s letter, Zawahri chastises the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying he announced the merger without consulting Al-Qaeda’s leadership. He also admonished Golani for publicly distancing himself from the merger.
“The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will be abolished,” Zawahri said, adding that the Nusra Front will remain an independent branch of Al-Qaeda.
Baghdadi and Golani are to stay on as leaders of their respective branches for another year, after which the Al-Qaeda leadership will decide whether they will keep their posts or be replaced.
Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jun 12, 2013 7:26:30 PM | 22
@1 The headline in the NYT on Google News was a disgusting "Syrian Rebels kill 60 in Reprisal Attack" (since changed of course)
Reprisal attack? Here we have a media environment willing to concoct idiotic idioms like "homicide bombers" and invent difference between "leakers" vs. "whistle blowers", yet they're willing to give cover to a cold blooded massacre of 60 people by indicating - in the headline no less - that it is a "reprisal"? (Was it a "reprisal" is for some atrocity committed by the SAA dutifully invented in the storeroom of a clothes store in the UK)
Most disgusting thing I've seen all week. I anxiously await for a Taliban assault on Kabul to be referred to as a "reprisal attack" for the Robert Bales massacre.
Posted by: guest77 | Jun 12, 2013 8:47:49 PM | 23
Is it possible that the reason the 'rebels' in Syria are so fragmented/disorganised is that the entities paying and encouraging them are each pursuing different, competing, agendas and each has its own 'favoured' set of 'rebels'? It seems to me that this is the most likely explanation for the ongoing lack of unity.
* US-Israel just want Syria destroyed as a coherent state, rendered sufficiently dysfunctional to enable US corporations to pick the eyes out of its natural assets.
* The wahabis seem to want a state dominated by religious extremists with delusions of God-like grandeur (and power).
* Syrian born residents almost certainly do not want their country Iraqified, or Saudi-ised, no matter how much they dislike Assad.
@ 10 & 11.
It is probably a mistake to interpret, or try to predict, Russia's actions while imagining that Russia is a participant in the Syrian conflict. Russia and China's interest is strictly limited to protecting Syria from outside military intervention in its civil war. To properly fulfill that role Russia could adopt measures which serve to thwart lesser interference - such as Western or Saudi supply of modern offensive weaponry.
But, warning other outsiders not to interfere, and then being seen to interfere in a partisan way oneself, must be avoided at all costs. It's a very delicate balancing act. Russia has argued (apparently successfully) that all the weaponry it supplies to the Syrian Govt is defensive - a specific example being A-A weaponry. The 'rebels' have no aircraft so it's pretty hard to argue A-A weapons can be used against them.
It's also highly amusing that EVERYONE knows who the A-A weapons are protecting Syria from...
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 13, 2013 12:06:41 AM | 24
A major point to consider when looking at the arms that are reaching the FSA & its associates is that they are funneled through a massive web of enormously dubious charecters, many of which are opportunists.
I predicted some time ago to a friend that when things became increasingly tough & they started suffering major reverses, a decent portion of the weapons organised to be dispersed to the 'rebels' would simply be siphoned off to the black market, especially the more advanced stuff.
The crowd of black marketeers, political opportunists, criminal gangs, dodgy 'private' intelligence outfits, jihadi's for pay, & the rest of motly crew involved in the supply lines will be happy to dive all in if they see that improving their position in the percieved spoils.
The spoils are looking few & far between these days, & I have no doubt that as long as the Syrian army continue winning many the more expensive items will simply be siphoned off to be resold or re-used elsewhere.
Doesn't matter if the CIA or the Mukhabarat look to supply it directly to percieved 'reliable' sources within Syria directly, as soon as it hits the the street the 'luxury' items will have a very good chance of being sold on the highest bidder, & these dynamics should be relatively obvious to anyone who analyses 'irregular' conflicts like this.
An article about a related group of opportunists/vultures on the sidelines, whose behaviour probably surprises no-one here:
Reconstruction in Syria: All Eyes on the Prize
...The Basil Fuleihan Institute of Finances (IoF) held a seminar over the first week of June titled “Prospects and Opportunities for Postwar Growth in Lebanon and Syria” as part of the 2013 Forum for Advanced Studies for Economic Development in the Mediterranean (CHEDE-MED).
The ambassadors of France, Italy, and Spain attended the event, representing three major European nations that have considerable international influence. If anything, this reveals that there is clear European enthusiasm for a new phase in Syria that may be just on the horizon.
Posted by: KenM | Jun 13, 2013 2:16:52 AM | 25
Well lo and behold, the young 14yo coffee vendor that wouldn't give his mate or Mohammad any credit and the 3 "activists" that shot him in the head . . . . It made the main stream news here in New Zealand tonight. . . who woulda guessed
Posted by: DonNeedUserName | Jun 13, 2013 4:23:14 AM | 26
@3 The SAA isn't using their old tanks as tanks, they're using them as static artillery that can't be pecked at by sniper or mortar fire
Posted by: Crest | Jun 13, 2013 6:50:56 AM | 27
Western "leaders" had better hope that these missiles don't make it out of Syria once the terrorists are snuffed, as they would be very effective against targets such as Presidential limousines and helicopters. As an American, I must say that the constant braying in our media about the need for police-state NSA surveillance to protect us from terrorists, while our government trains and equips them in Syria and many other countries, is starting to make my head explode. If Americans don't realize now that the war on terror is a massive con game, they never will. That said, I'm not hopeful as the American public seems to have an insatiable appetite for delusion.
Posted by: Gareth | Jun 13, 2013 8:23:15 AM | 28
Syria weapon watcher @Brown_Moses today confirmed my observation:
The Syrian opposition in the north appears to have wire-guided missiles coming out of their ears.
According to him its mainly the Liwa al-Tawhid brigade that now has such weapons.
Posted by: b | Jun 13, 2013 10:37:40 AM | 29
b@29 As you've been pointing out, it seems like a bunch of western militaries are clearing out their reserve stocks & sending it on. Most of these weapons seem to be exactly the kind that have been depreciated & put into reserve arsenals but are still solid enough to be maintained.
This stuff also shouldn't be that hard to trace once it has been captured, & the best the west could do is to try & blur the 'optics' for the western press - it is too blatant for anyone else to buy it...
Most likely the weapons that are now showing up with the FSA are with those reinforcements that were being trained up in Jordan by the US, as I don't see any other way for them to be directly injected into even moderately trained hands in Syria - the Lebanese & Turkish fronts are simply too chaotic, & I don't see the Israeli's trusting the FSA with that amount of firepower on or near their perceived territory.
If that is the case then we are talking about a pretty short boost for the FSA - even basic training takes time & it is likely all the 'quality' personnel/mercs have now been rushed in as reinforcements to try & stem the tide.
My take is that their will be a very brief gain (likely already reaching the highpoint) then downhill rapidly from there as the Syrians make the adjustment. No matter what weapons they then try & inject, they just don't have the experience or discipline to make proper use of them, like Hezbollah, or the backing of the local population to give them the necessary support.
Posted by: KenM | Jun 13, 2013 11:26:44 AM | 30
Elections in Iran tommorow, prepare for prewritten condemnations by Israel..uh sorry EU/US. Maybe Israel US use their MEK terrorists too?
Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 13, 2013 12:07:48 PM | 31
@kenM Most likely the weapons that are now showing up with the FSA are with those reinforcements that were being trained up in Jordan by the US
Those new anti-tank weapons appeared mostly in the north. It's not the southern force that is using them. My bet would be Qatar money and Turkey special forces training are responsible for these.
Posted by: b | Jun 13, 2013 2:22:42 PM | 32
'b' at #2 linked to an article on Syria written by someone called Musa Al-Gharbi. In case you didn't have time to read it, here's an extract from Musa Al-Garbi that reflects the core of his viewpoint:
"It is hard to establish that more than 2% of the total Syrian population has taken part in the protests or armed struggle.... Most ethnic and religious minority groups, as well as the Sunni bourgeoisie of Damascus and Aleppo, are not merely unsupportive of the rebels, they overwhelmingly support the regime. Additionally, the vast majority of the military continues to side with the state.... Contrary to media reports, this is not a sectarian issue. While the opposition is disproportionately Sunni, we cannot infer from this that most Sunnis support the rebels. Sunnis represent 74 percent of the population. If most of them were behind the rebels, this conflict would already be over.... How the Syrians think of Bashar al-Assad is relatively unimportant compared to how they think about the rebels -- because the regime will remain in power by default if the population fails to support the rebels at sufficient levels (barring international intervention).... The population overwhelmingly fails to support the armed opposition.... The rebellion is unpopular.... Though continued [foreign] support of the rebels may escalate and propagate the conflict, it seems unlikely that the opposition will prevail without direct foreign military intervention." http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mepo.12003/full , http://musaalgharbi.blogspot.de/p/curriculum-vitae_21.html
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 13, 2013 3:20:53 PM | 33
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 12, 2013 6:21:39 PM | 20
this is why the label 'Free Syrian Army' was invented: to make it seem like a legitimate syrian opposition force and so worthy of support by foreign powers
Posted by: brian | Jun 13, 2013 6:06:47 PM | 34
Israel'i Professor: Assad Won, Syrians Follow their Own Channels that No One Watches: http://youtu.be/zKhNZyhlJv8
Posted by: brian | Jun 13, 2013 6:13:14 PM | 35
Posted by: Shoes | Jun 12, 2013 12:21:26 PM | 10
SAA has good weapons...supplised by the FSA!
Posted by: brian | Jun 13, 2013 6:27:00 PM | 36
Musa Al-Gharbi writes the following two sentences: "The parts of the country not being administered by the government are generally not being controlled by the rebels, either. Moreover, the regime has been making enormous strides in retaking these ungoverned territories since December 2012." Everyone agrees with his first sentence. I totally disagree with his second sentence. I say the government has had no net gain at all since December 2012 in its battle to restore governance and security to Syria. Achievements in that direction have been wholly offset by setbacks. The army won various battles or didn't lose them, alright. But various places that were quiet and secure in December 2012 are today lost to chaos, most notably including neighborhoods in Aleppo city. The number of civilians displaced from their homes by the conflict has sharply increased since December 2012. Nationwide the security situation is equally as bad if not worse than it was in December 2012. In Outer Damascus, for example, for the last six months the Syrian army has been fighting every single day in a large handful of neighborhoods (not necessarily the very same neighborhoods every day). The result of all that hard work is: no visible progress for the army in Outer Damascus. Same goes for Homs city, Aleppo city, a slew of towns throughout Aleppo province, and so on. How does Musa Al-Gharbi support the claim that the army has made strides since December 2012? He quotes a newspaper article. The newspaper article cites a few battles the army has won, and says: "On the battlefield, the regime has proved stubbornly resistant." Stubbornly resistant, FFS. The Syrian army is much stronger than the rebels in every respect, with the sole exception that the army aims to restore law and order while the rebels aim to destroy it, and the former is harder to do than the latter in the situation. What's happening is that the army is winning individual daily fights (or not losing them) but is ongoingly bigly failing to put down this rebellion so far.
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 13, 2013 6:55:19 PM | 37
Just came up with a new joke for all any Twilight Zone fans here at MOA.
"The Syrian Rebels have just put out a new book about how they'll govern Syria after they win.
It's called 'To Serve the Syrian People'. Only problem is that it's a cook book."
Thank you I'll be here all week.
Posted by: guest77 | Jun 13, 2013 8:57:58 PM | 39
Here we go:
US claims proof Syria using chemical weapons, offers 'military support' to rebels
The White House says it now has definitive proof Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in his conflict with rebel fighters.
US president Barack Obama's deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, says US intelligence has confirmed Mr Assad's regime has deployed the nerve agent Sarin on a small scale against the Syrian opposition on multiple occasions in the past year.
He says US intelligence officials estimate between 100 and 150 people have died from chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date.
He added that the US has no "reliable" evidence that rebels had used such weapons.
But Washington has not yet decided whether to implement a no-fly zone over Syria, where more than 90,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in March 2011, according to the United Nations.
"Our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," Mr Rhodes said in a White House statement.
"The president has been clear that the use of chemical weapons - or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups - is a red line for the United States.
"The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has."
In a conference call with reporters, Mr Rhodes said Washington had shared its information with Russia about the use of chemical arms, but that Moscow had not yet agreed Mr Assad should step down.
Mr Rhodes did not say if the US was moving towards directly arming the rebels battling Mr Assad's regime, but said Mr Obama "will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks".
"The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available," he said.
"We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline.
"We're going to act very deliberately."
Mr Rhodes said both the use of chemical weapons, and the increased involvement of Hezbollah and Iran in the conflict, had "added an element of urgency" to the process.
"The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition," he said.
"That will involve providing direct support to the (rebel) Supreme Military Council. That includes military support." [...]
Lamenting that the Syrian war has cost already in excess of 90'000 lives and deciding therefore to send more arms into the country makes no sense, unless of course doubling that number is your plan.
Seeing this conflict is to a large degree a proxy war between Zato and Russia, imo the key sentence in the above article is "Washington had shared its information with Russia about the use of chemical arms, but that Moscow had not yet agreed Mr Assad should step down."
The US, France and Britain now openly announcing more lethal and sophisticated weaponry will be flowing into Syria, means in turn that to keep the military balance and back up his rhetoric Putin will also have to up the ante. Those S300 better be ready to be shipped and in working order by the time the bombers are coming.
Similarly, the incoming Iranian president will be thrown in at the deep end and has to make some serious decisions in his early days.
As for Assad, if as its claimed the Syrian government has close to 70% support amongst Syrians, it needs to mobilize the masses to march the streets by the hundreds of thousands denouncing the rebels, showing the world that assistance to these murderous gangs is the last thing a majority of Syrians want.
Posted by: Juan Moment | Jun 13, 2013 10:13:15 PM | 40
The Guardian and the NYT are reporting that Obama intends to arm the Cannibals for Trotsky and Social Democracy in Syria, as if he hadn't been doing so for years.
Medialens, to which I cannot provide a link has a good piece, of which this is a excerpt:
"...Thus, the media would have us believe that as many, or more, people have died in Syria during two years of war than have died in ten years of mass killing in Iraq (the favoured media figure is around 100,000 Iraqis killed). The Times reports 'as many as 94,000 deaths' in Syria. (Anthony Loyd, 'War in Syria has plumbed new depths of barbarity, says UN,' The Times, June 5, 2013)
'The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [SOHR], an opposition group, said on Tuesday that at least 94,000 people have been killed but the death toll is likely to be as high as 120,000.'
Figures supplied by SOHR, an organisation openly biased in favour of the Syrian 'rebels' and Western intervention is presented as sober fact by one of the world's leading news agencies. No concerns here about methodology, sample sizes, 'main street bias' and other alleged concerns thrown at the Lancet studies by critics. According to Reuters itself, SOHR consists of a single individual, Rami Abdulrahman, the owner of a clothes shop, who works from his 'two bedroom terraced home in Coventry'.
As we noted last month, clearly inspired by the example of Iraq, Western governments and media have bombarded the public with claims of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. In April, the Independent's Robert Fisk judged the claims 'a load of old cobblers'.
The state-media propaganda campaign was rudely interrupted on May 6 by former Swiss attorney-general Carla Del Ponte, speaking for the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria. Del Ponte said, 'there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities'.
'We have no, no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons.'
Lexis finds 15 national UK newspaper articles mentioning Del Ponte's claims since May 6. There has been one mention since the initial coverage (May 6-8) on May 11, more than one month ago. In other words, this is a good example of the way an unwelcome event is covered by the media but not retained as an integral part of the story.
On May 30, local Turkish media and RT News also reported that Syrian 'rebels' had been caught in a sarin gas bomb plot:
'Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.'
This was another badly 'off-message' story that was again given minimal coverage, not pursued and instantly buried. Lexis records no UK newspaper mentions. A senior journalist told us privately that he and his colleagues felt the story was 'right' but that the 'Turks are closing [it] down.' (Email to Media Lens, June 7, 2013)
Last week, yet more unsubstantiated claims of possible Syrian government use of sarin generated a front page BBC report with the remarkable headline:
'World "must act" Over Syria Weapons'
And yet a BBC article indicated the lack of certainty:
'There is no doubt Syria's government has used sarin during the country's crisis, says France's foreign minister... But he did not specify where or when the agent had been deployed; the White House has said more proof was needed.'
A UK government statement observed merely: 'There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime used - and continues to use - chemical weapons.'
Readers will recall that intelligence indicating the existence of Iraqi WMD was also said to have been 'limited but persuasive'.
As Peter Hitchens notes in the Daily Mail, UK government policy is being 'disgracefully egged on by a BBC that has lost all sense of impartiality'.
The Guardian quoted 'a senior British official':
'Are we confident in our means of collection, and are we confident that it points to the regime's use of sarin? Yes.'
Is the case closed, then? The official added: 'Can we prove it with 100% certainty? Probably not.'
The Guardian also quoted 'A senior UK official' who said it 'appeared possible that Syrian army commanders had been given the green light by the regime to use sarin in small quantities'. 'Possible', maybe, but the Guardian failed to explain why anyone would trust 'a senior UK official' to comment honestly on Syria, or why anyone would trust an anonymous UK official after Iraq.
Adding to the confusion, the Guardian quoted Paulo Pinheiro, who chairs a UN commission on human rights abuses in Syria. According to Pinheiro it had 'not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator'.
Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent, wrote:
'This is potentially a game changer: The French government now believes not only that the nerve agent sarin has been used in Syria, but that it was deployed by "the regime and its accomplices".'
In a recent interview, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald commented:
'I approach my journalism as a litigator. People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.'
"Perhaps the BBC's Marcus could take a leaf from Greenwald's book of journalism and dig for evidence to show that the French government is lying when it says it 'believes' that sarin has been used by the Syrian enemy. After all, the US, UK and French governments also 'believed' Iraq was a 'serious and current' threat to the world.
"Far less gung-ho than the relentlessly warmongering BBC, a Telegraph headline read: 'US unmoved by French evidence of sarin use in Syria.'
"Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, said: 'I have not seen that evidence that they said that they had and I have not talked to any of our intelligence people about it.'
"The US officials' comments 'appeared to expose a growing a widening gap between the US and France over how to respond to Syria's two-year civil war,' the Telegraph noted."
Posted by: bevin | Jun 13, 2013 10:13:53 PM | 41
I see this piece of shit Obama has now allowed the announcement that "Syria has crossed the red line". Think this might be to get the media to stop talking about the accelerating erosion of our rights to privacy?
This asshole Obama is everything he said he wouldn't be. I despise him even more than that pathetic monkey Bush, because, at least with Bush, we knew, going in, that we were getting a monkey. But Obama?? The man is a total fraud. A slickly marketed product that upon purchase proves to be a a disappointment in every respect. He reminds me of the 1950's toys that used to be marketed in the backs of comic books. You, (an excited kid), waited an eternity for the damned thing to arrive via the mail, only to discover that the actual product was a cheap piece of shit that didn't even vaguely resemble the ad's hype. Thats Obama. Cheap plastic.
Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jun 14, 2013 12:11:26 AM | 42
The headline that "syria regime used chemical weapons against rebels" is over almost *all* major newspaper this morning.
The fact that NATO do whatever they feel like is somewhat inevitable and one's getting used to it, who would stop them after all.
But the way in which the 95% of our reality-shaping media write against their population is hard to accept and makes me mad each time. Meanwhile I can vividly imagine how Nazi Newspapers mongered their folks into an aggressive war that cost the lives of so many of their own population.
The difference today seems to be merely the tone, but the structures are almost the same, I guess.
Posted by: peter radiator | Jun 14, 2013 12:34:17 AM | 43
An adviser to Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi says Egyptians are free to join the foreign-backed Takfiri militants fighting against the government in Syria.
Khaled al-Qazzaz said on Thursday that Cairo was not adopting any measures against those who sought to fight against the Syrian government along with the extremist militants.
“The right of travel or freedom of travel is open for all Egyptians,” the Egyptian official stated.
Qazzaz, who is President Morsi’s adviser on foreign affairs, further rejected concerns that the Egyptians who fight alongside Takfiri militants in Syria would return home as extremists, even though such groups continue with attacks against Egyptian police and military in the northern Sinai Peninsula. “We don’t consider them a threat,” he said.
Egyptians free to join militants in Syria: Advisor to President Morsi
Posted by: sajid | Jun 14, 2013 5:01:38 AM | 46
PS: Dear Moon of Alabama, you're welcome.
Posted by: Mooser | Jun 14, 2013 1:09:20 PM | 47
@46 - Go to get rid of those millions wanting to eat. Let the regional war begin.
Posted by: guest77 | Jun 14, 2013 1:20:52 PM | 48