Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 14, 2013

What We DO Know About Chemical Weapons In Syria

The White House now claims that the Syrian Arab Army has used chemical weapons:
Following a deliberative review, 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. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information.
Remember that such "high confidence" and "multiple, independent streams of information" were also claimed when the United States attacked Iraq over such claims of chemical weapons. None of the alleged weapons were ever found. The claims were proven false.

The U.S. is trying the same lame trick again. It has provided no evidence but statements from the insurgents for any chemical weapon use by the Syrian army. It provided no explanation why its assessment has changed. This "mushroom cloud" lie is used as an "excuse" to now provide weapons and ammunition to the insurgents. That is another lie. The U.S. had decided on that earlier than it now claims. Over the last months the insurgents received powerful wire guided anti-tank missiles. So many indeed that the Syria weapon watcher Brown Moses tweeted:

The Syrian opposition in the north appears to have wire-guided missiles coming out of their ears.

There IS some evidence that chemical weapon have been used in Syria. But everything we know about them points to their use by the insurgents, not by the Syrian Arab Army.

Late last year the insurgents in Syria threatened to produce and use chemical weapons. They uploaded videos in which they demonstrated the use of gas to kill animals while threatening to do the same with their enemies in Syria.

In March 2013 16 Syrian army soldiers guarding a barrier were killed when they were attacked by insurgents with Chlorine gas. According to Alex Thomsen of the British Channel 4 insurgents had sourced the gas from an earlier captured factory near Aleppo.

Carla Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general and prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), is a member of the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. On May 6 she declared that according to investigations she had seen insurgents in Syria had used the nerve gas Sarin:

Testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests rebels have used the nerve agent, sarin, a leading member of a UN commission of inquiry has said.

Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that there were "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof".

The insurgents distributed fake videos allegedly showing people "foaming at the mouth" as consequence of a chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian army. The foam was shaving cream.

Also in May an al-Nusra fighter was photographed carrying a grenade with strong riot control agents similar to those security forces in Turkey had purchased from an Indian weapon manufacturer. Debris of such  grenades was found in places in Syria where "chemical weapon attacks" had occurred. Symtoms described after such attacks are consistent with exposure to riot control agents.

At the end of May an insurgency cell was busted in Turkey as it produced, according to local media, the toxic gas Sarin:

Seven members of Syria's militant al-Nusra group were detained on Wednesday after police found sarin gas, which was reportedly going to be used in a bomb attack, during a search of the suspects' homes, Turkish media have reported.

Newspapers claimed on Thursday that two kilograms of sarin gas, which is usually used for making bombs and was banned by the UN in 1991, had been found in the homes of suspects detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersin. Twelve suspects were caught by the police on Monday. The reports claimed that the al-Nusra members had been planning a bomb attack for Thursday in Adana but that the attack was averted when the police caught the suspects. Along with the sarin gas, the police seized a number of handguns, grenades, bullets and documents during their search.

In early June another Al Qaeda cell was busted in Iraq where it was producing mustard gas:

Iraq has captured a suspected Al Qaeda cell that was allegedly planning to produce chemical poisons such as mustard gas to attack Iraqi forces and to ship overseas for attacks on Europe and the United States, the government said on Saturday.
Five men were caught before they could manufacture any gas or chemical weapons in makeshift factories in Baghdad and another province, Mohammed Al-Askari, a Defence Ministry spokesman told reporters.

“They got some programs from Al Qaeda outside Iraq, they were working … to produce mustard gas … and other gas,” he said.

No evidence has been shown that demonstrates the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army. Several items of evidence are available that demonstrate the use of riot control agents and chemical weapons by the insurgency.

But the U.S. is again claiming "chemcial weapons" as a (fake) reason to wage war on a Middle Eastern country. Who does it think will believe such claims?

Posted by b on June 14, 2013 at 5:40 UTC | Permalink

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chomsky deluded?

oam Chomsky in an interview today with Al Akhbar Arabic said that "the main problem in the Syrian conflict is Russia who is arming the Syrian government while still inviting all sides to negotiations." He then praised the US who is "showing self-restraint, opposes arming the rebels and supports real negotiations."

Additionally, he said that "Israel does not oppose Assad and that he's almost the dictator they want who has done everything they have wanted." He said the "US does not oppose Assad who has collaborated with them, despite not completely liking him, what he has done is enough for US to let him stay." He based this analysis on the fact that Israel and US did not station troops in Golan to help the Syrian rebels which can only mean that they do not want the Syrian regime to fall.


what to make of this?

Posted by: brian | Jun 15 2013 2:31 utc | 101


"You have just proven that there will be no "no fly zone" i.e. aerial attack by US/UK/France - the rest of NATO would not follow without UN mandate."

It would be comforting to think that you are right but it seems to me that a war in Syria is a great way for the Mocha Bush to divert attention away his numerous scandals. Given that a large large portion of the administration/Congress and media establishment want a war with Iran it seems a bit overly optimistic to assume that the threat of a larger war is necessarily something that most in the bowels of power wishes to avoid. It's also possible that the Mocha Bush and other advocates of imperial conquest have concluded that they have always gotten what they want in the Middle East and so it must always remain so.


"Who said that Libya and Iraq were Russian allies? Libya had joined the Western camp to a large degree. In any case, the issue is what can Russia do, as in cost versus rewards."

While it's true that the decades long Soviet/Libyan alliance was fraying badly towards the end as a result of the Jamahiriya Republic deciding to appease ZATO Russian economic investment was still pretty substantial and needless to say Putin lost quite a lot economically and diplomatically by letting ZATO do as they pleased. At the time of it's conquest Iraq was a staunch Russian ally yet Russia chose to do nothing in defense of that nation. By contrast Russia has, and continues, to actively assist the occupation of Afghanistan.

What can Russia do in Syria? Provide anti-air systems to protect Syrian sovereignty would be a start although stationing a couple of interceptor squadrons in Syria and saying they would be used to prevent a no fly zone is what needs to happen. I agree that Russia could save Syria and has plenty of good reasons for wanting to do so but so far I haven't seen much to indicate that they will do so.

Posted by: user999 | Jun 15 2013 3:37 utc | 102

@101 do you read Arabic?

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 3:51 utc | 103

@101 What are you up to brian? I can't read the article, but a google translation makes it out to be a far cry from what you suggest:

"Russia continues to support the weapons system, and at the same time pushing everyone towards negotiations and that's what made ​​improvement. The United States, which usually takes a bad decision, they are doing a good order."

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 3:57 utc | 104


A google translate of that shows him praising Russia, saying that its strategy of providing weapons while calling for negotiations has brought the only good results. And that the US is once again failing.

"Russia continues to support the weapons system, and at the same time pushing everyone towards negotiations and that's what made ​​improvement. The United States, which usually takes a bad decision, they are doing a good order."

Where are you getting your translation from?

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 4:07 utc | 105

I see maybe where you the confusion could come from. I do believe the second sentence should be translated as "The United States, which usually makes bad decisions, is doing the same in good order." Meaning, making another bad decision.

Recall that Chomsky did not sign that moronic petition that was going around. He has made several interviews where he plainly states that "intervention" would be the worst possible outcome for Syria.

As for the thing about troops in the Golan, that is there though VERY difficult translation and frankly I don't understand it at all. Maybe someone else would like to take a crack at translating a bad translation:

First, Israel is not opposed to (President Bashar) Assad. It was almost dictator which Aredion. Did all the things they want almost. The United States is not opposed to Assad, cooperate with intelligence. Did not like everything, but what he did was enough. If they wanted Israel and the United States actually topple the Assad regime and support the rebels was to have a lot of direct means to do it without a weapon. Israel can move troops to the Golan Heights, which they call internally the Syrian Golan Heights. If حركوا to their forces to the north فسيضطر the the Syrian forces to move in the opposite, which is these forces from suppressing the rebels, but they do not do so, and that means only one thing, they do not want to overthrow the system.


يريديون. فعل كل الأشياء التي يريدونها تقريباً. الولايات المتحدة لا تعارض الأسد، تعاون معها استخباريا. لم يعجبهم كل شيء، لكن ما فعله كان كافياً. لو أرادت اسرائيل والولايات المتحدة فعلاً إسقاط نظام الأسد ودعم الثوار لكان لديهما الكثير من الوسائل المباشرة لفعلها من دون سلاح. تستطيع اسرائيل تحريك قواتها إلى مرتفعات الجولان، التي يسمونها داخلياً مرتفعات الجولان السورية. إذا حركوا قواتهم إلى الشمال فسيضطر السوريون إلى تحريك قوات في المقابل، مما يبعد هذه القوات عن قمع الثوار، لكنهم لا يفعلون ذلك، وهذا يعني شيئاً واحداً فقط، أنهم لا يريدون أن يسقط النظام.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 4:24 utc | 106

88) The EU is no foreign policy "union", they have been trying but interests are just too different. The Euro is a powerful tool to force countries into economic alignment, there is no such constraint in foreign policy.
German Westerwelle came out with "no weapons for the Syrian opposition".
Britain and France are still in the colonial business - Sykes Picot is theirs. However my guess is that Saudi and Quatari investment and weapon imports determine foreign policy in both cases. Germany's orientation is more towards Russia and China.
I do not think the US could activate NATO for Syria - lot of members would say no - it would have to be an Iraq like coalition of the willing.
The chemical weapons' use is an obvious lie - and seems to be needed for US public opinion to justify action in Syria though I trust US citizens not to buy it.
In terms of human decency to prolong a war that has been decided on the ground to keep all sides weakened is criminal.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 15 2013 4:59 utc | 107

Pressure on Russia from OB'y one - US and the Proxy War - The new arms bill passed (Congress); Sanctions on arms and oil sales to Assad: Targeting any person or 'entity' that the President of the United States determines has knowingly participated in or facilitated a transaction related to the sale or transfer of military equipment, arms, petroleum, or petroleum products to the Assad regime. This is Russia and Iran, with Russia being a very large market player extends beyond the military arena, worth of approximately $20 billion, in that, it is a worth War unless both sides (Russia & US) have negotiated a deal where Russia keeps its economic interests, but just with a new regime that no one knows or trusts for that matter. Yet in real terms, and the reality of what they are doing is such a paradox; never mind international Laws, they are violating the Patriot act by supporting Al-Qaeda.

More over the hypocritical solution; Obama doesn't have a problem shipping 400 tonnes of weapons from Libya to Turkey for Al Qaeda to destabilize, yet he does have a problem with Russia delivering defensive weapons.

42 % of uranium for the American nuclear stations = 20 % of the US electric power in 2012 have been imported from Russia. This is because Japans supply is decommissioned since its disaster, how’s is that for ironic? So Russia does have playing cards, this includes Turkey and the rest; end of the day, business is the game, and in today’s unstable market, and as I said before this War for the US is futile and idiotic.

Posted by: kev | Jun 15 2013 5:26 utc | 108

Can the US operate a no fly zone over Syria? (The Israelis could but that would be totally counter-productive).

Any no fly zone by the US would surely have to be centred on their massive airbase in Southern Turkey. According to the poster Kunuri on Sic Semper Tyrannis - and his post's repeated on Friday Lunch Club - Erdogan's Syrian adventures are finished. It would be politically impossible for him to allow the US to use their base to crush Syria.

Kunuri: "And yes, he is out of the Syria game effectively now."

Posted by: johnf | Jun 15 2013 5:58 utc | 109

*All I can say is that I hope that cool heads in the United States prevail. .*

*It would be comforting to think that you are right but it seems to me that a war in Syria is a great way for the Mocha Bush to divert attention away his numerous scandals*

by now it should be obvious that the *foreign policy* of murica is not decided by debate bet *hotheads* n *cool heads*, neither does it depend on the prez's whimses n fancies to *divert attention*
the prez is just a figurehead carrying out the *deep state*'s agenda, which is *full spectrum dominian*
the way to world dominaton had long been charted out more than a decade ago, in that infamous pnac mandate.

its all there...the *five countries in seven yrs road map*, the *asian pivot*, the *star war* program n.....the *ethnic bomb*.
it had been running like clock work under bush
its accelerating under the current *peace prize* laureate, a veritable pnac on stanozolol !

there's no need to speculate on fukusi's next move, hear it right out of the horse mouth


Posted by: denk | Jun 15 2013 6:21 utc | 110

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15, 2013 12:07:34 AM | 104

Interesting...what i post is what was in that site, in english then arabic, it may very well be awonky translation, or a deliberate mistrans

perhaps you can translate the whole article and post it here

Posted by: brian | Jun 15 2013 7:33 utc | 111

It is staged but it is what it is and nothing will change the drive. We all know it’s faked, cellphone photos and videos of the attacks or the immediate aftermath are not available, no test on ‘persons’ even though they were under ‘supposed’ medical attention, no death or body to inspect/examine or autopsy. All we have is a bit of dirt that has traveled from place to place, no transparency and a bunch of vocal pushers making double edged statements, all that don’t quite state facts. What we do have is Sarin found in Turkey linked to the rebels, we have

Only one detailed independent report of a chemical attack has surfaced in that time, however — a lengthy report in the French newspaper Le Monde that triggered both French and British letters to the United Nations.

Zanders, however, said that much about that report bears questioning. Photos and a video accompanying the report showed rebel fighters preparing for chemical attacks by wearing gas masks. Sarin is absorbed through the skin, and even small amounts can kill within minutes.

He also expressed skepticism about the article's description of the lengthy route victims of chemical attacks had to travel to get to treatment, winding through holes in buildings, down streets under heavy fire, before arriving at remote buildings hiding hospitals.

Zanders, who also has headed the Chemical and Biological Warfare Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and was director of the Geneva-based BioWeapons Prevention Project, noted that had sarin been the chemical agent in use, the victims would have been dead long before they reached doctors for treatment.

Zanders also said he's skeptical of sarin use because there have been no reports of medical personnel or rescuers dying from contact with victims. Residue from sarin gas would be expected to linger on victims and would infect those helping, who often are shown in rebel video wearing no more protection than paper masks.

Le Monde reported that one doctor treated a victim with atropine, which is appropriate for sarin poisoning. But that doctor said he gave his patient 15 shots of atropine in quick succession, which Zanders said could have killed him almost as surely as sarin.

Susan Ricin (Sorry, Rice) U.S. Ambassador, a lesser poison but still toxic, detailed the attacks in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. So far BKM does not agree to sending weapons, this could be simply because the mission becomes a US led mission, thus the call for 5.2 Billion will be in vain, and the UN cant monkey about is SUV’s and have a jolly time, more over it does not like danger in a mission area, it just ruins the socializing aspect.

All we need is Sarin Palin to join in the party; Ah she did, and I thought he son was the retarded one; "Arming Syrian rebels in Africa could lead to "Bridge to Nowhere" but I will talk to the Russians over my back porch”- Someone slap that woman with a salmon laced with mercury please, God help America, it is run on ignorance that is beyond comprehension at times.

Posted by: kev | Jun 15 2013 7:48 utc | 112

johnf (108)

Can the US operate a no fly zone over Syria? (The Israelis could but that would be totally counter-productive)

Unless you can tell us reasonable grounds for the latter part of that statement I take it as a humorous remark.

Being at "humorous":

zusa failed to achieve anything but destruction and an extreme increase in Heroin production in Afghanistan.
zusa failed to achieve anything but destruction in Iraq.

Furthermore zusa achieved to be the #2 most hated, despised and ridiculed nation next to israel.

I do not see anything that could support the assumption that israel or zusa either with or without their fuk and gcc poodles are able to create and maintain a no-fly zone over Syria.

And this is generously stated, not considering that this time a *real* military power, Russia, stands against them.

Fact is that the mere zusa fly-zone statement, although nobody takes zusa seriously, handed Assad and SAA a strongly increased acceptance and base to hunt down the fukus/gcc/zio terrorists with even less restraint.

Don't get me wrong; I'd *love* to see zusa trying to implement a no-fly zone (but then I'm a lot less diplomatic, polite and patient than Putin).

But zusa will do what they do best and do usually since quite some time: They will make a lot of noise, sell weapons and that's it.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 15 2013 8:17 utc | 113

I meant counter productive in the sense that all Muslims - Shia or Sunni - would turn immediately against any movement openly supported by Israel.

I return to my point. Would the US be able to maintain a no fly zone over Syria without the use of Their main Turkish airbase?

Posted by: johnf | Jun 15 2013 8:33 utc | 114

Note that not ONE western MSM-station says it is illegal to arm terrorists, not one say its an act of war to create non flying zone.
If that happen Syria has the right to launch attacks in the US.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 15 2013 10:41 utc | 115

Given that the Russians did nothing to help long time allies in Iraq and Libya while actively helping ZATO in Afghanistan I can't say I hold out much hope that Putin will finally act in defense of Russian interests in Syria user999 posted at 80.

I don’t know about the actively helping part, nor that Iraq was a Russki ally in a serious way, but it is clear that Russia is on the hot-spot, cautious and confused, or holding back, and would do anything to escape more war in Syria (not for humanit. reasons) but because, what does it mean, finally, to be an ‘ally’ or ‘friend’ of Russia, if Russia cannot or refuses to support its allies or old friends or regions with some strong - arm stuff? So far it has made blocking moves at the UN security council, and tried hard to bring opponents to the negotiation table. About arms, idk. Russia’s caution can of course be interpreted under very many different lights.

Proxy wars are the pits, the local population is caught in traps it cannot escape. Words fail me. 93K killed to date....

Meanwhile, the Economist points out that the UN has gone beyond the fig-leaf of protection of the populace:

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 15 2013 14:54 utc | 116


Anyone can open the article and apply Google translate, here is the link for those interested:

I searched could not find a translated English version. Is there one, I'd be very interested to see it.

It's odd to see something so completely out of character presented, especially when it is entirely at odds with all the other statements he makes. Certainly something is wrong.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 15:37 utc | 117

@brian, guest77, etc. re Chomsky at AlAkhbar:

The translation of the Chomsky interview is on the site now. Basically, it's typical Chomsky. Every problem in the Middle East is rooted in American imperialism. Israel is only acting as it does because it is serving the imperial interests of the US (the US must benefit from the occupation of the West Bank, otherwise it would have forced its lackey, Israel to withdraw from there decades ago). Both Israel and the US love Assad (which is why Congress has been hitting Syria with ever-tightening sanctions, in legislation drafted by AIPAC, for over a decade ). There is no Israel Lobby. There are no neocons and neo-liberals. US Politicians only act out of greed for world domination (and fear about re-election and fund-raising from major donors plays no role in their 29 standing ovations for Netanyahu).

Maybe he doesn't read any news about Syria beyond what the MSM serves up.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jun 16 2013 0:27 utc | 118

It's worth checking out this piece about a US frame up of Assad re chemical Weapons:

Deleted Daily Mail Online Article: “US Backed Plan for Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria to Be Blamed on Assad”

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 16 2013 13:59 utc | 119

@rusty pipes
complete nonsense - you obviously have no idea what chomsky writes and speaks of such topics

Posted by: b real | Jun 16 2013 16:22 utc | 120

@118 You are presenting a parody of his views.

He doesn't say there is no Israel lobby, he just says it isn't as influential as, say, the US military, the US corporations, and NATO.

He never claims that Israel is a mere pawn of the United States; he says the US enables its worst actions (including the settlement building) with the inflow of money and weapons.

I don't fully understand the statement about ZUSA love of Assad, maybe he's just making the point that the issue is less about Assad and more about Israel's obsession with Iran and Hezbollah.

Maybe if he downplays Israeli influence over US policy, that's a cop out. But it's the same exact cop out as Americans who want to claim the Iraq War was purely an Israeli plan and that somehow the poor little USA got hoodwinked and never would have done such a thing. The Iraq War was very similar to all kinds of other aggressive US actions in which you can't point to any Israeli influence at all.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 16 2013 16:23 utc | 121


The softball AlAkhbar interview is so full of unfactual statements by Chomsky (which fly in the face of recent reporting within the pages of AlAkhbar itself) that Chomsky comes across as uninformed or dissembling.

While my assessment may be a bit hyperbolic, Jeffrey Blankfort has thoroughly summarized Chomsky's views on Israel as a US asset and the irrelevance of the Israel Lobby in a series of articles. This comes from a piece in 2010:

...Chomsky clearly stunned Christopher J. Lee, an interviewer for the Safundi: the Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies [10 May 2004] when in an exchange comparing Israel with the former apartheid regime, he again came to Israel’s defense and cast opposition to sanctions on Israel as a moral issue. “One of the important tactics against the apartheid government was the eventual use of sanctions. Do you see that as a possibility?” asked Lee. “No,” Chomsky replied. “In fact I’ve been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa, I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it. “Sanctions hurt the population. You don’t impose them unless the population is asking for them. That’s the moral issue. So, the first point in the case of Israelis that: Is the population asking for it? Well, obviously not. “So calling for sanctions here, when the majority of the population doesn’t understand what you are doing, is tactically absurd-even if it were morally correct, which I don’t think it is. The country against which the sanctions are being imposed is not calling for it.” To which the bewildered Safundi understandably asked, “Palestinians aren’t calling for sanctions?” “Well,” Chomsky responded, as if he had been asked a stupid question, “the sanctions wouldn’t be imposed against the Palestinians, they would be imposed against Israel.” “Furthermore,” added, “there is no need for it. We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the U.S. were to stop its massive support for this, it’s over. So, you don’t have to have sanctions on Israel.”

It would seem from that exchange that Chomsky has more respect for the opinions of Israel’s Jews than those of his fellow Americans. In applying double standards to Israel and the United States, Chomsky has been consistent. After telling the Israeli interviewer that, speaking as an American citizen, “we are responsible for our own actions and their consequences,” in the very next breath he declares that “every crime that Israel commits is with US participation and authorization,” which, even if true, which it is not, presumably would make Israel culpable, but not apparently enough, in Chomsky’s eyes, to warrant a boycott.

At the end of the day, it is evident that Chomsky’s affection for Israel, his sojourn on a kibbutz, his Jewish identity, and his early experiences with anti-Semitism to which he occasionally refers have colored his approach to every aspect of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and explain his defense of Israel. That is his right, of course, but not to pretend at the same that he is an advocate for justice in Palestine. That same background may also explain his resistance to acknowledging the very obvious power of the pro-Israel lobby over US Middle East policy which he, like many others who share a similar history, interpret as “blaming the Jews,” a most taboo subject. It is, without a doubt, far more comfortable for him and his followers to continue insisting that US support for Israel is based on it being a “strategic asset” for the United States even when an increasing number of mainstream observers who are not linked to AIPAC or the Zionist establishment have judged it to be a liability. Should not Chomsky himself, on the basis of his own statements, be judged as to whether he is an asset or a liability for the Palestinian cause? If they have not already done so, serious supporters of that cause, including Palestinians, need to ask themselves that question.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jun 16 2013 20:57 utc | 122

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jun 15, 2013 8:27:54 PM | 118

pity Chomsky isnt on twitter!

Posted by: brian | Jun 17 2013 0:58 utc | 123

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