Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 18, 2013

Syria: NYT, HRW Wrong To Claim Chemical Attack Origin

Human Rights Watch and the New York Times are trying to implicate the Syrian Arab Army in a chemical incident that happened on August 21 in Ghouta near Damascus. Using the report of an United Nations commission which investigated various sites around Damascus they try to reconstruct from where the rockets suspected to have been used in the attack may have been fired from.

The UN commission identified two finds of largely intact rockets that landed in a way that lets one estimate from which directions these rockets have been fired. Lining out from the impact sites towards the direction from where the rockets came the crossing of the two lines point, say HRW and the NYT, to the possible launch point of both rockets. That point, a Syrian army artillery site, is then seen as implicated in the chemical attack.

When taken together, the azimuths drawn from different neighborhoods lead back to and intersect at Mount Qasioun — so far an impregnable seat of Mr. Assad’s power — according to independent and separate calculations by both The New York Times and Human Rights Watch.

“Connecting the dots provided by these numbers allows us to see for ourselves where the rockets were likely launched from and who was responsible,” Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst for Human Rights Watch, noted in a statement on Tuesday.

“This isn’t conclusive,” Mr. Lyons added. “But it is highly suggestive.”

But that analysis is faulty. At least one of the two rockets the UN commission assessed contained no chemical agent at all. In the whole area where that one rocket was found none of the environmental probe showed any sign of a chemical weapon impact. It is therefore not legit to use that impact as a direction finding point for the launch point of the chemical weapon incident. Before and after the chemical incident the sites the UN visited had been reported to be under conventional artillery attack. There is no conclusive evidence that binds the rocket debris found to the chemical incident.

Specifically the first site the UN commission visited was near Moadamiyah, south of Damascus. The investigators took blood and urine samples from some people they met on their visit there. Those samples proved positive for exposure to Sarin. But all environment samples taken in Moadamiyah proved negative (Appendix 6 and 7 of the UN report. Sample 1 to 12 taken on August 26.) If those person found in Moadamiyah would have been exposed in Moadamiyah the environment there would also have been exposed. But the UN team found that this was not the case. The persons must have been moved to Moadamiyah after having been exposed elsewhere. The 140 mm rocket the UN team assessed in Moadamiyah can thereby not be implicated in the chemical attack.

The second point where the UN team found ammunition and assessed the direction where it came from was in Ain Tarma east/south-east of Damascus. The ammunition debris found there was from a 330 mm rocket. Environmental probes taken in Ain Tarma and from parts of the found rocket debris showed exposure to Sarin. The UN commission report does not explicitly state that the ammunition found carried the chemical agent. It notes that the area was well traveled and that people were seen moving ammunition debris around.

The UN commission report does not say how the chemical agent found in some of the investigated areas was distributed. It does not say that it came from rockets. It identified two impact sites of rockets and directions that allows to assume the direction, not the distance, from where those rockets were fired from. But one of those sites and rockets was never exposed to the chemical agent in question while the other site, and the ammunition debris found there, was. To conclude from these finds that ammunition carrying chemical agents were fired from a specific point or army unit or was fired by rockets at all is not legit but propaganda.

In 2008 Human Rights Watch falsely accused Russia of having used cluster ammunition in the Georgia war even while the ammunition found was easily identifiable as "western" sourced ammunition. C.J Chivers, who wrote the above for the New York Times, has been implicated in propaganda reporting on Syria claiming "poorly armed rebels" while he knew and had seen that those "rebels" had received many modern arms and ammunition from their "western" and Gulf sponsors.

Posted by b on September 18, 2013 at 16:16 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

so HR groups in tunisia support sexual jihad?

The minister hit back at human rights groups criticizing the government’s decision to ban suspected “jihadists” from travel. Most of those slapped with travel bans were less than 35 years old, he said.
“Our youths are positioned in the frontlines and are taught how to steal and raid (Syrian) villages,” Bin Jeddo said.
Former Mufti of Tunisia Sheikh Othman Battikh said in April that 13 Tunisian girls “were fooled” into travelling to Syria to offer their sexual services to rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The mufti, who was dismissed from his post days afterwards, described the so-called “sexual Jihad” as a form of “prostitution.”
“For Jihad in Syria, they are now pushing girls to go there. 13 young girls have been sent for sexual jihad. What is this? This is called prostitution. It is moral educational corruption,” the mufti told reporters.
In August, general director of the public security service Mostafa Bin Omar said a “sexual jihad cell” was broken up in an area west of the country where al-Qaead fighters holed up.
Bin Omar told reporters that al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar Shariah was using minor girls, dressed in the full face cover to offer sexual services for jihadist male fighters.

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 1:27 utc | 101

Posted by: ATH | Sep 19, 2013 10:56:02 AM | 83

why use Erdogan as an eg? next thing you wil compare him with Assad

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 1:30 utc | 102

An indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 1:53 utc | 103


So let's summarize what you are saying. PressTV, which is obviously on the Iran side, is giving the MSM, the same that has targeted Iran as the main enemy of the US, a good name by promoting guys that you consider phonies. And you are shouting it out loud in every place you can, because .... As the French would "il y a quelque chose qui cloche ici". I'm starting to believe that HMMM might be right about you.

Posted by: ATH | Sep 20 2013 2:46 utc | 104

103) All I am saying is that press tv has to learn a lot for its propaganda to be efficient for Western audiences. RT is beginning to get really good at it. Al Jazeera used to be brilliant with all those ex BBC journalists they employed but lost it when the directive became too strict and the method too obvious. Fox News seem to have tried to cross over to liberal audiences recently and are actually good when they do that. The BBC can be good but toes too much to the the government line.
All you can do when you try to find out what is going on is Occam's razor - what everybody agrees on independent of bias is very likely true. You can also use logic and eliminate complete outliers - media that maintains stuff to be true nobody else finds plausable or is contrary to basic logic. Press tv is very close to being an outlier - they are good to find out what Iranians may be thinking, but most often not even that.
Or are you suggesting BBC, Al Jazeera, Fox News have agendas but press tv, RT are objective? Is that the world you live in?
In the world I live in journalists have to get paid, and they are either paid by special interests and/or by their audience.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 20 2013 3:28 utc | 105

Posted by: somebody | Sep 19, 2013 11:28:27 PM | 104

what has press TV posted that is 'propanganda'?

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 4:51 utc | 106

remember the Bush Doctrine? why hasnt USattacke turkey, which harbors alqaeda?

''Bush expanded on that when he addressed a joint session of Congress on September 20. He said, "We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."''

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 5:00 utc | 107

Vladimir Suchan
I might have found the "non-existent" rebels' BM-14. A rocket launcher in action in the hands of people who had clearly expertise in ballistics and special preparation. It is and it is, moreover, from rebels' unit that calls itself the "Missile Brigade" and the brigade operates in the Damascus area!

It does not like to me either like the Chinese or the Croatian model. Moreover, the fact that this video is from "Ugarit News" also strongly suggests a possible Taliban connection. Let's add a bit of more information about BM-14. From the available information, BM-14 was not exported by the Soviet Union to Syria. See However, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, and Algeria had them. After 1990, it was no longer produced. The Taliban captured some of them. So, the Syrian Army could hardly use BM-14 since, according to the available information, the Syrian Army did not have this to begin with. However, the FSA could get BM-14 from the Taliban (they are in Syria) or from Yemen or Sudan or from Morsi's Egypt.

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 5:11 utc | 108

105) Just had a look - actually there is a new style - they have changed to more factual.

However, would you believe a professor of accounting telling you that the economy of the US is about to crash?

I mean ok, it is sweet revenge on Western news maintaining that Iran's economy is fatally hit by sanctions (which I consider also propaganda), but complaining of an inflation rate of below 2 percent via the media of a country with an inflation rate of close to 30 percent?

Posted by: somebody | Sep 20 2013 6:43 utc | 109

Syrian civil war has reached stalemate, govt may call for ceasefire – Deputy PM

Russia Today.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 20 2013 7:29 utc | 110

Not surprising the Syrian gov. call for ceasefire, this will give the terrorists boost since its a sign that the gov. is weak.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 20 2013 7:38 utc | 111

"Syrian civil war has reached stalemate, govt may call for ceasefire"

I dont think its official position, just one deputy saying his opinion. That was a stupid thing to say though, which will be interpreted as weakness and embolden both terrorists and their masters. If its official position - at Geneva USrael would be able to treat both government and terrorists as equals, which would be detrimental for Syria's future in any possible solution based on such premise.

Even if ceasefire happens, it WONT stop the war anyway, just will allow terrorists to regroup and will allow terrorists to de-facto occupy territories based on ceasefire.

Also to say such thing now is a weird timing, especially with an army on a big offensive push. The whole CW red-flag was meant to stop armies advancement and/or to start bombing as Al Qaeda's air force, since Al Qaeda was loosing.

Posted by: Harry | Sep 20 2013 8:06 utc | 112

'A Final Comment
international law expert: Francis Boyle critiqued the UN report. He cited:
(1) Appendix 3, paragraph 3: UN inspectors “admit they were under the control of the opposition in order to make their inspection of Ghouta.”

(2) Appendix 4: “Admittedly this was a rush job designed to meet an artificial deadline of questionable significance.”

(3) Page 15: “So why did none of the 3 hair samples test positive for sarin?”

(3) Statisticians should “do a run on the statistical significance of the findings here given the low number N=34-36 out of the alleged” 1,429 victims Kerry wrongfully claimed.

(4) Appendix 5 – Munitions:

(a) Page 18: Inspectors said “(f)ragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

The above discussion suggests the same thing. The alleged crime scenes were manipulated. Doing so made evidence collected suspect, tainted and/or worthless.

According to Boyle:
So-called “munitions ‘evidence’ could have been easily planted beforehand by the opposition that was in complete control of this area” at the time.

(b) According to UN inspectors:

“During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

In other words, said Boyle, perhaps so-called “evidence” isn’t any at all.

(5) Appendix 7: Lab 1 and 2 results show “large numbers of the samples indicated NO CW agents: ‘NONE,’ ” said Boyle.

Most likely they were largely conventional munitions fragments. Sarin was present in a small fraction of them. UN inspectors admitted crime scenes were “manipulated.”

They were tampered with. Contamination made them worthless.

Note: Major media reports suppressed what’s most important to report! They ignored vital truths!

They wrongfully blamed Assad for insurgents’ crimes! They did so based on manipulated/corrupted/fabricated evidence!

According to Boyle:
“At 7.2 on the Biomedical Results, of 36 samples, the 2 labs together could not confirm even ONE chem by means of a urine test.”

“Indeed, most of the urine tests were NA – not available, in other words, not reported.”

UN inspectors’ “report is completely slipshod and worthless, even in accordance with (their) own terms.”

“It establishes almost nothing of any scientific significance. It was rushed on through to provide BKM and the Americans a pretext for further warmongering.”

Doing so shows so-called inspectors willfully deceived. They lied for power. UN agencies operate this way. They’re little more than wholly owned US subsidiaries.

They’re corrupted and worthless. Don’t expect major media scoundrels to explain.

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 8:12 utc | 113

@108..a news style huh!
Press TV lied over libya(i know as i wrote to them to complain)....with syria they seem to be telling the truth

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 8:15 utc | 114

112) The problem is not the UN, the problem is unilateral action by certain countries.
Waiting for the report was a good idea, don't you think?

The report itself is very clear on its limitation. A who-dun-it was not the goal.

Turkey is in for a lot of embarassement.

BEIRUT: The nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels are in good health after an Al-Qaeda affiliated group overran the Syrian northern town of Azaz where the men are believed to be held, a spokesman said Thursday.

“We spoke to [head of General Security Brig. Gen.] Abbas Ibrahim, who is in constant contact with Turkish authorities, and he told us that the hostages are in good condition,” Hayat Awali, spokesperson for the Lebanese hostages’ families, told The Daily Star.

Awali claimed the nine men were not being held in Azaz, but inside Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 20 2013 8:44 utc | 115

Awali claimed the nine men were not being held in Azaz, but inside Turkey.
Either this is simply wrong, or the Jihadis have such secure rear bases in Turkey that they moved the hostages there, and if the hostage family rep knows this, so does everyone else.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 20 2013 10:44 utc | 116

This is just nasty.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 20 2013 11:17 utc | 118

116) :-)) polit fiction ...

Posted by: somebody | Sep 20 2013 11:23 utc | 119

Excellent interview of a non-aligned member of the Syrian gov
(now repeated by other medias who will sneak into it their own prop')
BTW, he states that the CW loaded rockets came from Libya.

More on Syria

#101 The al-Arabiyya story has gaps (how do teenage kids get out without a passport avec parents' permission? why was the mufti fired after condemning the practice?), but the story is true, see (Lutfi Bin Jiddo Tunisian Interior Minister) speaking to the parliament)
In Egypt too, they brought Syrian women to villages' mosques saying "they want to get married because they are refugees and need a husband protection": actually the people who bring them are simply trying to recruit for djihad...

Posted by: Mina | Sep 20 2013 12:42 utc | 120

An AA correspondent has debuked the article that deserves the Award of distorted "journalism" this year

Posted by: Mina | Sep 20 2013 12:45 utc | 121

abuse of office: germany

Posted by: brian | Sep 20 2013 14:11 utc | 122

Has anyone following US MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) found any mention whatsoever of Sister Agnes and her contention that the killed children had been abducted earlier from another area, one friendly to the government, iirc.

I have heard nothing mentioned on the NPR/PBS/WNYC shows I've listened to, but I don't follow everything.

I'm without home internet right now, so use the library's and haven't all that much time to get here.

But, anyone? Any mention of "The Nun's Tale"?

Posted by: jawbone | Sep 20 2013 20:44 utc | 123

Pretty far downthread now and it was probably mentioned already, but the rockets were two different sizes and so were fired from two different weapons. Considering the overall area of probablility. HRW simply backtracked to a convenient military facility. The weapons could have been launched from any point out to their maximum range on the trajectory, which was itself only an estimate. The neat "X marks the spot" solution is totally made up.

Posted by: Mark | Sep 20 2013 20:51 utc | 124

A cease fire could be a good move - if strategically flouted.

Pin down the stationary elements of the rebels some of which are just Syrians protecting their neighborhoods, but hammer the mobile Al Qaeda elements along with a media campaign saying they're breaking the ceasfure so what can you do...

If that is indeed the plan, it is not a bad one to mend Syria while still attacking the al Qaeda thugs.

Posted by: guest77 | Sep 20 2013 23:13 utc | 125

I analyzed the UN and HRW reports and find some serious flaws. You may read it here:

Corrections and other feedback will be greatly appreciated (please comment at the blog).


Posted by: sasa wawa | Sep 21 2013 0:05 utc | 126

« previous page

The comments to this entry are closed.