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The AbuZayd-Pinheiro Committee: Systematic Misinformation on Syria

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By Tim Anderson | American Herald Tribune | September 10, 2017

In mid 2012, as foreign jihadists poured into Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon authorised replacement of the Special Mission on Syria (UNSMIS) with a Geneva-based ‘Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria’ (IICOIOS), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd and Brazilian Paolo Pinheiro.

Unlike UNSMIS, led by Norwegian General Robert Mood and based in Syria, the IICOIOS was based in Geneva, never visited Syria and was deeply compromised by its link to US diplomacy and its reliance on jihadist sources. The US Government, by then, was arming anti-government jihadist groups in Syria. Ban had thus embedded a deep conflict of interest in a nominally ‘independent’ UN agency.

The Abuzayd-Pinheiro group, joined by Italian lawyer Carla del Ponte, issued a series of distant reports which echoed western war propaganda against Syria. Notable amongst these were reports on the 2012 Houla massacre, a report on the 2016 liberation of Aleppo, and a recent report which seeks to blame a series of chemical weapons attacks in 2017 on the Syrian Government. Carla del Ponte, in a better moment, revealed in mid 2013 that the first use of sarin gas in Syria was by Jabhat al Nusra. But none of this appeared in the group’s reports.

In a pretence at even handedness, the group has made criticism of the terrorist groups and the US-led bombardment of Syrian cities. However when it comes to accusations against the Syrian Government it pays literally no attention to genuinely independent evidence, such as that from Syrian civilians who have blamed jihadists for ‘false flag’ massacres, and reports from the US military forensic expert Professor Ted Postol.

The result is what we might expect of a US-embedded organ: a partisan adjunct to official war propaganda, vilifying the Syrian Government and the soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army, as they struggle to defend their country. The UN group’s systematically distorted misinformation, during a war, most likely constitutes a war crime, as propaganda for war is prohibited. Let’s look at three key reports.

The Abuzayd-Pinheiro’s first report, on the May 2012 Houla massacre, set a standard for low grade but well timed war propaganda. As I document in chapter eight of my book The Dirty War on Syria (Anderson 2016), 15 independent witnesses gave great detail about the massacre of over 100 villagers in rural Homs by members of the Farouq Brigade (FSA) and several named local collaborators. The jihadists, expelled from Homs city by the Syrian Army, took revenge on families in Houla who had participated in recent elections, violating the jihadists’ call for a boycott.

UNSMIS head General Robert Mood had recognised conflicting reports coming from Houla, which was then under Farouq-FSA control. However UNSMIS was rapidly disbanded and the Abuzayd-Pinheiro group issued a report which unambiguously blamed pro-army civilian militia (‘shabiha’). Based on a few long-distance interviews, arranged by the Farouq brigade, the IICOIOS tried to blame the atrocity on the Syrian Government. However, unlike the local eyewitnesses (reported by Syrian, European and Russian media), they could provide no names, little detail and no motive (HRC 2012: 20).

Their report came before a UN Security Council meeting in which the US sought authorisation for Libyan-style attacks on Syria in the name of ‘civilian protection’ (a ‘no fly zone’). The manoeuvre failed and the report was strongly criticised at the UNSC, with Russia, China and India refusing to accept it as a basis for action. However it was used as a pretext for many other countries to downgrade their relations with Syria.

Almost five years later the AbuZayd-Pinheiro group tried to portray as a ‘crime’ the liberation of the city of Aleppo from al Qaeda aligned groups. They paid no attention to the thousands of relieved and celebrating civilians who had been rescued from al Qaeda held East Aleppo. Once again the assertions were reckless and partisan. The group falsely claimed that the liberation of the city had involved ‘daily air strikes’ on the eastern part of Aleppo city (HRC 2017: 19). Yet it was reported widely in foreign media that air strikes on the east part of the city were suspended on 18 October (BBC 2016; Xinhua 2016). NPR’s Merrit Kennedy (2016) reported ‘several weeks of relative calm’ during the ‘humanitarian pause, aimed at evacuating civilians. The ‘resumption’ of airstrikes almost one month later was aimed at the armed groups in rural Aleppo, not on the shrinking parts of the city held by the jihadists (Pestano 2016; Graham-Harrison 2016). Of course, al Qaeda aligned ‘media activists’ did claim the city was being continuously bombed (CNN 2016). However the UN commission, as Gareth Porter pointed out, ‘did not identify sources for its narrative … [but rather] accepted the version of the events provided by the ‘White Helmets’’, a jihadist auxiliary funded by the US and UK governments (Porter 2017). This report seemed to belatedly support calls by the UN Secretary General’s representative, Stefan di Mistura, for the Syrian Government to allow jihadist groups to maintain control of a lage part of the country’s second city. Syria would never allow that to happen.

In its most recent report of September 2017 the AbuZayd-Pinheiro group criticised terrorist groups and the US air strikes, in a pretence at impartiality. But it added a remarkable claim that had no basis in independent evidence: that ‘government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition held areas’. Abuzayd-Pinheiro claimed that 20 of 25 chemical weapons attacks in 2017 ‘were perpetrated by government forces’, referring to incidents at Khan Sheikhoun, al Latamneh and East Ghouta (HRC 2017b: 1, 14). Yet critical, independent evidence from US Professor Ted Postol had disproved the notion that the Khan Sheikhoun incident came from an air strike (Postol 2017). Indeed, the Syrian Government says the Army never once used chemical weapons during the 2011-2017 conflict, and no independent evidence contradicts this position. For example, in chapter nine of my book (Anderson 2016) I document the catalogue of independent evidence that discredited the ‘chemical weapons ‘false flag’ in the East Ghouta, of August 2013.

So, on what evidence were AbuZayd-Pinheiro’s claims based? They refer to interviews with victims and aid providers in jihadist controlled areas, some satellite images, a report of the UN’s OPCW (which did not attribute blame) and a non-response from the Syrian Government (HRC 2017b: 14-16). Clearly Damascus refuses to cooperate with AbuZayd-Pinheiro because of their previous propaganda activity. In the case of Khan Sheikhoun incident, the OPCW refused Russian invitation to visit and investigate, preferring to rely on information and samples provided by jihadist groups and their auxiliaries, such as the US-UK funded ‘White Helmets’. Once again, virtually all evidence cited by the Abuzayd-Pinheiro group came from US-backed and jihadist sources – al Nusra aka Hayat Tahrir al Sham, Ahrar al Sham, Jaish al Islam and Faylaq al Rahman (HRC 2017b: 14-16).

This latest AbuZayd-Pinheiro report came as the Syrian Army broke a three-year ISIS siege on the eastern City of Deir Ezzor. Fake chemical weapons claims at this time might briefly distract from this latest Syrian victory over the NATO-Saudi proxy armies, but they carry less import than before. Nevertheless, this US-led ‘independent’ group showed itself partisan and propagandist to the end.

*(Karen Koning Abuzayd on the left and Sergio Paulo Pinheiro on the right. Image credit: UN Geneva/ flickr)

References

Anderson, Tim (2016a) The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, Montreal

Anderson, Tim (2016b) ‘Daraa 2011: Syria’s Islamist Insurrection in Disguise’, Global Research, 16 March, online:http://www.globalresearch.ca/daraa-2011-syrias-islamist-insurrection-in-disguise/5460547

BBC (2016) ‘Syria war: Russia halts Aleppo bombing for humanitarian pause’, 18 October, online: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37689063

CNN (2016) ‘Syria: Aleppo pounded by ‘heaviest bombardment’ since war began’, 21 November, online: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/middleeast/syria-aleppo-airstrikes/index.html

HRC (2012) ‘Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’, Human Rights Commission, 26 June, online: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoISyria/OralUpdateJune2012.pdf

HRC (2017) ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’ [Aleppo report], A/HRC/34/64, 2 February, online: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/026/63/PDF/G1702663.pdf?OpenElement

HRC (2017b) ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic‘, 8 August, A/hrc/36/55, online

Porter, Gareth (2017) ‘A Flawed UN investigation on Syria’, Consortium News, 11 march, online: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/11/a-flawed-un-investigation-on-syria/

Graham-Harrison, Emma (2016) ‘Aleppo airstrikes restart as Russia announces major Syria offensive’, The Guardian, 16 November, online:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/aleppo-airstrikes-resume-as-russia-announces-major-syria-offensive

Kennedy, Merrit (2016) ‘After Rocky Pause, Airstrikes Resume On Syria’s Aleppo’, NPR, 15 November, online: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/15/502129917/after-rocky-pause-airstrikes-resume-on-syrias-aleppo

Pestano, Andrew V. (2016) ‘Aleppo airstrikes resume after 3-week pause’, UPI, 15 November, online: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/11/15/Aleppo-airstrikes-resume-after-3-week-pause/8561479211543/

Xinhua (2016) ‘News Analysis: Suspended Russian airstrikes encourage rebels to unleash major offensive in Aleppo’, 29 October, online:http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-10/29/c_135788805.htm

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

On Hersh, Higgins, Whitaker and Ghouta

Interventions Watch | December 12, 2013

A few brief thoughts on Seymour Hersh’s article on the chemical weapons attack in Syria in August: Elliot Higgins’ response to it; and Brian Whitaker’s take on things.

Here are the bits from Whitaker’s article that I thought were worth commenting on:

‘On one side of the chemical weapons debate is Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist, who suggested in an article for the London Review of Books that rebel fighters, rather than the Syrian regime, were to blame for the Damascus attacks’.

That isn’t really the point Hersh was making though, is it? The gist of the story was that the case against the Assad regime wasn’t as strong as the Obama regime made out, and that the Obama regime knew this.

As Hersh told Democracy Now – ‘I certainly don’t know who did what, but there’s no question my government does not’, and that Obama ‘was willing to go to war, wanted to throw missiles at Syria, without really having a case and knowing he didn’t have much of a case‘.

Hersh and his sources saw that as a major scandal: a President deciding to start a war, with all that entails, based on a case that was less than watertight.

They also refused to even entertain the possibility, at least in public, that a rebel faction may have been responsible, despite knowing that at least one rebel faction had ‘mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity’.

‘Given that Hersh has spent decades working for mainstream media, that Media Lens disapproves of anonymous sources’.

An apparent ‘Gotcha!’ moment, no? But maybe there’s a difference between people leaking and briefing anonymously to promote Establishment narratives and aims, and people leaking and briefing anonymously to challenge them. Hersh has, throughout his career, promoted the latter with a very good hit rate. Simply put, anonymous leaks designed to whistleblow are not the same as anonymous leaks designed to mislead and confuse.

‘Some of his other exposes have misfired, though’

Some examples might be nice.

‘he has often been criticised for his use of shadowy sources. In the words of one Pentagon spokesman, he has “a solid and well-earned reputation for making dramatic assertions based on thinly sourced, unverifiable anonymous sources”‘.

Hersh has spent decades shining lights into places ‘Pentagon spokesmen’ types don’t want him to look. So it’s not surprising that they’d try and discredit his work. Would Whitaker, for example, quote an Iranian military spokesman to try and rubbish the work of an Iranian dissident journalist? I doubt it. And the fact he does it here perhaps says much about his unexamined assumptions and biases.

‘Higgins, meanwhile, is the antithesis of a “corporate” journalist’.

At this point in his career, it’s not like Higgins is some obscure, insurgent outsider. He has had his work published in The New York Times and Foreign Policy, has had a lengthy profile written about him in The New Yorker, has worked with Human Rights Watch, and has been interviewed more than once on T.V. News. Does this make him wrong? Of course not. But the line between him and ‘old media’ isn’t quite as defined as Whitaker would like to make out.

It is perhaps instructive that in this case, Hersh struggled to get anyone to publish his chemical weapons piece, while Higgins had no problem in getting Foreign Policy, an Establishment journal if ever there was one, to publish his rebuttal pretty much straight away.

‘Hersh’s source on the supposed sarin-manufacturing capabilities is an unnamed “senior intelligence consultant”:

‘Already by late May, the senior intelligence consultant told me, the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin’

. . . Interestingly, though, EAWorldView has an idea who this consultant might be. It notes that Michael Maloof, who formerly worked in the US Defense Department, has made very similar claims in an article for the right-wing World Net Daily, and also on the Russian propaganda channel, RT’.

Pure speculation, of course. Even if the source is Maloof, it doesn’t automatically follow that Maloof is wrong.

Nor is Maloof, or any other source Hersh might have, the only person to have suggested a rebel faction may have access to chemical weapons.

In May 2013 for example, Carla Del Ponte, one of the overseers of the UN commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss T.V. that ‘there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas’ by rebel factions, and that she was ‘a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got . . . they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition’.

Predictably, her comments quickly disappeared down the Memory Hole, even though she is a very credible and well respected source, and likely wasn’t just making it all up.

She was, incidentally, also smeared and/or discredited by those who simply don’t want to see any kind of challenge to the Establishment narrative on Syria, much like is happening to Hersh now.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on On Hersh, Higgins, Whitaker and Ghouta

UN delegates arrive in Syria to probe chemical weapon claims

Press TV – July 24, 2013

A United Nation delegation tasked with examining allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria’s ongoing unrest has arrived in Damascus.

UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane and Swedish scientist, Ake Sellstrom, arrived in the Syrian capital on Wednesday from neighboring Lebanon.

The UN inspectors will meet with Syrian officials to secure a deal for starting investigation into allegations of chemical weapons use in the Arab country. The team is in Damascus at the invitation of the Syrian government.

The Syrian government and foreign-backed militants fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad accuse each other of using chemical weapons.

A Russian-led inquiry has already revealed that militants carried out a chemical attack in the village of Khan al-Assal on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo in March, which killed 26 people.

On May 6, UN investigator, Carla Del Ponte, said testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests militants have used the nerve agent, sarin.

Sarin is a colorless and highly toxic nerve agent that can cause convulsions, paralysis and death within minutes if it is absorbed through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin or eyes.

Sarin is classed as a weapon of mass destruction and is banned under international law.

July 24, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on UN delegates arrive in Syria to probe chemical weapon claims

New York Times, sarin and skepticism

Iraq Then, Syria Now?

FAIR | May 15, 2013

During the run-up to the Iraq War, the New York Times amplified erroneous official claims about weapons of mass destruction (FAIR Action Alert, 9/8/06). Looking at the paper’s coverage of allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria, some of the same patterns are clear: an over-reliance on official sources and the downplaying of critical or skeptical analysis of the available intelligence.

In “Syria Faces New Claim on Chemical Arms” (4/19/13), the paper told readers that, according to anonymous diplomats, Britain and France had sent letters to the United Nations about “credible evidence” against Syria regarding chemical weapon use. On April 24, the Times reported that Israel had “evidence that the Syrian government repeatedly used chemical weapons last month.”

The next day (4/25/13), the Times reported that, according to an unnamed “senior official,” the White House “shares the suspicions of several of its allies that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.” The article spoke of the “mounting pressure to act against Syria,” adding, “Some analysts say they worry that if the United States waits too long, it will embolden President Bashar al-Assad.”

And then on April 26, under the headline “White House Says Syria Has Used Chemical Arms,” the Times reported:

The White House, in a letter to Congressional leaders, said the nation’s intelligence agencies assessed ”with varying degrees of confidence” that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale.

 The story included a source, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.), who presented the intelligence as more definitive: She “said the agencies actually expressed more certainty about the use of these weapons than the White House indicated in its letter.”

 An April 27 Times report warned  that there were dangers in waiting too long to respond to the charges that Syria has used chemical weapons:

 If the president waits for courtroom levels of proof, what has been a few dozen deaths from chemical weapons–in a war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives–could multiply.

 In following days, the accusations of chemical weapons use were presented uncritically as the premise for political stories: pondering how the White House would “respond to growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons” (4/28/13) or noting Republican attacks on the White House following “revelations last week that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is believed to have used chemical weapons against his own people” (4/29/13).

 On May 5, the Times was again weighing in on the political ramifications:

Confronted with evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, President Obama now finds himself in a geopolitical box, his credibility at stake with frustratingly few good options.

 Then, on May 5 came an unusual shift: Carla Del Ponte, a member of a United Nations team investigating human rights abuses in the Syrian civil war, claimed that the UN had collected evidence that chemical weapons had been used in Syria–but by the rebels, not by the government.

 After running a Reuters dispatch on May 6, the Times published its own piece on May 7, a report that talked about “new questions about the use of chemical weapons.” But the emphasis was clearly on rebutting the charges: The paper reported that the White House had “cast doubt on an assertion by a United Nations official that the Syrian rebels…had used the nerve agent sarin.” The piece included three U.S. sources–one named, two unnamed–who questioned the Del Ponte claims.

 The article went on to reiterate that the White House was weighing other options based on “its conclusion that there was a strong likelihood that the Assad government has used chemical weapons on its citizens.”

Outside the New York Times, though, doubts about the evidence pointing to Syrian use of poison gas  were evident from the very start. McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay (4/26/13) reported that one source characterized the U.S. intelligence as “tiny little data points” that were of “low to moderate” confidence.

 An April 30 report from GlobalPost noted that a “spent canister” at the scene of one attack “and the symptoms displayed by the victims are inconsistent with a chemical weapon such as sarin gas.” A subsequent GlobalPost dispatch (5/5/13) reported that blood samples tested in Turkey were not turning up evidence of sarin exposure.

NBC reporter Richard Engel (5/8/13) traveled to Syria with rebel forces to examine evidence they had collected. He seemed to concur with the GlobalPost reports that the chemical exposure could very well have been from a type of tear gas.

 By May 7, McClatchy was reporting that the case was looking weaker, noting that

 no concrete proof has emerged, and some headline-grabbing claims have been discredited or contested. Officials worldwide now admit that no allegations rise to the level of certainty…..Existing evidence casts more doubt on claims of chemical weapons use than it does to help build a case that one or both sides of the conflict have employed them.

 It is clear that the Times has promoted a storyline that treats the chemical weapons claims as more definitive than they are, and has given scant attention to subsequent revelations about the evidence.

 In a recent column (5/5/13), Times public editor Margaret Sullivan argued that the paper still faces problems with its credibility based on its reporting about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction over 10 years ago. The Times “pledged more skeptical and rigorous reporting” going forward, and Sullivan argues that the Times “has taken important steps” in that direction.

 But does the paper’s handling of the Syria chemical weapons stories demonstrate that the paper has learned lessons? Or is it repeating the same mistakes?

ACTION:
Ask the New York Times public editor to evaluate the paper’s reporting on Syria and chemical weapons.

CONTACT:
New York Times
Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor
public@nytimes.com

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on New York Times, sarin and skepticism

NYT on Chemical Weapons and War in Syria

By Michael McGehee | NYTX | May 6, 2013

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.” — Obama Threatens Force Against Syria, The New York Times, August 21, 2012

When President Obama spoke these words last August he might have dug himself a hole twice as deep as the one he was in last week.

As four NYT journalists reported on Sunday’s front page article “Off-the-Cuff Obama Line Put U.S. in Bind on Syria”: “Confronted with evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, President Obama now finds himself in a geopolitical box, his credibility at stake with frustratingly few good options.”

If there will be any effort to hold Mr. Obama’s feet to the fire the heat just got hotter.

Buried on page A9 of Monday’s edition of “the paper of record” was a statement by Carla del Ponte, a United Nations human rights investigator looking into the claims that chemical weapons were used in Syria:

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said Carla Del Ponte, a commission member.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals,” Ms. Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television. “According to their report of last week, which I have seen, 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,” she added, speaking in Italian.

Question: Will President Obama hold the rebels accountable for crossing his red line?

In his own words he did say that he has “been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground” [emphasis added] that the use of chemical weapons is a red line that even the Times saw last summer as a threat of force.

The question is not likely to be answered in the affirmative. This is the politics of war. For more than two years the rebels have been carrying out terrorist bombings, grisly executions, and other assorted attacks that would likely have had Washington and its allies foaming at the mouths were it the Assad regime who was the perpetrator.

Washington has failed to join the Syrian government in their own War on Terror, even though al Qaeda is active in the country. And it just goes to show as one more example: when al Qaeda is used as a boogeyman for war we should not take the pretext seriously, as in the case of Mali. If al Qaeda is on the same side as Uncle Sam, as they were in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Balkans in the 1990s, Libya in 2011, and now Syria, then there will be no drone attacks on the terrorists.

And now we see al Qaeda-linked terrorists suspected of using chemical weapons. Don’t look for the U.S. to come to the defense of the Syrian government.

Already we can see the change of attitude reflected at The New York Times.

Not two weeks ago, on April 26, 2013, it was front page news at the NYT that “White House Says It Believes Syria Has Used Chemical Arms.”

From that moment the story became a sensation. It fit well into the parameters of the propaganda system. An official enemy who we are actively trying to overthrow may have used chemical weapons and provided a clear pretext for force. Here comes the march to war.

But when UN investigators looked into the matter and reported that “Syrian Rebels May Have Used Sarin,” the story fell from grace and was pushed to page A9.

This differential treatment signals the death of the “red line” story, which is too bad because it would have been interesting to see The New York Times, or anyone in the mainstream media, investigate how Syrian rebels could have gotten a hold of sarin, especially considering a former Bush official has openly considered the idea of Israel being behind the attack.

The differential treatment may possibly throw a wrench in the drive to war . . . for now. Because, also on page A9 of Monday’s edition of The New York Times is “Attacks on Syria Fuel Debate Over U.S.-Led Airstrikes,” a report of an Israeli attack in Syria:

WASHINGTON — The apparent ease with which Israel struck missile sites and, by Syrian accounts, a major military research center near Damascus in recent days has stoked debate in Washington about whether American-led airstrikes are the logical next step to cripple President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to counter the rebel forces or use chemical weapons.

That option was already being debated in secret by the United States, Britain and France in the days leading to the Israeli strikes, according to American and foreign officials involved in the discussions. On Sunday, Senator John McCain, who has long advocated a much deeper American role in the Syrian civil war, argued that the Israeli attacks, at least one of which appears to have been launched from outside Syrian airspace, weakens the argument that Syria’s air defense system would be a major challenge.

“The Israelis seem to be able to penetrate it fairly easily,” Mr. McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.”

While attacks in Syria might be easier than previously suspected, the justifications for war received a setback. But if history is any guide this is only a minor and temporary one.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | Comments Off on NYT on Chemical Weapons and War in Syria

Syrian militants used chemical weapons: UN investigators

Press TV – May 5, 2013

United Nations investigators say they have found testimony from victims and medical staff that shows militants have used the nerve agent sarin in Syria, which has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687.

The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria could not find any evidence that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against militants, commission member Carla Del Ponte said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in television interview.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” said Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general who also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The Syrian government and the foreign-sponsored militants accuse each other of using chemical weapons three times — in March once near Aleppo and second time near Damascus, and another time in Homs in December last year.

On December 17, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said in letters to the UN Security Council and the UN secretary general that the foreign-sponsored militants could use chemical weapons against Syrians and try to shift the blame to the government.

Damascus is “genuinely worried” that Syria’s enemies could provide chemical weapons to armed groups “and then claim they had been used by the Syrian government,” Ja’afari stated.

The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria, they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades.

May 5, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments