Who used poison gas in Syria?

Assad on the balance of probabilities.

But if the USA and the UK want me to beleive their evidence I want it independently investigated and verified. Hand it all over to the NYT, the WP, the Times in London and The Guardian, the BBC and the UN. Let them check it out.

I will not, now or ever, ‘trust’ any government on these matters again.

Especially when they continually look our reperesentatives in the face and lie and obfuscate on other security matters.

Governments need to reflect and realise this is what happens when by their own actions they forfeit our trust.

German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) says Assad was behind the gas attack. Intercepted call from senior Hezbollah representative to the Iran embassy. Hezbollah saying Assad had thought it was the final battler for Damascus, had gone nuts and made a big mistake. (BND captures evidence of use of poison gas by Assad regime from)

For those who can’t read German, and don’t have a browser with automatic translation, here’s an excerpt from that article:

A commentator on NPR last week noted that given the strategic situation, the use of gas made sense- The area was rebel held, but was resisting ground forces. Air attacks had made a difference, but the rebels had recently gotten anti-air missiles and had shot down two government planes. Assad can’t risk his planes, but can’t take the area conventionally- so…

A couple of points.

First, the rebels are not a monolithic group. There are plenty of factions within the overall rubric of ‘Syrian Rebels’, and if related history like the Afghan Civil War is a guide, these factions will turn on each other as soon as Assad is gone. So one group gassing another group of rebels isn’t that farfetched. Particularly if doing so can attract a great power to come in on your side.

Second, Sarin gas specifically doesn’t last very long once you create it. The previous link notes that this was especially true if the sarin precursors were impure and noted that Iraq stocks degraded a few weeks after manufacture. I imagine the rebels, if they manufactured the gas themselves, weren’t going to have better luck that Saddam. Sarin does last much longer if it’s in a “binary” form; that is, split into two compounds that are mixed after firing to create the nerve gas. This is more technically difficult to manufacture and weaponize. Other variants of Sarin, like cyclosarin, have longer shelf lives, but are also more persistent. I.e., they should have poisoned any inadequately protected first responders to the attack. Sarin is relatively non-persistent. All this is to say that, if it were the rebels gassing themselves, I don’t think the rebels made the gas. My guess is that the weapons originated from one of: the Syrian government, the Soviets, or possibly, some of Saddam Hussein’s old stuff. Though, as noted above, I don’t know if Hussein’s chemical weapons were still viable after all this time.

One possible means of confirming who attacked whom, is if there were any radar tracks of the missiles or shells used to deliver the gas. Damascus is only 40 miles from the Israeli border. An AWACS should have be able to resolve even shell-sized targets and determine from where they were launched. I’d be surprised if either the Israelis or the U.S. didn’t have one up keeping an eye on things. If the powers that be were quick about it, I would guess they’d have the time to get a stealthy drone over to the launch sites and thereby get photographic evidence of just who launched the chemical rockets or shells.

More likely than assuming that a Hezbollah senior commander is going to do anything silly like talk to the Syrian leadership on an easily interceptable electronic device. That, or that the Israelis, Germans, or U.S. would admit to being able to intercept Syrian landline communications. I was very surprised to read that news was leaked that the U.S. was able to i.d. the content of specific communications within the Syrian C3I. Seems like the sort of methods and capabilities information that ought to be rightfully kept classified.

Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are now both calling the gas attack a false flag operation. These are IMO the most likely politicians to tell the truth about the middle east.


That’s sarcasm, correct?

Hardly, I should have said the ONLY national figures who will tell 1/2 the truth about what is happening in the middle east.

Recall that Buchanan was instrumental in getting J. Demjanuk released after an Israeli court had, with the help of 5 eyewitnesses, convicted him of being a guard at Treblinka, when the reality was he had never set foot in the camp.


Well, thanks for the response. That clears up a few things and allows me to properly categorize this thread going forward.

I note that your linked site also has a story titled “Hezbollah Wiretaps Reveal Assad Ordered Sarin Attacks after ‘Losing his Nerve’”

So, which is it?

Glad to help. Inquiring minds want to know, how would you ‘properly categorize this thread’ ?

They’re both kooks, and neither is any position to know what’s going on in Syria.

I don’t think name calling, e.g. ‘kooks’, is generally regarded as persuasive argument. Am I wrong?

Buchanan’s reasoning was the same as Tariq Ali’s in the OP, that is, Assad would not launch a chemical attack (15 km from the UN investigators he just invited into the country) knowing that it would cross Obama’s red line and result in an attack by the US on Syria. The reasoning seems sound to me.

The extraordinary thing to me is that, despite a history of US false flag attacks going back at least to WW I, I don’t recall ever hearing a national figure use the phrase.

I bet it does seem sound to you, but it’s terrible reasoning that can be used to justify any circuitous conclusion no matter what the facts say. And yes, it’s possible to think of reasons Assad would have gone ahead and used the weapons anyway: he might not have believed the U.S. would invade, or he might have thought he was going to lose if he didn’t.

Some conspiracy nuts have risen to great prominence by saying everything is a false flag attack.

wait what? NPR had someone on that said this?

I’m going to go with ‘Conspiracy Theory non-sense’ for 1000, Alex.

It’s a daily double!

For those not old enough to remember the 80s there were few things more enjoyable than watching a red-faced Pat Buchanan say of Ivan Demjanuk, “He wasn’t ‘Ivan the Terrible’ he was 'Ivan the Bloody”.

Beyond that, Paul is the guy who thinks the US Constitution would allow the state of Alabama to arrest people for masturbating and engaging in adultery while Buchanan is the guy who’s a fan of Francisco Franco and ranted about how seeing street musicians “playing bongo drums”.

It is not unreasonable to expect actual proof from habitual liars and we have been nothing of the sort that adds up to more than ‘trust us’.

Well, no. When it comes to being asked to support killing people we don’t trust you. Not one bit.

Now while I think the balance of probabilites suggest it was Assad that isn’t good enough.

It is not unreasonable to think that in the chaos of the civil war various rebel factions have got their hands on the stuff. It’s not unreasonable to think that that universal friend of terrorists, Saudi Arabia might not have slipped a faction one. As suggested here.

This article gives a good account of why there is a need to be skeptical.

There are jihadist factions in the rebellion linked to Al Q. These people have no problem bombing civilians and it is entirely plausible that they would stage such an incident.

Obama’s Big Lie

While I believe that Assad did do it there is more than reasonable doubt that the case is proven.

This is a murky world where conspiracies can easily be real. Who knows what that snake Bandar is up to as he leads the Saudi intervention effort.

If my government wants my approval for them to go off killing people then I’m going to ask, in the light of their usual approach to the truth:

‘Show me and show me real good. No hand-waving, no coyness, no conspicuously unaddressed questions about gaps or oddities in your case.’

Being a reasonable guy I’m prepared to accept a thoroughly researched report by independent journalists who have seen and tested theevidence you think you have.

But no - a whole bunch of ‘you can trust us this time, take our word for it’ handwaving - is not going to cut it.

You didn’t actually read the series of posts I was responding too, did you? Or do you REALLY think that Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are the ‘most likely politicians to tell the truth about the middle east’?? :stuck_out_tongue:

You were in your own words addressing the thread and I responded to that. And frankly - those 2 idiots you name have not yet lied the USA or the UK into a war so while their credibility might be zero that is still way higher than the US and UK Govts in my book.