Alleged Chemical Attack, August 21, 2013

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"Chemical Massacre" symbol used in activist campaigning

On the very early morning of August 21, 2013, rebel and opposition reports claim, several cities of the Damascus countryside were subjected to unspecified chemical gas attacks from Syrian government forces. Initial reports described dozens dead in attacks on Ghouta, a broad region of several small town and fields between. The areas of Irbin, Moadamiya, Zamalka, Kafr Batna, Hamouriya, Saqba, Ain Terma, Jisreen, Moadamiyeh al-Sham, and Douma (at least) have been specified in different reports, with Jobar sometimes the epicenter and sometimes not mentioned at all, for a possible clue (see here). A map published by the New York Times shows most of the places where dead were reported from, spanning from the north-east to the south-west of Damascus suburbs.

Opposition reports cite a combined death toll as high as 1,800, the White House said 1,429, and confirmed numbers in the low-to-mid hundreds (see death toll, below). There are photos and videos of apparent casualties suggesting a death toll at least well into the triple digits, including women and children. These tend to show no outward wounds, suggesting they could well have died from chemical exposure as alleged, or perhaps suffocation.

The reports came, almost to the hour, one year after Obama's often-cited "red line" speech, and just two days after the arrival in Damascus of the United Nations chemical weapons investigation team set to look into the March 19 Khan al-Assal gas attack and two others. The government has said one reason for the allegations now is to distract from their work and its limited mandate of two weeks.

Due to the rapid development following this event, there hasn't been time for a proper write-up of the abundance of claims, counter-claims, reactions and over-reactions and the ongoing investigation is mainly taking place on the discussion page, which in turn subdivides into these by-subject subpages.

Death Toll

See also: Victims Analysis
Photo attributed to Erbin News said to show mourners of August 21 victims, published by The Guardian
Initial reports mentioned dozens of dead, perhaps more than 100. "Hundreds" quickly took over. The Local Coordinating Committees arrived a tally of "more than 650" as AFP reports. [1] CNN cited an activist claiming to have been at a single clinic in Irbin (Arbeen) where there were 300 dead and 500 wounded. [2] Before the day was out, it would be "more than 1,000" fatalities being widely reported. George Sabra, Deputy Head of the Syrian National Coalition, would claim in Istanbul that 1,300 people had died.

The Damascus Media Office issued a statement citing data from medical centres talking about 494 dead killed in "a gas attack and shelling". They broke this down to 150 victims in Hammouriya, 100 in Kfar Batna, 67 in Saqba, 61 in Douma, 76 in Mouadamiya and 40 bodies from Irbin.[3] The SOHR offered a more conservative tally by the end of the 21st: "We have been able to document so far the death of 136 people as a result of the regime bombardment on parts of Mou'adamiyat al-Sham city, western Ghouta, and the towns and cities of the eastern Ghouta. The dead include dozens of women and children." That doesn't even specify what role the chemicals had in this (minimum, documented) grand total. One comment contests this: "1200 were killed not 200." [4] An update on August 24 said "We have so far documented the death of 322 people killed as a result of the regime assault on the eastern and western Ghouta," with "most of the martyrs," or "hundreds," killed by gas poisoning. [5]

As of September 14, the database of the monitoring website of the Syrian Center for Documentation of Violations (SCDV) contains 512 names of people dying in Damascus suburbs on August 21 from "chemical and toxic gases".[6]

On August 22, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki put forth the highest tally yet in a press briefing: "The most recent estimates we have seen range from 1,000 to 1,800, which is obviously a broad range." [7] Just as notable is the narrowness of the range - all options under 1,000 are ruled out, and this is purportedly chemical dead, not that plus bombing/other dead.

While a British Joint Intelligence Organisation document from August 29 talks about "at least 350 fatalities"[8], an "Assessment" released by the White House Office of Press Secretary on August 30 tops all other specific numbers including those of the Syrian exile opposition, talking about 1429 dead, among them 426 children.[9]

Asked by AP about those numbers, the head of SOHR stressed that they were able to confirm 502 dead so far. "America works only with one part of the opposition that is deep in propaganda," he said, and urged the Obama administration to release the information its estimate is based on.[10]

During the process of trying to convince Congress to sign up for war, some representatives asked about the discrepancies in the death toll and the White House's high estimate. As Reuters wrote in an exclusive September 12 report, part of the answer was that this number might contain people who died from bombardments, but all in all they stood by the numbers. As to the methodology:

Administration sources told Reuters that they relied on a valid intelligence methodology to make the death estimate. An official said that it involved analyzing video pictures of victims, then eliminating from the fatality total any live person, any dead body with visible injuries and shrouded bodies showing blood spots. Classified intelligence tools then were used to confirm the provenance of the videos and to ensure that bodies were not counted twice, the official said. The official noted that U.S. intelligence had more resources to gather information than human rights or other non-governmental groups, which had smaller death tolls.[11]

As the mainstream media and world leader continue to cite the 1,400 figure, cuched in various ways, Abdel Rahman sticks to his gus ate the more realistic identity-based figure of, about, 500. AFP, October 20 (via SOHR):

London — The founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, rages at the "hypocrisy" of the international community in focusing on chemical weapons and overlooking the "endless bloodbath" in war-ravaged Syria. ... "In Syria, out of more than 120,000 people killed, 500 were killed with chemical weapons. Are these more horrendous deaths than the others?" the moustachioed Rahman tells AFP in an interview in London.

Precise Locations and Nature of the Attack

See also: Locations

Although there are huge playlists with videos attributed to the event, some of them clearly at best misattributed and at worst manipulated, it is difficult to even specify the actual crime scenes, and despite the confidence expressed by the US government, experts disagree on both the delivery and the agent that was used.

((details forthcoming))

Alleged SIGINT evidence

According to the US Government "assessment"[9] and other sources, intercepted communications from and to Syrian government personnel show either foreknowledge or past worries about the attacks, failing even in the vague allegations to directly blame the Assad Government.

((details forthcoming))

Sellström UN Investigation

See also: UN Investigator Response

On Sunday, the 18th of August 2013, the UN Investigator team led by the Swede Åke Sellström arrived in Syria. After long negotiations between the international players, it was sent to Syria to investigate the alleged March, 19 2013 Chemical Attack in the Aleppo suburb of Khan Al-Assal and two other incidents. Their mission was supposed to run for two weeks and establish if chemical weapons had been used, but not who used them (the lowest common denominator possible as UK, France and following the US had accused the Assad government of being behind the attack while Russia had presented the results of a three months investigation to the UN, finding that opposition militants had been behind it).

Immediately after the August 21 event, pressure from different sides was put onto the UN and their team to go to the Ghouta and investigate the new events. This came from the likes of Susan Rice[12] but also in no uncertain terms from the forces controlling the original site of investigation, Khan Al-Assal, stating that the team would be denied access to the place if they wouldn't first go to the Ghouta.[13]

On Monday, the 26th, the Sellström team started to investigate. While John Kerry accused the Syrian Government of causing a "5 days delay" into the investigation on the same day,[14] later inquiries by UN watchdog Inner City Press revealed that his allegations were at best mistaken as the official request to the Syrian Government was only made on the 24th,[15] while the UN's own Department of Safety and Security had delayed the OK to go into on-the-ground investigation,[16] hence the positive response by the Syrian Government came less than a day after the request was made. The same Ban-Ki Moon spokesperson also contradicted Kerry's claim that due to the delay it would be "too late" for a reasonable investigation.

The team's first visit on Monday the 26th was to the south-western suburb of Al Moadamiya, where they arrived after bombs went off near their hotel in Damascus and unidentified snipers shot at them while they entered the neighbourhood, leaving one of their vehicles unfunctional.[17]

UN Investigators take samples at a site in Zamalka on August 28,2013
On Tuesday their mission was put on halt due to security concerns. On Wednesday and Thursday they actually visited the north-eastern Ghouta, the center of where the alleged CW attack took place. The visits to Zamalka and near places are quite well documented by videos made by opposition activists.[18] Here they are seen entering opposition-controlled territory followed by a parade of fighters, many of whom flying the black jihadist flag on their cars rear window.

On Saturday, the 31st, Mr. Sellström's team left Syria without visiting any of the originally intended spots.

A first report of their findings had been expected for Monday, September 9th, and had through statements of the US government already been labeled irrelevant, while parts of the so-called international community and most of the countries on the planet insisted to at least wait for it before considering further steps.

In a statement on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon declared that he had not yet received the Sellström report and didn't know what it will contain, without announcing a date for expected release.[19] On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Ban-Ki Moon had expressed the intention to send the Sellström team back to "complete its work in accordance with earlier established agreements" and called this important and well-timed.[20] Those remarks likely refer to the investigations at Khan Al-Assal and the other places which didn't take place because of the events of August 21.

A week later on Monday, September 16th, the report was released. Traces of Sarin were found in the investigated rocket remains, the surrounding soil and also in blood and urine samples of examined patients.[21] (See discussion page: Analysis of findings)

On Wednesday the 25th, Sellström's team, formally known as "Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic", returned to Syria to continue the investigation of the events they were sent to investigate in the first place.[22]

Scheduled to finish their investigation in the country on Monday, September 30, the "comprehensive report" planned to be released by end of October will contain investigations into allegations of seven chemical weapons incidents:[23]

At least in the case of Khan Al-Assal the report will have to rely on indirect evidence, because as an UN spokesperson revealed after being questioned several times, on their September 25-30 visit the team again didn't make it to this destination which had originally triggered the investigation.[24]

By end of November no report had been released and everybody seemed to have forgotten about the event in general and the Sellström report in particular, moving on to the OPCW-UN joint mission for the elimination of the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic.

On Dec 12, the final 82 page report was released.[25]

In all but two investigated incidents (Saraqeb and Bahhariyeh), evidence consistent with the use of chemical weapons was found.

International Reactions

China

"China's position is very clear. It does not matter what side in Syria uses chemical weapons, China resolutely opposes it," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement send to Reuters in China's first public response to the attack. "At present, the U.N's chemical weapons inspection team for Syria is on the ground beginning its investigations, and (China) hopes that the team fully consults with the Syrian government and maintains an objective, impartial and professional stance, to ascertain what really happened."

France

  • Reuters, August 22:
...if allegations that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical attack on civilians proved true ..."There would have to be reaction with force in Syria from the international community, but there is no question of sending troops on the ground," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French television network BFM. If the U.N. Security Council could not make a decision, one would have to be taken "in other ways," he said, without elaborating.

NATO bombing is the most logical fit for that eventuality. And, as proof of guilt, he would accept a lack of Syrian approval to investigate this, probably first and maybe exclusively:

Fabius said that if Assad refused to let the U.N. inspection team investigate the site, he would have been caught with "his hand in the till." [26]

Russia

Steven Johnson, Research Fellow at the Cranfield Institute of Criminalistics: "Some video frames have moments that seem ultra-realistic, like it's staged. I'm not saying that the video was fabricated, but it raises some doubts. People who have foam from the mouth, look unnatural: the foam is too white, too clean, which does not quite correspond to the alleged damage to the internal organs. It should be mixed with blood or be yellow. There is some inconsistency in the condition of the patients. In an attack of such a scale, there should be much more victims with similar symptoms. "

Foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich issued a statement claiming that

Early morning of August 21, a homemade rocket carrying an unknown chemical warfare agent was launched on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. The missile resembled the rocket which was used by the rebels on March 19 in Khan al-Asal

He called for a thorough investigation and deemed it suspicious that "the biased regional media" immediately blamed the event on Assad, pointing out that this looked like a "pre-planned provocation" timed with the arrival of the UN Investigators.[3]

Russian responses to the alleged chemical attack included warning the West against an attack on Syria absent UNSC approval (reasonably read as against any attack at all), asking the world to wait for the results of the U.N. investigation before making any such decision, and countering Western naval moves around Syria with deployment of its own warships.

But especially interesting was Moscow's September 9 suggestion that Syria sign the treaties against chemical weapons, and surrender its entire stockpile to international control and, presumably, destruction, in return for a lowering of hostilities. The United States cautiously embraced the notion, which it had never openly offered itself with, as president Obama urged, a grain of salt.

Whether deft diplomacy or a rhetorical stumble, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has managed to crack open the door to a possible solution to the Syrian crisis that could get President Barack Obama and U.S. lawmakers out of a bind, save Syria from a bombing and cast Russia as peacemaker.

Even before this skeptical audience, Syria - the nation so allegedly desperate to gas its own people at every turn - expressed eagerness to do the deal, so as "to take away the excuses of this aggression,” as Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said. They would do so, Moallem said, "for the sake of protecting our people and children and country and due to our trust in the Russian efforts." [27]

Syria

Initial statements by the Syrian Information Minister and the Foreign Ministry in a statement to the UN dismiss the reports as "false and untrue" and suggest that they are results of desperation in face of a military offensive. Al Zoubi:

"The cries of terrorists and their calls for aid accompany the fact that the Armed Forces are advancing on the ground, and also accompany the fabricated campaign waged by some channels in desperate bid to imbue false morale in the armed terrorist groups," he said, asserting that the support by some Arabs and the so-called Arab League for these allegations is ridiculous, naïve, illogical and non-objective.

August, 2016: three years later, Syria's UN representative Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari declared at the United Nations

“The use of chemical weapons in the Damascus area was meant to prevent Dr. Åke Sellström [the head of the weapons inspectors] from going to Aleppo because [France] knew who had used chemical weapons in Aleppo,” Jaafari claimed.
“They wanted to prevent Dr. Sellström from reaching Aleppo by any means and therefore they used chemical weapons in Damascus with the involvement of French intelligence,” he added.
French representative to the council, François Delattre, said that allegations were “absurd.” (Al-Masdar News) (Press TV video) The primary motive is framed as distracting the investigators from the Aleppo crime scene. This is consistent with the apparent motives of France, U.S., U.K. and U.N. in the months preceding this. (Was the Syria Chemical Weapons Probe "Torpedoed" by the West?) However the obvious primary effect would be to offer a perfect and instantly-verifiable reason to attack Syria, which Jaafari apparently didn't mention. Supporting evidence also seems unclear, and the nature of involvement isn't specified.

United Kingdom

Reuters, quoting British foreign secretary, William Hague: "I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria. ... I think the chances of that are vanishingly small and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime."

United States

Sharmine Narwani ‏paraphrases:

US State Dept press briefing: No clue if CWs were used in #Syria, let alone who used them: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2013/08/213398.htm
In this, Psaki puts forth a death toll range of 1,000 to 1,800, and says "We crossed a redline" months ago, "It did change the calculus, and we took action, and we have the opportunity, or the option, to do more if he [Obama] chooses to do more." [7]
Senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies met for three and a half hours at the White House on Thursday to deliberate over options, which officials say could range from a cruise missile strike to a more sustained air campaign against Syria.The meeting broke up without any decision, according to senior officials, amid signs of a deepening division between those who advocate sending Mr. Assad a harsh message and those who argue that military action now would be reckless and ill timed.

After the Obama administration presented its poorly-explained evidence and faced skepticism over the evidence-to-certainty ratio, in September they clarified their stance with statements like these: John Kerry, faced with another Assad denial claiming there was little evidence against him, said "The evidence speaks for itself." White House chief of staff Denis McDonough admitted the administration lacks "irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence" yet there was "no question in my mind." "This is not a court of law." he said. "And intelligence does not work that way." Instead they consulted a less definable test, perhaps one like the Bush administration used in Iraq. "The common-sense test says [Assad] is responsible for this. He should be held to account."

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that Obama was presented with faulty intelligence to provide him with plausible deniability to protect him from any future accusations, including prosecution for war crimes or crimes against peace.[28]

Motives?

Western powers and their intelligence services

Create pretext for a war of aggression against Syria. (See Quirico and Piccinin on the talk page.)

Rebels

While the Western public is eager to believe the "evil tyrant" Assad "gassed his own people" it is equally difficult to believe the "freedom fighting" rebels would have murdered 1800 Syrian civilians. There are however at least four major reasons why the rebels would gain or benefit from the gas attack.

1) False flag attack to blame Assad, push West towards a military intervention

The first round of reporting on the incident has almost exclusively followed the rebel narrative and blamed the "Assad regime" for the attack.

This is no coincident, but follows a carefully rehearsed choreography – from the the al Bayda massacre in Cyrenaica, Libya on February 22, 2011 that triggered UNSC resolution 1970 on Fabruary 26, to the Houla massacre in Taldo Syria. Every time the Western led "international community" has accused "oppressive regimes" when the real culprits have been Islamist revolutionaries.

Ultimately the aim of the aim of the rebels is to get the West to intervene in the war on their side.[29][30][31][32][33] If that fails, at least it boost their support among the Western audience. At a minimum it will lead to calls for a ceasefire[34] – likely to be to the rebels advantage.

2) Distract UN investigation
See U.N. Investigator Response on the talk page.
3) Part of Al-Qaeda WMD program

It has always been known, or at least suspected, that al-Qaeda has a WMD program.[35] The purported aim of such a program is to repeat 9/11, conceivably on a much larger scale.[36] The War on Terror was launched precisely to prevent such an attack ever happening.

The ultimate outcome of such a program would be a set of DIY instructions that could be distributed by Inspire magazine and its sister publications. The plans need to be executable with normal garage tools from parts obtainable from any hardware store. The DIY rockets described by Brown Moses would satisfy this requirement.

The Syrian conflict has seen a gradual development of al-Qaeda CW capability, from initial demonstrations with rabits, posted on YouTube, to successful but small scale attacks, like the one in Khan Al-Assal in March 2013, to confiscation of canisters of sarin from al-Qaeda operatives in Turkey and Syria to the arrest of a al-Qaeda chemical weapons cells in Iraq in July 2013.[37][38]

If the numbers of 1600 killed are anywhere near the truth, then one must conclude that a rocket attack like this, fully executed, could kill 50,000 people in a heavily populated Western metropolis (twice the number if done al-Qaeda style as a coordinated double attack), with little immediate risk to the perpetrators. For the WMD deterrence effect – or in this case, the terror effect – to work, the WMD capability has to be demonstrated in vivo.

4) Rebel infighting

The al-Qaeda affiliates al-Nusra and ISIS have become dominant in the rebel held territories in the north near the Turkish border, while rebel forces in the south are in much tighter US control. Recent months have seen increased infighting between the rebels, culminating in all-out war between the Kurdish YPG and al-Qaeda in the north. The attack might be an attempt by al-Qaeda to usurp leadership in the south by terrorizing other rebel groups and their supporters into subjugating to al-Qaeda rule.

They may see it as a divine revenge to the people of Ghouta for failing the revolution and surrendering to Assad, like Hitler's orders to Albert Speer to destroy everything. Besides, in the end it does matter who gets killed, Allah will sort out the righteous from the infidels.

Government

Stupidity

"Governments and armies do stupid things."[39] Or, as Foreign Policy reported, "nor are U.S. analysts sure of the Syrian military's rationale for launching the strike -- if it had a rationale at all." An unnamed intelligence official told them:

"We don't know exactly why it happened ... We just know it was pretty fucking stupid ... It's horrible, it's stupid ... Whatever happens in the next few days -- they get what they deserve."[40]
Targeting CIA-trained death squads

It is claimed that 300 CIA-trained death squad members entered Syria from Jordan on August 17 and 19 and passed through Ghouta on their way to Damascus on August 21. It has been speculated that the Syrian military might have targetted these forces in an attack.[41] Other sources however claim the CIA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border.[31]

Change US objective

Theory: Did Assad use poison gas precisely to change US objective from regime-change to getting rid of CW? If so, was it on Russian advice? – Strobe Talbott ‏@strobetalbott 11 Oct[42]

Leaks

Seymour Hersh, 17 April 2014: Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’--Resup (talk) 21:07, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

References

  1. 650 dead in 'chemical' bombing near Damascus, Syrian opposition claimsAFP via Times of India, Aug 21, 2013, 04.52 PM IST
  2. Syrian activists: Videos show chemical weapons usedBy Samira Said and Ed Payne, CNN, updated 6:59 AM EDT, Wed August 21, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chemical warhead targeted eastern suburbs of Syria's Damascus - Russian Foreign Ministry, Voice Of Russia, August 21, 2013
  4. SOHR statement on the massacre committed by the regime in Reef Dimashq Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, August 21, 2013, 8:32 PM GMT
  5. Hundreds killed by poisonous gasses in Reef Dimashq Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, August 24, 2013
  6. SCDV Database
  7. 7.0 7.1 Daily Press Briefing Jen Psaki, Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State, August 22, 2013
  8. SYRIA: REPORTED CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE, Jon Day, Joint Intelligence Organisation, August 29, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013, White House, August 30, 2013
  10. Obama to seek congressional OK for Syria action, AP, August 31, 2013
  11. Exclusive: U.S. total of Syrian gas deaths could include bomb casualties - sources, Reuters, September 12, 2013
  12. How Russia Neutered Obama's Chemical Weapons Response, Foreign Policy, August 21, 2013
  13. Statement by the "Operations’ room of Khan al-Assal", published by documents.sy, August 22, 2013
  14. Transcript of Kerry Remarks: Chemical Attacks a ‘Moral Obscenity’, Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2013
  15. On Syria, UN Admits to ICP Formal Request on Ghouta Made August 24, Inner City Press, August 27, 2013
  16. U.N. Slowing Its Own Chemical Weapons Investigation In Syria, Foreign Policy, August 23, 2013
  17. UN probes Syria 'chemical' site as West mulls action, AFP, August 26, 2013
  18. Actual Video of UN Weapons Inspectors Examining Syrian Chemical Weapon Rockets, Washington's Blog, August 31, 2013
  19. Opening remarks at press conference upon return from the Russian Federation Ban-Ki Moon, September 9, 2013
  20. Sergey Lavrov speech and Q&A, September 9, 2013
  21. UNSG Report of CW Investigation, September 16, 2013
  22. Chemical weapons investigators to return to Syria on Wednesday – UN spokesperson, UN, September 25, 2013
  23. Note to correspondents - UN Investigators of Syria Chemical Weapons Continue Working on Final Report, UN, September 27, 2013
  24. UN's Failure to Go to Khan Al Asal UNexplained, Like Ban's Jarba Meetings, Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, October 5. 2013
  25. United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, Final report, Ake Sellström, Dec 12, 2013 (3MB PDF)
  26. France says force needed if Syrian chemical attack proved true Reuters, Aug 22, 2013 3:45am EDT
  27. Syria backs Russian proposal for regime to hand over chemical weapons By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2013, 10:52 a.m.
  28. Is Syria a Trap? – Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, September 6, 2013
  29. US, UK looking for pretext to escalate intervention in Syria – RT, August 22, 2013
  30. US readies possible missile strike against Syria - report – RT, August 24, 2013
  31. 31.0 31.1 Sarajevo, 1995 and Damascus, 2013: The use of mass attack deception to decide wars – Yossef Bodansky, WorldTribune.com – August 22, 2013
  32. Quirico: “It is madness to say I knew it wasn’t Assad who used gas” – La Stampa, 09/09/2013
  33. SYRPER REVEALS SENATOR MCCAIN ON THE TAKE; MCCAIN BOUGHT BY SAUDI ARABIA AND ZIONISM – Ziad Fadel, Syrian Perspective, Feb 14, 2014
  34. Syrian Activist on Ghouta Attack: "I Haven’t Seen Such Death in My Whole Life"DemocracyNow!, August 23, 2013
  35. Al Qaeda running chemical weapons program? – CBS News, September 19, 2013
  36. Syrian chemical weapons and al-Qaida – Dore Gold, July 27, 2012
  37. Iraq completes capture of chemical weapons cell – August 2, 2013 – Quote: Al-Fayyadh said further investigations revealed that plans were put in place for al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to get access to those weapons and "further aggravate the tragedy of the Syrian people."
  38. U.S. MILITARY CONFIRMS REBELS HAD SARIN – F. MICHAEL MALOOF, WDN, September 12, 2013
  39. The evidence of chemical attack seems compelling – but remember - there’s a propaganda war on – PATRICK COCKBURN / The Independent, 21 August 2013
  40. Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say By Noah Shachtman, Foreign Policy magazine, the Wire, August 28, 2013
  41. Why is Obama Changing the Date and Size of First CIA Death Squads to Enter Syria? – Jim White, September 4, 2013
  42. Strobe Talbott ‏@strobetalbott on Twitter, October 11, 2013