Tag Archives: Sarin Gas

Reality Check: Lies Justify U.S. Air Strikes on Syria?

The U.S. seems to be stuck on repeat.

Our government and our media have been peddling lies to justify war, from WMDs in Iraq to humanitarian intervention in Libya.

The latest? A U.S.-led missile strike on Syria for the alleged use chemical weapons on civilians. This, just a week after President Trump said we were ready to get our troops out of that country.

Time and time again, history has proven that our government has made the wrong choice in its efforts to overthrow authoritarian governments in the Middle East, from Iraq to Libya, and now Syria.

But this time, the U.S. is meddling in a country where multiple countries are playing out a proxy war, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Not to mention the heightened tensions from our president calling out Russia for its support of the Assad regime.

The big picture question: will we see this war escalate into a global conflict?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

So much has happened in Syria in the past two weeks: an alleged gas attack by the Assad regime, missile strikes blamed on Israel hit Syria and killed some 14 people, including Iranians, then President Trump announcing late Friday that the U.S. had launched its own missile attack on Syria in coordination with allies France and the United Kingdom.

Strong words from the president for not only Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but also for his allies Iran and Russia.

As we reported last week, it was just a year ago that Trump authorized the first missile strike on Syria. So what did this new bombing involve?

Here’s what we know: the missile strikes hit just before dawn in Syria. They were carried out by manned U.S. military aircraft, and targeted an airfield, an alleged chemical weapons storage and manufacture facility, and command and control of the Syrian air defenses.

And while this barrage of air strikes is over, the pentagon did not rule out further strikes later.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis had previously stated that there was no evidence that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad used sarin gas on his own people. Now Mattis seems to be telling a different story.

To be clear, our government is claiming that there is evidence of a chlorine gas attack, and is framing this bombing as a retaliatory measure to stop Assad from gassing his own people, a humanitarian action.

Yet, as the financial times reported last Wednesday, it will take weeks to confirm if deadly gas was used, and by whom.

Again, Mattis said there is no evidence Assad used sarin gas on his own people. And why would Assad? What motive does the Syrian government have to gas attack civilians if it would only risk western retaliation?

Remember, the U.S., U.K. and France have been arming Syrian rebels bombing ISIS and putting boots on the ground in Syria for years. 2017 marked the first direct targeting of Assad’s government, and now this missile strike. Both labeled as humanitarian efforts.

But remember, the U.S. government has a history of taking humanitarian action without evidence.

Remember when Colin Powell and others in the Bush Administration said there was no doubt that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? He didn’t.

The lies continued, with claims that after our invasion of Iraq the extremists would be curtailed. Yet with some 4,500 American lives lost and $2.4 trillion spent, Iraq is still a mess.

And what about Libya? In an episode of Reality Check from early March, we covered the open market slave trade happening there as a result of U.S. intervention. Even former President Obama said the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi was his greatest single mistake in office.

Our elected leaders never seem to learn from these mistakes. And the mainstream media is severely failing in holding them accountable.

Case in point, these latest strikes were authorized by the president, not congress. Congressional leaders were notified by the vice president shortly before the airstrikes were carried out. And many members of congress were angry at the president for not getting congressional approval before taking action against Assad.

Back in 2013, Trump criticized then-President Obama on Twitter for even considering striking Syria without congressional approval, saying:

“The president must get congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!”

What you need to know is that history tends to repeat itself, if we let it. Our government could very well be trying to do the same thing in Syria as it has done in Libya and Iraq.

And the trail goes back further. There’s a Wikileaks cable from 2006 detailing how to overthrow Assad, including radicalizing Islamists in the region.

Yet President Trump says this bombing was a targeted attack to stop the use of chemical weapons, that’s it. U.K. prime minister Theresa May took it further, stating that “this is not about regime change.”

It’s hard to believe when history tells a different story.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that on social media.


NOTE: The flag used in the graphics for this episode should have been the Syrian Arab Republic flag with two green stars, not the Syrian Interim Government flag with three red stars.

Reality Check: No Sarin Gas Used by Assad in Syria?

It was a stunning announcement, stunning because of what was said and maybe equally as stunning because it was honest.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis says there is no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on the its own people.

It is a narrative we have been pushing back on for years. So what does this mean for U.S. policy in Syria? And will President Trump continue to push for war in Syria, or will he return to the positions of candidate Trump who said the U.S. should stay out of it?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

The statement is getting very little media coverage but it is a very big deal.

According to Defense Secretary James Mattis, there is no evidence that the Syrian government has used sarin gas on its own people.

Here is exactly what Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon:

“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used.”

“We do not have evidence of it.”

“We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions.”

Mattis insists that he wasn’t refuting the claims. But in a sense, he did.

According to Newsweek, in 2017 a White House memorandum was quickly produced and then declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

The justification used was that Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people. Then President Trump himself insisted that there was no doubt that Syrian President Assad had killed his own people with banned chemical weapons.

But Mattis also didn’t qualify the statement to just the Syrian airbase strike. That means that the 2013 gas attack in Ghouta also was not proven to be Assad.

At that time, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were demanding congress approve use of force against Assad. Obama said this from the rose garden as he said American destroyers armed with Tomahawk missiles were on standby in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I’m prepared to give that order, but having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.”

Congress did not approve that use of force, but then applauded Trump for his use.

For his part, in this latest statement, Mattis says that “aid groups and others” had provided evidence of the Syrian government using sarin.

But as I have extensively reported over the past few years, there is much evidence that the so called Syrian freedom fighters are actually ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters. And there is evidence that they have used chemical weapons.

Other problems with the claims of Assad using sarin: in the 2013 Ghouta event, the sarin came from home-made rockets, which were favored by insurgents.

Also, according to Newsweek:

“In the 2013 event, the White House memorandum seemed to rely heavily on testimony from the Syrian white helmets who were filmed at the scene having contact with supposed sarin-tainted casualties and not suffering any ill effects.

“Carla del Ponte was unable to fulfill her U.N. joint investigative mechanism mandate in Syria and withdrew in protest over the United States refusing to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use by ‘rebels’ who are actually jihadis, allied with the American effort to oust President Assad (including the use of sarin by anti-Assad rebels).”

According to the Times of London:

“Carla del Ponte, head of the independent UN commission investigating reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, told a Swiss-Italian television station that UN investigators gleaned testimony from victims of Syria’s civil war and medical staff which indicated that rebel forces used sarin gas – a deadly nerve agent.

“‘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 the interview, translated by Reuters.

‘This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,’ she added.”

It was the involvement of those jihadis posing as Syrian rebels that made then-candidate Trump state emphatically that he wouldn’t intervene and help oust Assad as Hillary Clinton wanted to do.

Candidate Trump pushed back heavily against intervention. He warned that ISIS was likely to take over Syria if Assad were ousted, just as they have in Iraq and Libya.

And yet the U.S. is only escalating fighting.

Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials—that according to the New York Times.

Russia says that no members of the Russian armed forces were killed and that any Russians fighting alongside the Syrians were mercenaries.

So what you need to know is that candidate Trump was clear when he pointed to the bush policy in Iraq and the Obama/Clinton policies in Libya and Syria that have only strengthened the creation and spread of ISIS and jihadism.

Candidate Trump rightly pointed out that these policies had failed and that it was insanity to keep pursuing those policies and expecting a different outcome.

So why is President Trump now embracing those insane policies that if continued will undoubtedly leave another power vacuum in the Middle East which will be filled with jihadis?

That’s Reality Check, let’s talk about it tonight on Twitter and Facebook.

Defense Sec. Mattis Admits U.S. Has No Evidence Syrian Government Used Sarin Gas

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis confirmed that the U.S. government has no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on its people— a claim that was used by the White House as justification for an April 2017 launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria.

On Friday, Mattis said that reports of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government have come from aid groups and others, but that the U.S. doesn’t have any evidence to support these assertions.

“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “We do not have evidence of it.”

“We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions,” Mattis continued. “We’re even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use.”

Mattis explained that he was not refuting the third-party reports of chemical weapons used by the Syrian government led by President Bashar Assad. Assad has steadfastly denied that his government has used chemical weapons throughout the conflict.

In 2013, UN investigator Carla Del Ponte made note that Syrian rebels, not the Assad regime, used chemical weapons in the two-year civil war, contrary to assessments made by American officials.

According to a report by The Times of Israel:

“Carla Del Ponte, head of the independent UN commission investigating reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, told a Swiss-Italian television station that UN investigators gleaned testimony from victims of Syria’s civil war and medical staff which indicated that rebel forces used sarin gas — a deadly nerve agent.

‘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 the interview, translated by Reuters.

‘This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,’ she added.”


During his comments on Friday, Mattis referred to the April 2017 cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, noting that the Syrian government would “be ill-advised to go back to violating” the chemical weapons prohibition.

[RELATED: The Two Major Problems With President Obama’s Syria Address]

In addition to the UN investigation, one of the foremost academic experts in the field of missile fired chemical weapons, Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), came forward in a series of reports to note his opposition to the official Trump administration’s narrative in regards to the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria, blamed on the Assad government, which precipitated the cruise missile strikes by the U.S., according to a report in the International Business Times. According to Postol, the Syrian gas attack was not carried out by the Syrian government.

In one of his reports, Postol concluded that the US government’s report does not provide any “concrete” evidence that Assad was responsible, adding it was more likely that the attack was perpetrated by players on the ground.

Postol wrote in his report:

“I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.

In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document point to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of 4 April.

This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”

Postol noted that he has “unambiguous evidence that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) of April 11, 2017 contains false and misleading claims that could not possibly have been accepted in any professional review by impartial intelligence experts.”

Postol called for an independent investigation into the decision to launch cruise missile strikes in Syria, concluding:

“It is now obvious that this incident produced by the WHR, while just as serious in terms of the dangers it created for US security, was a clumsy and outright fabrication of a report that was certainly not supported by the intelligence community.

In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State.”

US soldiers exposed to chemical weapons while in Iraq, according to new report

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, American troops discovered close to 5,000 chemical munitions within the country, and some of these munitions were used against American troops according to a new report released from the Pentagon.

The chemical weapons were found to be incorporated into warheads, shells, and aviation bombs, all manufactured before 1991, according to a report from the New York Times.  Various intelligence reports also show up to 17 American soldiers, along with six Iraqi police officers, were wounded and exposed to these chemical weapons on six different occasions.  However, the actual tally of exposed troops may be higher, but government officials are keeping these numbers hidden.

American troops were reportedly exposed to the nerve agent sarin gas and mustard gas, amongst other weaponized agents, according to CBS News.

“In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies,” said the report on the chemical weapon exposure obtained through FOIA.

The report from the Times also found officers and troops were told to remain quiet on what had happened.  Recently retired Army major, Jarrod Lampier, who was present for the finding of close to 2,500 chemical weapons, said, “ ’Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say.”

Because many of the troops were told to keep their exposure a secret, proper medical treatment was seemingly denied these soldiers.  One former sergeant told the New York Times, “I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier.”

The allegations of troops not receiving proper medical care in the wake of these chemical exposures also prompted Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. john Kirby to say, according to FOX News, “While we cannot speak to individual decisions made by unit commanders or medical staff at the time — or the guidance they may have given their troops about the existence of chemical munitions in Iraq — the Defense Department made public its discovery of these munitions as far back as 2006 and acknowledged the likelihood that more could be found.” 

Most of the chemical agents were also reportedly found in a complex northwest of Baghdad, and this area has been held by ISIS militants since June.  The US government says the weapons found in that area no longer pose a threat after being unused for two decades, but the presence and possible access to these chemical weapons should still be watched carefully as ISIS militants continue to threaten the area.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims Syrian sarin gas was homemade

Bashar Assad’s alleged gassing of Syrian citizens was the main argument in support of American intervention in the situation.  It has consequently been the main source of controversy and most discussed example of the US’s total outsider status and lack of understanding of the country’s situation.  The Western world simply does not know which side of the conflict used the gas.

Now, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is saying that a study of the August 21 Damascus gas attack – the event which raised the question of foreign intervention – conducted by the Russian government shows that the gas was homemade.  This would indicate that the gas was used by the rebels, rather than the Syrian government which has stockpiles of the chemical weapon.

chemical weapons

Samples of the gas were compared to homemade gas used in a similar incident in Aleppo in March, and, according to Lavrov, matched though the concentration was higher in the August attack.  Other evidence of rebel guilt was gleaned from news articles in which rebel fighters described being handed strange weapons they didn’t know how to operate.

Homemade sarin gas can be distinguished from industrially manufactured versions of the product by the lack of stabilizers present in the mix.  Without stabilizers, the substance has a very short shelf life – a few months for the purest versions, and weeks for others – and cannot be stored in aluminum casings.  According to Russian officials, the gas used has no stabilizers present.  This necessarily means that the gas was recently produced, though Assad has over 1,000 tons of the substance stockpiled, and French officials have had them in their sights for over 25 years.

The study took place at the request of the Syrian government, which Russia has staunchly backed since the beginning of the conflict.  The Syrian government had also requested that the UN investigate the Aleppo incident, but the UN did not respond to the request.  Syria’s current government is an important Russian ally in the Middle East, providing the country with a warm-water Naval port.  The presence of Saudi-backed Al Qaida and Chechen rebels in the opposition, though, has solidified Russian support of Assad.

Lavrov presented his findings to the UN and to John Kerry, though he emphasized Russia’s continued support of the bilateral plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.  Russia will not support any action which could lead to the authorization of military force in the country, however.  A UN resolution adopted Thursday is legally binding but provides no means of automatic enforcement.

Lavrov’s evidence does show that rebel use of the gas is a serious possibility, and perfectly illustrates the prudence with which America and other countries should approach the situation in Syria.

Joshua Cook from BenSwann.com asked Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC, R) if the evidence regarding Assad using chemical weapons on Aug. 21st was a “slam dunk?” Congressman Jeff Duncan’s spokesperson Allen Klump told him, “the Congressman has seen evidence that the chemical weapons used in Syria came from Assad. However, that doesn’t change the Congressman’s position that there are no good guys in this situation, and that we do not need to be involved militarily in Syria.”


The Two Major Problems With President Obama’s Syria Address

President Barack Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night, explaining why the chemical attack in Syria matters and where the U.S. goes from here.

In his address the President talked about the images of Syrians writhing on the floor of a hospital and dying after what appears to be a chemical attack. The President said that when “dictators commit atrocities they count on the world to look away.”

Obama said that the evidence against Syrian President Bashar al Assad is clear as he made the claim that “Assad’s government gassed to death over 1,000 people including children.” “No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria.” and went on to say “We know the Assad regime was responsible”.

The problem with President Obama’s address however is that while he made very definite statements about the chemical attack clearly happening at the hands of the Assad regime, he offered no evidence of that claim.

As we have reported, the American public has no interest in the U.S. intervening in Syria. Some polls indicate as many as 91% percent of Americans are against it. Reports indicate that Congress is leaning 10 to 1 against military action. The Obama administration has insisted that they have no choice but to get involved because of the use of chemical weapons.

Where the President needed to move public opinion was by offering evidence, not simply his word, but evidence that the Assad regime committed this atrocity. It is not enough for the President to state that because there is evidence of the use of sarin, that draws a direct line to Assad. We have also reported that Turkish security forces arrested members of al Nusra Front with 2kgs of sarin on May 31, 2013. Millions of Americans are aware that al Nusra is the Syrian wing of al Qaeda in Iraq and certainly is capable of carrying out this kind of chemical attack.

On that note, it is interesting that in the 15 minutes President Obama spent appealing to the American people he made mention of the name al Qaeda only once and did not directly address the fact that those forces are actively working to overthrow Assad.

The second major problem with the President’s appeal was that he made a promise that the public will almost definitely reject at face value.

“I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not authorize open ended action as we experienced in Iraq. I will not engage in a prolonged air campaign as we did in Libya,” promised the President.

Of course, this promise cannot be made when there are so many unknown variables. What if Assad retaliates and launches a larger chemical attack? What if Iran and Syria launch attacks against Israel? And the biggest question, what if U.S. strikes help to topple the Assad regime and these stockpiles of chemical weapons are exposed to “rebel” fighters including al Nusra Front? Would the U.S. not be compelled to send in ground troops to secure those weapons?

Tuesday, the President needed to convince the public that the moral obligation of the United States is to intervene against ruthless dictators. For too many Americans, that address has been given one too many times.

What The Media Isn’t Telling You About The Syrian Chemical Attack

What The Media Isn’t Telling You About The Syrian Chemical Attack :

Al Nusra Front Also Has Sarin Gas

A senior Obama administration official has told the Associated Press that there is “very little doubt” that chemical weapons were used in Syria late last week.  That senior administration official went on to claim that there is very little doubt about who used them.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are insisting that President Obama act now against the Syrian government.  In a joint statement they say:

“Using stand-off weapons, without boots on the ground, and at minimal risk to our men and women in uniform, we can significantly degrade Assad’s air power and ballistic missile capabilities and help to establish and defend safe areas on the ground”

As we reported over the weekend, the U.S. Navy has now moved warships into the Mediterranean and has readied Cruise Missiles for a possible strike against government forces.

Across the internet are dozens of videos showing civilians including men, women and children lying on floors gasping for breath, medics are struggling to save infants and across the internet pictures of rows of bodies of those who reportedly died in the attacks.  According to a report from the Local Coordination Committee, an Syrian opposition group, at least 755 people died in the attack.  Other reports are claiming much lower numbers citing “dozens” dead.  According to the Washington Post, ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/un-team-headed-to-site-of-alleged-chemical-attack-comes-under-sniper-fire-turns-back/2013/08/26/5ea074c8-0e3f-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html )

The nonprofit Doctors Without Borders estimates that 355 people were killed and more than 3,600 were injured. If confirmed, it would be the worst chemical weapons attack since Saddam Hussein gassed more than 3,000 people in an Iraqi Kurdish village 25 years ago.

Syrian state television claims the attack came at the hand of al Qaeda backed “rebel” forces.  As we reported on Friday, the U.S., Israel and Jordan have been training rebel guerrilla fighters for months just across the border from Syria in Jordan.  According to several reports, a wave of 300 or so fighters were sent across the Syrian border on August 17th, and a second wave on August 19th.

Since the reported chemical attack last Wednesday, the Obama administration and members of Congress have been pushing the line that Syria’s President Bashar al Assad ordered the use of a chemical weapon on the outskits of Damascus.

According to CNN, one U.S. officials claims “There is nothing credible to indicate that the rebels, either the Syrian National Council or even al-Nusra Front, have used chemical weapons,” the official said. “Only the Assad regime is responsible for chemical weapons use.”

But that statement is false.  When it comes to this latest incident, at this point we don’t know what kind of chemical might have been used.  Nor do we know who used it.  Some of the claims early on from “unnamed government sources” were that sarin gas was used in that Damascus suburb.  The use of sarin gas would point toward the Assad regime, would it not?

Not necessarily.  What our national media isn’t telling you is that in May Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front.  Where did the sarin gas come from?  We don’t know.  But clearly, Al Nusra Front has access to sarin gas and was planning a use for it.

President Obama and his administration keep talking about “the red line” that would have to be crossed in order to bring the United States into this conflict.  That “red line” is consistently touted as responding to chemical weapons.

As we’ve reported, the U.S. is already involved: