Tag Archives: Syrian Civil War

Reality Check: Is the U.S. No Longer Funding the White Helmets?

It was just hours after releasing our last Reality Check on the White Helmets that the news broke—reports that the State Department had ceased funding of the controversial group.

But the reports lacked detail as to what funding is specifically being frozen, and the State Department isn’t going on the record.

So is the U.S. no longer funding the white helmets? And is it connected to Trump’s freeze on $200 million earmarked for Syrian “recovery”?

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

Late Friday, the White Helmets were all over the news. The reason? The State Department allegedly is no longer funding the controversial organization.

This, just hours after our investigation into who’s funding the White Helmets was released.

So what funding has been cut, exactly? That remains unclear.

According to CBS News, the White Helmets have complained that they haven’t received U.S. funding in weeks. This, after President Trump announced a freeze of $200 million in recovery funding for Syria.

But was that a freeze of the additional $200 million promised by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? Or something else entirely?

In our investigation into who’s funding the White Helmets, we discovered that in August 2015, USAID awarded a $211 million, five-year contract with Chemonics to “provide fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs” in Syria.

According to the website GovTribe, $2.1 million in incremental funding was last allocated for the contract in March of this year.

So far, $81.6 million of the total contract has been obligated in the deal with Chemonics.

There is no clear indication as to whether this contract is frozen. Even so, western governments are still supporting the white helmets.

If you missed our investigation into who is funding the White Helmets, watch below.


Reality Check: Who’s Funding the White Helmets?

UPDATE: Watch Ben Swann explain the recent developments in US funding of the White Helmets in an updated Reality Check by clicking here. 

As the U.S. moves closer toward all out war in Syria, a lot of what our government seems to base its intelligence on, especially claims of chemical weapon use by they Syrian government, is an impartial humanitarian group called the White Helmets.

You’ve no doubt, heard of the White Helmets. They have been praised in the media as heroes and have reportedly saved more than 100,000 lives as of April 2018.

But who are the White Helmets really? Are they a legitimate organization or pawns, funded for the purpose of regime change?

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

Despite a recent U.S. funding freeze for humanitarian aid for Syria, the U.S. continues to fund the controversial group, known as White Helmets.

The White Helmets claim to be a neutral entity in Syria. They say they are just helping people caught in the middle of a civil war. But are they?

Follow the money and you will find numerous ties to government funding from not only the U.S., but the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.

Untangling these ties to the White Helmets is complicated, so stay with me.

According to their website, the Syria Civil Defense, nicknamed the White Helmets, formed in “late 2012- early 2013” as self-organized groups.

Realizing they needed training, 20 Syrians went to Turkey back in March 2013 to learn from a former British army officer named James Le Mesurier.

Le Mesurier has ties to the failed NATO intervention in Kosovo. He developed a training program for Syrians that included trauma care, command and control and crisis management courses.

He is credited for helping form the White Helmets’ structure and operations.

Le Mesurier was able to fund this training program through Mayday Rescue, his Netherlands-based non-profit funded by grants from the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments.

Now, this brings us to December 2013, when the U.K.-based PR machine backing the White Helmets was established.

It’s called the Voices Project, set up as a private limited company for public relations and communications activities.

Part of the Voices Project’s articles of incorporation state that the organization seeks to “influence public opinion” and “influence governmental and other bodies and institutions regarding reform … legislation and regulation.”

Who set up the Voices Project? The first listed director on the articles of incorporation is Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of the global PR platform “Purpose” and a co-founder of controversial online activist network “Avaaz”.

Though Heimans stepped down from his position with the Voices Project in 2015, his connection to the project is worth noting. Here’s why.

In February 2014, New York-based “Purpose” listed a job posting for interns to “help launch a new movement for Syria.”

By March 2014, the Voices Project set up The Syria Campaign NGO, which they describe as “a human rights organisation that supports Syria’s heroes in their struggle for freedom and democracy.”

This, coinciding with the graduates of the Mayday Rescue training establishing new teams in Syria.

Six months later, in October 2014, a conference of these teams came together to establish the Syrian Civil Defense as an official, national organization. They then became known as the White Helmets, thanks to The Syria Campaign.

According to their website, the White Helmets have been directly funded by Mayday Rescue, and a company called Chemonics, since 2014.

Yet there’s evidence that both of those organizations started supporting the White Helmets back in early 2013, right around the time the White Helmets claim to have formed as self-organized groups.

Mayday Rescue, as we said, is funded by the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. And Chemonics?

They are a Washington, D.C. based contractor that was awarded $128.5 million in January 2013 to support “a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” as part of USAID’s Syria regional program. At least $32 million has been given directly to the White Helmets as of February 2018.

The firm has been funded by USAID for years, and carries a record of failures in supporting so-called humanitarian interventions, including in Libya.

What you need to know is that first, this was only part one of our look at the White Helmets.

There are even more dots to connect here, including the relationship between USAID, Chemonics, Jeremy Heimans and Azaaz. We will make those connections in another episode of Reality Check.

But for today, let’s make this clear: there are very real questions about the authenticity of the voice of the White Helmets as representative of the Syrian people.

It is also clear that the White Helmets have ties to organizations that are being funded by governments that have been seeking, and right now continue to, seek to overthrow the Assad government and to establish a new regime in Syria.

And yet our media and government act as if the information coming from the White Helmets is coming from an impartial observer. When in fact, it appears to actually be coming from an organization that is being funded with an agenda to see the Syrian government overthrown.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

16 Killed as ISIS, al-Qaeda Fight Along Lebanon-Syria Border

by Jason Ditz

Heavy fighting has erupted in northeastern Lebanon over the weekend between the major Islamist factions in the Syrian Civil War, ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, who fought on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, which is housing tens of thousands of refugees.

Reports from the area suggest at least nine ISIS and seven Nusra fighters were killed in the weekend fighting, and local Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, seen as close to Nusra, is said to be trying to broker some sort of local truce between the two sides to end the fighting.

ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have years of acrimony fueling these fights, dating back to ISIS’ attempt to absorb Nusra and become the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq and Syria, an attempt which led to ISIS’ ultimate split from al-Qaeda.

Since then, the two have fought over territory in Syria repeatedly, fighting which only really ended when their respective territories no longer had a common border. Even now, Nusra is said to be trying to establish mergers with other Islamist outlets to try to more directly compete with ISIS.

Both are keen to carry out strikes in Lebanon, and have a presence in Arsal, but this close proximity to one another seems to have boiled over into another round of fighting.

Obama Urges Congress to Authorize ISIS War

by Jason Ditz

During his brief but heavily-anticipated prime time address, President Obama insisted simultaneously that the San Bernardino attack last week was not connected to any terrorist group, but that it represented a “new phase” of terrorism, in which groups are turning to “less complicated” acts.

He spent much of the address, despite having insisted there was no connection to ISIS, in defending the ongoing strategy in the ISIS war, and insisting he doesn’t want a major ground war in Iraq or Syria that would last a decade or more.

Adding to the conflicting messages of his address, Obama then urged Congress to grant him an authorization for the ISIS war, saying it was time for them to demonstrate America’s “unity” and that they are “committed to this fight.”

President Obama also confirmed US special forces were being sent into both Iraq and Syria in growing numbers, trying to contrast that to the larger occupations of previous wars, though as he continues to slowly escalate his numbers that distinction may be less and less significant.

Beyond this, Obama also urged Congress to ban anyone on any no-fly list from buying a gun, and to heavily restrict the buying of more advanced assault weapons by everyone, insisting US intelligence agencies can’t catch all attackers, but they can make it harder for them to obtain weapons.

He also promised to seek more unity among countries fighting in Syria, saying the US would call on their allies and also Russia to step up the battle, while suggesting that some sort of diplomatic settlement of the Syrian Civil War could be on the horizon.

Russia Says ‘Volunteers’ Likely to Fight in Syria

by Jason Ditz

Russian military official Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov reiterated today that there are no plans for Russian ground troops to get directly involved in the Syrian Civil War, but said it was very likely that Russian “volunteers” will start showing up in the ranks of the Syrian Army.

Komoyedov predicted that a “unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian Army” soon, saying that such fighters would be drawn to the conflict by the money to be made in such a fight.

[RELATED: Russia ‘Intercepts’ American Drones Over Syria]

Though mercenary fighting is technically illegal in Russia, the law on that is seldom enforced, and the admiral conceded that the emergence of such volunteer forces in Syria “cannot be stopped.” Veterans of the Russian military were a common sight during the Ukraine Civil War as well.

Though such “volunteer” groups inevitably raise speculation that they are operating under Russian government control, the reality may be much more subtle, that Russia is simply more willing to overlook mercenary work when it is carried out for factions with whom the Russian Federation is allied.

[RELATED: Russian Official Accuses U.S. of Bombing Desert, ‘Pretending’ to Bomb ISIS]


Such fighters could be welcomed by the Syrian government, which is struggling to keep its military numbers up after years of war, and while Syria has had no shortage of Shi’ite volunteer militias from Iraq and Iran, they have tended to be untrained and have struggled to fight combat-hardened rebel forces.

US Has ‘Four or Five’ Syrians Left Fighting Against ISIS

by Jason Ditz

Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of Centcom, admitted that the pro-US Syrian rebel faction, dubbed the New Syrian Force (NSF) in most official contexts, is virtually gone now, with virtually everybody either killed or having fled.

What was initially envisioned as a force of tens of thousands of anti-ISIS fighters amounted to only 54 to start with, and Gen. Austin told Congress today that they are down to “four or five” fighters still active in the field. Needless to say, it’s not going well.

Austin went on to say that the next two classes of NSF fighters are still being trained, though that training too is falling behind schedule. The indications are that these classes aren’t much bigger, 100-120 fighters all told. The pared-back goal of 5,000 fighters is likely still years off.

The general went on to say that they are “reviewing” the program, though since the Pentagon has repeatedly talked up the NSF as the end-all, be-all plan for victory in Syria, and has harshly resisted efforts to change the process, which they’ve invested tens of millions of dollars into for tens of fighters.

Ben Swann covered the disaster that is the U.S. plan to build a force against ISIS in this Reality Check:


Whose Media? Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh defends his report on Syria (VIDEO)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh says the Obama Administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a war with Syria. Hersh is a Pulitzer, Polk, George Orwell and National Magazine Award-winning investigative journalist who has written for the New Yorker since 1991, discussing military and security matters there. He covered the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam and more recently the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. The message of his London Review of Books essay was simple: Barack Obama’s haste to go to war and cherry-picked intelligence “data” pose a serious security threat to America.

Earlier this year, Obama said that Assad’s use of Sarin gas constituted a “red line” – mimicking Benjamin Netanyahu’s discussion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities – beyond which American intervention would be necessary. The largest and most widely reported of these attacks occurred on August 21, and the evidence regarding this particular attack was the focus of Hersh’s essay.

Hersh’s essay confirmed what many independent voices suspected, that Obama’s attempt to involve America in Syria’s Civil War was rash, as rebel forces have the capabilities and knowledge to make gas and rockets. The essay added concrete data, facts and information to this idea, and provided a clear illustration of exactly how the Obama Administration cherry-picked and manipulated the intelligence in favor of a Syria strike.

Hersh told the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that the New Yorker, who previously published his work, passed on his extensive and detailed rich investigative report. The Washington Post passed on it too.

Later, Hersh said it was a mistake to believe the Post would publish such a provocative story.

“Why did I think a mainstream press paper would want to go so hard against, you know, from a freelancer? It was silly of me. I should have just gone to the London Review very quickly. My mistake,” said Hersh.

The Administration and hawkish Republicans created a narrative that was pushed out by the mainstream media. Investigative journalist Ben Swann and Hersh were the few independent voices who challenged the Administration’s narrative by reporting facts not covered by the main stream press.

Last week Ben Swann wrote, “For well over a year and half, I have been a dissenting voice in media on this issue.  But to be the dissenting voice means taking a stand when others will criticize what you do.”

Watch Hersh respond to his critics in the video below.


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.”


Congress Too Cowardly To Vote On Syria?

The issue is pretty simple.  The Congress of the United States has to determine whether or not to support U.S. strikes on Syria.  It is called a declaration of war and it is the job of Congress to either approve or deny military action.

Today, the National Review Online is reporting that Congressional aides are saying that the House may not even vote on action in Syria if House leadership believes the vote will fail.

“Two new whip counts of House members by ABC News and the liberal Firedoglake web site show a majority of House members firmly or leaning against intervention. The Washington Post’s more conservative count stands at 204 “no” votes, only 13 short of the majority needed to kill the president’s request. “

Really? That is the position of the House leadership?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R) Ohio has come out in support of military action in Syria and Democratic leadership like Rep. Nancy Pelosi have thrown their support behind strikes against Syria as well.  But much of Congress is not convinced and neither are the American people.  Polls indicate that as many as 91% of Americans do not want the U.S. to go to war with Syria, despite claims by Secretary of State John Kerry that intervention is not only needed but morally the right thing to do.

Of course, the fallout of voting for strikes on Syria are anything but simple.  Lawmakers are telling us that these would be limited military strikes.  That U.S. forces would not be in harms way and most lawmakers are claiming there would not be “boots on the ground”.

The problem with that scenario however is that Congress merely assumes that strikes on Syria would consist of firing cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea.  Of course, the assumption being sold to the American people is that Syria won’t be in a position to retaliate against the United States.

The issue we face today is different than any war the United States has faced in several generations.  Consider for a moment that unlike when the U.S. helped in the overthrow of Gaddafi or went into Afghanistan or Iraq, we did not have other nations around the world directly opposing our action.  Some nations indicated they weren’t happy about it but none threatened the U.S. over that action.

That is not the case with Syria.  The Syrians have promised to retaliate against U.S. and Israeli interests and they are not alone.  In addition, Iran is making clear it will strike U.S. interests as well.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting

“The U.S. military has also readied Marines and other assets to aid evacuation of diplomatic compounds if needed, and the State Department began making preparations last week for potential retaliation against U.S. embassies and other interests in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Much of this positioning is in response to increased rhetoric from Irans Supreme Military Leader  Ayatollah Khamenei is threatening coordinated terror attacks against the U.S. if the country launches strikes against Syria.  The International Business Times UK is reporting that Khamenei says:

“In the case of Syria, the chemical attack is a pretext. The Americans try to play with words and pretend that they’ve become involved in this case for humanitarian aims.  The Americans are making mistakes in Syria and they have felt the impact and will certainly suffer loss”

Russia too is making noise about not standing by while the U.S. launches these strikes.  Russian President Valdimir Putin says that Russia will aid Syria and there is speculation that any Syrian assets destroyed by the U.S. will be replaced by Russia. All in all, this means the U.S. will not be able to strike Syria without being drawn into a larger war.

This may be the biggest reason that informed Americans are standing up and saying “NO” to war with Syria.  The idea that the U.S. can conduct a “drive-by” attack on Syria is just not true.

The voice of the people in the United States is supposed to be represented by members of Congress.  The House of Representatives is after all “the people’s house”.  By not allowing Congress to vote on Syria simply because House leadership fears the outcome of that vote is not only cowardly but another example of how our “representative” form of government represents only special interests.

Congressman Massie: “Gravest Concern, Congress Will Vote For Strikes”

After a week of build up in what looked like an almost certain U.S. strike against Syria, President Obama has taken a step back and now says he will seek authorization from Congress.

From the Rose Garden, Saturday, the President said he has decided that it is necessary for the U.S. to undergo military strikes against the Assad regime but will instead allow Congress to debate the issue when they return from recess.  This is a major announcement when you consider the military build up over the past week.

The big question of course, will Congress authorize action against Syria?  That will be an interesting debate as many members of Congress and even Congressional candidates are voicing their unwillingness for the U.S. to become involved in Syria.  This decision by the President is certainly a political one and just about the only way for President Obama to save face after creating a “red line” for the Syrian government and then proclaiming through out the week that the line had been crossed.

I talked this week with Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky who tells me that while he believes it is the duty and responsibility of Congress to vote on any act of war, he is concerned about how the vote will go.

“My gravest concern is that there are members of Congress in both parties who would support intervention in Syria and we should not be intervening in Syria where our interests are not clear at all.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron was blocked in his effort to intervene in Syria when the British Parliament voted down Britain’s involvement.  President Obama had virtually no other alternative considering that the rest of the world has backed away from U.S. or Western involvement and the American people are overwhelmingly against the idea of U.S. intervention.

As we reported, this about-face by the President is a major victory for alternative media who have virtually stood alone while identifying the al Qaeda backed al Nusra Front as the “rebel” force to which the U.S. would be providing assistance.

Reports: Saudi Prince using U.S. to topple Assad to consolidate own power

According to reports in Mint Press News made by veteran Associated Press reporter Dale Gavlak, the chemical attack came from Syrian rebel arms by Prince Bandar, not the Assad regime.

Gavlak writes, “The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was ‘a judgment … already clear to the world.’”

Gavlak’s report states that the U.S. is not interested in differing opinion, despite evidence that points to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar.

Prince Bandar

The report continues, “However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.”

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.”

Prince Bandar is said to have close ties to Washington, serving as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador. According to a report in the UK’s The Independent, Prince Bandar has re-emerged as a pivotal figure in the struggle by America and its allies to tilt the battlefield balance against the regime in Syria.

According to the Independent, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence  agency that first alerted Western allies to the alleged use of sarin gas by the Syrian regime in February.

According to the report, “It is a long-term Saudi goal that in the past several days has been subsumed by the more immediate crisis over the purported use of chemical weapons by Damascus … That message is being delivered to President Barack Obama by the current Saudi Ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, who is a Bandar protégé.”

This situation continues to become eerily similar to President George W. Bush’s intel on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In fact, according to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, on January 11, 2002, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers met in Cheney’s office with Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States to discuss plans to attack Iraq.

The Washington Post reported that Bandar, who helped arrange Saudi cooperation with the U.S. military, feared Saudi interests would be damaged if Bush did not follow through on attacking Hussein, thus Bandar became another advocate for war.

“Months of applying pressure on the White House and Congress over Syria have slowly born fruit. The CIA is believed to have been working with Prince Bandar directly since last year in training rebels at base in Jordan close to the Syrian border,” the Independent reported.

The Saudis are “indispensable partners on Syria” and have considerable influence on American thinking, a senior US official told The Wall Street Journal yesterday. He added: “No one wants to do anything alone.”

And right now, Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to justify intervening in Syria on the basis of crimes against humanity. But it makes you wonder: Whose crimes?

Is Saudi Arabia using an attack on Syria by the west as a way to advance its own agenda?

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:

Breaking: U.S. Cruise Missiles Preparing To Strike Syria

The U.S. military is now moving cruise missiles into position for a possible strike against Syrian government forces, reports CBS News Saturday.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says that this will give the President the position to move quickly if he decides to use a cruise missile strike against Syrian government forces. Sec. Hagel goes on to say that this is not an attempt to topple the Syrian government but to send a message to President Bashar al Assad that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.  Hagel went on to tell reporters that U.S. commanders have prepared a range of “options” for President Obama if he chooses to proceed with military strikes against Damascus.

Cruise Missile Syria

That statement comes on the heels of the United Nations now investigating claims that chemical weapons were used in several battles between al Assad forces and rebel forces in Syria. Among the chemicals reportedly used, sarin gas.  Reuters has reported that the nerve gas attack killed hundreds this week.  The Assad regime has placed the blame on al Qaeda fighters who call themselves rebels.  At this point, it is unclear who was behind the use of chemical weapons.   It is important to note that the “who” and “what” behind these chemical weapons has not been established.

Of course now the big question not being asked by the media, “where is the military authorization for any action against Syria?”  Once again we face the serious issue of whether or not the President has the authority to unilaterally declare military action against another nation.  The power to declare war does not belong to the President… any President.

At this point, however, it is not even the President who should be called out for attempting to act unilaterally against another nation. It is Congress that is once again standing by and doing nothing more than abdicating its responsibility. The Congress of the United States and the Congress alone who holds the authority to declare war. Once again Congress will say nothing as this action is taken and merely react later.

The issue we face at this moment is actually bigger than the President himself acting without Constitutional authority. Congress is often called the “do-nothing Congress” and the term here certainly applies. It is the Congress that has not only the responsibility but the duty to act as the commander of U.S. forces in the Mediterranean orders Navy warships to move closer to Syria to be ready for that possible cruise missile strike. Congress has a responsibility and duty to decide if the United States will declare war against Syria. Clearly, the Syrian government has done nothing that requires the U.S. military to act to protect U.S. interests.

As I have told you the problem in Syria is dire. The situation there is much more complicated than the national media is letting on. And so far there is absolutely no indication of who is using chemical weapons the Assad regime or al-Qaeda backed fighters affectionately called “rebel forces” by our media.

If you would like to see more about the situation in Syria and its complexity watch this video.


Glenn Beck Calling For A U.S. War in Syria and Another War in Iraq?

If you regularly follow my work, you know that I have written and talked about Al Qaeda in Syria for about 2 years now.  I was the first reporter to confront President Obama to his face about the fact that al Qaeda fighters in Syria were the real force behind the so called Syrian “civil war”.

Syrian civil war
When polled, 80% of Americans reject going to war with Syria.


As recently as one month ago, I created a Full Disclosure episode to explain how strong the presence of al Qaeda truly is in Syria.  Explaining that the best funded, best equipped and best positioned force to take over the country from the Assad regime is not the Free Syria Army but Al Nusra Front, the Syrian wing of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Today, on Glenn Beck’s national radio show, Beck and Blaze TV commentator Buck Sexton talked about this growing problem of Al Qaeda in Syria and the growth of Al Qaeda in Iraq.  The position that Beck and Sexton took… that Al Qaeda must be stopped.  Sexton advocated sending U.S troops to Syria to stop Al Qaeda (as if the Assad regime would want U.S troops on Syrian soil) and that we must do the same to put down Al Qaeda in Iraq.  Beck, agreed that we must stop al Qaeda but first we have to get our troops recuperated and refreshed.

Reality Check:  Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there was no al Qaeda in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein hated al Qaeda and was the U.S.’s number one source of information on al Qaeda.  After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we created the opening for al Qaeda to gain a foothold… and they did.

Flash forward to 2012 when the U.S. began supporting rebels in Syria.  The U.S. has been providing financial support, body armor, satellite radios and other “non-lethal” assistance to the FSA (Free Syria Army). As recently as Memorial Day 2013, Senator John McCain visited with fighters from the FSA to talk about how the U.S. can provide assistance in a “more serious manner”.

In short, what Beck and Sexton somehow missed is that the growth of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq has not happened because of a lack of U.S. involvement but as a result of it.  The argument that Beck and Sexton are making is a NeoCon argument.  Simply put, it is the cycle of terror created by a government that claims to fight terror on one hand but supports it with the other.

For example, The U.S. creates destabilization in a country like Iraq.  Over the course of years local and regional al Qaeda forces step in to develop and train fighters.  As the U.S. suffers financial and operational fatigue, al Qaeda grows and eventually the U.S. pulls out.

Meanwhile, the U.S. because it wants to see the overthrow of Assad deploys the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy and funds al Qaeda fighters in Syria.  Over the course of years we create destabilization and attempt to force a regime change. In doing so, we hand Syria over to al Qaeda.  Finally, once al Qaeda is fully in control of Iraq and Syria, we re-engage in our perpetual war on terror.  All the time, sacrificing trillions in U.S. tax dollars and more importantly sacrificing the lives of thousands of America’s sons and daughters.

That has been American foreign policy since we first created the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the late 70’s and early 80’s to destabilize the Soviets.   It didn’t work then, so why would it work now?

If you want the full picture of American support of al Nusra Front in Syria, watch this Full Disclosure.