As former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter has put it:
…chemical attacks had been occurring inside Syria on a regular basis… International investigations of these attacks produced mixed results, with…the majority being attributed to anti-regime fighters, in particular those affiliated with Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate.
Some sort of chemical event took place in Khan Sheikhoun; what is very much in question is who is responsible…
A critical piece of information that has largely escaped the reporting in the mainstream media is that Khan Sheikhoun is ground zero for the Islamic jihadists who have been at the center of the anti-Assad movement…
The Russian Ministry of Defense has claimed that Liwa al-Aqsa [anti-Assad jihadists] was using facilities in and around Khan Sheikhoun to manufacture crude chemical shells and landmines…
Al Nusra has a long history of manufacturing and employing crude chemical weapons; the 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta made use of low-grade Sarin nerve agent locally synthesized, while attacks in and around Aleppo in 2016 made use of a chlorine/white phosphorous blend.
If…the building bombed in Khan Sheikhoun on the morning of April 4, 2017 was producing and/or storing chemical weapons, the probability that viable agent and other toxic contaminants were dispersed into the surrounding neighborhood, and further disseminated by the prevailing wind, is high.
Emphasis added. Although the article is at PuffHo and written by a sex offender (teenage girls), it’s a detailed article and worth reading in full.
So, there’s that. The whole thing could have been an accident, when a Syrian government jet did a conventional attack on a facility where the rebels were storing their own, illegal, home-grown(?) chemical weapons.
On the other hand, we have Defense Secretary Mattis stating, “The Syrian regime attacked its own people with chemical weapons. I have personally reviewed the intelligence and there is no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible for the decision to attack and for the attack itself.”
Fifteen years ago, deciding whether to believe the U.S. defense secretary would have been easy: Just believe him! But, disturbingly, Mattis’ briefing gave almost no supporting details – for a story which makes little sense on its surface.
And a lot has changed, in the last 15 years. We now know to a certainty that the U.S. intelligence agencies get things wrong or even mislead on purpose.
- Most recently, the proverbial “17 intelligence agencies” supported highly doubtful claims of Russian election hacking.
- Also, they leaked surveillance information in an effort to stoke fires of McCarthyism (hysteria) against a newly-elected President – who, it seemed at the time, wouldn’t go along with the agencies’ desire to attack Syria.
As such, I’m not comforted to know that Mattis “personally reviewed the intelligence” (a fancy way of saying just that he read the agency reports). I remain a skeptic of the official story. As always, feel free to disagree or to tell me what I missed, in the comments.
UPDATE: Zero Hedge lists more reasons to question the official story, including:
- Evidence that it was anhydrous ammonia or chlorine, not sarin. Supposedly, the “first responders” handled the victims without gloves, which should have killed them (if it was sarin).
- A statement from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), claiming that local U.S. Army officers in Syria agree with the accidental-release theory (mainly faulting the rebels).