Thursday, October 10, 2013

Syria: chemical weapons and denials

In Syria's crisis, there are many evasions and distortions of the truth, in particular the denial that, in all probability, it was the Assad regime that carried out the chemical weapons attacks around Damascus on 21 August. 

First, some substantive evidence.

New York, 16 September 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council On the basis of its analysis, the Mission concluded that it – and I quote – “collected clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in the Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zalmalka in the Ghouta area of Damascus.”

UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr Alexander Coker says that the use of 122mm rockets does not prove it was the government: they are very common. Asked about the trajectories, he says, "I don't have that kind of expertise to be able to comment on that", but the evidence tends to point to the regime, though it's not conclusive  (BBC WS, Newshour, 16/9,  21:24, +17:55) [mp3 +18:55]

17/9 Syria chemical attack: Key UN findings

Dispatches: Mapping the Sarin Flight Path, by HRW's, Josh Lyons:
the presumed flight paths of the rockets converge on a well-known military base of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade.
“Impact site number 1 (Moadamiya) and impact site number 4 (Ein Tarma),” the inspectors wrote, “provide sufficient evidence to determine, with a sufficient degree of accuracy, the likely trajectory of the projectiles.” They go on to say that 3 of the rockets they inspected had bearings of 34 and 35 degrees for 2 of the rockets that landed in Moadamiya, and 285 degrees for 1 of the rockets that landed in Ein Tarma.
So, at Ein Tarma, the shaft/engine of the rocket pointed precisely to 285 degrees, so that its trajectory was that it was heading in an East/Southeast direction (105 degrees).
At Moadamiya (site number 1), the rocket was heading in a direction of 215 degrees. At site number 2, 65 metres from number 1, the rocket was heading in a direction of 214 degrees.

Site number 1 provides the more conclusive evidence (piercing of vegetal screening etc.) but site number 2 corroborates it (Who Was Responsible For The August 21st Attack?)

18/9 Russia calls UN report biased - 3 other sites (BBC WS, 9:00) Syrian 'proof' of rebel chemical use
U.N. Data on Gas Attack Points to Assad’s Top Forces By C. J. CHIVERS A view of Damascus, Syria, from Mount Qasioun. A report’s data appeared to show a chemical strike originated on the mountain. Details buried in a United Nations report indicate the Syrian military launched the chemical attack from the same ridges it used for firing conventional munitions.
A senior American intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States, via satellite, had confirmed rocket launches that corroborated the United Nations data and the Human Rights Watch analysis for one of the strikes.
The Lede: Russia’s Foreign Minister Cites Questions Raised by Nun in Syria on Chemical Attacks (September 17, 2013)

From The Washington Post, 17/9, Still doubt Assad’s forces were behind Syria’s chemical attack? Look at this map. .. 

The anti-interventionist (or pro-Assad) camp made a point here:
Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy, Syria expert, made quite an impression on Senator John McCain. During Senate hearings, the former Presidential candidate quoted at length from her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed painting a rosy picture of a mostly secular, pro-Western anti-Assad insurgency. “John, do you agree with Dr. O’Bagy’s assessment of the opposition?,” the Senator asked the Secretary of State John Kerry. “I agree with most of that,” he replied. Except Dr. O’Bagy wasn’t actually a doctor.
But most of the dubious stories are on the other side.

September 21, 2013 Reporter Denies Writing Article That Linked Syrian Rebels to Chemical Attack "Three weeks after an obscure Internet news service claimed that Syrian rebels had admitted responsibility for the deadly chemical attack outside Damascus in August, a veteran foreign correspondent has denied writing the article"

22/9, on claims that the rebels were behind the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, some brilliant detective work here. The key evidence is nailed down in, of all places,  the comments thread of a column written by Peter Hitchens for the Mail on Sunday. Yahya Ababneh exposed
Barakat then adds some information that wasn't included in the Mint Press story which has done so much to excite Russian officials:  "Some old men arrived in Damascus from Russia and one of them became friends with me. He told me that they have evidence that it was the rebels who used the weapons."

So who is Yan Barakat? [..] All this points to the conclusion that Yahya Ababneh and Yan Barakat are different names for the same person. 
Barakat
Barakat then adds some information that wasn't included in the Mint Press story which has done so much to excite Russian officials: - See more at: http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2013/september/yahya-ababneh-exposed.htm#sthash.hGf3YY10.t7twxwBh.dpuf
Barakat then adds some information that wasn't included in the Mint Press story which has done so much to excite Russian officials:
"Some old men arrived in Damascus from Russia and one of them became friends with me. He told me that they have evidence that it was the rebels who used the weapons."
So who is Yan Barakat?
- See more at: http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2013/september/yahya-ababneh-exposed.htm#sthash.hGf3YY10.t7twxwBh.dpuf
ls:
"Some old men arrived in Damascus from Russia and one of them became friends with me. He told me that they have evidence that it was the rebels who used the weapons."
So who is Yan Barakat?
- See more at: http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2013/september/yahya-ababneh-exposed.htm#sthash.hGf3YY10.t7twxwBh.dpuf
More from Nafeez Ahmed: "The New York Times has investigated the issue further and discovered that Mint Press News' financial backers and advisers included the website editor's father, an ethnic Jordanian of Shi'a persuasion.  [..] the NYT found evidence of vehemently sectarian and anti-Saudi anti-Wahabi sentiments linked to her father's role in Mint Press News."

Nafeez Ahmed on the Syrian nun, Mother Agnes, and her "ramblings and unverifiable claims of rebel atrocities":  "She believes the Assad regime is the only thing that can save Syria from a takeover by Al-Qaida, and that most Syrians support the present regime."

A Chemical Weapons Expert Responds To The Article "Questions Plague UN Report on Syria" (25/9). The article in question was published by Al Akhbar. Dan Kaszeta, one of the chemical weapon experts quoted in the article, responded to various points. For example:
Q: The article claims "not a single environmental sample in Moadamiyah that tested positive for Sarin." - What is your reaction to this?
I consider this statement to be a misleading half-truth that “cherry picks” from the UN report.
Even Le Monde diplomatique concluded, with regard to another oft-quoted document blaming the rebels (Special report: fixing intelligence on Syria?, via , 29/9): [ +1 MT : Highly recommended - ]   
So at first glance, the VIPS memo’s core contention that U.S. intelligence is being politicized over Syria, as happened in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, appears compelling. But a deeper look reveals that the VIPS memo fails to withstand the same level of scrutiny and verifiability it demands from the Obama administration.
[..]
VIPS do not have on the ground sources in the Middle East or among the Syrian opposition at all. Rather than learning the lesson of the plagiarized British dossier on Iraq [..], the VIPS memo replicates it in a misguided effort to oppose an intervention.
Yet still some people go to considerable lengths to dispute the regime's responsibility:
30 Sep For some excellent debate on the UN Report on see: AND AND
(Cf. Eritrea; Harry’s Place also has an interesting analysis of this lady's views.)

Syria crisis: As it happened (29/8)

 Published 14 Nov 2013

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link