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Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:05 AM

Reports of massive chemical attack near Damascus as UN observers arrive in Syria

Source: RT

Media reports have emerged of recent chemical weapons use in Syria, with hundreds allegedly killed in the latest attack. The news comes on the same day that the UN inspectors arrive in Damascus to investigate allegations of use of toxic arms.

Initially, Al-Arabiya posted news of 280 victims on Twitter. Later, the news outlet upgraded the figure up to 500 victims.

Contrary to the Al-Arabiya report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people were killed, including children.

Syrian authorities issued a statement, saying there is “no truth whatsoever” to reports of chemical weapons use near Damascus.

Read more: http://rt.com/news/syria-chemical-weapons-un-775/

64 replies, 9520 views

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Arrow 64 replies Author Time Post
Reply Reports of massive chemical attack near Damascus as UN observers arrive in Syria (Original post)
David__77 Aug 2013 OP
David__77 Aug 2013 #1
pampango Aug 2013 #2
John2 Aug 2013 #3
pampango Aug 2013 #4
spinbaby Aug 2013 #9
bitchkitty Aug 2013 #62
indio55555 Aug 2013 #13
penultimate Aug 2013 #15
ocpagu Aug 2013 #64
leveymg Aug 2013 #26
Daniel537 Aug 2013 #6
Bradical79 Aug 2013 #8
Comrade Grumpy Aug 2013 #17
karynnj Aug 2013 #28
joshcryer Aug 2013 #37
AverageJoe90 Aug 2013 #63
Daniel537 Aug 2013 #5
yoloisalie Aug 2013 #7
Daniel537 Aug 2013 #11
Comrade Grumpy Aug 2013 #18
Ash_F Aug 2013 #10
John2 Aug 2013 #23
karynnj Aug 2013 #30
Eugene Aug 2013 #12
Comrade Grumpy Aug 2013 #14
Daniel537 Aug 2013 #16
Comrade Grumpy Aug 2013 #19
pampango Aug 2013 #20
Comrade Grumpy Aug 2013 #21
joshcryer Aug 2013 #38
John2 Aug 2013 #22
pampango Aug 2013 #25
leveymg Aug 2013 #27
joshcryer Aug 2013 #39
David__77 Aug 2013 #24
indio55555 Aug 2013 #29
David__77 Aug 2013 #33
joshcryer Aug 2013 #41
Socal31 Aug 2013 #44
joshcryer Aug 2013 #47
Socal31 Aug 2013 #49
joshcryer Aug 2013 #53
Socal31 Aug 2013 #54
dipsydoodle Aug 2013 #31
pampango Aug 2013 #34
David__77 Aug 2013 #35
joshcryer Aug 2013 #40
Socal31 Aug 2013 #45
joshcryer Aug 2013 #46
Socal31 Aug 2013 #48
joshcryer Aug 2013 #52
jessie04 Aug 2013 #32
big_dog Aug 2013 #36
Harmony Blue Aug 2013 #42
Socal31 Aug 2013 #43
David__77 Aug 2013 #50
Socal31 Aug 2013 #51
David__77 Aug 2013 #55
Socal31 Aug 2013 #57
David__77 Aug 2013 #58
Socal31 Aug 2013 #61
Socal31 Aug 2013 #56
Xithras Aug 2013 #59
David__77 Aug 2013 #60

Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:19 AM

1. UN accuses Syrian rebels of chemical weapons use

"According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas," del Ponte, a former war crimes prosecutor, said in an interview with Swiss radio late on Sunday.

"We still have to deepen our investigation, verify and confirm (the findings) through new witness testimony, but according to what we have established so far, it is at the moment opponents of the regime who are using sarin gas," she added.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10039672/UN-accuses-Syrian-rebels-of-chemical-weapons-use.html

Yes, it's old, but as the weapons inspectors are now in Damascus at the invitation of the Syrian government... well, I think it is rather obvious.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 05:37 AM

2. If the rebels did this, they could not have timed it worse. The UN chemical weapons team

is in Damascus right now "at the invitation of the Syrian government...". All the government has to do allow the UN team to investigate this attack while the evidence is still fresh.

Not surprisingly, the opposition accuses the government of conducting the attack.

Syria conflict: 'Chemical attacks' near Damascus

Chemical weapons attacks have killed dozens on the outskirts of Damascus, Syrian opposition activists claim.

Rockets with toxic agents were launched at the suburbs of the Ghouta region early on Wednesday as part of a major bombardment on rebel forces, they say.

Syria's state-run news agency said that the reports were "baseless" and an attempt to distract the inspectors.

The attack took place as part of heavy government bombardment of the region surrounding Damascus, where government forces have been trying to drive out rebel forces.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23777201

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Response to pampango (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 08:31 AM

3. Maybe the rebels

 

are trying to divert attention from their other crimes. The Syrian Authorities claim they found massive graves of massacres in Lakatia after they defeated the rebels. They claimed many of the rebels were killed and some fled over the border to Turkey. According to them they found graves of women and children, some were charred and some had throats slit. They claim some were identified by their families while some were unrecognizable. Everytime the Syrian Army is about to claim a discovery in recovered Territory, the rebels come up with another massacre committed by the Syrian Army. I see a consistant pattern by them which seems a method to deceive the public. Why would the Syrian Authorities invite the U.N. in and then carry out an chemical attack? That makes no sense. The rebels are pyschopathical killers and liars. A lot of them use to be criminals. That is why they attack jails, because they are the ideal thugs. They have no morals period. They rob and loot the people they are suppose to be liberating.

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Response to John2 (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:07 AM

4. "The Syrian authorities claim ...", "They claimed ...", "According to them ...", "They claim ...".

It is no mystery which side you find to be a more credible source of information - "the Syrian authorities" (the dictator's Information Ministry and the Public Relations office of the Syrian army).

As you know Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have determined that the "vast majority" of the war crimes in Syria have been committed by those supporting Assad not those opposing him. (I know you have already thrown AI and HRW (among others) under the bus, but some may give them more credibility than they give the Syrian authorities or the rebels.)

If the rebels are "pyschopathical killers and liars", "criminals" and "ideal thugs", what do we call the ones committing the vast majority of the war crimes who are fighting to keep Assad in power? Professional soldiers in a professional army who are well-disciplined and just following orders?

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:53 AM

9. The whole story sets off my bullshit detector

Probably best to assume that everyone is lying.

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #9)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 11:33 PM

62. My thoughts exactly. n/t

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:29 AM

13. ^^^^^^

pampango
[link:|

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 11:37 AM

15. In war, it's difficult to find anyone credible.

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Response to penultimate (Reply #15)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 01:01 AM

64. Yep.

 

The truth is always the first to die in a war.

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:37 PM

26. Interesting coincidence that this comes on the same day that Gen. Dempsey says "No" to US military

involvement (deeper involvement):

http://www.windsorstar.com/news/general+says+Syrian+rebels+unready+back+interests+rejects/8813544/story.html

Top US General Says Syrian Rebels Wouldn't Back US Interests, Rejects Military Intervention
Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were to seize power right now, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to a congressman in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Dempsey said the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force and shifting the balance of the country's 2 1/2-year war back toward the armed opposition. But he said the approach would plunge the United States into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.

He effectively ruled out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn't require U.S. troops on the ground.

"Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides," Dempsey said in the letter Aug. 19 to Rep. Eliot Engel. "It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favour. Today, they are not."

Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/general+says+Syrian+rebels+unready+back+interests+rejects/8813544/story.html

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Response to John2 (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:17 AM

6. As opposed to the Syrian Govt. which is an upholder of human rights? n/t

 

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Response to pampango (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:40 AM

8. There doesn't seem to be any reason to think the rebels launched a chemical attack.

 

Looking at these initial reports, the Syrian government claimed that there has been no use of chemical weapons whatsoever. There have been no accusations that this attack was launched by the rebels by anybody as far as I can tell.

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Response to Bradical79 (Reply #8)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:27 PM

17. The Russians have already accused the rebels of doing it themselves in a "premeditated provocation."

 

They claim the rebels shot a homemade rocket with chemicals in a bid to bolster their case for intervention.

On edit: That's what CNN International just said.

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Response to Bradical79 (Reply #8)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:54 PM

28. Unless they did it in reaction to Dempsey saying that US involvement is a bad idea

Another possibility is either side (the SFA or Assad) did it to attack the AQ linked rebels - while letting the other get the blame for the chemical attack.

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Response to pampango (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:40 PM

37. Indeed, whether the government allows them to investigate tells us who did it.

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Response to pampango (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 12:48 AM

63. Could be.

 

To be perfectly honest, I do realize that the AQ/MB/Salafi factions are pretty crooked themselves and are *not* in this for the people, unlike the FSA left/secularists, but rather, so they can install their own dictatorship.

If there's one thing we can agree on, the Al-Assad regimes were definitely awful; women had no real rights, freedom of expression was minimal, if any at all, and the country in general was a damn shithole. But the Salafis are scarier, and they'd be more like the Hitler to his Mussolini: At least Bashar doesn't seem to have been a big advocate of genocide.....But I fear that the Salafis and their friends WILL cross the line if victorious. And if they are, you can bet that the Alawites are gonna be amongst the prime targets.....

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Response to David__77 (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:16 AM

5. The rebels have fighter planes to drop these weapons over wholesale cities?

 

Would love to see some evidence of that. And where exactly did they get these weapons from? The fact is all these UN monitors only get to see and examine the evidence the Syrian regime allows them to see. The UN has a history of letting itself get duped by dictatorships.

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 09:28 AM

7. Yea because fighter jets are the only

 

possible way to deliver chemical weapons. Just ask yourself who benefits from this attack. kill 650 people and bring about the US and NATO to bomb the shit out of your country or continue fighting a conventional war where you have the upper hand. I bet my last penny to say that there is no way the Syrian govt did this.

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Response to yoloisalie (Reply #7)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:08 AM

11. The US and NATO have shown zero interest in getting involved in this conflict.

 

And i'm certain this won't make them move one bit towards intervention. The rebels were also the first to report on this attack and have uploaded dozens of videos showing the aftermath of the attack. If they did do this, they must really love incriminating themselves. And again, i ask, who gave them these weapons? The Syrian govt. has admitted to having chemical weapons and has murdered tens of thousands of people through conventional weapons alone, so you'll have to excuse me if i don't take they're word on this.

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #11)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:30 PM

18. No, they are deeply involved in supporting the rebels.

 

What they have shown little interest in is getting their own boots bloody on the ground.

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:00 AM

10. The most common delivery method is artilery.

I would wait to see what the observers say.

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 02:25 PM

23. So you would rather

 

think the Syrian Air Force dropped chemicals over Damascus? The UN has a history of being misled, like Iranians used chemical weapons in the Iran\Iraq War. They later admitted it was only Saddam did so. Saddam was supported by Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain and Kuwait. They needed to say both used chemical weapons because it was in their interest to support Saddam against Iran. The uN also consists of Russia, China, Iran, Iraq and other states. It is not just the U.S. and Western Allies. Your problem is you onsider us the whole World and incapable of lying.

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:56 PM

30. Were fighter planes used?

It seems really stupid if Assad had planes out doing this while the UN had monitors out.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:13 AM

12. Opposition says as many as 1,300 killed in gas attack near Damascus

Source: Reuters

Opposition says as many as 1,300 killed in gas attack near Damascus

By Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis
BEIRUT/AMMAN | Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:32am EDT

(Reuters) - Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of gassing many hundreds of people - by one report as many as 1,300 - on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades.

Western and regional countries called for U.N. chemical weapons investigators - who arrived in Damascus just three days ago - to be urgently dispatched to the scene of one of the deadliest incidents of the two-year-old civil war.

Images, including some taken by freelance photographers and supplied to Reuters, showed scores of bodies including of small children, laid out on the floor of a clinic with no visible signs of injuries.

Reuters was not independently able to verify the cause of their death. The Syrian government denied that it had used chemical arms.

[font size=1]-snip-[/font]


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE97K0EL20130821

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 11:29 AM

14. I will await further confirmation, but this just seems so convenient.

 

Really? The Syrian government is going to unleash a massive chemical weapons attack the day after UN chemical weapons inspectors arrive in the country?

Color me skeptical.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #14)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:10 PM

16. Maybe that's precisely what they want people to think. n/t

 

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:31 PM

19. Or maybe that's precisely what the rebels want people to think. n/t

 

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Response to Daniel537 (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 01:03 PM

20. If I were a dictator determined to hold on to power and wanted to send a message to my opponents,

"I am not leaving. I have an army and air force that are well equipped and are continuously resupplied. You have no tanks. You have no jets. I have other weapons (wink, wink) that will not go unused if I feel my political survival is at stake.

You may dream that the UN (or Europe or the US) is going to come to your rescue. I hate to wake you from your dream but none of them have done anything for 2 1/2 years. What makes you think they will now?

To prove to the UN inspectors that I am not afraid of them and to prove to you have no hope of getting rid of me, I have launched a chemical attack right after the UN's chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Damascus. What are they going to do? Russia and China protect me on the Security Council. Who is protecting you? We both know the answer - no one."

There have been ruthless dictators throughout history that stopped at nothing in order to hold on to power. Is Assad such a dictator?

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Response to pampango (Reply #20)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 01:43 PM

21. Well, we can speculate all we want.

 

It seems stupid to me for Assad to provoke the West with a large-scale chemical attack. So stupid as to be unlikely.

As long as we're speculating, consider the possibility the rebels did it precisely to provoke the West. And blame it on Assad.

This smells funny (and I don't mean whiffs of mustard gas).

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #21)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:42 PM

38. Obama will not act without Russia and China.

Many more than 1,300 people will have to die before anyone gets involved.

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Response to pampango (Reply #20)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 01:57 PM

22. Just as you have accused me of believing the Syrian Government's bullshit,

 

I think the same of you believing this bullshit by the rebels and these so called human rights organizations you advertise. I don't believe the bullshit data you push around about these rebels being over fifty percent Syrians.

The Syrian Observatory is nothing but a front that the British Prime minister ( Cameron) let operate out of Britain. They are mainly supported by the Saudi Monarch, whom the British also created. So don't play your garbage off with me. You can fool others but not me.

I also don't believe in the organization you push off started by certain Bluedog Democrats either. I would rather believe the Syrian Government, than Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, the Muslim brotherhood or any of that filfth you portray as Syrian Rebels. You maintain that less than 10 percent of these people are Terrorists but most that have died has been foreign nationals. Even the head of the SNC is a Saudi controled by Saudi Arabia.

As far as you pretending chemicals can only be dispersed by planes, whom are you kidding guy? Why don't you stop the charade? I have decades of military service. I'm an expert with weapons which includes chemical warfare. I know bullshit when I see it too. I spotted it with Benghazi, Iraq and this is bullshit again just to invade Syria for the purpose of Israel and corporate America. The target is definately Iran and Syria is in the way.

I'm going to tell it to you straight dude. Your so called mecenaries that you claim are legit rebels are getting their asses kicked and their supporters are desperate and can't stand it. Egypt is blowing up in their faces and so is Tunisia. The so called rebels are so dam desperate, they can't help from lying. Their morale is shot now. They are massacreing the Kurds and anyone they come into contact with. So don't play that fasade with me, especially when you are trying to cover for a bunch of murdering Terrorists to do the West's dirty work. You need to also come to reality. Assad is not just holding on to power, he is in power. The people with delusions are those claiming they are going to replace him. As long as they have a military and Allies, it is you who is delusional.

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Response to John2 (Reply #22)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 02:43 PM

25. You seem to get much of your information from the Syrian government. You may not believe it.

"I think the same of you believing this bullshit by the rebels and these so called human rights organizations you advertise. I don't believe the bullshit data you push around about these rebels being over fifty percent Syrians."

"so called human rights organizations" - like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. I know you have thrown them under the bus, because you do not like their analysis, but many others have not.

"The bullshit data you push around about these rebels being more than fifty percent Syrians." - It's not my data. It comes from the Center for American Progress, which is a well-respected progressive public policy research and advocacy organization. You counter that analysis with reports from the Syrian army and Information Ministry. You can believe whomever you want to believe. I prefer my source to yours.

"As far as you pretending chemicals can only be dispersed by planes, whom are you kidding guy?"

I made no such statement. I agree with you that chemical weapons can be dispersed in other ways.

"Assad is not just holding on to power, he is in power. The people with delusions are those claiming they are going to replace him. As long as they have a military and Allies, it is you who is delusional."

I largely agree with you. While Assad obviously does not have control over all of Syria, he is most certainly "in power". "People with delusions" may be a strong term for people who prefer not to live under a hereditary dictator, but I agree that he is almost certain to remain the dictator there for years to come.

He does have the "military" to enforce his will on his domestic opposition. (With his monopoly on heavy weapons like tanks and aircraft, I am surprised he has not already prevailed.) And he has the "Allies" to protect him from international opposition. As I have said before, his odds of remaining dictator of Syria look very good.

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Response to pampango (Reply #20)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:42 PM

27. You seem to have the makings of an assistant propaganda minister, if not for the top job.

Do you really believe Assad is going to do this when UN inspectors are in town and on the very day the head of the US Joint Chiefs says "no deal" to deeper US involvement in Syria?

Not bloody likely, but a good propagandists will try to turn this on its head, anyway.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #27)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:50 PM

39. Yeah, because Assad has been quite docile so far.



I think it's unclear who did it. I think there are even possibilities that you haven't considered, such as Assad's military using the weapons for the sole reason that they weren't being allowed to use them, and what better than now than to send a message to Assad that they will use them?

What we do know is that Assad has used chemical weapons on a small scale before, so I do not think it is beyond his military to have done what happened today in Damascus.

Assad's regime already admitted to the attack, but they claim it wasn't chemical weapons. Given the video I saw I can't say for sure. Some experts claim it was a nerve gas. But that could be tear gas as far as I understand.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 02:40 PM

24. Russia calls Syria’s chemical weapons use claims provocation

Russia has called the Syrian opposition claims about a chemical attack by the Syrian army near Damascus "premeditated provocation."

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday that since reports of the alleged attack were issued just as a UN chemical weapons inspection team arrived in Syria, "this makes us think that we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation."

The Russian ministry said the claims were first reported "by partisan regional media all at once, as if by command."

It also called for an objective and professional investigation into the alleged attack, adding that previous such reports have proven false.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/08/21/319816/syria-chem-arms-claims-provocation/

I hope that the truth of this comes to light. The UN inspectors are NOT in the country to establish WHO used chemical weapons - only that they were used. Each side will say the other is at fault. But there is ONE side that gains a real strategic advantage from limited use of chemical weapons - the insurgent opposition. The government could only benefit from much more wide-scale use of such weapons to target insurgents.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:55 PM

29. Got that right....

Also if the chemicals were "weapons grade" which Syria holds, you would not see doctors and people handling the wounded without protection.

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Response to indio55555 (Reply #29)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 07:44 PM

33. And yet the media is treating that aspect with kid gloves.

"Some experts" are quoted as finding this to be curious.

Even Washington Post, that champion of insurgency in Syria, struck a tone of skepticism.

It seems by the point exceedingly obvious that this is a media ploy of the insurgents. They know that the UN team is not tasked with deciding WHO launched weapons, and that they will not go to unsecured areas. So they are attempting to undermine the mission.

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Response to indio55555 (Reply #29)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:57 PM

41. It certainly wasn't weapons grade.

There would be a dead zone where the weapons were dispersed and we wouldn't have heard much about it.

I do think that it was a chemical agent like tear gas that was dispersed using chemical weapons dispensers.

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Response to indio55555 (Reply #29)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:05 AM

44. So the reports coming from the ground should be ignored?

No conclusions should be reached prematurely due to the gravity of what will follow, but it is obvious a chemical attack happened. Doctors are reporting symptoms similar to Sarin.

If they can identify the chemical as a nerve agent, Assad will be lucky to be alive in a month.

If they can prove this "false flag" conspiracy theory, then it is time to help defeat the AQ rebels.

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #44)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:13 AM

47. If it was mass dispersed tear gas nothing happens.

Assad will have to release chemical warfare weapons.

He has the technology to disperse chemicals.

He has less lethal chemicals at his disposal.

Put them in the dispersal mechanisms and he gets to use chemical warfare while claiming he's not using weapons grade chemicals.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #47)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:18 AM

49. Tear gas does not cause the reported symptoms.

Where would the tear gas theory even come from? I am quoting the articles from people on the ground.

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #49)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:27 AM

53. It's coming from me because I think the other options would've left more dead.

I think massively dispersed tear gasses like xylyl bromide would fuck people up, leave the same kinds of symptoms you define, and allow Syria to claim that they didn't use their weapons grade chemical weapons.

Again this is my own speculation.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #53)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:32 AM

54. Here is to hoping this is just a nightmare.

I have seen a lot of war images, but those children lined up, looking as if they are sleeping, rocked me tonight for some reason.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 06:01 PM

31. Sounds about right.

Fabrication.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 08:01 PM

34. Juan Cole's take differs.

If the regime did use gas, what are its motives? Iraq used gas in the 1980s because it had far fewer troops than Iran and wanted to level the playing field. Likewise, the Syrian army has shrunk through Sunni desertions to a shadow of its former self and so can’t control the whole country any more. Its recent advances in the Homs area were offset by losses around Aleppo in the north, including the fall of a major military air base. Weakened armies facing a demographically larger foe often resort to unconventional armaments.

Likewise, the regime clearly is seeking to terrify the population into submission.
Again, Saddam Hussein tried that with the Kurds and Shiites. Mass killings of restive populations by a regime raise the cost of insurgency, the regime hopes to unacceptably high levels. Could the Baath have done this? This is the regime that slaughtered at least 10,000 at Hama in 1982, so sure.

Did they do it? Hard to tell this morning. But if they did, it will increase pressure on a reluctant Obama to speed up promised shipments of weapons to the rebels. If Damascus is playing it this way, it is clearly calling Obama’s bluff. Lesson to Mr. Obama: don’t bluff and don’t set red lines unless you’re really committted to reacting if they are crossed.

http://www.juancole.com/2013/08/killing-hundreds-obamas.html

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Response to pampango (Reply #34)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 08:08 PM

35. Sure it could have happened. It just seems exceedingly unlikely.

Cole seems totally unsure, and I don't find that perspective unreasonable. I don't disagree with that lack of sureness.

Thankfully, Cole is wrong in his suggestion that Obama "promised shipments of weapons to the rebels." No such thing was promised. "Military assistance" was discussed, but that could be anything, including food or goggles. Obama seems like he is pulling back a very dangerous precipice, and may not arm al Qaeda after all.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:55 PM

40. Every atrocity in Syria gets published that quickly.

It's called Twitter.

I don't trust Press TV at all as a valid source here.

I don't think the chemicals that were used were intended to kill, I think they were dispersal chemicals and they resulted in deaths. A true chemical weapon is going to take people down quick and they will be unable to recover. In other words, I think Syria repurposed tear gas or something similar and dispersed it using the conventional chemical weapon dispersal methods.

They already admitted to the attack. They just disagree on the term "chemical weapons."

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #40)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:06 AM

45. Have you seen all of the dead children?

Does it really matter what chemical was used to kill so many people?

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #45)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:10 AM

46. You're right, it doesn't matter.

I was just trying to explain why Syria would claim that they didn't use chemical weapons while admitting that they did do the attack.

They don't think the weapons they did use constituted chemical warfare.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #46)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:16 AM

48. I don't see where they admitted using any chemicals. They deny it, Russia says it was the rebels.

It is becoming more and more obvious that this is major. All reports from the ground point to a nasty chemical. This is no tear-gas.





"Dr. Khaled al-Doumi, a doctor and manager of the medical center of Duma, a Damascus suburb near the site of the alleged attack, said, "Medically-speaking, the symptoms indicate that poisoning was a result of phosphorous compounds that could be caused by organic insecticides or sarin gas."

A video purportedly shot in Kafr Batna, a suburb on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, showed a room filled with more than 90 bodies, many of them children, with a few women and elderly men. Most of the bodies appeared ashen or pale but with no visible injuries. About a dozen were wrapped in blankets.

"Many of the casualties are women and children. They arrived with their pupils constricted, cold limbs and foam in their mouths. The doctors say these are typical symptoms of nerve gas victims," a nurse at Duma Emergency Collection facility, Bayan Baker, said.

Exposure to sarin gas causes pupils in the eyes to shrink to pinpoint sizes and prompts foaming at the lips."

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/21/syrian-oppositionallegeschemicalweaponattack.html

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #48)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:25 AM

52. It may not have been CS gas exactly.

But you have to understand something like Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas, which Syira purportedly has, would not leave behind very many survivors. The stuff is extremely lethal and it would have immediate effects on those treating the surviving victims. There are plenty of lethal tear gas options out there.

Unconfirmed videos purportedly taken from the site of the attacks show hundreds of people lying dead or wounded in hospitals and on pavement, with their bodies bearing few signs of conventional injury. Some are foaming at the mouth. As The Guardian reported, field hospital personnel clearly “believed that they were dealing with a chemical or toxic attack.”

Those attending have stripped the injured down - seemingly in an effort to remove traces of any possible toxics from clothes. None of the injured or dead appear to have any visible injures. Many if not all of the injured are struggling to breathe or suffering from respiratory problems.

Some footage shows people wearing oxygen masks and others show scenes of people's hearts and chests being massaged or being hosed and washed. In a few cases people including children are filmed foaming at the mouth whilst those attending give mouth to mouth.

Mr. Assad’s regime admitted to carrying out the attack Wednesday, but said accusations of chemical weapons use were an opposition tactic designed to prejudice the UN investigation.


If it was something stronger like Sarin, and we'll know when the investigations come down, then the Syrian government is culpable because that shit should've been secured from anyone getting it.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 07:04 PM

32. Reported 1000 dead on MSNBC.

 

Nothing about who did this atrocity would surprise me.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 08:26 PM

36. UN Security Council meeting

 

U.N. Security Council says 'clarity' needed after alleged Syria attack http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-syria-crisis-un-statement-idUSBRE97K19W20130821

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 10:58 PM

42. Initial eviidence pointed towards

the rebels but new information is surfacing and showing that it is in fact the Assad regime.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Wed Aug 21, 2013, 11:59 PM

43. This is going to lead to real US intervention, one way or the other.

If/when this is traced to Assad, Obama has no choice. His "red line" statement will come home.

Syrian saying "no truth whatsoever" is very telling. It is obvious chemicals were used, as Russia is blaming the rebels.

Hold on to your hats folks.


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Response to Socal31 (Reply #43)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:21 AM

50. Obama has the choice, completely. If he intervenes, it will destroy his presidency.

Progressives have to demand that he not selfishly do so.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #50)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:24 AM

51. The last thing I want is to get (more) involved in another conflict.

Even more so when the devil we know may be better than the devil we don't know.

However, I can't see a US President setting such a clear line and then backing down, if it is able to be proven to be Assad. I don't believe that will be very hard if in fact this is as bad as it looks so far.

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #51)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:36 AM

55. If Obama sends arms to al Qaeda, it's game over.

And sane people in Washington know this, which is why such arms have not been sent. The anti-government insurgency in Syria in a giant terrorist production machine, which will send its product to the West before too long at all.

Who cares about some foolish "red line" statement? The PEOPLE don't want Obama to intervene, only a few elites and think tankers. Voters will REWARD the Democrats for keeping the US out of such a conflict, regardless of whether 100,000 or 1,000,000 die.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #55)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:40 AM

57. Sending arms?

That would be the least of the actions. I can see a Libyan-type no-fly zone being setup almost immediately.

This is the true definition of a Clusterf***. I wish someone else would step in for once instead of Team USA World Police. But if this is confirmed Assad, he is a dead man. And I am basing that off of recent history in the region.

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #57)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:48 AM

58. Oh there will be no NFZ. And no one else will "step in." There's no need to.

And it isn't about Assad himself at all. The state he leads exists quite independently of Bashar al Assad.

Obama will not order the US air force to defend and protect al Qaeda. It's not going to happen. There is a different game in play here, which is to try to provoke a coup in the existing Syrian state, to maintain its authority but alter its foreign policy. The US has never truly supported the radical Islamists in Syria. This "event," regardless of its veracity, will being all of this further into focus.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #58)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 09:22 PM

61. Are you still confident in this statement?

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:36 AM

56. Link with images.

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Response to David__77 (Original post)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 01:54 AM

59. Of course, theres another possibly nobody is mentioning

It's no secret that the rebels have chemical weapons, and the UN itself accused the rebels of using Sarin in an attack earlier this year. This "chemical attack" started after the Syrian army started shelling a rebel stronghold, a detail confirmed by both sides of the fight.

So...what if Assads army hit a rebel supply dump, unintentionally setting the gas loose? It seems improbable that the rebels could kill so many civilians without witnesses, and it would be idiotic for Assad to use these weapons when he's already winning the war and he has UN weapons inspectors right there in the same city. A government strike on a rebel chemical weapons store seems like it makes sense.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #59)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 02:31 AM

60. We just don't know. And if the administration says they do know, they're lying.

The UN inspectors are not in Syria to establish who is at fault, only whether or not chemical weapons were used. That is important to remember. It is likely that they cannot even fulfill this limited scope, let alone establish who did what.

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