Former U.N weapons inspector Scott Ritter warned before the start of the Iraq war that claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction were false.
Sunday, Ritter wrote that current claims that the leader of Syria launched a chemical weapons attack was false:
Some sort of chemical event took place in Khan Sheikhoun; what is very much in question is who is responsible for the release of the chemicals that caused the deaths of so many civilians.
No one disputes the fact that a Syrian air force SU-22 fighter-bomber conducted a bombing mission against a target in Khan Sheikhoun on the morning of April 4, 2017. The anti-regime activists in Khan Sheikhoun, however, have painted a narrative that has the Syrian air force dropping chemical bombs on a sleeping civilian population.
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 in Syria since 2011. Up until February 2017, Khan Sheikhoun was occupied by a pro-ISIS group known as Liwa al-Aqsa that was engaged in an oftentimes-violent struggle with its competitor organization, Al Nusra Front (which later morphed into Tahrir al-Sham, but under any name functioning as Al Qaeda’s arm in Syria) for resources and political influence among the local population.
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.
Early on, the anti-Assad opposition media outlets were labeling the Khan Sheikhoun incident as a “Sarin nerve agent” attack; one doctor affiliated with Al Qaeda sent out images and commentary via social media that documented symptoms, such as dilated pupils, that he diagnosed as stemming from exposure to Sarin nerve agent. Sarin, however, is an odorless, colorless material, dispersed as either a liquid or vapor; eyewitnesses speak of a “pungent odor” and “blue-yellow” clouds, more indicative of chlorine gas.
There are no images taken of victims at the scene of the attack.
The lack of viable protective clothing worn by the “White Helmet” personnel while handling victims is another indication that the chemical in question was not military grade Sarin; if it were, the rescuers would themselves have become victims (some accounts speak of just this phenomena, but this occurred at the site of the attack, where the rescuers were overcome by a “pungent smelling” chemical – again, Sarin is odorless.)
The World Health Organization has indicated that the symptoms of the Khan Sheikhoun victims are consistent with both Sarin and Chlorine exposure. American media outlets have latched onto the Turkish and WHO statements as “proof” of Syrian government involvement; however, any exposure to the chlorine/white phosphorous blend associated with Al Nusra chemical weapons would produce similar symptoms.
Similarly, Hans Blix – the former head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission – warned before the Iraq war that the Bush administration was greatly exaggerating the threat from Iraq’s weapons.
Merely pictures of victims that were held up, that the whole world can see with horror, such pictures are not necessarily evidence of who did it.
Two dozen senior U.S. intelligence and military officers – who tried to warn George W. Bush before the Iraq war that those pushing war were lying – write:
Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian “chemical weapons attack.” Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died.
Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldiinsists that the intelligence community and military personnel know that the intel shows that this was not an Assad attack. Specifically, Giraldi says his sources on the ground in Middle East – active duty U.S. military and intelligence stationed in the Middle East, intimately familiar with facts – say that the chemical weapons claim is a sham. Giraldi says that his sources are 100% certain the the Syrian air force hit a warehouse of rebels connected with Al Qaeda which were storing chemicals. He says that people in the American military and intelligence are “freaking out” about this, because Trump has completely misrepresented the facts regarding what happened.
Captain Doug Rokke – former Director of the U.S. Army’s Depleted Uranium Project and an expert on chemical weapons – wrote to Washington’s Blog and others:
This was not a sarin attack at all. Looks like either anhydrous ammonia or chlorine from infrastructure destruction.
Sarin does not work as shown on tv video photos reports. I think … someone blew up anhydrous ammonia plant or supply or chlorine supply.
Just nonsense if anyone knows how sarin works.”
Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s, notes:
One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek “regime change” in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces.
Trump went along with the idea of embracing the initial rush to judgment blaming Assad for the Idlib poison-gas event. The source added that Trump saw Thursday night’s missile assault as a way to change the conversation in Washington, where his administration has been under fierce attack from Democrats claiming that his election resulted from a Russian covert operation.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – chief of staff to Colin Powell – says:
Most of my sources are telling me, including members of the team that monitors global chemical weapons, including people in Syria, including people in the U.S. intelligence community, that what most likely happened … that they hit a warehouse that they had intended to hit. And had told both sides, Russia and the United states, that they were going to hit. This is the Syrian air force, of course. And this warehouse was alleged to have ISIS supplies in it, and, indeed, it probably did, and some of those supplies were precursors for chemicals. Or, possibly an alternative, they were phosphates for the cotton growing, fertilizing the cotton-growing region that’s adjacent to this area. And the bombs hit, conventional bombs, hit the warehouse, and because of a very strong wind, and because of the explosive power of the bombs, they dispersed these ingredients and killed some people.
1. The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
2. The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
3. The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
4. There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
5. We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through “Live Agent” training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.
And the former UK Ambassador to Syria told the BBC there was “no proof” of a chemical weapons attack, and that it would make no sense for Assad to have done so.