Believable Charges of Chemical Attacks in Syria

The photos and video are horrifying, rows and rows of bodies of children without any apparent wounds, allegedly killed by chemicals. The evidence of prior attacks seemed sketchy, but this one?

On August 23 Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now!, interviewed Razan Zaitouneh, a lawyer, and human rights activist and winner of European Parliament's Sakharov Prize (2011). She is openly a supporter of the rebellion against the Assad regime. She talked about East Ghouta (a besieged area in eastern Damascus that is under rebel control) where after shelling doctors were surprised by a large number of casualties they were receiving.

Goodman asked about any physical evidence of chemical attack. Zaitouneh said, "That the rockets which was used for the shelling coming from the regime forces, it's clear. There is no doubt about it. And why wondering? The Syrian people killed hundreds of people when the Arab observers mission was there, and they turned a blind eye to it. So what made you think that? After 100,000 victims and after all that crimes committed by the regime, the regime is not able to do anything to stay in power." I assume she meant the regime had no fear of what outside observers would report and was willing to do everything to stay in power. She want international observers into the area to see if "we are a crazy people who kill themselves and their children".

Goodman also questioned Patrick Cockburn about the attacks. Cockburn is a longtime correspondent for the London Independent who recently returned from reporting in Syria. He said the videos were "compelling and convincing". He was puzzled why Assad's forces would switch from using conventional shells to chemicals, but he said, " It's not an argument they didn't do it, but I do find that very strange. " He said that the only thing the regime fears is outside intervention, but again he said that doesn't mean the chemical attack did not occur.

Doctors without Borders reports that three Syrian hospitals that received DWB help " they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died." They conclude a nuerotoxic agent was used in violation of international law.


On the other hand there are doubters. Gareth Porter on Facebook on 8/24 wrote "Every independent specialist on chemical weapons I've seen quoted so far -- including a former adviser to the White House on chemical and biological weapons -- has noted such contradictions between what is shown in the videos and what one see in an actual chemical attack. The symptoms don't match those of either nerve gas or Mustard Gas; the people carrying or treating the alleged victims are not wearing any protective clothing, but show no signs of secondary contamination. "

Stephen Johnson is an expert in weapons and chemical explosives at Cranfield Forensic Institute. He said there were inconsistency among the patients' symptoms. "There are, within some of the videos, examples which seem a little hyper-real, and almost as if they've been set up.

What Should Be Done?

The Doctors without Borders evidence is the most compelling. Yet who knows what really went on. Who knows what madmen are willing to do what to advance their cause.

There should be a demand that Syria allow a full impartial and immediate investigation. Now maybe it should't be the United Nations. The U.N. dirtied itself by its genocide by sanctions in Iraq in the '90's. It passed a resolution to protect civilians in Libya and allowed that to be the pretext for a full invasion. Somehow there should be a (or several) respected groups of investigators allowed in. I would want to make sure that Russian experts, who have been the biggest weapons suppliers to Syria, would be involved in the fact-finding investigations.

As for U.S. military "intervention". NO, NO and NO. After its multiple genocides in Guatemala, Vietnam, East Timor, and Iraq, no way. After its OK to Qatar and Saudi Arabia to send Islamic extremists and ruin the Syrian rebellion, no way. What about the immediate agony of the Syrian people? First, realize it can always get worse. It's conceivable that U.S., European, Iranian and even Russian forces can get involved directly in the fighting, vastly increasing the casualties. Second, as bad as things are when the empires get involved they come up with solutions for their own "interests" and leave the country affected ready to blow apart again. Better to ceasefire and let the people make their demands peacefully in the streets.

The best thing to do would for the outside powers to get their hands off Syria. That means Russia, Iran and Hezbollah as well as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies.