This frame grab from video provided on Tuesday April 4, 2017, by the Syrian anti-government group, the Edlib Media Center, shows an alleged victim of a suspected chemical attack as he receives treatment at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)
On April 4, residents of the town of Khan Shaykhun suffered a chemical gas attack that reportedly killed 74 and injured 557. Despite a lack of evidence or investigation, the United States government, allied governments, and compliant media were quick to point the finger at Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The dead stream media ignored the fact that Khan Shaykhun was under the control of Al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked group which the United States has been funding throughout the Syrian civil war. Instead, the West claimed that Assad launched an air strike which released sarin gas, leading to the deaths and injuries.
Those claims are now being disputed by Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former scientist with the U.S Department of Defense. In a 14-page report, Postol debunks the White House’s report that concluded Assad was behind the attacks. Postol’s report found that the U.S. and supporting governments have not provided any “concrete” evidence to black up their claims. Postol also says that it increasingly likely that the attack was carried out by rebel forces.
“The implication of Postol’s analysis is that it was carried out by anti-government insurgents as Khan Sheikhoun is in militant-controlled territory of Syria,” reports the International Business Times. Postol writes that he has reviewed the White House document and came to the conclusion “that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6 am to 7 am on April, 4th 2017.”
Postol’s claims are based on several arguments. For one, he says the repeated use of chemical attacks by rebel forces over the last few years makes it likely they are the culprits. Also, he examines the main piece of evidence put forth by the White House, namely, photographs which purport to show a crater with an artillery shell that the U.S. says contained the sarin gas.
This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.
Postol notes that the damage to the shell is not consistent with being dropped from an airplane. However, he believes the damage indicates that an explosive charge was placed on the shell containing the sarin gas and then detonated. “Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened, the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end,” Postol wrote.
This is not the first time Postol has spoken against claims of the U.S. government. After the 2013 chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta, Postol also stated that the evidence did not point to Syrian President Assad. Postol worked with former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd on a report that called into question claims made by the U.S. As Global Research notes,
Just like Ghouta, Idlib (Khan Shaykhun) is dominated by al-Nusra. Earlier this year, even the Washington Post admitted that Idlib’s “moderate” rebels had all but been replaced by al-Nusra and other terrorist factions in Syria.
If Western governments and media outlets repeat the mistakes of 2013 by not verifying the claims made by the White Helmets… they may very well end up offering these extremist groups support if they prematurely choose to retaliate against Assad before the dust can settle.
Postol and Lloyd are right to be skeptical of the claims made by the U.S. government. As Brandon Turbeville has noted, a declassified CIA document from 1983 shows that the U.S. has long held removal of Assad as their goal. The U.S. and Turkey would love to overthrow Assad and build an oil pipeline straight through the nation of Syria. To do this they will use every trick up their sleeve to deceive the public and push for more wars in the name of “liberty” and “democracy.” In fact, the U.S. is already trying to blame a recent bus attack on President Assad – once again without much credible evidence.
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