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MIT Professor: US Claims On Syria Chemical Attack ‘Obviously False’

by Carol Adl, Your News Wire:

According to MIT professor Theodore Postol, the White House report on the chemical attack in Idlib province “cannot be correct.”

The same professor who challenged claims of a chemical attack in Syria back in 2013 is now questioning the White House narrative which blames the Assad government for the alleged chemical attack attack last week in the town of Khan Shaykhun.

The White House released a declassified intelligence brief on Tuesday that accuses Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering and organizing the attack, where Syrian planes allegedly dropped chemical ordnance on civilians in the rebel-held town.

RT reports:

The report “contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft,” wrote Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Theodore Postol, who reviewed it and put together a 14-page assessment, which he provided to RT on Wednesday.

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, 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 Shaykhun,” wrote Postol.

A chemical attack with a nerve agent did occur, he said, but the available evidence does not support the US government’s conclusions.

“I have only had a few hours to quickly review the alleged White House intelligence report. But a quick perusal shows without a lot of analysis that this report cannot be correct,” Postol wrote.

It is “very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who conducted this attack itself,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Sean Spicer also said that doubting the evidence would be “doubting the entire international reporting crew documenting this.”

The report offered by the White House, however, cited “a wide body of open-source material” and “social media accounts” from the rebel-held area, including footage provided by the White Helmets rescue group documented to have ties with jihadist rebels, Western and Gulf Arab governments.

Postol was not convinced by such evidence.

“Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real,” he wrote. “No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.”

Instead, “the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.”

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1 comment to MIT Professor: US Claims On Syria Chemical Attack ‘Obviously False’

  • rich

    Howard Dean’s Disgusting Smears Of Tulsi Gabbard Call For Peace
    Dereliction of Duty, Redux

    While no formal effort had been undertaken by anyone to revoke the credentials of the Assad government as the legitimate representative of Syria in the United Nations, 17 U.N. members, including three of the five permanent members of the Security Council (the U.S., Great Britain and France) have recognized an umbrella rebel organization, the Syrian National Council (SNC), as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. It should be noted that the rebel group Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Al Nusra, or al-Qaida in Syria), which controls the region surrounding Khan Shaykhun, is not a member of the SNC, and indeed is engaged in active combat against forces loyal to the SNC.

    The crux of any case in favor of the cruise missile attack on Syria hinges on the issue of chemical weapons. Syria joined the CWC in September 2013, following a chemical weapons incident in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta that allegedly killed 1,400 civilians (although this number is in dispute). As was the case in Khan Shaykhun, rebel forces, backed by the U.S. and Europe, attributed the attack to the Syrian government. The Syrian government blamed the rebels. Then-President Barack Obama threatened military action in response, but aborted the attack when evidence pinning the attack on the Syrian government proved to be less than conclusive. At the behest of Russia, the U.S. agreed to forestall a military attack in exchange for Syria’s accession to the CWC and its agreement to dispose of all its chemical weapons stocks and related facilities and equipment.

    Importantly, the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was codified in a Security Council resolution, 2118 (2013), that “[d]ecides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.” This language was insisted on by the Russians, who wanted the Security Council to have to meet and pass a new resolution authorizing Chapter VII measures, such as military action, to prevent just the sort of unsanctioned action the U.S. undertook against Shayrat air base on April 6.

    To overcome any objection to the U.S. attack that might be raised on the grounds of international law, the U.S. would need to prove that Syria was in violation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), that this violation represented an ongoing threat to peace, and that, given Russia’s record of support for the Syrian regime, there was no chance of the Security Council enacting the kind of Chapter VII enforcement required by resolution 2118. The critical aspect of such a case is, therefore, the intelligence used by the U.S. to underpin its contention that Syria used chemicals weapons against Khan Shaykhun on the morning of April 4.

    The Trump administration has yet to provide specifics of the intelligence it relied on to support the allegations levied against Syria. The Pentagon eventually produced what it claimed to be a radar track of a Syrian aircraft, believed to be an SU-22 fighter bomber, that took off from Shayrat airbase and was over Khan Shaykhun at the time of the alleged chemical attack. This radar track was produced in conjunction with what McMaster called “our friends and partners and allies around the world”, but most likely derived from a NATO AWACS reconnaissance aircraft flying over Turkey at the time. According to other U.S. military sources, the same system used to track the SU-22 aircraft also detected the release of weapons, and the impact of these weapons on the ground, using infrared (IR) sensors that detected the heat signatures associated with both events.

    According to McMaster, the intelligence linking this documented airstrike to the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun was drawn exclusively from images released by rebel-affiliated media activists, including the “White Helmets,” and from media reports about observed symptoms by medical personnel who claimed contact with the victims. At this point, there is no evidence the U.S. intelligence community used any independent information to corroborate the reports out of Syria. Instead, a combination of images and alleged eyewitness accounts from persons under the exclusive control of Tahrir al-Sham and medical evaluation of persons presented to medical authorities by Tahrir al-Sham “confirmed” the use of a nerve agent.

    While the jury is out on the existence of a rebel cache of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun, and whether or not it killed and injured the civilian victims (many of whom exhibited symptoms of chlorine exposure), one thing is clear: With the allegation of Syrian government involvement disproved by the evidence cited by McMaster, the Russian claims remain the only viable possibility, and as such should be worthy of the kind of international investigation being called for by Russia and Syria, but opposed by the United States.

    The absolute dearth of viable intelligence to sustain the Trump administration’s case for unilateral military action against Syria completely undermines the moralistic posturing of Ambassador Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the president himself about the need for action. There is no evidence that the Syria government engaged in any illegal activity in Khan Shaykhun, or anywhere else for that matter, especially with regard to its obligations under the CWC regarding the prohibition of chemical weapons. Void of this, the thin rationale the U.S. could have used to justify a military strike against Syria evaporates, leaving only one conclusion: The American military strike against Shayrat air base represents a violation of international law.

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