Syria Feature: Is Regime & Russian Propaganda Preparing Ground for Another Chemical Attack?

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PHOTO: General Viktor Poznikhir of Russian General Staff “Terrorist Groups Preparing Provocative Attacks”


Are Russia and the Assad regime laying the propaganda foundations to cover up another chemical attack by President Assad’s forces, this time inside Syria’s largest city Aleppo?

While the regime has tested chemical agents since late 2011 and carried out attacks since early 2013 — notably, the killing of more than 1,400 people near Damascus with sarin in August 2013 — it has refrained so far from striking Aleppo city.

However, eyebrows were raised on Sunday when the regime’s UN Ambassador, Bashar al-Ja’afari, set out a scenario in which rebels would carry out a chemical attack.

Ja’afari told the UN Security Council that he had “received information that terrorists from the Ahrar al-Sham movement” were going use “yellow phosphorus” while “dressed in Syrian Army uniforms”.

The Ambassador claimed the chemicals were stories in an underground warehouse “beneath a garbage dump” about 20 km (12.5 miles) from opposition-held Idlib city. He asserted that the US is complicit in the plan, as “two American experts have visited the location in where the chemicals are stored and left afterwards via Turkey”.

Ja’afari asserted, “[Rebels] will record and publish videos and photos of these attacks in order to accuse the Syrian Army of carrying them out.”

There is no evidence to corroborate any of Ja’afari claims, including the rebel-controlled warehouse with chemicals and the visit of the American personnel. However, on Wednesday pro-regime websites propped up the campaign with the declaration that “jihadist rebels” had used “chlorine gas” against the Syrian army in northern Hama Province, with 18 soldiers hospitalized.

Russia: “Terrorist Groups Attacks to Accuse Government Forces”

Later in the day the loudest propaganda shot was fired by Russia.

Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the General Staff told a briefing, “It became known that terrorist groups are preparing provocative attacks with chemical weapons on Syrian army positions, and [also on] residential areas in the [opposition-controlled] east part of Aleppo to accuse government forces.”

The claim was spread by Russian State outlets TASS and RT:

RT then made the helpful connection with the earlier comments from the Assad regime:

The warning echoed Syrian UN envoy Bashar Ja’afari’s proclamations earlier this week, when he told the UN Security Council that militants from the hardline Ahrar Al-Sham Islamist group are planning to use white phosphorus in an attack on civilians in order to later blame it on Syrian armed forces.

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46 COMMENTS

  1. There is no evidence to corroborate any of Ja’afari claims

    It’s interesting to note Scott, everything the regime claims is reflexively dismissed by you and others as propaganda. If ISIS has used chemical weapons including mustard gas and chlorine, then why not the rebels?

    • The regime has a rather long track record of absurd “the bigger the lie …” type propaganda on this issue (and many others). Like the boy who cries wolf, you’ve got to consider the source and ask for real evidence.

          • Lakhdar Brahimi: “It does seem that in Khan al-Assal, in the north, the first time chemical weapons were used, there is a likelihood that it was used by <b) the opposition.”
            http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-former-un-peace-envoy-to-syria-lakhdar-brahimi-a-974036.html
            BBC:”The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the figure (for the Khan-al-Assal chemical attack) at 26, including 16 soldiers.”
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21841217
            So the Syrian army is gassing its own, I suppose?

            • Well, Brahimi diplomatically said — given the inability to get a conclusive finding from Khan al-Assal because of limitations that we pointed out at the time, including the regime’s restrictions on movement to the area — that there was a possibility that rebels as well as the regime carried out the attack.

              But you ignore the important fact that the UN team found no sign of rebel capability for delivering the chlorine.

              And you might want to quote the next sentence from Brahimi to be complete: “Regarding the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21, 2013 in the suburbs of Damascus, it is a fact that for the West and perhaps most people in the region, the responsibility lies with the regime.”

              • Wrong: “The chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal, with an improvised chemical laden rocket, killed 25 and injured another 110.”
                http://nsnbc.me/2013/07/31/khan-al-assal-massacre-to-cover-up-chemical-weapons-use-by-jabhat-al/
                The Ghouta attacks of August also involved improvised warheads mounted on rockets available to both the rebels and the Syrian army. Brahimi only points out that many people blame Damascus for the attack. Being accused/suspected and being guilty, however, are two different things entirely.

                Anyway, why would the Syrian army have used chemical weapons against its own troops at Khan-al-Assal? What possible military objective could this have served.

              • Yes, this was the line put out by the Russian Foreign Ministry — it was never supported by an investigation, and experts have said that it is improbable that an improvised rocket could have carried the chemicals used in Khan al-Assal.

                And of course this was the line that Russia tried for the attacks near Damascus, attempting to get Assad regime off hook.

                Only problem? We know the rockets used in East Ghouta and West Ghouta were not “improvised” but were Volcanoes and Soviet-made rockets used by the Syria army.

              • Only problem? We know the rockets used in East Ghouta and West Ghouta were not “improvised” but were Volcanoes and Soviet-made rockets used by the Syria army.

                A few problems with that argument:

                1. Only one rocket was found to have any traces of Sarin
                2. That rocket had to have been fired from rebel held areas given its range and trajectory
                3. There is ample evidence that the rebels seized volcanoes from government weapons depots
                4. We also know that the rebels had the ability to produce Sarin and that according to a member of Al Nusra, ISIS seized daring from a Syrian military base

              • No, multiple fragments of multiple rockets at multiple locaitions were found to have traces of sarin.

                No, the rocket that you describe in East Ghouta was not fired from rebel-held areas. It was fired from regime positions that were about 2-2.5 km away.
                And the Soviet-made rockets in West Ghouta — which the conspiracy theorists never mention — were fired from regime positions.

                As established in discussion with Razmjoo, there is not a single case of a rebel faction with a Volcano which has ever been established by those trying to whitewash Assad.

                No, there has never been an established case of rebels with ability to produce sarin. There is, of course, evidence that Syrian military has that ability.

        • Not one thing in that article presents even a single iota of proof the rebels ever used chemical weapons. Even the way you titled it is a ridiculous distortion.

      • Scott. he knows it already that the Assad regime and Daesh are using poison gas to reach the goal of expulsion and disciplining of the Syrian population.

        Putins Petersburger bloggers are trying with right -wing -populism to reverse the truth.These ciminals are telling the victims to have killed themselves with poison gas. It`s madhouse propaganda at it`s best. .

      • Ah, yes, a classic from the Syrian Foreign Ministry amid the embarrassment of the defeat at Safira.

        There was never any evidence produced that chlorine stocks and equipment remained in the factory, nor has there been any evidence ever produced of production at the factory since late 2012.

        • The stocks were looted by rebels who later joined Nusra and ISIS and the Syrian government doesn not have a chlorine production facility to make the gas it is allegedly using.

          • Your claim of “looting” is speculation.

            And, yes, the regime has facilities for producing chlorine, as the OPCW and UN recently confirmed in their report which also pinned blame for the first time on one party — the Assad regime — for use of chlorine gas in the conflict.

            • They didn’t mention anything about chlorine production facilities in the report. The “evidence” they used to blame the Syrian authorities came solely by way of rebel-supporting witnesses who claimed the chlorine was dropped by warplanes. So where are ISIS getting their chlorine from if not from the stocks they looted back in 2012?

              • Yes, OPCW and UN have both mentioned that Assad retains facilities for chemical production — in addition to facilities used for chlorine, which is not listed as a banned chemical agents.

                ISIS haven’t used chlorine in Syria. They used mustard agent.

            • Your claim of “looting” is speculation.

              Wrong.

              How the Islamic State Seized a Chemical Weapons Stockpile
              When jihadists captured a Syrian military base, they found a cache of some of the world’s most dangerous weapons buried in its bunkers. In Part II of an exclusive series, an Islamic State member explains how they eventually fell into the hands of the self-styled “caliphate.”
              http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/08/17/how-the-islamic-state-seized-a-chemical-weapons-stockpile/

              • Andre,

                This stands as the only claim of substance about ISIS using more than mustard gas so far. But there is still no support for the claims in the interview — for example, where is the evidence of the attack at Hamra or at Mennagh?

                There is a logic that the chlorine may have been taken to Iraq, where ISIS has reportedly tried to use the bombs. But there is no evidence of sarin at the Regiment 111 base — and indeed the regime had not declared any stockpile there.

                So the most interesting claim so far but lacking any verification.

                S.

          • Syrian government forces apparently used toxic chemicals in two recent attacks in Aleppo, Syria that killed five civilians and injured dozens. New information also indicates that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has recently used chemicals as a weapon.

            The United Nations Security Council should respond immediately to the credible reports of the attacks, impose individual sanctions, and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

            Medical personnel at the al-Quds hospital in Aleppo treat people after a chemical attack on the city on September 6, 2016.
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            Medical personnel at the al-Quds hospital in Aleppo treat people after a chemical attack on the city on September 6, 2016.

            “Even after the UN confirmed the Syrian government’s responsibility for chemical attacks on Syrian civilians, Damascus hasn’t stopped its criminal behavior,” said Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council could deter future atrocities by ensuring that the Syrian government faces real consequences for ignoring Security Council resolutions.”

        • There was never any evidence produced that chlorine stocks and equipment remained in the factory, nor has there been any evidence ever produced of production at the factory since late 2012.

          In December 2012, dozens of Syrian jihadi fighters captured Regiment 111 — a large army base near the town of Darat Izza. There were lots fo chemical weapons seized there.

          ” They were, according to Abu Ahmad, mainly barrels filled with chlorine, sarin, and mustard gas.”
          http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/08/17/how-the-islamic-state-seized-a-chemical-weapons-stockpile/

          That’s based on the testimony of rebels so you can’t dismiss this as Assad propaganda.

          • Sorry, but you seem to fail to comprehend my comments about the interview.

            Abu Ahmad — a purported member of ISIS, not a “rebel” — made claims about the chemical stocks that have not been corroborated, either by other witnesses or by events since December 2012.

            So interesting but unverified.

            • a purported member of ISIS, not a “rebel” — made claims about the chemical stocks that have not been corroborated, either by other witnesses or by events since December 2012.
              So interesting but unverified.

              Most of the allegations being made against Assad have not been verified either. In spite of your claims that BM-14s were used to conduct the Sarin attack, no Sarin traced were found on any of the rockets that had been fired.

              “no warhead was observed at the impact site and none of the 13 environmental samples taken in the Western Ghouta area tested positive for sarin”

              So yeah, it’s all interesting but unverified

      • A UN-appointed investigation into chemical attacks in Syria will present its fourth and final report on nine attacks in 2014 and 2015 to the Security Council on October 21. The previous report by the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) set up by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), attributed two attacks with chlorine, in 2014 and 2015, to the Syrian government and one attack with mustard gas in 2015 to ISIS, which is already under UN sanctions. The Security Council should extend and expand the mandate of the UN-appointed investigation, Human Rights Watch said.

        Identifying with certainty the chemical allegedly used in the recent Aleppo attacks without laboratory testing is difficult, but the signs and symptoms reported by victims and medical personnel indicate that government forces probably used chlorine, Human Rights Watch said. Photographs and video footage show remnants of the barrel bombs, including several gas cylinders. Local residents who were close to the impact site and medical personnel said they sensed a strong odor of chlorine, similar to the odor of bleach-based household cleansers, near the impact sites and from the clothes of those affected.

        https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/28/syria-new-deadly-chemical-attacks

        • A UN-appointed investigation into chemical attacks in Syria will present its fourth and final report on nine attacks in 2014 and 2015 to the Security Council on October 21.

          Interesting how they have nothing to say about the Sarin attack in 2013.

  2. Preparation of another chemical Sarin attack of russian & Assad SAA troops is very likely – but the criminals Assad & Putin are spreading this kind of fear propaganda ahead to drive out the people.

    The russian and iranian aim is genozid and the expulsion of syrian people. That`s why Putin and Assad are using the same WMD`s like Hitler or Saddam Hussein: Poison gas. (sarin or an another type of deadly gas)

  3. How Assad`s and Putin`s genocid on syrian people looks like
    Aleppo: Hospitals, bakeries are Assad’s main target

    Russian and Assad’s warplanes have continued hitting the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo, concentrating on vital buildings like hospitals and bakeries, intending to kill as much as possible.

    Hospital and bakery in the neighbourhood of al-Maadi were targeted according to Zaman al-Wasl correspondent. He explained that air strikes targeted al-Halak, Bostan al-Basha, Bae’edin, al-Sakhour and al-Maadi, Adding that warplanes have hit the neighbourhood with cluster and phosphoric bombs, resulted in killing many civilians with huge destruction in buildings.

    The correspondent confirmed that the warplanes had not left the sky of Aleppo the whole day long since early morning of Wednesday. He added that a bakery was targeted in al-Maadi when civilians were gathering to get bread, 6 were killed and dozens injured.

    As Assad escalates Aleppo offensive, hospitals face severe shortages, death toll rises: Doctor

    Medical source confirmed that warplanes have targeted early morning two hospitals of the 8 hospitals those still working in besieged Aleppo, resulted in severe destruction and partially became out of service, as oxygen and electricity generators were damaged, and the work stopped till fixing the damage.

    For the past five days, Syrian and Russian warplanes have been bombing East Aleppo with an unprecedented ferocity.

    More than 350 people have been killed in the bombing campaign since Friday, half of whom were reported to be women or children.

    After 5 years of multi-sided war, 500,000 thousand people have been killed and 11 million, half of Syria’s pre-war population, have been displaced.


    2. Daryya today looks like this after 3 years of bombing by Assad and Putin.

    https://twitter.com/Mr_Ghostly?lang=de The same Putin and Aassad are traying to repeat it in Aleppo.

  4. Putin, Assad and the “Islamic state” are fighting alongside using posison gas
    ===========================================================

    An international team has concluded that the Assad regime and Islamic State militants carried out chemical attacks in Syria during 2014 and 2015.

    (note = after the chemical attacks with sarina gas of Assadtroops at 2013 in the suburbs of Damascus)

    The team from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) accused the Syrian government of using chlorine gas in two attacks and Isis fighters of using mustard gas in one.

    The UN security council established a joint UN-OPCW investigative team a year ago to identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, and it examined nine cases in seven towns where chemical weapons to have been used.

    The UN-OPCW team said that between December 2015 and August 2016 it received more than 130 new allegations from UN member states of the use of chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria.

    WMD`s used by Assad troops with the surpport of Putin
    :Sarin, 12 mustard gas, four VX nerve gas, 41 chlorine, and 61 other toxic chemicals.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/25/assad-regime-isis-chemical-attacks-syria-un-investigators

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/world/middleeast/syria-used-chlorine-in-bombs-against-civilians-report-says.html?_r=0

  5. Not the rocket body itself. Rather, the warhead was improvised for carrying chemicals. The rockets used at Ghouta were available to the rebels who had seized large quanities of them from Syrian weapons depots. They could also easily have been sent to them from Libya (along with the sarin precursors).

    Let me remind your readers that you claimed advanced M-600 missiles (which like Scuds the rebels really do have no access to) were used at Ghouta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an1EDx_qEEI

    Your source? Turkish and French intelligence!

    • No, neither the Volcanoes nor Soviet-made rockets were available to rebels — they were positioned in areas that were not overrun by rebels. Nor were any sent from Libya.

      Although we cited the M-600 claim — as a claim — we pursued the story with the confirmation that Volcanoes and BM-14s were used.

      • Of course they are available to them. They are basic artillery rockets which, if the rebels didn’t seize them from Syrian depots/bases, could easily have been obtained from Libya or Croatia along with GRADs. You simply cannot assert that the rebels had no access to these rockets. The M-600 claim was used at the time to implicate the Syrian army beyond any doubt. There is a massive difference between an unguided artillery rocket like the Volcano and a guided ballistic missile like the M-600.

        Here is a report from 2012 revealing that the rebels did seize rockets and rocket launchers:
        https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1P2-34346253/syrian-rebels-seize-key-military-base-they-say-captured

      • No, neither the Volcanoes nor Soviet-made rockets were available to rebels — they were positioned in areas that were not overrun by rebels. Nor were any sent from Libya.

        Seeing as they are Soviet era munitions, they would be readily available and it’s more than likely they were made available to the rebels. You certainly cannot discount that they might have been sent from Libya.

        Although we cited the M-600 claim — as a claim — we pursued the story with the confirmation that Volcanoes and BM-14s were used.

        Again, that does not prove the Syrian government launched the attack given that Soviet era munitions are readily available.

        Syria stopped using Soviet BM-14-17 (MLRS) rocket launchers long ago and removed those systems from its arsenal. They were replaced by modern Soviet 122 mm “Grad” (MLRS BM-21) and Chinese 107 mm Type 63 light rocket launchers.

        • No, they are not “readily available”, as a glance at the armaments of groups around the world would verify. Once one actor in Syria has BM-14s.

          And although the BM-14s may not be frontline weapons, they were not removed. They have always been kept as a reserve, especially with the expenditure of large quantities of the newer munitions — which is why they showed up in August 2013.

          • No, they are not “readily available”, as a glance at the armaments of groups around the world would verify. Once one actor in Syria has BM-14s.

            False.

            “On 18 September, the Russian Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov commented on the U.N. missions findings. He said “these rockets were supplied to dozens of countries”, but that “the Soviet Union never supplied warheads with sarin to anyone”.[6] Another type of rockets was used in the Eastern Ghouta attack.[1]”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BM-14

            And although the BM-14s may not be frontline weapons, they were not removed. They have always been kept as a reserve, especially with the expenditure of large quantities of the newer munitions — which is why they showed up in August 2013.

            50 year old weapons are not reserve. Attempting to fire these ordinance would have been like playing Russian roulette. For the record, the markings on the M-14 shell found by the UN investigators have been clarified by Russian military experts to mean: “4th batch”, “year 1967”, “factory 179”. Sibselmash, the Soviet factory that manufactured them, was only engaged in production of rocket shells – it had no CW component.

            No warhead was observed at the impact site and none of the 13 environmental samples taken in the Western Ghouta area tested positive for sarin, although three had “degradation and/or by-products” possibly originating from sarin.[5](pp43–45) On 18 September, the Russian Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov commented on the U.N. missions findings. ”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BM-14

            By August 21, 2013, the M-14 shell found by the UN investigators would have been 46 years old – past its reasonable life expectancy. It is therefore very unlikely it could have even been fired – it would have either exploded in situ or remained dormant. Second, Syria does not have any weapons platforms in active use that can even fire M-14 shells.

            There are no reports of any M-14 shells previously discovered in the five years of the conflict. This is probably because they don’t work anymore.

            • Sorry, but citing the Russian President’s Chief of Staff — via Wikipedia — is not a refutation, it’s a propaganda line.

              The BM-14s were used. Syrian Army used Volcanoes. Sarin was used. 1,400+ died.

              I admire your passion, but you’re clutching at increasingly thin straws in your cover-up. I leave you to that task of denial.

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