Syria Daily: Russia and Assad Try to Cover Up Chemical Attack

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Bodies in a street in Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria after a nerve agent attack by the Assad regime, April 4, 2017

From “false flag” operation to a regime bombing of a rebel warehouse to “total fabrication” — Russia and Assad regime’s variety of unsupported explanation over last week’s chemical attack in northwest Syria


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    UPDATE 1300 GMT: In Moscow to confer with Russian and Iranian counterparts, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says the Assad regime will not agree to an investigation of last week’s chemical attack because it will “only serve US interests”.

    The rejection of an inquiry by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons undercuts the public line of Russia and Iran calling for an independent investigation.

    The three Foreign Ministers put out a unified line denouncing last Friday’s US missile strikes on the Assad regime airbase from which the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun was launched.

    Al-Muallem said, “I’m grateful to my friends in Iran and in Russia for the support.”

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Today we once again confirmed that unilateral steps are unacceptable and international investigation needs to be conducted to establish the facts,” despite Russia’s veto of a Security Council for an inquiry and al-Muallem’s rejection.

    Zarif tried to shift the blame to Washingotn, “Unfortunately, the US undertook a military aggression against Syria before investigating the (Khan Sheikhoun) incident. This indicates, above all, that the US does not want the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun to be established by the world community. They wanted to use this bitter incident in their internal political events.”

    Lavrov said the US missile strikes were “aggressive actions…obviously aimed at undermining the peace process, which was unanimously approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and stipulates that only the people of Syria will be determining the future of their country”.

    The Foreign Minister tried to explain away the Russian veto in the UN, “Another strange thing about this story. The US began demanding full access not only to al-Shayrat airfield but to other facilities as well, for some reason.”

    In fact, the draft resolution called on the Assad regime to cooperate with the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, not Washington, but Lavrov persisted, “Such inconsistencies make us confident that there is something shady about the whole affair.”


    ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia and the Assad regime put out a series of unsupported, contradictory explanations on Thursday to try and cover up the regime’s responsibility for last week’s chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

    A Su-22 jet fighter fired a missile with a chemical munition — likely a hybrid of nerve agent and chlorine — on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, killing at least 87 people and wounding almost 600. Agencies in the US, UK, and Turkey have cited signals and geospatial intelligence, including radar tracking the warplane and satellite imagery of the site; physiological samples from the victims; and the body of open source evidence, including videos, photographs, and accounts from victims, witnesses, medical staff, and first responders.

    On Thursday, British agencies added their conclusion that the chemical was sarin, also used in the Assad regime’s attacks near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people in August 2013. A “senior US official” said that the American military and intelligence community intercepted communications among the Assad regime’s military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the attack.

    But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a day after his meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, persisted on Thursday in saying that the evidence was “unfounded”. He tried to justify Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution which would have required the Assad regime to co-operate with an independent inquiry into the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province while maintaining, “We will insist that a decision be made on conducting an impartial investigation both at the attack site and the air base.”

    Lavrov said the US missile strike on the Shayrat airbase, from where the Assad regime launched the chemical , was “a provocation” and claimed “the US Secretary of State and I thoroughly discussed the situation and agreed that this should not happen again”.

    Russia has given varying explanations to divert attention from Assad. Last week, Moscow insisted that the regime warplane had hit a rebel warehouse with chemical stocks. But President Vladimir Putin is now indicating that the incident was a “false flag” attack in which rebels set off a chemical munition. Both Putin and the Defense Ministry reinforced this by declaring that rebels were moving chemicals near Khan Sheikhoun, in Aleppo Province, and near Damascus in preparation for another episode to be blamed on the regime.

    President Assad added his summary in an interview published on Thursday, but proceeded to contradict the Russians as he denied responsibility. He said that there was no chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun at all, calling it a “fabrication”. He explained that all the evidence came “from Al Qa’eda”, that all the videos were “fake”, and that “we don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun”.

    The Syrian army tried yet another dramatic diversion, with an implication returning to the Russian claim of a destroyed rebel warehouse with chemicals. It said that the US-led coalition had struck an Islamic State depot near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, releasing a cloud of chemicals that killed “hundreds” by “poisoning”.

    Despite the Russian veto on the UN resolution calling for the Assad regime’s cooperation with an investigation, a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Turkey on Thursday to assess evidence, including biometrics from the victims.

    Meanwhile, the regime and Russia continue their intensive conventional bombing on opposition areas, including the use of incendiary munitions. Footage of a Russian incendiary attack on Daret Izza in western Aleppo Province:

    TOP PHOTO: Victims in the street in Khan Sheikhoun, April 4, 2017


    White Helmets Rescuer Killed in Daraa

    White Helmets volunteer Obada Akrad was killed on Friday while carrying out rescues in Daraa city.

    Daraa has been bombed intensively by the regime in an attempt to hold back a rebel advance in the Manshiyah district.

    About 180 White Helmets rescuers have been killed since the organization was created in 2013.

    WHITE HELMET KILLED 14-04-17

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Russia and regime look everyday more like one of those cheap latin american soap operas. So stupid and unrealistic that it can make you laugh at times. russians/chemical brothers/iranians…..keep up the show ! :)

  2. So im assuming the russiam propaganda dept spoke to their chemexperts and realised how improbable their first lie was so now its ‘all staged ‘
    Lol
    And they had their bluff called about an investigation

    • So im assuming the russiam propaganda dept spoke to their chemexperts and realised how improbable their first lie was so now its ‘all staged ‘

      Technically it was staged, but that does not mean the attack did not take place. Even the latest analysis from Belligcat points to strong likelihood the CWs were released from an improvised explosive not one dropped from an aircraft.

  3. Apparently the MOAB deployed in Afghanistan killed 36 ISIS fighters but not one civilian according to the US. Mmmmm that bomb has a kill radius of one mile. I think the figures might be incorrect here.

    • It’s not that unbelievable that there were no civilians, it was essentially a military complex ,according to a local quoted in the Guardian report on the bombing, civilians had long since left the area and it was populated entirely by ISIS fighters.

    • My understanding is that the MOAB is really only a useful weapon in very specific environments. They used in this case to kill insurgents in a complex of caves and near to the ground, non-hardened tunnels.

      The bomb produces very little shrapnel and isn’t an incendiary bomb. It does produce a large shockwave, which, once in a tunnel, can turn corners and make twists and turns, so tunnel dwellers can’t run away from it just by hiding around the bend.

      I understand they dropped it in an unpopulated area in or near the mountains, where they suspect insurgents were hiding underground.

  4. Can the Assad apologists on this forum please come out and explain to us which version of BS they believe in ?

    Is this all fake and no one died of chemical weapons

    Did Al Qaeda go around gassing these people and then videoing them

    Did the best special effects team on the planet arrive in khan sheikoun and create this amazing show and nothing actually happened

    Did a syrian plane bomb a rebel factory containing chemcial weapons thereby dispersing said weapons and killing people.

    Did the tommohawk missles actually target innocent syrians planting almond trees

    Why was there a picture of a top syrian general congratulating a syrian pilot for his amazing skills at targeting a rebel weapons depot in khan sheikoun when later on we are told…actually there were no syrian planes in the sky then?

    The above are all versions of events that have come out of officials from Russia and Syria about what happened.. (maybe not that almond tree planting one..that just came out of the mouth of one of Assad’s propagandist nut jobs that comes on Syrian TV every now and then)


    • Is this all fake and no one died of chemical weapons

      Of course, not. There were clearly CWs released on the population, though it appears some of the victims were heavily deated. The Swedish Medical Association have pointed out that the victims in some of the videos looked either dead or drugged and that the procedures being carried out were not only incorrect but life threatening.

      Did Al Qaeda go around gassing these people and then videoing them

      It looks like it based on actual analysis of the evidence.


      Did a syrian plane bomb a rebel factory containing chemcial weapons thereby dispersing said weapons and killing people.

      Hard to know, but I doubt it. I am not sure how toxic the precursors for Sarin are on their own, but it seems unlikely that even if these were present at the time, that bombing the facility would result in the efficient mixing of these components before they affected the vicitms.

      Did the tommohawk missles actually target innocent syrians planting almond trees

      No, but of the 36 that missed their target, some managed to kill around 9 civilians.

      Why was there a picture of a top syrian general congratulating a syrian pilot for his amazing skills at targeting a rebel weapons depot in khan sheikoun when later on we are told…actually there were no syrian planes in the sky then?

      There was no denial of Syrian planes in the sky, only that there were no Russian planes. But if the top syrian general did indeed congratulate a syrian pilot for targeting a rebel weapons depot, then surely that would suggest the Syrian military believed they were bombing a weapons facility and would not have used CW shells to do it.

  5. #Observation: Apparently it’s the stated aim of the US government to both destroy Daeesh and weaken Assad. Assad’s regime will be weakened by Syria’s two biggest problems – economic and manpower. The economic problem will worsen as long as the sanctions are kept in place though it can accelerate even further if regime infrastructure (e.g. oil terminal in Baniyas, power-stations, oil and gas-fields/pipe-lines) get targeted. But as for Assad’s manpower problem the US only has to do 2 things simultaneously and Assad will be in serious trouble – 1) Ban Iran from airlifting troops from Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan into Syria as well as cratering Syria’s international airbases in Damascus/Nayrab/Hama/Latakia. 2) Order Hezbollah to leave Syria within 48 hours or face being targeted (in a joint operation with the Israelis?) by the US airforce. After all without Hezbollah/Iraq’s Hashd militias/IRGC/Afghan-Shiites fighting for Assad what’s left for Assad except a few Republican Guard units in Damascus and NDF militia units that run on the first day of a rebel offensive?

  6. Scott: I’m not an expert on the study of bullsh!t— I don’t mean studying bs (I’m an economist, a field with a fair degree of it, in a government, where there is little else) but on how to *optimally* produce it for widespread public consumption.

    The field is called something — a word coined by an academic who studied big tobacco as the first large scale American example of the practice. But, one figures that the Russians (with their pre-tobacco lobby Soviet past) have got the experience to do it right.

    All this to say, one would intuitively think that the best way would to come out with a single story, no matter how implausible (or, as per, Goebbels, the more implausible the better) and then consistently hammer away at it until everyone knows it is true.

    Instead, the Russian strategy seems to be to carpet bomb the media with unconnected and often contradictory statements- like “it was a rebel warehouse/it never happened/it was spontaneous combustion” and then move on.

    Is there a method here, or do the Russians not have a strategy and are just winging it?

    • Woody,

      Your logic is right — have a look at Edward Bernays and the art of PR — but we’re in a different world in the 21st century with the 24/7 fast flow of “information” across a web of many outlets.

      So the Russian approach (and indeed that of Trump and Co.) has been to throw up lots of distortions/exaggerations/conspiracies. It doesn’t matter that they are inconsistent, as long as there are platforms and willing zealots to spread them. The factual base of the story and decent analysis is buried under uncertainty and confusion, with those seeking the “real” story pushed into spending their time trying to knock back the multiple propaganda lines — like cutting the heads off the Hydra.

      S.

      • So the Russian approach (and indeed that of Trump and Co.) has been to throw up lots of distortions/exaggerations/conspiracies.

        We saw that in the run up to the Iraq war, with accusations of Saddam being being the 911 attacks, anthrax attacks, Niger Uranium, aluminium tubes, meetings with Al Qaeda in Prague, etc etc.

        The US is doing it again. The WH report on the CW attack claims the CW were delivered by gravity bomb from an SU22, but the evidence they presented in that report does not support this theory. As Ted Postol has pointed out, the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was
        the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.

  7. #International: As this link shows the US knows Assad regime carried out the chemical attack because US intelligence agency was monitoring communications between the Russians and the regime right after the attack. Furthermore as this link shows the claim that this chemical attack was a hoax is a claim that the Russian security services invented which their trolls are now spamming social media forums/sites.
    .
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/analysts-identify-syriahoax-russian-fueled-propaganda/story?id=46787674
    .
    Excerpt from the above link: “J.M. Berger of The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague, who studies propaganda and social media analytical techniques, said #SyriaHoax is “a clear example of a Russian influence campaign” designed to undermine the credibility of the U.S. government.

    “The point of an influence campaign is to get people involved who wouldn’t otherwise be involved,” Berger said. “A lot of people in the alt-right would not necessarily characterize themselves as being pro-Russian, but they’re receiving influence from this campaign.”

    Berger cannot say whether Al-Masdar News is backed by either the Syrian government or the Russian government, only that the outlet “is being promoted at an extraordinary level by this [Russian] network” and the Kremlin has a history of weaponizing disinformation.

    “This is a new iteration of an old type of warfare,” Berger said. “We saw the Soviet Union use tactics like this during the Cold War. The difference is that you can do it on an industrial scale at a very low cost without deploying actual operatives on the ground of a foreign country.”

    This latest social media coup comes just months after Russia’s attempts to use similar tactics to meddle with the U.S. presidential election, which U.S. officials believe was undertaken by a secretive Russian intelligence operation based in St. Petersberg tasked with manipulating public opinion.”
    .
    There you have it. So all those who’re claiming Khan Sheikoun chemical attack is a hoax (coughs ‘Andre’) are in reality spamming/trolling for the Russian security services.

    • Here’s a link that mentions that the US military intercepted communication by regime officials regarding the chemical attack:
      .
      http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/12/politics/us-intelligence-syrian-chemical-weapons/
      .
      Excerpt from the above link: “The US military and intelligence community has intercepted communications featuring Syrian military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the sarin attack in Idlib last week, a senior US official tells CNN.
      .
      The intercepts were part of an immediate review of all intelligence in the hours after the attack to confirm responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in an attack in northwestern Syria, which killed at least 89 people. US officials have said that there is “no doubt” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the attack.”

    • Quote: “Berger cannot say whether Al-Masdar News is backed by either the Syrian government or the Russian government”
      .
      As most people on this site would know, Al Masdar is a straight up Assad propaganda outlet. It is also the origin of the SyriaHoax counter-factual propaganda campaign which swung into action immediately after the regime’s gas attack.

  8. Andre…come on mate..come out of your closet…enlighten us with which version of events you believe in..want to know what a true Assadist makes of all of this

    • He’s not an Assadist, he’s a Putinista. So long as Putin is Assad’s BFF, Andre will keep spinning for him, but the minute that Assad falls out of favour with the Kremlin, we’ll see no more of the endless apologia for the Butcher of Damascus.

        • Well, you certainly can’t miss Andre. He’s normally all over the comments section like a rash… Like most regular readers, I just skip straight past his content. I could read the output of any pro-Kremlin troll anywhere on the internet and pick up the same talking points.
          .
          Andre had no interest in Syria until Russia started bombing it.

          • Andre had no interest in Syria until Russia started bombing it.

            Well that’s a blatant lie and had you bothered to read my comments, you wouldn’t be making such ignorant comments. I was posting to this blog in 2014.

            But hey, who needs facts when you are a useful idiot for empire and US hegemony.

    • Hey Harry,

      Why not make your way over to the pro regime change pro NATO Bellingcat blog and look at the latest analysis which is consistent with Ted Postol’s analysis. it is clear that huge cracks are appearing in the official Washington version of the story.
      https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/13/anatomy-sarin-bomb-explosion-part/

      Even the comments sections are suggesting Postol is correct and that the munition that delivered the chemicals was not dropped from an airplane, in which case the official story collapses completely. Not surprising seeing as the evidence presented in the WH report contradicts the conclusion.

      It certainly sounds like the pro regime crowd here is in a panic. :)

      • In no way does Bellingcat’s analysis support Postol’s allegations, which are an ill-informed extrapolation from a distorted account of the supposed munition.

        And you are also misrepresenting the claims of a Swedish doctor — not the Swedish Medical Association — which had nothing to do with the Khan Sheikhoun attack.

        I appreciate you are trying to flood the board to cover up the evidence, but at least try to have a shred of accuracy in your remarks.

  9. #Hama: “new map showing current situation after failed attack by pro-Regime forces between #Helfaya & #Khattab. Still clashes W. front” – QalaatAlMudiq
    .
    It’s good that rebels in Hama are holding out but rebels in Hama may lose everything unless: A) Sort out (ie logically think through) their strategy side. B) Appoint a general military commander to implement (including disciplinary powers?) operationally (e.g. tactics that’s are going to be used, the areas to be targeted and by what deadline) that strategy. C) Appoint a general military secretary to provide resources (e.g. by pooling all captured booty into a depot and then having the means to fairly distribute ammo EQUALLY to all participating rebel factions, making sure gas-masks are created/distributed before an offensive) to assist that general military commander.
    .
    As far as I’m concerned the front-lines rebels have with the regime in Hama should be used as staging-posts/bases to launch deep-behind-the-lines mobile warfare operations. The whole aim of such raids is to disrupt planned/future regime offensives by large regime units (ie regime size units of 1000 men) by taking (in night-time operations?) that area so as to turn captured places into giant IED-traps (e.g. booby-trapping captured buildings, mining supply routes as well as planting sniper sleeper cells etc) that will so busy regime units in that area that they don’t have enough time to organise an offensive against rebel positions elsewhere. Furthermore such (night-time?) approach requires using multiple (groups of 3 or 4?) company-size (100+ men) mobile (ie not logistically tied down to just one area – may need their own ammo and fuel trucks just for their own units to enable this? – but constantly circulating/rotating around across several areas so harder to be tracked and destroyed by Russian jets) units not only would it be alot less manpower intensive it will also enable rebels to keep their advantages of shock and stealth. Finally any ammo/tanks/artillery/ATGMs captured (later to be re-distributed to units on front-line that need them?) would be an additional bonus.

  10. #Hama: This is how battles with regime units should be fought “Large group of pro assad fighters surrounded & trapped by rebels in Halfeya” – Malcolmite
    .
    Attrition, attrition, attrition should be rebel slogan, it’s irrelevant whether it’s done through IEDs/ATGMs/rocket-shelling as long as rebels can pin regime units to one place where rebels can cause maximum attrition.
    .
    #Observation: This video lecture is an interesting analysis of both Russia’s approach to combat in the Ukraine as well as the military means (e.g. drone guided mass artillery, electronic surveillance) it uses –
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14LMmBsDw-g
    .
    Note how the professor emphasises to his audience of US officers from 39:00mins to 42:00mins of lecture the importance of tanks (in combination with infantry?) being used in large enough numbers to organise break-out/counter-offensives when isolated by enemy offensives.
    .
    In the below link this is an english translation of Soviet army’s operations and tactics manual for those who might be interested in this type of topic –
    .
    https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm100-2-1.pdf
    .
    Why do I mention it? The Syrian military, it’s officers and units were trained according to Soviet principles. The Russian military is still influenced by those principles. Some of the methods outlined in the above link mentions how certain equipment (e.g. BMPs, artillery, tanks etc) is to be used for instance Soviet BMPs, unlike say a US Stryker vehicle, is only supposed to transport troops and then provide a supporting role to those troops as they attack enemy positions.

    • #Interesting fact: The military professor mentions on 44 mins – 45 mins: He mentions that the Ukrainians military were able to absorb Russian thermobaric strikes by buying/getting shipping containers, placing them in trenches and then covering them with deep layers of soil. I wonder whether it could work in the tough rocky soil of Latakia? I suspect it could it and furthermore shipping containers would be cheap to buy (for a generous Gulf donor?) but would be easy to that front-line?

  11. Latest analysis from Belingcat is consistent with Ted Postol’s debunking of the claim the attack was via a bomb dropped from an aircraft.

    Russia and the Assad regime put out a series of unsupported, contradictory explanations on Thursday to try and cover up the regime’s responsibility for last week’s chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

    There has been plenty of unsupported, contradictory explanations by Washington. The White House has released a report on its intelligence about the chemical attack that refutes its own version of the story. As Ted Postol points out, the evidence provided in the report points to the attack being carries out by an improvised explosive not a gravity bomb.

  12. Agencies in the US, UK, and Turkey have cited signals and geospatial intelligence, including radar tracking the warplane and satellite imagery of the site; physiological samples from the victims; and the body of open source evidence, including videos, photographs, and accounts from victims, witnesses, medical staff, and first responders.

    That’s all BS to to bamboozle the public. Geospatial intel cannot detect a CW attack, nor can radar.

    Physiological samples will show a CW attack took place, not who carried it out.

    None of the videos released show who carried it out. Nor do any photographs. Witnesses and medical staff have been exposed as compromised and not credible, especially when first responders handle victims without protective equipment and so called investigators are seen collecting samples from the crater without taking necessary precautions.

    The Swedish Medical Association have pointed out that the victims in some of the videos looked either dead or drugged and that the procedures being carried out were not only incorrect but life threatening.

    • Waking up one day and realizing you are supporting a president who gasses his own people must have hit you really hard, considering your 200 posts a day trying in every possibile way to present us garbage to prove……nothing.

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