Tag: syria chemical weapons

Russia Alleges U.S. Dropped White Phosphorus Bombs on Syrian Village

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Late Sunday night, Russia accused the United States of dropping bombs containing white phosphorus in a raid in Syria. The Kremlin alleged that two planes flew over a small town in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor province. At that point, says Russia, they released the white phosphorus bombs, which caused massive fires.

Russian Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko said Sunday that Washington carried out a similar raid with the white phosphorus bombs on Saturday. “Following the strikes, large fires were observed in the area”, he told RT. Information regarding deaths and injuries for both alleged attacks is not yet available.

What is White Phosphorus?

White phosphorus is a war chemical with a number of purposes. The smoke is usable for both offense and defense. When lit, it burns very quickly and brightly, serving as a useful smokescreen to hide behind. These blankets of smoke are quite common and are generally legal.

However, it can also be highly deadly. When used offensively, the gas can burn through skin, all the way down to the bone, in a short timeframe. Because of this, the Geneva Conventions placed heavy regulations on the incendiary white phosphorus missions. Essentially, the substance is legal as a smokescreen, but not as an instrument of death. To ensure this, they barred all use of it against civilian targets, as well as against military targets in civilian areas. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons also bars the use of incendiary weapons against civilians.

The Pentagon’s Denial

Despite the harsh allegations, the U.S. is denying that either strike used white phosphorus. In fact, Commander Sean Robertson said Sunday that such an attack would be impossible because he did not have the chemical. “None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorus munitions of any kind”, the U.S. official declared.

However, Russia is not without controversy of its own in regards to the matter. In March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British organization, accused the Kremlin of using incendiary bombs against a rebel base near Damascus. Russia has since denied these accusations in full. Neither country, however, has denied entirely the use of military force against largely civilian targets.

A History of Misuse

This is not the first time that the U.S. is coming under fire over chemical weaponry. In 2005, they admitted to using white phosphorus as a weapon in efforts to secure Fallujah in Iraq. “It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Veneable, speaking on behalf of the U.S. The country also admitted to using it for incendiary purposes just one year earlier, in the First Battle of Fallujah.

Before admitting this, however, they had denied using the substance. They claimed, on the other hand, that they were only using it as a smokescreen. When the truth came to light, it was a major mishap for the country’s public relations. Questions rose in regards to what else the military was hiding from the people and the world.

Just last year, controversy arose again about the banned incendiary. In June, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. had used the gas twice in Syria as an incendiary. The New York Times, on the other hand, gave a different look. A military official told the paper that the U.S. had used the gas, but only in legal methods.

Mass Casualties in Syria

While Russia and the U.S. continue their patterns of denial, the evidence is growing that Syria is also using banned tactics in their civil war. Residents reported this weekend that President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces had used barrel bombs in Southern Idlib, where rebel forces reside. According to the report, at least two children died as a result of the attacks.

Syria has also faced questions regarding their own use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons in the past. In total, over 350,000 people have died since the dawn of the war, many of whom were civilians.


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Strikes in Syria: What We Know

By Joe Brown | United States

Who Was Involved?

On Friday night, President Trump announced that a coordinated military strike had been made in Syria by a coalition consisting of American, British, and French forces. In a separate White House address, he said: “Today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.”

Following Trump’s statement, UK Prime Minister Theresa May released a statement confirming that she had “authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”

French involvement was confirmed on Friday night as well, when the country’s President: Emmanuel Macron, said that a “red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed. So, I ordered the French armed forces to intervene tonight, as part of an international operation in coalition with the United States of America and the United Kingdom and directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime.”

What Was Hit?

U.S. officials had previously specified that strikes would be targeting suspected centers of chemical weapon development. The coalition has confirmed that three sites were specifically targeted.

  • A scientific research center located in Damascus
  • A military storage facility west of Homs
  • And a military command post outside of Homs

Multiple Syrian state sources report that the Mazzeh military Airbase and the Damascus International Airport were also targeted, though these claims are denied by the coalition. There are also reports of damage to civilian infrastructure in the capital of Damascus, a city that is home to nearly 2 million people.

Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that the majority of coalition missiles were intercepted by Syrian defense systems. At a news conference in Moscow on Saturday, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy said at least 103 cruise missiles were fired into a number of targets in Syria, with 71 of them being successfully downed by Syrian forces.

Are the Strikes Over?

Trump stated that his administration was “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” However, he emphasized that “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria.”

Senior officials from the Pentagon also said that “this wave of airstrikes is over,” but maintained that the American military was prepared for prolonged involvement in the region.

Russian Response

Russian President Vladimir Putin released a statement on Saturday saying the Kremlin “seriously condemns” the attack on Syria, which he called an “act of aggression against a sovereign state … at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.” He maintained that these attacks were done “without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, in violation of the UN Charter, norms and principles of international law,” and that Russia was calling for an immediate UN Security Council meeting.

Sweden’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. confirmed that an emergency meeting will begin Saturday morning.

Despite the attacks, a Senior U.S. official involved with counter-terrorist initiations in Syria said that Russian and pro-regime Syrians were showing no signs of aggression towards American or coalition forces.

Justification

Members of the coalition, including the leaders of America, the UK, and France, have all claimed that these attacks were done in response to the chemical attacks in Douma just this past weekend. Despite an international uproar regarding the nature of the attacks, there remains to be no substantial evidence that the Assad regime was the true perpetrator. U.S. Secretary of Defense General John Mattis, confirmed this before the coalition attacks, saying that there was “no evidence” connecting the chemical attacks to the Syrian government.

Russian and Syrian forces maintain that the chemical attacks were instigated by members of the rebel insurgency.

An investigation was scheduled to be conducted by United Nations Weapons Inspectors on Saturday, at the same sites demolished by coalition forces.

Legacy of Lies: America’s Dirty Habit

By Joseph Brown | United States

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

But what happens when you’re fooled a third time?

In the wake of the latest chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus that allegedly left dozens of people dead, the world demands justice, while the Trump administration considers military intervention. Immediately following the news of the attack were accusations that the culprits were government forces, led by the Syrian President: Bashar al-Assad.

Such allegations have a familiar ring, as deadly gas attacks were recorded within the country in 2013, 2016, and now again this past weekend. Nobody knows the true number of casualties caused by the devastating conflict in Syria, but one thing is for certain.

Assad is not responsible for the gas attacks on his people.

It doesn’t take a master strategist to recognize how illogical the claims against the Syrian President are. After 9 years of bitter conflict that attracted the interests of nations from around the world, President Bashar al-Assad had become one of the most despised men in western society. His regime had faced fierce opposition from major world powers, including the United States, and the demand for his immediate disposal was incredibly high.

Ian Wilkie, a U.S. Army veteran and Director of the prominent intelligence company: Archer Analytics, elaborates on the precarious position of Assad: “He is under the gun, as it were, and under the glare of thousands of cameras. His motivation not to use chemical weapons is immense.”

The very thought that Assad, in such a delicate position, would use illegal weapons against unarmed civilians of his own country in a senseless act of violence that would surely trigger international intervention is outrageous.

Yet the claims continue.

Simply examining the chain of events surrounding the attacks reveals a disturbing pattern. In August 2013, the day before the first attack, Bashar al-Assad welcomed weapon inspectors from the United Nations to take inventory of federal forces in an act of transparency. The following morning, headlines all over the world broadcasted the horrific effects of sarin gas, after two rockets containing the deadly compound shook the city of Ghouta.

Are we supposed to believe that Assad would be stupid enough to order an attack on innocent civilians using an outlawed nerve agent in a city less than 10 miles away from where the inspectors were working?

The lies continued last year in April, after the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley, announced that regime change in Syria was no longer a priority for the U.S. government. Only days after this decision, which was essentially a “get out of jail free card”, we were told that Assad again used the outlawed chemical compound on his people. Such accusations were met with a swift display of American aggression consisting of no less than 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles which targeted a Syrian airbase.

And finally, only days after President Trump announced his plans for withdrawing over 2 thousand troops from Syria and ending direct American resistance to the regime, Assad again thinks its a good time to drop chemical weapons, an act which provoked a costly assault on his assets in the past.

It’s just like the legendary ancient strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu, wrote in his book The Art of War: “When your enemy is nearly defeated, and final victory is at hand, gas your own people so that nations greater than yours will intervene and destroy you.”

Spoiler alert, he didn’t actually say that.

Nevertheless, the ridiculous accusations continue, in spite of the blatant fallacies evident in the arguments of Assad’s opponents.

The situation at hand bears a striking resemblance to another Middle Eastern country in 2003, when the United States falsified evidence of chemical weapons in the possession of Saddam Hussein to justify an invasion of Iraq, an offensive that had disastrous consequences for the stability of the region, and for American families.

But unlike in Iraq, where great pains were taken to convince the world of imminent danger, it seems as if hardly any attempts were made to create any sort of logical explanation proving Assad guilty.

In fact, after the United States launched its attack on the Shayrat Airbase in 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, went so far as to say that the U.S. has “no evidence” that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent against its own people, and it is well documented that the Syrian government willingly surrendered its entire chemical weapon stockpile to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2014.

But as the Managing Director of the Libertarian Institute, Scott Horton, proclaimed: “Americans will believe anything, as long as it’s not true.”


Despite claims by various White House officials stating that they have obtained evidence of Assad’s involvement, no legitimate intelligence was offered to validate such accusations. Mr. Wilkie again offers skeptical speculation on the issue, saying: “The intelligence community was more than willing to show Khrushchev’s missiles, but they have no ability to share evidence with the public about Assad today? This defies credulity and calls the “evidence” provided in the White House memorandum into question.”

These lies have been almost unilaterally accepted by the international community, save for a few of Assad’s close allies, the largest of which being Russia. However, those who oppose an American military intervention as a reaction to the attacks are quick to point out the United State’s less than glamorous history with chemical weapons.

After all, the American’s wrote the book on weapons of mass destruction and chemical warfare. The U.S. remains as the only country in the world who has used nuclear weapons, and has done so twice, both times specifically targeting civilian populations, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. American military forces used fatal chemical defoliants without restraint in Vietnam, supported sarin attacks against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War, and used controversial incendiary chemical weapons to destroy the city of Fallujah in Iraq.

If the Tonkin Gulf Incident, Invasion of Iraq, and the War on Drugs has taught the American people anything, it is that the U.S. government is not afraid of exploiting the ignorance of its people for strategic maneuvering.

Another military intervention in Syria could prove catastrophic for American interests and global stability alike. The rising of tensions between conflicting powers has already taken the lives of thousands in Syria, and threatens to drag the United States into another pointless and expensive war.

Don’t let them fool you again.

“With lies you may go ahead in the world, but you can never go back.” -Russian proverb.

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Mattis Admits U.S. Lacks Any Evidence of Assad Using Sarin Gas

Bu Vaughn Hoisington | United States

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters despite “reports from the battlefield from people who claim [sarin gas has] been used… We do not have evidence of it.”

“We’re looking for evidence of it,” said Mattis to make it clear that he was not attempting to contradict former U.S. statements about the Syrian Government using chemical weapons.

The Defense Secretary stated that Bashar al-Assad’s army had weaponized chlorine gas during the Syrian Civil War, and expressed his concern for the possibility of the Syrian Government utilizing sarin gas, a highly toxic weapon of mass destruction.

The belief that Assad had used sarin gas on his own citizens resulted in Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airbase with tomahawk missiles, last year.

Assad has constantly refuted these claims and denied that any chemical weapons had been utilized by the Syrian Government.

Without direct evidence, Mattis acknowledged the use of open source reports by groups, fighters on the ground, and non-governmental organizations.

Some non-governmental organization that provides open source reports about Syria’s use of chemical weapons have been criticized for possible lack of impartiality.

The White Helmets, probably the most well known non-governmental organization to release reports on Syrian chemical weapon attacks, has had their impartiality questioned after the release of videos that appear to show White Helmet members working alongside jihadist fighters.

Based solely on videos provided by non-governmental organizations and accusations, officials like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have blamed the attacks entirely on Russia and Syria, despite admitting that he isn’t sure “who conducted the attacks.”

The Duran has called the United States “the loser in this situation,” due to mishandling of the conflict, since pinpointing the exact culprit with sufficient evidence can be challenging in an active war zone.


Image from Politico.