(ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed) On Wednesday, the Syrian Arab Army made the staggering claim that a recent U.S.-led airstrike on an ISIS chemical cache has killed “hundreds,” including large numbers of civilians. This alleged strike was unrelated to claims made about the chemical weapons attack in Idlib last week.
“Aircrafts [sic] of the so-called U.S.-led International Alliance on Wednesday carried out an airstrike between the hour 17:30 and 17:50 against a position of ISIS terrorists that includes a large number of foreign mercenaries in the village of Hatla to the east of Deir Ezzor, causing a white cloud that became yellow as a result of the explosion of a huge store that includes a large amount of toxic materials,” said the Syrian army’s statement, which was read out on state television, as reported by CBS.
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The Syrian army also added the following statement:
“This incident confirms the possession of chemical weapons by terrorist organizations, particularly ISIS and the Nusra Front as well as their ability to obtain, transfer, stockpile and use them with the help of known countries in the region. This is what Syria warned of every time terrorist groups used chemical weapons against civilians and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces. It confirms that there is coordination between these terrorist organizations and the forces supporting them to find excuses and accusations of the Syrian Arab Army using chemical weapons.”
No one denies that ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliated organizations on the ground have access to nerve agents (and routinely use them). However, as CBS notes:
“The Syrian army’s statement wasn’t accompanied by any photos or video, and no images posted online by ISIS or any Syrian activist groups supported the claim.”
If the claim were true, it would back up Syria and Russia’s assertion that the real reason for the chemical weapons attack in Idlib province at the start of April was due to a targeted strike by the Syrian air force on a rebel-held facility housing chemicals and nerve agents that dispersed these agents into the air, severely affecting neighboring civilians. This is a notion that so-called experts have dismissed quite vehemently. By desperately attempting to demonstrate that such an event is possible and can occur quite regularly, the Syrian Army is hoping to advance their claim that this is what occurred in Idlib over a week ago.
At this stage, the only evidence we have for this claim is the statement from the Syrian Army, which was not accompanied by any intelligence. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has completely denied the Syrian army’s claim. U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters that the coalition had not carried out air strikes in the area of Deir al-Zor at the time.
“The Syrian claim is incorrect and likely intentional misinformation,” Dorrian said in an email.
Adding further doubt to this narrative, Reuters also reported the Russian Defense Ministry said it had no information about the Syrian Army’s claim on Wednesday that there was an attack by the coalition in Deir al-Zor. In response, Russia has sent drones to investigate the Syrian Army’s claim.
As Anti-Media has previously reported, ISIS’ advances into Deir al-Zor have largely been ignored by the U.S. military because these advances directly threaten the Syrian government. As the Trump administration has done a complete U-turn on the Assad government and directly committed an act of war against Syria, it seems increasingly unlikely that the U.S. will come to the aid of the Syrian army now and target a major ISIS facility.
What this incredible claim highlights is that the amount of propaganda coming out of Syria is staggering – on both sides. Western media largely relies on two main sources when it comes to the Syrian conflict. The first is the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which is run by one man from his home in Coventry, England. This is a man who said he would only return to Syria once Assad was gone. Sound neutral?
The second source is the rescue team known as the White Helmets, which has been discredited as a propaganda outfit multiple times. This is a group that boasts about saving as many as 65,000 civilians in areas even the New York Times admits may only have housed tens of thousands of residents to begin with. Did they save the entire city?
On the other side, which consists of the pro-Assad axis, the propaganda spews — but less effectively, given the corporate media does not support it. Despite the fact that Russian president Vladimir Putin has called the chemical weapons attack in Idlib last week a false flag operation and has warned of more to come, he appeared to be completely unsure about how that false flag eventuated, even casting doubt on the official Russian account. Putin emphasized the reality that there is more than one theory to believe — without actually promulgating the version he believes to be true (including the official Ministry of Defense position). By referring to the Ministry of Defense’s position as “quite possible” and putting forward another theory altogether, Putin essentially admitted he doesn’t actually know what happened in the Idlib province at the start of April.
And that is exactly the point: no one knows what happened in Idlib pending the outcome of an impartial investigation. Yet the Trump administration ordered air strikes on the Syrian government without even waiting for intelligence to confirm who was responsible. Even if the Assad government was responsible, there is no international legal principle that says one country can violate international law to stop another country from violating international law in their own country — unless it is in an act of self-defense.
As the war rages on, we will continue to receive multiple conflicting accounts for every attack that occurs within the country. Considering the Trump administration has officially formed new “red lines” for the Assad government to cross, this entire premise is nothing short of suicidal, especially for the Syrian people.
There is no happy end to this story, not least one that involves multiple state actors heightening their involvement. It’s time to admit the U.S. ultimately tried and failed to remove a dictator who directly threatened its economic interests from power — one who may or may not be responsible for some of the most egregious human rights violations recorded in recent history.
In that context, the Syrian people have suffered enough in a geopolitical chess game they never asked for. A viable solution must involve less violence – not more of it. Once a peace process can be achieved, something that has been very close to fruition in the past, the people of Syria can decide the fate of Assad.
Whether or not the Syrian army’s claim is true should not matter one way or the other if the ultimate goal of the U.S. empire is yet again another illegal regime change operation. As stated by Counter Punch: “We don’t need conspiracies to justify our opposition to war in Syria.”