Reflexive cynicism outperforms uncritically absorbing the "news"... again.

http://www.newsweek.com/now-mattis-admits-there-was-no-evidence-assad-using-poison-gas-his-people-801542

Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has "no evidence" that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.

This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.

Serious, experienced chemical weapons experts and investigators such as Hans Blix, Scott Ritter, Gareth Porter and Theodore Postol have all cast doubt on "official" American narratives regarding President Assad employing Sarin.

These analysts have all focused on the technical aspects of the two attacks and found them not to be consistent with the use of nation-state quality Sarin munitions.

The 2013 Ghouta event, for example, employed home-made rockets of the type favored by insurgents. The White House Memorandum on Khan Sheikhoun seemed to rely heavily on testimony from the Syrian White Helmets who were filmed at the scene having contact with supposed Sarin-tainted casualties and not suffering any ill effects.

Likewise, these same actors were filmed wearing chemical weapons training suits around the supposed "point of impact" in Khan Sheikhoun, something which makes their testimony (and samples) highly suspect. A training suit offers no protection at all, and these people would all be dead if they had come into contact with real military-grade Sarin.

Chemical weapons are abhorrent and illegal, and no one knows this more than Carla Del Ponte. She, however, was unable to fulfill her U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism mandate in Syria and withdrew in protest over the United States refusing to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use by "rebels" (jihadis) allied with the American effort to oust President Assad (including the use of Sarin by anti-Assad rebels).

The fact that U.N. investigators were in Syria when the chemical weapon event in Khan Sheikhoun occurred in April 2017 makes it highly dubious that Assad would have given the order to use Sarin at that time. Common sense suggests that Assad would have chosen any other time than that to use a banned weapon that he had agreed to destroy and never employ.

United States mainstream media is stenography for our military industrial complex and nothing either says should be accepted without a great deal of corroborating evidence. They'll say anything to justify expending a cruise missile. George W. Bush's White House had Colin Powell tarnishing his reputation holding a vial of anthrax before the UN, Obama's White House had John Kerry doing essentially the same thing with Syria. Donald Trump continued in the same vein. And each of these times, the mainstream newsmedia uncritically reported the narrative pushed by our war profiteers as fact.

Serious, experienced chemical weapons experts and investigators such as Hans Blix, Scott Ritter, Gareth Porter and Theodore Postol have all cast doubt on "official" American narratives regarding President Assad employing Sarin.

These analysts have all focused on the technical aspects of the two attacks and found them not to be consistent with the use of nation-state quality Sarin munitions.

As opposed to all those jovial, inexperienced UN investigators?

It is not a US narrative, it is a UN narrative. Note that the Russian representatives vetoed an expanded chemical weapon investigation, and if anybody wanted to pin it on the rebels, it would be Russia.

As for the health workers miraculously escaping harm, three responders were hospitalised while treating victims.

And also from the previous link, the evidence tying it to the Syrian government was French:

A declassified report by French intelligence agencies published on 26 April said analysis of environmental samples collected in Khan Sheikhoun had also revealed the presence of Sarin, diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP) and hexamine.

The report concluded that the Syrian government had manufactured the Sarin because the process of synthesizing the nerve agent developed by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) and employed by the Syrian armed forces and security services involved the use of hexamine as a stabilizer. DIMP was also known as a by-product generated by this process, it added.

But apart from all that, sure, yah boo military industrial complex.

What, you expect them to "not support our troops"?

Thread title is obviously making a point, but I don't know what it is.

Kwak:
Thread title is obviously making a point, but I don't know what it is.

I think the point is, you shouldn't believe that the Syrian government has chemical weapons until you've personally been hit by one, because otherwise it's clearly a conspiracy to get more funding for defence.

On the bright side, if you do get hit by one, I imagine the insurance payout would be quite considerable.

Yup, heard about this.

Anytime anyone is trying to sell you a war against a country that isn't obviously attacking you or your allies, don't trust 'em with an inch. Because 99% of the time they're selling you bullshit.

So if people start saying "We gotta invade Iran now they're gonna nuke us OMGOMGOMG" in the next couple years, remember to look at them with a VERY critical eye.

Catnip1024:

But apart from all that, sure, yah boo military industrial complex.

IS and Jabhat al Nusra (one time our friendly, 'moderate' Islamist friends), the latter of which has actually been responsible for chemical attacks against targets, could have also gotten those materials in either Iraq or Syria. Also, the UN head investigator also cast doubt on the Syrian Government used chemical weapons or the idea that various 'rebel' groups couldn't use them or didn't have access to them.

Turns out awful weapons exist there, when the country fell apart anybody could have gotten to them.

Terrorist groups were producing Sarin and VX in amateur chem labs back in the early 90s, in Australia ... what makes you think they can't do the same now in a country where anybody can get their hands on some really nasty stuff 30 years later now that law and order has collapsed?

Sarin isn't that hard to make...more over, finding DIMP and hexamine doesn't mean shit ... if anything those can be the manufacturing building blocks of making the stuff.

When I was serving in the military, you'd find traces of hexamine on me if I wound up dead somewhere. Clearly proof that Australia deployed chemical weapons, right? Wrong. We use it in compressed fuel tablets for a sustained, easy flame for heating something or starting a fire. Many different outfits use the stuff for various reasons.

It's stable, durable, rugged, lasts awhile, stacks well, and provides heat without drastically advertising your position in case you need such a thing.

https://www.anacondastores.com/camping-hiking/camp-cooking/camping-fuel-fire/bushtracks-fuel-tablets/p/90026355?gclid=CjwKCAiA8P_TBRA9EiwAJrpHMzHfPv_IQgRxh4sf1nmDvnKxR9gXSzYfiJAoPji5Vd7-0sq-csAanBoC0I0QAvD_BwE

12 bucks from your local sporting goods store. 8 of those tablets could probably heat 32 kidney cups worth of coffee ... which is pretty useful. Probably properly heat 2 large meals each tablet ... boil quite a bit of water for safe(r) consumption or boil dressings for potential reuse if they have little else on hand. Which, you know, would be pretty useful to any outfit serving in Syria given the fact that they probably eat, clean, and perform field medicine whenever and wherever they safely can.

Whether that be a bombed/pocked apartment building, or in some makeshift camp or burrow in the desert. Hexamine tablets are pretty useful because they provide sustained flames with little smoke.

The only reason why they bring up those later two chemicals is because with enough training and the right lab conditions and equipment, you can make weaponized gases with a stable fuel source and DIMP.

Mmm. Is this the argument over whether Assad was using chemical weapons again?

I understand that military adventurism is frowned upon, but at a certain point you have to look at the available evidence objectively and draw the appropriate conclusion. And the available evidence says that it's about 90% certain that Assad was the one responsible for the sarin attacks in 2013 and 2017.

For the attacks in Ghouta and Khan al-Assal, which were conducted using rocket artillery, there is a certain amount of doubt over who fired the rockets. But given that hundreds of kilograms of sarin gas was used, and the Syrian army was the only party with access to that amount of sarin gas, and that there's no record of any chemical weapons stockpiles that may have been seized by the rebels (which Assad would quickly seize upon as proof that it wasn't him, mind) and zero possibility that the rebels manufactured it themselves, and given that the rockets landed on rebel-held territory, it is highly unlikely that a terrorist group such as al-Nusra would have carried out the attack. That would require:

- that Syrian rebels seized hundreds of kilograms of sarin gas from a hypothetical Syrian chemical weapons stockpile (possible, but there's no evidence that they did) and the Syrian government never said so for some reason (unlikely);
- that Syrian rebels were able to safely handle the gas and put it into improvised rocket munitions (possible), and;
- that the Syrian rebels bombed their own town with hundreds of kilograms of valuable sarin gas as part of an effort to frame the Syrian military for war crimes...to get the US to invade, which in the case of radical Islamic groups such as al-Nusra, would just provide them with an additional and vastly more powerful enemy to fight.

As for the attack in Khan Shaykhun, that attack was carried out by airstrike. The Syrian rebels do not have aerial military capability. That should be the end of the discussion.

I don't doubt General Mattis when he says the US has no evidence that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons. But that's because they aren't looking. Believe it or not, the Trump administration has no desire to put boots on the ground in Syria. They're content with their drone strikes and showboating.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Terrorist groups were producing Sarin and VX in amateur chem labs back in the early 90s, in Australia ... what makes you think they can't do the same now in a country where anybody can get their hands on some really nasty stuff 30 years later now that law and order has collapsed?

Sarin isn't that hard to make...more over, finding DIMP and hexamine doesn't mean shit ... if anything those can be the manufacturing building blocks of making the stuff.

This is inaccurate. I remember explaining this before, the last time this topic was brought up. Sarin gas is relatively straightforward to produce with the right equipment, but it's expensive and requires an intensive refining process to remove residual acids if it's going to have a shelf life longer than a few weeks. That type of operation produces quite a substantial amount of chemical waste.

The Aun Shinrikyo cult that you reference had, if I remember correctly, a $20 million, three-story production facility in the outback, and they produced maybe a dozen kilos of it overall. Something like the Ghouta chemical attack used hundreds of kilograms of sarin gas, which would be impossible for a terrorist group such as al-Nusra to manufacture without leaving evidence in the form of production facilities, equipment, and toxic chemical waste.

And then they'd have to decide to waste this expensive and hard-earned stockpile on a false flag attack. To get the US to invade. Whereupon the US would start demolishing groups like al-Nusra. It doesn't make any sense.

bastardofmelbourne:

This is inaccurate. I remember explaining this before, the last time this topic was brought up. Sarin gas is relatively straightforward to produce with the right equipment, but it's expensive and requires an intensive refining process to remove residual acids if it's going to have a shelf life longer than a few weeks. That type of operation produces quite a substantial amount of chemical waste.

The Aun Shinrikyo cult that you reference had, if I remember correctly, a $20 million, three-story production facility in the outback, and they produced maybe a dozen kilos of it overall. Something like the Ghouta chemical attack used hundreds of kilograms of sarin gas, which would be impossible for a terrorist group such as al-Nusra to manufacture without leaving evidence in the form of production facilities, equipment, and toxic chemical waste.

And then they'd have to decide to waste this expensive and hard-earned stockpile on a false flag attack. To get the US to invade. Whereupon the US would start demolishing groups like al-Nusra. It doesn't make any sense.

Nobody is querying whether the Syrian Army had access to the stuff. But we also know where some ofthi stuff was stockpiled as a poor man's nuke were also captued by various different factions. More over, as you seem to ignore conveniently, JaN had access to chemical weapons talent. In Iraq. You know, that place where so many 'Syrian Rebels' came from? If not directly from other Arab nations...

Moreover, what exactly are you going to say? The Syrian Army at the initial stages of the conflict was not a uniform group of soldiers. It is all too easy to boil this conflict down to a metric of black and white. It's not. Youhad regional divisional commanders who had access to awful stuff, very little inthe way in total operational cohesion. A lot of these commanders were simply instructed, without clear logistical planning, to merely defend places until order has been re-established. Which is not a great place to be in when you do have weapons that can turn the tide of battle and if youare routed will *definitely* fall into the hands of the enemy.

The problem in Syria was no different than the hypothetical problems of a Soviet attack in Western Europe... namely you had a whole lot of division level leadership that, in the chaos of battle, had authority to use tacticalnuclear weapons (AKA 'battlefield nukes') .... Some of which had effective terminus points only at 4-5 miles from launch. Some of them were so poorly designed as to irradiate the people using them given the range was so poor necessitating not only did they need to be close to any battlelines to use, but also that would create the near inevitability of their use ...

Which, you know, isn't a great place to be in and any stalling would allow a suitably sophisticated organized assault to likely be able to cover that ground in a few minutes when dealing with broken and shattered forward guard positions at the outbreak of hostilities. Exponentially complicating this is the fact, the recorded fact, that many of these 'Syrian Rebels' weren't Syrian. In about the best possible description that we can label them as is Turkish, Saudi, and U.S. funded mercenaries.

Which is why we saw the wholesale slaughter of innocent groups of people like the Druze and Christian communities that inevitably sided with what tattered remnants of Assad's forces, who may have also have had access to such materials ad the conflict drew into many years of tit for tat attacks, recovering ground, and actually retaking territory.

Frankly I think the idea some of these groups, who have a history of chemical attacks, are somehow beyond suspicion of actually implementing them... and for all that equivocation as to its capabilities to perform such attacks ... is at beast speculative fiction. And that was the results of the Del Ponte UN investigation. That the narratives undertaken about this conflict were wrong. That multiple groups in this conflict had access to usable chemical weapons.

Keep in mind IS and the Rebels made money from controlling numerous advanced petrochemical plants. These places didn't just shut down, because no one wanted their destruction on any side of the fence. IS was charging money for electricity and refined petrochemical products they were producing ... almost as if they knew how to do that shit elsewhere in Iraq ... another place that produced and stockpiled sarin gas ...

$20M is fuck all in this war, and even that figure makes the assumptions there weren't places still operating that couldn't fulfill the same role. And we kind of know that because Assad was making and stockpiling chemical weapons as a deterrent against Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Which is why they were distributed across the country's numerous AFBs. Deterrents don't usually work if they're just buried in one bunker that narratively, conveniently, only the SAA could ever possibly access despite the country fracturing into pieces.

And the simple fact of the matter is some of these AFBs were captured by numerous different forces.

And do you know who was considered as probably the most aggressive and successful of these brigades who managed to claim so much of the SAA's materiel? You guessed it, our once upon a time friends in Jabhat al-Nusra.

You know ... those friendly, wonderful, freedom-loving guys that got arrested with 2KG of totally not sarin gas... after the Turkish government mysteriously stepped in and said it was anti-freeze? After all, it hurts the dialogue to pretend like you can invade a place on behalf of the people you're backing and it turns out, shock horror, that they're into some shady shit.

It's almost as if Salafist warlords are bad people ... who knew?

These people we know have chemical weapons talent. Who we know have produced chemical weapons... who we know have probably fielded and used them. They are not above suspicion, and frankly the Del Ponte investigation had a pretty fucking good claim to say; "We shouldn't be forgetting about these guys right here ... I mean, they're definitely bad dudes ... why are we forgetting about these guys?"

There were chemical weapons talent already in the country ... and quite easily even more after foreign brigades entered the fight out of Iraq.

bastardofmelbourne:
Mmm. Is this the argument over whether Assad was using chemical weapons again?

Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Seanchaidh:
http://www.newsweek.com/now-mattis-admits-there-was-no-evidence-assad-using-poison-gas-his-people-801542

United States mainstream media is stenography for our military industrial complex and nothing either says should be accepted without a great deal of corroborating evidence. They'll say anything to justify expending a cruise missile. George W. Bush's White House had Colin Powell tarnishing his reputation holding a vial of anthrax before the UN, Obama's White House had John Kerry doing essentially the same thing with Syria. Donald Trump continued in the same vein. And each of these times, the mainstream newsmedia uncritically reported the narrative pushed by our war profiteers as fact.

It looks like maybe you should use some of that cynicism when engaging with your non-"mainstream media" sources instead of looking for anything to fit a bias...

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/02/09/newsweek-engages-easily-debunkable-syria-chemical-weapon-trutherism-help-ian-wilkie/

From this central premise Wilkie hangs various conspiracy theories, half truths, and outright untruths. This is particularly problematic when this central claim is entirely wrong, as Mattis did refer to earlier Sarin attacks in the press conference:

[...]

It's clear from the full transcript of the press conference that Mattis is referring to allegations of Sarin use since the US attack on Shayrat airbase, which means Wilkie either didn't read the transcript, read it and misunderstood it, or read it and decided to claim something it didn't say. More disturbingly still is Newsweek published the article without first doing basic fact checking on the central premise of the article.

The claim that the rockets used on August 21st 2013 were a "type favored by insurgents" is totally untrue. The type of rocket used, known as the "Volcano rocket" has been well-documented, and is known to come in two types, explosive and chemical. The chemical variant of the munition has been documented at not only the impact sites of the August 21st 2013 Sarin attacks, but in previous attacks against opposition areas and positions as well.

[...]

The explosive variant of the rockets have featured in numerous videos published by pro-government forces, clearly demonstrating the type of rocket used in the August 21st 2013 attack originates from pro-government forces, not "type favored by insurgents" as Wilkie
wrongly claims

Wilkie also repeats one of the popular theories among chemical weapon conspiracy theorists that people filmed at the impact site of the Sarin bomb after the attack would have died from Sarin exposure, stating "these people would all be dead if they had come into contact with real military-grade Sarin." This is based on the popular misconception among chemical weapon conspiracy theorists that Sarin is a persistent agent, in that it remains in the environment in lethal quantities long after an attack has occurred.

[...]

According to local weather reports, the temperature in Khan Sheikhoun on the day of the attack would have started at 7?C and raised to 23?C. With Sarin dispersing in 30 minutes at 15?C according to Norwegian Defence Research Establishment report this would clearly debunk any claims that people visiting the site after the attack would certainly die.

There's even more info on that page about the misleading/false "facts" in the newsweek article, but I pulled out quotes to match some of the things you quoted in the OP.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
snip

Now, I'm not an expert in chemical weapons.

However, I referred to authoritative sources which came to informed conclusions. The French intelligence probably no more about the process of producing Sarin and Syrian production capabilities than any of us. The UN probably has a pretty good grasp of things too.

Feel free to question the experts, god knows I have often enough. But bear in mind that, considering the reaction I got round here for questioning the Steele dossier, I ain't gonna have much sympathy.

At the end of the day, the question comes down to whether you're preferring to trust the UN / French / US narrative, or the narrative of some crazy alternative media outlet and the Syrian government. In this case, I'm inclined to go with the UN.

Avnger:
It looks like maybe you should use some of that cynicism when engaging with your non-"mainstream media" sources instead of looking for anything to fit a bias...

But if www dot bellingcat dot com said it, it must be true.

Wouldn't trust any western media on Syria to be honest.

Seanchaidh:

bastardofmelbourne:
Mmm. Is this the argument over whether Assad was using chemical weapons again?

Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Eh, no. He was talking about a specific instance. He said that Assad has used it in the past but it is unclear whether he did so now.

https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1431844/media-availability-by-secretary-mattis-at-the-pentagon/

Q: Just make sure I heard you correctly, you're saying you think it's likely they have used it and you're looking for the evidence? Is that what you said?

SEC. MATTIS: That's -- we think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it. Obviously they didn't, cause they used it again during our administration.

And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used.

We do not have evidence of it. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it. Since clearly we are using -- we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions, okay?

Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Seanchaidh:

Avnger:
It looks like maybe you should use some of that cynicism when engaging with your non-"mainstream media" sources instead of looking for anything to fit a bias...

But if www dot bellingcat dot com said it, it must be true.

I'm going to guess that you didn't even look at my source, did you? Because unlike the newsweek article, it was actually sourced inline and not entirely opinion-based.

Is your internal narrative really more important than being more informed on what has happened?

Pseudonym:

Seanchaidh:

bastardofmelbourne:
Mmm. Is this the argument over whether Assad was using chemical weapons again?

Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Eh, no. He was talking about a specific instance. He said that Assad has used it in the past but it is unclear whether he did so now.

https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1431844/media-availability-by-secretary-mattis-at-the-pentagon/

Q: Just make sure I heard you correctly, you're saying you think it's likely they have used it and you're looking for the evidence? Is that what you said?

SEC. MATTIS: That's -- we think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it. Obviously they didn't, cause they used it again during our administration.

And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used.

We do not have evidence of it. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it. Since clearly we are using -- we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions, okay?

Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Based on his response to my rebuttal source above (which includes this full text as a part of it), you're going to at best get a "You expect me to trust the government on what this government official publicly said when I have a source that fits my personal bias in-hand?!?!"

Whitbane:
Wouldn't trust any western media on Syria to be honest.

Because such an openly anti-west, anti-zionist (conspiracy theory level), pro-Assad, and pro-Russia/China source is so much more trustworthy on topics directly related to those biases...

When the recommended videos are all "Watch Assad DESTROY this western journalist," "the Zionist conspiracy for global war," and "Russian fighters heroically defend against Western aggression in Syria" you should realize that you've fallen into the deep-end of pro-authoritarian alt-right bullshit.

Avnger:
Based on his response to my rebuttal source above (which includes this full text as a part of it), you're going to at best get a "You expect me to trust the government on what this government official publicly said when I have a source that fits my personal bias in-hand?!?!"

Yeah, to give you due credit, I found the link I posted through your link. I looked through the press conference to see if there was more useful stuff but bellingcat seemed to have the most informative quote on the matter already so I just took that one as well. I thought maybe posting a direct quote from Mattis would help clear up some misunderstanding for those who don't click on links. But I'd recommend to anyone else to look at Avnger's link above.

Catnip1024:
[Now, I'm not an expert in chemical weapons.

However, I referred to authoritative sources which came to informed conclusions. The French intelligence probably no more about the process of producing Sarin and Syrian production capabilities than any of us. The UN probably has a pretty good grasp of things too.

Feel free to question the experts, god knows I have often enough. But bear in mind that, considering the reaction I got round here for questioning the Steele dossier, I ain't gonna have much sympathy.

At the end of the day, the question comes down to whether you're preferring to trust the UN / French / US narrative, or the narrative of some crazy alternative media outlet and the Syrian government. In this case, I'm inclined to go with the UN.

No, you referred to people who quoted experts. DIMP is an obviously suspicious material.

Hexamine is not. And yeah, as I said as a person who served we use hexamine all the time. As I noted, you'd find me riddled with hexamine after something like LRRP training. It has been used in a variety of military and relief operation roles as a very easy, stable fuel source with a whole lot of utility that in my experience would be a common material for soldiers fighting in a conflict like Syria would use for a variety of reasons.

You would find copious hexamine residue and materials on your average long-term survivalist. The people that spend weeks in the wild, protracted orienteering types, transient backpackers. It is as common as mud for specific people and many soldiers would use it given the nature of the conflict.

Hexamine can save your life in cold places given its energy yields and how incredibly safe it is to handle. Deserts get cold, and you need boiled water in a warzone where relief is not guaranteed. Hexamine firekits are better than matches and come with a ready source of compact, solid fuel that has a low light intensity and is relatively smokeless.

A very small flame emanating off a tiny bit of hexamine can warm meals, boil water, and slowly heat some enclosed dwelling... all in a very compact fire that is easy to control and to douse when needed.

As I was saying. In survival training, if you were to take my blood or stool you might find traces of hexamine. You'd find my clothes, my webbing, has traces of hexamine... for survivors in a warzone, they probably use hexamine to cook, to clean and to boil water for whatever meagre luxuries they still have like coffee or tea. Hexamine, like so many other petrochemicals, can form a baser material for weaponized gases... But then again, hexamine has a far more plentiful reason to exist as simply in a soldier's field rations, or a refugee's humanitarian relief supplies, or might be bartered and traded by people in an urban warzone as the only real option they have to cook food or boil water for consumption or cleaning bandages and the like.

With a bit of hexamine and a handful of rice and water, you have a meal. Hence why the humanitarian relief organizations have copious amounts of the stuff just as an emergency fuel source for at risk people on the move, and soldiers are routinely given it as standard in many 'rat packs'.

They're also 'G.I. proof'.

Unless you do something really silly with it, on its own it is not suspicious or dangerous. To any soldier, the claim that 'hexamine was detected somewhere' is going to bring a shrug of the shoulders and a quizzical look on their features if people use it as if some wider meaning beyond; "Yeah, wherever refugees and soldiers go... you'll find hexamine and you'll find shitloads of it."

Whitbane:
Wouldn't trust any western media on Syria to be honest.

yeah, this is not much better. I love our journalists from all sides think that political point scoring is more important that the truth. They have yet to realise that this leads to them being irrelevant.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
snip

I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying it's highly unlikely.

It's certainly possible that a terrorist group in Syria could get their hands on sarin gas. Maybe they could even manufacture some. But hundreds of kilograms of it? That's implausible. And to effectively waste it on a false flag attack that - if successful - would trick the United States into invading? For a radical Islamist group like al-Nusra, that's idiotic. They may as well have been trying to summon Godzilla.

And with Khan Shaykhun - the attack that successfully provoked a response from the Trump administration - it was an airstrike that delivered the sarin. I don't really know how many times I should have to repeat this; rebel groups in Syria do not have access to airstrikes.

Seanchaidh:
Wow, with all that super relevant and obviously reliable information you need to get in touch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Because he literally said that we have no evidence that Syria used poison gas 4 days ago. Imagine his surprise when he gets your phonecall.

Four days ago? No, I cannot speak as to what happened four days ago. It's too soon.

But the article you linked was making the assertion that the US had no evidence that Assad was responsible for any of the chemical weapons attacks in Syria since 2013. Which - thank you to whoever dug up the transcript of Mattis' statement - is plainly not true.

bastardofmelbourne:

I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying it's highly unlikely.

It's certainly possible that a terrorist group in Syria could get their hands on sarin gas. Maybe they could even manufacture some. But hundreds of kilograms of it? That's implausible. And to effectively waste it on a false flag attack that - if successful - would trick the United States into invading? For a radical Islamist group like al-Nusra, that's idiotic. They may as well have been trying to summon Godzilla.

Did you bother to read my post? They don't even need to manufacture it ... we know that some of the nation's stockpiles would have fallen into rebel hands like ANF.

They can manufacture it however, but that doesn't dissuade from the ideathey could have easily had access to it through other means. Say, the direct occupation and pillaging of AFBs. Not only that, they havethe delivery means already. They know how tohandle this stuffand it is directly documented that they have a familiarity in producing and handling chemical weapons, including sarin.

What's improbable is the idea that Assad and whatever cohesive elements he had under his command could hope to gain by fielding them. If there was co-ordinated, cohesive use of these weapons by loyalists, there'd simply be a larger exchange ...

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Did you bother to read my post?

I hate to pull this one, but did you bother to read mine?

Me!:
It's certainly possible that a terrorist group in Syria could get their hands on sarin gas. Maybe they could even manufacture some.

I'm not so stupid as to pretend that the only way a Syrian rebel group could have obtained sarin gas is through manufacturing it themselves. I consider that the least likely possibility, because it'd be a lot harder and more expensive than just acquiring sarin gas elsewhere. And it'd leave more evidence.

The point is that there isn't even any evidence that any sarin gas was stolen in the first place, and it's certainly the kind of evidence that Assad would have eagerly produced if it would exculpate him. He hasn't produced it, which leads me to believe that such evidence doesn't exist, which leads me to believe that the Syrian regime used their own sarin gas which we know they possessed. The alternative is that maybe a foreign power[1] smuggled a metric ton of sarin gas into Syria to arm the rebels with, and the rebels decided to bomb some other rebels with it.

Anyway, we really have done this argument in laborious detail before. It boils down to a preponderance of the available evidence pointing at Assad as the culprit, alongside the hypothetical 1-in-100 possibility that a series of improbable events and coincidences all aligned so as to create a situation where he wasn't responsible. And it honestly doesn't matter anymore, because the US is never going to invade Syria, couldn't fix the situation even if they did, and Assad is never going to be punished for using sarin gas or for any of the other real, indisputable war crimes he has committed against his own people in the past five years. So why bother defending him?

[1] I'm not sure which power, because Iraq's chemical weapons have been destroyed (and would now be expired even if they weren't) and Iran is essentially on Assad's side. Maybe Saudi Arabia, although I'm not sure if Saudi Arabia even has a chemical weapons program.

bastardofmelbourne:

The point is that there isn't even any evidence that any sarin gas was stolen in the first place, and it's certainly the kind of evidence that Assad would have eagerly produced if it would exculpate him. He hasn't produced it, which leads me to believe that such evidence doesn't exist, which leads me to believe that the Syrian regime used their own sarin gas which we know they possessed. The alternative is that maybe a foreign power[1] smuggled a metric ton of sarin gas into Syria to arm the rebels with, and the rebels decided to bomb some other rebels with it.

Anyway, we really have done this argument in laborious detail before. It boils down to a preponderance of the available evidence pointing at Assad as the culprit, alongside the hypothetical 1-in-100 possibility that a series of improbable events and coincidences all aligned so as to create a situation where he wasn't responsible. And it honestly doesn't matter anymore, because the US is never going to invade Syria, couldn't fix the situation even if they did, and Assad is never going to be punished for using sarin gas or for any of the other real, indisputable war crimes he has committed against his own people in the past five years. So why bother defending him?

I honestly don't think you get it.

No, Assad is never going to be punished for using them, nor is there any proof of a co-ordinated use of them full stop. Even if he ordered, directly, for them to be fielded against his enemies ... the sporadic and limited nature of their attacks should tell you something. Namely we know that if he is somehow, magically, sitting ontop of the entire country's reserves of them he doesn't feel the need to use them to win. Secondly, it should tell you that he merely has set to demonstrate that he has them still ...

Sarin has a shelf life. One of its key weaknesses is that shelf life isn't even that particularly long.

I thought that was bleeding fucking obvious ... of course he isn't going to advertise as to the actual stocks he has of this gas ... primarily because it will always by that skeleton in the closet that likely dissuades other powers moving too aggressively. Everyone knows he has chemical weapons, and intelligence networks know those chemical weapons have been leaked out into the hands of those that either can't field them, or have nothing to gain by fielding them.

That's because the target was never going to be within the country.

As I said, it's a poor man's nuke. There is nothing stopping him mobilizing what stockpiles he has remaining to, say, groups like Hezbollah... for Turkey some of these weapons might end up in the hands of Kurdish forces seeking to defend their land ...

If he advertised just what his stockpiles he has remaining, not only would that affirm as if he had definitely used them, and intentionally commanded groups on the ground to do so, but there would be significant pressures even on his allies in the form of Russia and Iran to cease supporting him. It would be a geostrategic nightmare for the Russians and Iranians.

Russia and Assad both win by claiming they didn't perform the attack, by the understanding and (in the future provable, if necessary) releasing of documents of just what likely chemical weapons have been liable to be captured at their fallen air bases during the conflict. Not only that, but by that simmering undercurrent of all of Syria's neighbours knowing that he still has access to them, but how many and who could he quietly supply them too?

The flipside of that, Assad benefits also by a small percentage of these arms documented as to be liable within the arsenals of 'rebel' groups funded, either now or before, by Western and Arab interests that sought to topple the regime. Why? Because that gives not only plausible deniability, but if they ever do find them in the possession of rebel groups and get that evidence (which I will bet you they likely already have if the Adana incident is anything to gauge by) ... it will not only allude to the efficacy of the stockpiles remaining by having them been demonstrated, but also provide a small sense of international vindication of Syria, Russia, and Iran ... despite the more important fact that he was still making them.

Either way, Assad and Putin set themselves up to win.

As it stands Assad is not only riding that shadow play of strength into operational paralysis for their neighbours... but by the same token, the situation has afforded him the allegiances of numerous otherwise apathetic or divided support from communities such as the Christians, Druze, and possibly even the Kurds. Especially if Turkey continues to act as if the thorn in open Western support to the Kurds who have been, thus far, probably the most successful force to assist in the fight against IS.

To put it bluntly, we should be glad that the entire country's stockpiles of various chemical weapons have only killed a few thousand. At rough estimates, maybe even less than a thousand people.

Not exactly going to sway the balance of power, now is it? Assuming that's important to you ...

In fact, we know just how bad this situation could have been... way back in 2012 with the rebel attack on Al Shafira. Our one time friends themselves reported that said facilities warehoused and stockpiled chemical munitions. Care to guess which groups participated in said attack? Naturally of course people were suddenly very quick to say; "Oh, but, you know ... totally no one else has access but the Syrian government and we destroyed those caches..."

If you attribute this attrition solely to Assad, then he's a mastermind and the surprising degree that he has kept it quiet seems to suggest an expert degree of influence he has on his forces to somehow destroying all evidence that suggests as such.

The chemical munitions stored at Shafira were meant to be fired by rocket artillery. Not exactly complex technology. If I recall 155mm rockets ... largely the same as compared to the rockets the U.S. used to use for their 150kg sarin/VX gas delivery systems back in the 1980s. So no ... you don't need 'thousands of kilograms of the stuff' ... given that these chemical attacks have on the whole not been that deadly nor have resulted with multiples of these warheads detonating over the civilian populace.

But frankly, I don't chalk this up to only Assad ... I'm just as quickly to chalk it up to a division commander gone rogue, a group like al-Nusra, or any other crackpot warlord lead of the bunch that has managed to pillage stockpiles of it. Assad doesn't strike me as the type of person that could have pulled this off on his own ... but regardless of whether he did or didn't, it served his goals anyways.

There is a reason Mattis himself is trying to clear the books. Because frankly this was never going to be a political game Western interests were going to win.

It is not 1 in 100 ... that's idiotic and you know it. Multiple parties in this conflict not only have highly plausible evidence of having access to chemical weapons given their distribution ... and similarly we know from evidence that terrorist groups can use and field it to a high degree of efficacy even if those stockpiles weren't manufactured by a government ... the most important question is why only a hypothetical maximum of two dozen attacks ... and how exactly would this help a government win a conventional war?

It wouldn't.

If chemical weapons were a legitimately fielded extension ofthe government's means to secure victory, frankly the deaths they would inflict would be magnified well beyond the total casualties we have seen.

So far all this war has done is prove to large segments of his people, as well as traditionally rivalling groups, to oput their faith in Assad. To solidify his control. The country, on a map, looks divided as fuck ... but there are simply more groups of people traditionally apathetc or even hostile to Assad that have fallen in to support him.

Because say what you like ... when it gets to the point that you have 'rebels' mass executing villagers in the numbers that would make the aggregate average chemical attack look like nothing at all, these people the West propped up with guns and money, maybe the narrative is beyond fucked up.

Totalling up total liable deaths to chemical weapons exposure ranging from about 700-2000, yet you have individual massacres of the civilian populations by 'rebels' in the hundreds, maybe the priorities here are beyond fucked up. The reason why the West wants to make a big deal of chemical weapons, is because they're legitimately a threat to Syria's neighbours ... you know ... their possible delivery over a teeming city rather than a bombed out wreck largely emptied ofits people ... not because they are being legitimately fielded as a weapon to secure victory.

Clearly the Syrian government doesn't need chemical weapons to kill people, apparently conventional airstrikes seem to be overwhelmingly more effective...

When the only effective fighting force remaining of the rebels is now formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham... the latter of which we're still giving guns to who seeks to create an Islamic caliphate in Syria (gee, wonder where I've heard this story before?) ... maybe, just maybe, Mattis is just being fucking honest that they've been backing the wrong horses after indirectly creating IS/ISIS/ISIL/Diet ISIS/IS Max years prior.

You know ... maybe propping up Salafist movements indirectly creates Salafists and maybe we don't want them inheriting an entire nation ...? Truly a mystical fucking connection, I know, but bare with me on this...

[1] I'm not sure which power, because Iraq's chemical weapons have been destroyed (and would now be expired even if they weren't) and Iran is essentially on Assad's side. Maybe Saudi Arabia, although I'm not sure if Saudi Arabia even has a chemical weapons program.

 

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