Notes From the Margins…

10 Questions About Syrian Chemical Weapons

  • September 03, 2013
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There’s an excellent article by the ever-reliable McClatchy News, analysing the various ‘inconsistencies and hinges’ in the Obama administration’s ‘red line’ case against Syria.     In the light of the latest allegations by French intelligence services, it raises several unanswered and often unasked questions:

1. Why would Syria carry out a chemical weapons attack in its capital, within 72 hours of the arrival of the UN Inspection Team, which it had invited to the country to investigate the earlier alleged use of chemical weapons?

2.   Which of the UN Security Council members agreed to limit the mandate of the Weapons Inspection team to investigating whether chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not their provenance?

3.     According to the case presented by Kerry, the US had ‘collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence’ that showed the Syrian regime preparing for an attack three days before it took place.     Why didn’t the administration issue a public warning beforehand in an attempt to prevent it?

4. Why did the US immediately seek to undermine the UN Weapons Inspection team when news of the Ghouta attack first became public, by declaring that any further investigation would be irrelevant and ‘too late’?

5.   Sarin gas traces can last not only for months, but for years.     Why have the US, Britain and France insisted that any evidence at Ghouta will have been destroyed by the regime or become ‘degraded’ and therefore useless to the UN Inspectors – a barefaced, flat out lie?

6.     The US and France claim to have collected traces of sarin in samples of hair and blood from first responders that were ‘provided to the United States.’   How were these samples collected and why were they provided to the US and not the UN?

7.   What explains the huge discrepancy between the alleged casualty figures provided by the US, Britain and France?

8.   Why has the US insisted that the rebels have no chemical weapons capability, even though Carla del Ponte, a senior member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria claimed in May that UN investigators in May had found ‘ strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof’ that rebel forces may have used them?

9. Is there any truth in the reports by the MintPress News that Saudi-backed rebels may inadvertently have set off a sarin gas explosion?

10.   Do the US and its allies actually want a full, scientifically-based,   independent investigation into what happened at Ghouta, or are they merely ignoring any contrary facts that contradict their allegations   and using stitched-up ‘intelligence’ information as a pretext for ‘humanitarian’ bombing?

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1 Comment

  1. Susan Dirgham

    3rd Sep 2013 - 9:38 am

    Dear Matt,

    I think this is an excellent analysis. However, there is one other critical question I would add: where did all the children come from? That part of Damascus had been under the control of extremists and it was much like a “ghost town”; many families had fled. It is described in an article published in CounterPunch on 17 July: “Sexual Jihad in Ain Tarma; Sex and the Syrian Revolution”. Why were so virtually all the victims we saw in images and videos young children and fighting-age young men? Where were the mothers, aunts and grandmothers and grandfathers of the children? Weren’t they killed? If not, why not? Were the children in a normal family situation or in an orphanage, for example? (Mother Agnes Mariam, who was in Damascus on the day of the attack, raises questions such as these in a video interview on Global Research.)

    Not long before this attack, there were massacres of Alawis in villages near Latakia and of Kurds in villages in the north. In each case, hundreds of people were killed and scores of women and children kidnapped. I have noted reports that parents from Latakia recognize their children among the victims in Ghouta. Whose children were the victims of the attack?

    It is hard to imagine a greater crime than the butchering of people, the kidnapping of children, and then the gassing of the kidnapped children in order to bring an even greater tragedy upon the whole country.

    Thank you for your post.

    Kind regards,


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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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