Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

More doubts over Syrian role in gas attack

There’s been something unseemly indeed about the rush by the supporters of the Syrian rebels (some people seem to think we are supposed simply to choose sides in this civil war, as though it were a football match) to cheerlead a military attack on Syria just because the usual suspects were claiming, yet again, that we trust their self-serving WMD claims.

I am against the colonialist West interfering in the internal affairs of states in the developing world, however much the West claims to be acting out of humanitarian concern, for reasons I have explained at length before:

Today Robert Fisk offers another, practical reason why there should have been no rush to judgment on this matter, especially when the consequences again required dropping US bombs on civilians, this time Syrian ones.

Russia has seemed pretty adamant in its rejection of the allegations that Bashar Assad’s forces used sarin in Ghouta last month, even beyond the usual requirements of diplomatic support for its man in Damascus. Now we may have a clue why.

According to Fisk, Russia has identified the markings on the missile used to deliver the sarin gas – and concluded both that it is one of its munitions and that it was never delivered to Syria.

It is said to be part of batch sold decades ago to Yemen, Egypt or Libya. That would fit with reports that, following the collapse of the Libyan state (courtesy of our last “humanitarian intervention”), Gaddafi’s stockpiles of munitions, including chemical weapons, were bought up by militias in the region, including rebel groups in Syria.

At this stage we cannot be sure this story is any truer than the one being promoted by the US and its armchair-warrior supporters. But it should give people pause before assuming that the case against Assad is straightforward.

Fisk adds there is doubt about the official story among UN staff and international aid workers in Syria:

While these international employees cannot be identified, some of them were in Damascus on 21 August and asked a series of questions to which no one has yet supplied an answer. Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later – and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in? Having thus presented the UN with evidence of the use of sarin – which the inspectors quickly acquired at the scene – the Assad regime, if guilty, would surely have realised that a military attack would be staged by Western nations.

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