Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Socialism and the State of Libya

I'm not going to make some elaborate argument that the Libya Revolution is somehow groping towards socialism because Marxists already know that is true of the whole world simply because it is the next historic phase in successful human development. No system is eternal. Just as surely as feudalism had to eventually give way to capitalism, as capitalism ceases to be a benefit to humanity and instead threatens to drag it down with it, it too must give way to a system that is more just, and most importantly, more in tune with humanity's needs at this already post-capitalist stage of our development.

Capitalism gave rise to industrial production and that created vast wealth. This is a good thing, but the control of that wealth, by and for the benefit of an ever shrinking portion of humanity, now increasingly endangers, not only all the people, but the viability of life on Earth. It must be overthrown. This is the most important historic task of humanity in the present era.

Still it must be admitted that the first dozen or so attempts at socialism in a handful of countries makes for a poor showing. It will probably take a lot more attempts and especially in countries with advanced socialized production and the freest forms of capitalist democracy, before really workable models start to take shape.  Good things sometimes take time.

One might wish that the first horse be a thoroughbred, the first car a Mercedes, but that just isn't the way development works. Good things sometimes take time.

A child that has suffered from decades of abuse doesn't recover from the repeated trauma, just because the abuser has been removed. This also takes time.

Because many in the so-called anti-imperialist Left anointed Mummar Qaddafi and his Green Book "socialism" with a kind of sainthood, they opposed the uprising of the Libyan people against his dictatorship from the very beginning. They declared the National Transitional Council and the Revolutionary Brigades creations or tools of US imperialism, and when NATO entered the fray, they expressed little doubt that the whole fiasco would end with NATO boots on the ground and a puppet government in Tripoli.

When Tripoli fell and Qaddafi was killed with no NATO boots on the ground, they robbed the Libyan people of this hard won victory, declared it the first war ever won by air power, and gave all the credit (or blame from their non-Libyan POV) to NATO.

With no puppet government and NATO "boots" to kick around, with the failure of all of their original predictions about the post-Qaddafi outcome for Libya, (no DU to clean up, no bombed out infrastructure, etc.) these "anti-imperialists" resorted to claiming that Libya now had no state at all or was a "failed state" and a "mess" rather than recognizing it for what it is, a country were the state has been destroyed and now has to be rebuilt, a country carrying out the second half of a successful revolution.

They forged a great deal of unity with the sour grapes pro-Qaddafi, pro-Putin camps, and the imperialists, who naturally want to see any revolution declared a failure. They readily parrot every report about Libya in the bourgeois media designed to warn people off of even thinking about revolution, and except for these negative reports, they pay little attention to what is actually happening in Libya and so fail to sympathize the real world lessons of the Libyan experience into revolutionary theory that can help us all move forward.

Two and a half years after the Qaddafi regime was overthrown, Libya is still a mess. It could hardly be otherwise after 40 years of maniacal dictatorship. It is tasked with recreating the state from scratch, and there are many competing interests, so naturally there has been intense political struggle and this struggle has involved the masses in ways they never could have under the "Green" dictatorship, and slowly but surely, the Libyan people are lurching forward and the new Libyan state is taking shape. What follows are three articles published today that address the current state of the Libyan state.

Middle East Institute has just published this assessment of the current state of state building in Libya:
The Political Process in Libya

22 April 2014
By Karim Mezran
Libya’s road to democracy is shaky at best. Security is deteriorating, with targeted killings, criminal attacks, and bombings on the rise and clashes between rival armed groups—some apparently with government legitimacy and others not—growing more frequent. While these negative trends put tremendous pressure on the transition, Libya’s political process, albeit fickle, manages to keep moving. The efforts at institution building in Libya present a nuanced landscape: for every step forward in one aspect, there are steps backward in others.

Two years ago, expectations and hopes were high in Libya regarding the constitutional committee, considered the most important transitional body involved in institution building. Originally, the National Transitional Council (NTC) mandated that the General National Congress (GNC), elected in July 2012, was to serve as the constitutional drafting committee. A few months before the GNC elections, however, in an effort to appease the eastern federalist movement—which is weak but nevertheless vocal—the provision was changed so that the GNC would appoint the 60-member constitutional committee. Just a few days before the elections, the NTC changed its mind again and, in another act of appeasement toward the federalists, decided that the constitutional committee would be elected by the people. The federalists were mistrustful of a nationally elected body and claimed the right for the people of the eastern regions to elect their own representatives to the constitutional committee directly. These decisions created a conflict insofar as they deprived the GNC of its original mandate to draft a constitution and left it as a legislative body with no clear areas or limits of authority and responsibility. More...
Please note that while Libya certainly has its problems, being a client state of the NATO powers isn't one of them. Yet, that is precisely the outcome the so called "anti-imperialists" [Qaddafi lovers] predicted, not that after the revolution there would be a period of disorganization and discomfort. Oh My!

Also today in Libya, from AFP:
Libyan charter panel elects liberal as head

Tue, Apr 22nd 2014, 8:23AM
Ali Tarhuni, a liberal politician and former rebel minister, was elected to head Libya's constituent assembly, a spokesman for the body charged with drawing up a new constitution said Tuesday.

Tarhuni, an exiled opponent of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, returned to Libya to take part in the 2011 revolt which toppled his regime.

He held a ministerial post in a transitional government set up by the rebels, and went on to found the National Centrist Party, part of the liberal National Forces Alliance.

Libya's constituent assembly launched its work Monday in Al-Baida, in the country's east. More...
The Libyans who will draft the new constitution
And from Reuters:
Libya starts voter registration for general elections

22 April 2014
by Ahmed Elumami
(Reuters) - Libya will start registering voters for general elections, officials said on Tuesday, in the first concrete step indicating a vote will take place later this year.

In February, the Libyan parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), agreed to hold early elections, in an apparent effort to assuage Libyans frustrated at political chaos nearly three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Deputies initially agreed to extend their term after their mandate ran out on February 7, to allow a special committee time to draft a new constitution. But that move provoked protests from Libyans angry at the slow pace of political change.

Voter registration will start from Wednesday, Emad al-Shadi al-Saih, head of the elections commission, told reporters. He gave no date for the vote but analysts say it might take place in summer or early autumn.

Saih called on Libyans to avoid "being negative" and participate in the elections in order to rebuild the country. More...

Libya's constitution-drafting body starts work

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why does the mass media ignore mass murder in Syria?

I recall when the mantra of the media was "if it bleeds, it leads." That certainly isn't the case with regards to Syria. If more than a hundred people and a dozen children met with a violent end almost anywhere else in the world, it would make the morning news cycle. It happens every day in Syria without so much as a notice.

It can't be for lack of visuals. We all know TV news is a sucker for graphic video. A good video will even make a story where otherwise there wouldn't be one. The Syrian conflict has produced some of the most graphic and tense, or in the case of Syrian refugee children, compelling and heart-rending, videos the world has ever seen, available for free from YouTube, and with today's HD consumer grade cameras, not bad quality. Yet very little of this video ever makes it into the evening news. The true picture of this conflict and the human suffering it is causing is being hidden from us. Even Amy Goodman on Democracy Now fails in her notice of the dead or her concern for the children.

When the media was trying to rally people to fight Saddam Hussein, they made a big deal out of a false story that had Iraq troops throwing babies out of incubators in Kuwait, now we have Assad's planes bombing play grounds, schools, breadlines and hospitals, and mums the word. Why are they covering up Assad's crimes when they should be reporting them?

One of the best indications this is the mainstream media's policy came this week when the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition traded accusations over who was using poison gas again in Syria. This should be a big news story for the mainstream media but it has raised hardly a murmur.

The media paid attention to Syria as never before after the 21 August sarin attack because it involved Obama's called bluff and it showed the bodies as never before. As if a hundred thousand people had not been slaughtered already by non-chemical means, the media jumped all over the chemical attack as though it was a fetish. The shameless pro-Assad forces in the blogosphere took up the defense of Assad as if proving he didn't do the sarin attack was the same as exonerating him of mass murder. Even while the media failed to report on Assad's continuing siege of Ghouta, using both bombardment and starvation as weapons, they gave coverage for everybody's opinions and findings on the chemical attack.

There can be little doubt that there have been new chemical attacks in Syria, since both sides agree there have been. While they both predictively point the finger at get other, if the reports that the gas bombs there dropped out of helicopters are accurate, there can be little doubt that those were Assad regime helicopters. Given the history of coverage on the chemical question in Syria, one would expect reports of a new chemical attack to break through this news blackout.

Why hasn't it?

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rest In Peace John Johnson of Change-Links

I have two friends that were born on the 4th of July, Ron Kovac, who wrote a book with that title and John Johnson, who passed away, at the age of 69, yesterday . John Johnson had a name like mine where the first name is repeated in the last name with a reference to ones origins, and like me, he was a life long radical, one of the original SDSers.

John Johnson was perhaps best known for publishing the monthly calender of events, Change-Links, that provided much of the glue that held the progressive community in Los Angeles together for the past 20 years. The front page always had topical and insightful articles about the issues of the day, but its heart was the calendar section that covered all the up coming programs, meetings, film showings and scheduled demonstrations. It was like a program for the movement in L.A. Every month you would have to seek out your Change-Links to know what was happening.

I would repair his computers in return for advertising in Change-Links when he was short of cash, or buy ads in Change-Links when I was flush. Once, when he was picking up a fixed computer from my place, he found out that my bike had been stolen. The next day he drove back to Venice from the valley to bring me an "extra" bike he had.
In January 2013, John had heart surgery and as a result, there was no paper version of Change-Links for about six months.  I don't think his health ever fully recovered but his spirits and activity did and we all got complaisant  about getting out Change-Links every month as usual again. Then two weeks ago he had a stroke and fell. He also had a very bad MSRA bacterial infection that got into his bloodstream, Last night he died.

Rest in Peace John Johnson. You will be remember wherever people fight for justice,

I believe this is the last blog post John made to the Change-Links website:
The Perils of Progressive Media

31 January 2014
by John Johnson
Last month we got an email from the Getty Foundation. They demanded $350 from Change- Links, claiming that we used one of their photos on a page from our Website from about three months ago. On it, we’d ran an article about a homeless families. To illustrate it I chose a photo I found on the Web of a homeless family.

A number of years ago the Getty empire started buying up all the photos they could, especially ones with news value, then charging for their use. Many artists and others waged a large campaign to stop this monopolization of art but so far it hasn’t stopped them.

Change-Links continues to eke itself out without any corporate or think tank support. We’re one of the few remaining examples of genuine public media. And one of the very few progressive publications still in operation. It’s a lot of work to get out.

It’s also critical at this time for us to build a more organized progressive movement in the US. Occasional progressive and radical outbreaks, like the Occupy movement, infuse us with hope, but they don’t last. We no longer have the base of college movements that were once a vital source of energy and continuity to keep things moving.

During the Seventies we tried to build a working class movement, focusing on both community and the work place. But we couldn’t sustain it after a few years. And by then the student actions were already ebbing.

Today corporations dominate the country and our lives. Wall Street rakes in billions in exchange for ruining the lives of untold poor and working class families. Corporations work hand in glove with government officials to bilk and funnel massive amounts of taxpayer money into their own pockets.

Not that it ever existed, but democracy is next to dead in this country. And it’s pretty much the same throughout the rest of the world, worse in some places, better in others. Dictators have figured out that fraud works better than brute force to keep the population in tow, though they don’t hesitate to use both.

The best news sources on broadcast media are Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now,” and Thom Hartmann. Rachael Madow can be good, but we took a big hit when they got rid of Keith Obermann.

The corporations and the government are not going to establish a fair and balanced public broadcast or print media, much less a progressive one. We’ve got to do it ourselves. Amy Goodman gets a lot of support, and can always use more. But Change-Links is hanging by a thread that gets more frayed with every issue. If you value the news and information we provide, we need your donations and/or volunteer time. Now!
Martin Sheen & John Johnson

Alternative Left Perspectives on Syria

Linux Beach is honored to find itself on an exclusive list published yesterday by Pulse Media:

Alternative Left Perspectives on Syria

13 April 2014
The responses of most leftists to the Syrian uprising and subsequent war (it’s often forgotten that it started as an uprising — indeed a nonviolent and nonsectarian one) have been deeply disappointing. Disappointing to many Syrian activists, and to many of us on the Left who support the Syrian struggle for dignity and justice, which is now a struggle against both Assad’s killing machine and the jihadi counter-revolutionary forces.

The Left’s responses fall into three main categories:
  1. explicit support for the Assad regime
  2. monochrome opposition to Western intervention, end of discussion (with either implicit or explicit neutrality on the conflict itself)
  3. general silence caused by deep confusion
The first camp, while relatively small, represents a truly hideous, morally obscene and, I would argue, deeply reactionary position – siding with a mass murderer and war criminal who presides over a quasi-fascist police state.

The second camp, which encompasses a majority of peace activists and soi-disant anti-imperialists in the West, represents an (ironically) Eurocentric/US-centric stance (it’s all about the West, not the Syrian people) – a total abandonment of internationalism.

The third camp is at least understandable, given the complexity of the Syrian conflict. The book I co-edited on the subject is titled The Syria Dilemma for a reason. Yet this stance remains disconcerting: silence in the face of what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world” is a cop-out. Complexity is not a gag order.

There is a fourth camp, however: a small but growing group of progressives who embrace the goals of the Syrian revolution. There are several shades within this camp – it includes Marxists, pacifists, feminists, Third Worldists and leftists of various sorts. Some support the armed struggle in Syria, others do not, standing instead with the nonviolence activists in Syria. But what unites this camp is its solidarity with the Syrian struggle for dignity, justice and self-determination.

The body of writings and arguments this camp has produced directly challenge the dominant narratives on the Left about Syria and offer a critical alternative to it. Here, collected in one place, are some of the key texts of this dissident left camp. Emphasis on some of the key texts – this list is by no means exhaustive. It’s limited to English-language sources. We offer it here as a living resource, one that is expanding on a daily basis. (If you have suggestions for other texts, please post them here.) Here ’tis (in no particular order):

Molly Crabapple
How the Western left ignored Syria’s activists as inconvenient glitches in a story about ourselves

Firas Massouh
Left Out? The Syrian Revolution and the Crisis of the Left

Mohammed Al Attar
What Kind of Support Do Syrians Want?
Solidarity With the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom
The Campaign for Peace and Democracy Salutes Syria’s Courageous Democratic Movement
A Personal Statement from Campaign for Peace and Democracy Co-Directors Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy

Louis Proyect
A tale of two Syria conferences

Robin Yassin-Kassab
Reporting Syria: How Robert Fisk, Nir Rosen & Joseph Massad have framed Syria all wrong
Blanket Thinkers

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
On Monsterphilia and Assad: The problems with the “anti-imperialist” position on Syria
Why Bosnia is a better analogy than Iraq in the Syria debate

Gilbert Achcar
Syria in the Context of the Arab Uprisings
Welcoming the vote of the British Parliament while supporting the Syrian uprising
Interview with Gilbert Achcar

Afra Jalabi
Streams of Light: The Heroic Struggle of the Syrian People
Anxiously Anticipating a New Dawn: Voices of Syrian Activists, in The Syria Dilemma (not available online, alas — but get the book)

Mohja Kahf
Then and Now: The Syrian Revolution to Date — A young nonviolent resistance and the ensuing armed struggle
Syria: It’s Still a Revolution, My Friends
Lack of U.S. Peace Movement Solidarity with Syrian Uprising and the “No Good Guys” Excuse

Danny Postel
Mission Accomplished? Syria, the Antiwar Movement, and the Spirit of Internationalism

Nader Hashemi
Syria, savagery, and self-determination
International Appeal to Stop the Starvation Sieges/End the Blockades in Syria

Danny Postel & Nader Hashemi
Break Syria’s Starvation Sieges—By Any Means Necessary

Max Blumenthal
The right to resist is universal: A farewell to Al Akhbar and Assad’s apologists
‘We Just Wish for the Hit to Put an End to the Massacres’: a report from the Zaatari refugee camp
Syria and the Left–a conversation between Max Blumenthal & Danny Postel

Talal Alyan
Shell Shocked and Rouged: Syria Is Not a Disposable Bride
While you were neutral about Yarmouk
Yarmouk: an unnerving silence about the ongoing siege of a Palestinian camp in Damascus
An Interview with Syrian Writer and Former Political Prisoner Yassin al-Haj Saleh

Yassin Al Haj Saleh
The Syrian Shabiha and Their State
From the Kingdom of Assad to the Third Republic

Yassin Al Haj Saleh & Rime Allaf
Syria dispatches: Robert Fisk’s independence

Rana Issa
The Destruction of Syria: In Memory of Edward Said

Thomas Pierret
No Stability in Syria Without Political Change

Wendy Pearlman
On the Third Anniversary of the Syrian Uprising
Intervening Against Assad: Reflections From Syrian Refugees
Love in the Syrian Revolution

Ian Williams
From the Spanish Civil War to Syria: Parceling Out Truth Subverts Justice

Bill Weinberg
Syria: civil wars in the civil war
Syria: denialism delegitimizes ‘anti-war’ position
‘Anti-war’ movement still betraying Syrian people
Why I am renouncing my Project Censored award

Mary Kaldor
Bordering on a new World War 1
What to do in Syria?

Richard Falk
What Can Be Done About Syria? Tragedy and Impotence
On Syria: What is to be done?

Syrian leftist sends devastating reply to Assad apologist Tariq Ali and ‘Stop The War’

Syrian Anarchist Challenges the Rebel/Regime Binary View of Resistance–an interview with Nader Atassi

Virtually everything Scott Lucas has written for EA WorldView’s outstanding Syria section

Clay Claiborne’s Syria diaries on his Linux Beach blog

Sunday, April 13, 2014

After Hersh lays smoke screen, Assad lobes gas bombs

The Blogosphere is a Battlefield

Karl Marx famously quoted Carl von Clausewitz to the effect that war is the continuation of politics by other means. It should also be said that propaganda in times of armed conflict is war by other means. Even though the strength of the contending armed bodies is critical in war, their propaganda efforts among their own forces, against the enemy forces, and towards international observers, play an extremely important role as well. That is why I say the blogosphere is a battlefield. Certainly Assad understands that, and so does Putin. They both see the value of creating and promoting a narrative designed to justify their aggression. They both see the value of demonizing their opposition, creating smoke screens, muddying waters, and creating distractions. Today, to a large extent, these goals are accomplished with the help of the Internet, and they both have created sophisticated machinery and spent a lot of money on political support for the Assad regime.

Sy Hersh goes on the warpath again ahead of new regime attacks

Seemingly out of the blue, Bashar al-Assad's most prominent defender came out with a new 5,000 word essay again attempting to absolve the Assad regime for past chemical attacks. Even though the muzzled UN came as close as allowed to putting the blame on the regime when it said that the sarin used in both Ghouta and Khan Al-Assal came from the Assad arsenal and was used by a large chemical weapons component of a professional army, Seymour Hersh's rehash of the old arguments put forth again on 8 April 2014 in the London Review of Books, reopened a discussion that many had thought settled.

His piece became like a call to action for Assad supporters everywhere to renew the claims that Assad didn't do it, repeat all the Fall conspiracy theories, and try to build unity among the conflicting versions. For example, Mint Press came out in support of Hersh, in spite of the fact that they had been supporting a version of how the rebels gassed themselves that involved untrained rebels in a tunnel bungling a big tank of sarin given to them by Saudi Prince Bandar. Hersh's current version has the Turks ramroding al Nursa, and using missiles, no Bandar, no tank, no tunnel. But nevermind about that, these Assad supporters are flexible, the main point is that Assad didn't do it and the rebels did. That is why all those that had formerly promoted a version that had the CIA and/or Qatar masterminding the chemical attacks were as quick as Mint Press to jump on the Hersh campaign bus.

As a result, just when the UN's 5 March report had done so much to clear the air and settle the question of responsibility, at least for the two most deadly sarin attacks, Hersh comes along, completely ignores the UN report, and leads the charge in another smoke and mirrors attack with his pro-Assad LRP propaganda bomb and they have been successful in raising a lot of dust and confusion.

Many of us on the other side of this battle in the blogosphere have been writing tooth and nail to discredit this latest Sy Hersh piece as well as his whole Assad-didn't-do-it thesis, but he is like a giant of journalism while we are the Lilliputians. He dismisses us as bloogers. We are working hard to clear the air, but every time the Hersh piece is reprinted or regurgitated, it is like another smoke grenade going off.

Now we know why this propaganda war is so important, because in the past few days the reports have been coming in that Assad is again killing with poison gas, now the laying of smoke before these operations makes strategic sense.

Was the timing of these new chemical weapons attacks, less than a week after the publication of the latest Sy Hersh defense of Assad, a coincidence, an opportunistic move on the part of Assad or was it part of a plan?

Below are some of the latest pieces on the chemical attacks:

From Associated Press:
Poison gas claims complicate Syrian civil war

By Bassem Mroue
April 12, 2014
BEIRUT — Both sides in Syria's bloody civil war said Saturday that a rural village fell victim to a poison gas attack, an assault that reportedly injured scores of people amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.

What exactly happened Friday in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Damascus, remains unclear and likely won't be known for some time. It took United Nations weapons inspectors months to say it was likely some chemical weapons attacks happened last year, including an August attack that killed hundreds and nearly sparked Western airstrikes against President Bashar Assad's forces.

But online videos posted by rebel activists from Kfar Zeita echoed earlier images that sparked a world outcry, showing pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at a field hospital. They suggest an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack hurt dozens of people, though it did not identify the gas used.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that relies on a network of on-the-ground volunteers, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. It reported that people suffered from suffocation and breathing problems after the attack, but gave no further details.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group for the attack, saying they used chlorine gas to kill two people and injure more than 100. It did not say how it confirmed chlorine was used.

Chlorine, one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the U.S., is used to purify drinking water. But as a gas, it can be deadly, with the German army using it in warfare in World War I. The Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Syria signed, banned its use in battle. More...
From EA WorldView:
Regime Uses Chlorine Gas on Kafrzita in Hama Province

By Scott Lucas
April 13, 2014 12:16
On Saturday, we compiled videos of a claimed chemical attack on Kafrzita in Hama Province, probably from this airstrike and its “yellow-tinged cloud”

See “Poison Gas” Attacks Near Damascus & in Hama Province
To our surprise, Syrian State media admitted the attack, although they claimed — despite the airstrike — that it was the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra Front who was responsible, using chlorine gas that killed two people and injured more than 100.

Now Eliot Higgins, on his Brown Moses blog, puts together audio-visual and photographic evidence. His conclusion is that, even as the Assad regime claims it is shipping out its chemical weapons for destruction, only the Syrian military could have carried out Friday’s attack with “poison gas”. More...
From Syria Deeply:
Week in Review: Amid New Chemical Attacks and Battlefield Shifts, Assad Looks Ahead

April 13th, 2014
by Lara Setrakian
Even by Syrian war standards, this was a brutal week.

By the end of it, reports had surfaced of a poison gas attack in the central Syrian town of Kafr Zeita. One hundred people were left sick from exposure; the Syrian regime and rebel forces blamed each other for the incident. In weeks past,Syrian doctors told us of repeated small-scale chemical attacks around Damascus – a signal that the chemical destruction plan brokered by the U.S. and Russia last year hasn’t stopped the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield.

Then there are the more conventional forms of destruction, which seem to be accelerating in pace. On Wednesday two car bombs struck an Alawite neighborhood of Homs, killing at least 25 people. \Rebels are advancing on government-held areas of Aleppo, Al Jazeera reports, while the Los Angeles Times profiled the practically apocalyptic scenes of life for Aleppines, struggling to get by in a once-prosperous city. More...
From BBCNews:
Claims of new poison gas attack in Syria

12 April 2014
The government and opposition forces in Syria have accused each other of using poison gas in an attack on a village on Friday.

State TV said the jihadist Nusra Front group launched the attack on Kafr Zita in Hama province, killing two people and injuring dozens of others.

But opposition groups quoted doctors as saying that an attack by regime planes led to suffocation and poisoning.

There was no independent verification of either of the claims.

"Regime planes bombed Kafr Zita with explosive barrels that produced thick smoke and odours and led to cases of suffocation and poisoning," said Rami Abdel Rahman, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. More...
From The New York Times:
Damascus and Rebels Trade Blame in Gas Attack

12 April 2014
By Anne Barnard and Ben Hubbard
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian state television and antigovernment activists reported Saturday that poison gas had been used in a rebel-held village in the central province of Hama, with each side blaming its enemies for an attack they both said sickened more than 100 people.

The attack took place Friday evening in the village of Kfar Zeita, sending streams of choking patients, including children, to poorly equipped field hospitals, according to local medics and videos posted online. Opposition activists said government helicopters had dropped improvised bombs on the village, covering it with a thick smoke that smelled of chlorine.

While the opposition reported the attack soon after it happened, Syrian state television first mentioned it the day after in an urgent news banner during a broadcast. It blamed the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, for the attack, adding that two people were killed and more than 100 others affected by the gas. A subsequent banner announcement said the Nusra Front was preparing two more chemical attacks. It was the first time since last year that both sides agreed that toxic weapons had been used. More...
From Brown Moses Blog:
Evidence Chlorine Gas Was Used In A Second, Failed, Chemical Attack On Kafr Zita
Sunday, 13 April 2014
On April 11th, reports supported by video from the town of Kafr Zita, Hama, claimed to show the aftermath of a chemical attack on the town.  Reports claimed helicopters had dropped a "barrel bomb" containing a toxic gas on the town, with the below video claiming to show the attack as it happened. More...

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria