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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Win-Win for Assad as Obama Response to CW Mass Murder Put on Hold

As Obama concluded his address, around 9 p.m. local time, shelling on the rebel-controlled suburbs around Damascus surged according to activists reached by Skype and telephone.
With any promised military response from the United States to the Assad regime's murder of over 1400 people, including over 400 children with illegal nerve gas, put off for at least ten day while President Obama seeks congressional approval, Bashar al-Assad enjoys the best of both worlds as a result of the chemical weapons attack he perpetrated. On the one hand, he can continue to gain all the political benefits, like renewed support at home, in the Arab nation, and in the US Left, that comes to him as a result of being in a direct military confrontation with US imperialism. Never mind all the dead babies, for some he's the anti-imperialist resistance fighter again. On the other hand, any real damage or pain, as usually accompanies US air strikes, is delayed for weeks if it ever comes at all.

For now, he is assured of no US attacks, but since they are only postponed, not canceled, their propaganda value remains intact. In fact, it is enhanced, because an attack this weekend might have proven to be slight and then the whole intervention might be declared over and the whole episode soon fade into history. This way Assad faces weeks with the threat of US military assault hanging over Syria. Not only does this give him a lot of time to prepare and thus mitigate the effects of any air assault, the details of which have already started leaking out with more certain to follow while the mission is on hold, it also gives him a lot of time to shift the focus from his brutal war against his own people to this "war on hold" with the mighty US imperialists.

Meanwhile the world's attention has been shifted away Assad's continuing war crimes in East Ghouta with its hundreds of babies shoveled into mass graves to the possibility of a US attack on Syria.

We all know how President Barack Obama doesn't shy away from putting those he considers "bad guys" on his kill-list. Barack Obama's own government has just determined that Bashar al-Assad has used illegal chemical weapons to murder 1,429 civilians including 426 children, that makes him a "bad guy." Few doubt that Bashar al-Assad could wake up dead before sunrise tomorrow if Barack Obama willed it.

Instead he gets treated to this diversion from his war crimes and this PR refreshment of his credentials as an "anti-imperialist resistance fighter." This is just what the doctor ordered.

Is there any thing else Barack Obama could do to make things better for his good buddy Bashar al-Assad?

Like I've been saying:
Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?

World Time is reporting:
In Syria, Relief and Anger as Obama Delays Strike

As Obama backs down from an immediate attack against Syria, the country's civilians grow suspicious that the U.S. isn't committed to stopping President Bashar Assad's regime
By Aryn Baker / Beirut
Aug. 31, 2013
As U.S. President Barack Obama made his case for strikes on Syria in retaliation for the “certain” use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against its own people last week, only to follow with the announcement that he would seek Congressional approval before launching a strike, Syrians simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief and gasped with incredulity. Civilians may have been spared the mayhem of yet another missile barrage in a country that has been at war for more than two years, but to see the U.S. suddenly standing back after much impassioned rhetoric about punishing the regime of President Bashar Assad dismayed opponents of the government.

As Obama concluded his address, around 9 p.m. local time, shelling on the rebel-controlled suburbs around Damascus surged according to activists reached by Skype and telephone. To many it was a signal of defiance by the regime, and proof that the sense of impunity that Obama in his speech warned would grow if the U.S. took no action against Assad was already a reality on the ground in Syria. “We don’t understand what more than the use of chemical weapons against innocent people the world needs to topple this dictator,” says Abu Hasan, a logistics coordinator for the rebel group the Free Syrian Army, speaking by Skype from Damascus after the speech. “History will remember how the whole world stood aside while a nation was being slaughtered.” More...

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

The case for ‘Hands off Syria’

Republished from RacAnarchy:
August 30, 2013 by Racan Alhoch
It comes as no surprise to me that the proponents of ‘Hands off Syria’ have been keeping their hands off Syria for almost three years now. While the under privileged and downtrodden citizens of Syria took to the streets peacefully chanting for change they were cut down with machine guns and you kept your hands off Syria. When the underclass realized that nobody would step up to protect them because it was in nobody’s favor they picked up small arms to defend themselves and you kept your hands off of Syria. As Assad began air raids and shelling campaigns on the civilians of Homs, pictures of women and children slaughtered surfaced everywhere and you kept your hands off Syria. After Assad’s killing squads entered the civilian, unarmed villages of Banias and slaughtered over a thousand people using knives you kept your hands off of Syria.

Also, unsurprisingly, the only time you put your blood soaked hands on Syria is when the occasional YouTube video appeared vilifying the suffering people mentioned before. I understand your stance, I truly do. You live inside of a bubble where everything makes sense. Assad has his PR people work tirelessly for the ‘resistance’ and therefore he is a soldier against tyranny, against oppression, against capitalism, against the West, and against Israel. I imagine once one has become accustomed to the life of a simpleton it is a difficult transition into that of a thinking human being. Thinking human beings realize that this paradigm which the ‘Hands off Syria’ camp hold has been unsuccessful in freeing one inch of the ever-shrinking Palestine. They have been even more unsuccessful to stop the wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq. So I pose the question; what are you actually good for?

All of the fears that you hold against a military intervention in Syria have materialized long ago. Entire cities have been flattened, men, women, and children have been brutally mutilated, tortured, raped, and slaughtered. What have we the Syrians got to lose at this point? A few more flattened buildings? A few more lives lost? Or is it the West, which you hate so much the sticking point in your feeble mind?

Again while Russia, China, Hezbollah, Liwa Abu Fadhl al Abbas, and various sectarian militias from all over the world have helped Assad slaughter the underclass of Syria, you kept your hands off Syria. Do the Syrians a favor and keep your hands off of our revolution. Return to your homes and your lives of privilege outside of the slaughter and surf your conspiracy forums. The revolution is ongoing and if the devil himself rose from the depths of hell to help us we will welcome him with open arms, because you have left us no choice.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Friday, August 30, 2013

Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims

More than a hundred thousand Syrians have been slaughtered in the struggle to overthrow the Assad dictatorship and while there have been many who have killed in this tragedy, the carnage can largely be laid at the feet of one man, Bashar al-Assad, and his regime. He ordered his army to open fire on peaceful protesters in the first days of the uprising and he quickly escalated to attacking crowds with helicopter gunships and dropping Russian cluster bombs on resistant communities.

Knowing that Assad is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians and laying waste to some of the oldest cities on Earth, it saddens me greatly to see members of the US peace movement marching under the banner of this dictator as was the case yesterday:

"Peace activists" marched with the pro-Assad reactionaries
While thousands of Assad's soldiers have refused orders to fire on their people, defected and joined the Free Syrian Army, Assad has still been able to slaughter babies at will because of his command of the skies. His Scud missiles, helicopter gunships and Mig jets can rain down death with impunity anywhere in Syria, as when this jet dropped napalm on a playground, a story I reported yesterday. Unlike the gas attack, nobody can beg not knowing who is responsible because only Assad flies jets over Syria.

Syria crisis Incendiary bomb victims 'like the walking dead'

29 August 2013 Last updated at 17:43 ET
A BBC team inside Syria filming for Panorama has witnessed the aftermath of a fresh horrific incident - an incendiary bomb dropped onto a school playground in the north of the country - which has left scores of children with napalm-like burns over their bodies.

Eyewitnesses describe a fighter jet dropping the device, a low explosion, followed by columns of fire and smoke.

Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway's report contains images viewers may find extremely distressing.
This monopoly of air power has been Assad's hold card. Obama has helped him hold it and use it by refusing Assad's opposition any modern anti-aircraft weapons. Not only has he refused to supply this or any military support at all to the people Assad has been slaughtering, he has used his clout as president of the United States, to make sure no effective anti-aircraft weapons reached the opposition. I criticized this policy in:

How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy in Syria

We now know the FSA had purchased Russian made SA-7 MANPADS [Man Portable Air Defense Systems - i.e. shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles] that could have saved thousands of Syrians from perishing under Assad's bombs had Obama not dispatched the CIA to Turkey to make sure those weapons stayed locked up in a warehouse in Turkey.

The excuse for denying the opposition MANPADS has always been that they might fall into the wrong hands, meaning they might get to terrorists that could use them to bring down an airliner. That excuse has alway been very shaky because there are many precautions that can be taken and without them thousands are already dying so maybe its worth the risk?

How Obama's "No Gas Masks for You" policy aids Assad's slaughter

Now we have this report that Obama also refused to send gas masks to the opposition in Syria and used the same lame excuse, that the gas masks might fall into the wrong hands! As if al Qaeda or any other terrorist group couldn't find a few gas masks unless thousands were distributed to Assad's future gas attack victims.

Activists on the ground in Syria have said that their requests to the Obama administration for gas masks date back more than a year and have been ignored or rejected at every turn. This was true even after the Obama administration confirmed the use of poison gas by the Assad regime in Syria. This was true in spite of large US stockpiles of gas masks in the region left over from the Iraq war.

The Daily Beast is reporting:
Obama Refused to Send Gas Masks to Syrian Opposition for Over a Year

by Josh Rogin
Aug 29, 2013 4:45 AM EDT
Syrian opposition groups have been asking for gas masks and chemical-weapons protection gear for more than a year—and the Obama administration decided not to supply them, Josh Rogin reports exclusively.

The Obama administration has refused to send gas masks and other chemical-weapons protection gear to Syrian opposition groups, despite numerous requests dating back more than a year and until the reported chemical-weapons attack that struck the Damascus suburbs August 21.

Following the harrowing attack that left more than 1,300 dead and more than 3,000 injured in East Ghouta and other Damascus suburbs, the Obama administration is contemplating a strike on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. But Syrian civilians are still trying to cope with the tragedy and treat the wounded, who include scores of children caught sleeping when the gas was dispersed. The attack zone has a fatal shortage of gas masks, chemical-weapons protection gear, and the nerve agent antidote atropine; civilians and activists have been forced to resort to crafting makeshift masks out of everyday household items.

More chemical-weapons attacks could come, and there is now an urgent demand in rebel-held areas for gas masks and other gear. But there is also anger and frustration among opposition leaders that despite more than a year of requests to the U.S. government, the Obama administration did not send any gas masks or chemical-weapons protection gear to opposition-controlled areas.

“Almost three months ago, we received intelligence information that the regime forces may use chemical weapons in Homs,” said Abo Saleem, the directing commission secretary of the Council of Homs Province and a member of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Council of Homs, in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I forward the information to the State Department telling them we are afraid of the use of chemical weapons by the regime and we need gas masks and some training to prepare for such an attack. I got no response. Two weeks after that, the regime used chemical weapons in the old city of Homs, as we were expecting. We sent the State Department reports, but nothing happened.”

In a June email to several administration officials, viewed by The Daily Beast, Saleem begged the U.S. to provide gas masks in advance of further chemical-weapons attacks and warned that without them, the civil war in Syria would only result in more casualties. More...
And the reason for refusing Assad's future gas victims gas masks? The Daily Beast piece covers that too:
“There are a lot of gas-mask kits in excess supply. It was not an issue of availability,” the former official said. “In the early days of the Syria conflict, even the smallest amount of aid to the Free Syrian Army was viewed with great concern. It was a lack of foresight by administration bureaucrats. Unfortunately, now we’re seeing the consequences.”

A senior Obama administration official confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that the White House did review the issue last year and determined it wouldn’t provide any gas masks or other chemical-weapons protective gear to the Syria opposition because of fears the equipment could get into the wrong hands.
That was a lame excuse for not allowing the Syrians Assad has been killing adequate weapons with which to defended themselves but it is a downright criminal reason to deny people gear whose only purpose is to stop poison gas from killing people.

So now we know that while Obama was daring Assad to use chemical weapons he was at the same time denying Assad's victims the means of protection. I have long been saying that Barack Obama has always been in Assad's corner in his fight against the Syrian people. This is just one more proof.

Barack Obama already has a lot of Syria blood on his hands even before he lets the first missile fly.

For more on Obama's real Syria policy, see these other posts by me:
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bashar al-Assad is a Brutal Mass Murderer

Amidst all the back and forth about who has been responsible various chemical weapons attacks that have been contributing to the slaughter of the Syrian people lately, let us not forget that Bashar al-Assad is the one known mass murderer being considered and his regime has definitely been responsible for all the carnage done to civilians from air craft and helicopters.

For example, there is no serious question about who was responsible for dropping a napalm like incendiary on a playground as documented in this BBC report because the incendiary bomb was dropped by a Mig jet and only the Assad regime has those.

Similarly, any serious examination of the sophisticated chemical attach carried out in East Ghouta shows that only the Assad regime's chemical weapons units have those capabilities. Those like Amy Goodman and her guest yesterday on Democracy Now, Phyllis Bennis, try to obscure who is slaughtering Syrians by blowing smoke around this latest chemical attack, should consider that they are defending a mass murderer who has killed tens of thousands with conventional weapons and is actively killing children even as they mount a defense of him.

Syria crisis Incendiary bomb victims 'like the walking dead'

29 August 2013 Last updated at 17:43 ET Help

A BBC team inside Syria filming for Panorama has witnessed the aftermath of a fresh horrific incident - an incendiary bomb dropped onto a school playground in the north of the country - which has left scores of children with napalm-like burns over their bodies.

Eyewitnesses describe a fighter jet dropping the device, a low explosion, followed by columns of fire and smoke.

Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway's report contains images viewers may find extremely distressing.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

An open letter on Syria to Western narcissists

Republished from the human province, posted by sean | 29 August 2013
On the eve of what seem to be ineluctable strikes on Syria, I’ve been struggling with what my position on Syria should be. Before I get to that though, I should say that while I’m not Syrian, I too have some skin in the game, as it were. On our way to donate blood for a friend’s mother’s surgery last month, my wife got a call from a friend telling us to avoid the neighborhood of Bir al-Abed in Beirut’s southern suburbs, since there had just been a large explosion there. At Bahman Hospital, my wife and baby daughter and I saw ambulances speeding toward us carrying those who had just been wounded. And a few days after I’d left for southern Turkey to conduct interviews with Syrians who had fled the war in their homes, I found out that a car bomb had just gone off a few blocks from my mother in law’s home in the “Hezbollah stronghold” of Rweiss. It kills me that my daughter has heard the sound of a car bomb before her first birthday.

Extended family from Yarmouk, the Palestinian camp outside Damascus, have been displaced and are forced to seek refuge yet again in Lebanon, a country that doesn’t want them. And even now, we’re making plans for what might happen if the impending strikes on Syria fuel an escalation in Lebanon, where living in the southern suburbs can get you killed if there’s a war with Israel. And yet all of this pales in comparison to what my Syrian friends continue to go through on a daily basis.

All that to say that the current conflict in Syria isn’t just of academic interest to me; it’s personal as well. This is partially why I have so little patience for some of the rhetoric I’ve been seeing from Western leftist circles, where this conflict seems like nothing more than a rhetorical bludgeon for scoring ideological points. This has been illustrated by the passing around of an article by Robert Fisk, who asks, “Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?” This lazy and facile opinion piece assures us that if the US attacks Syria, then “the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.” It is the flip side of the rhetoric that was so evident in the run-up to war in Iraq that equated any opposition to an idiotic war with support for Saddam Hussein. Well, guess what? There are lots of perfectly fine opinions that might put you on the same side as al-Qa’ida. Just to name one: if you’re against drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, as I am, then you’re also “on the same side as al-Qa’ida” according to this logic.

This is the caricature of knee-jerk leftism, where everything is always and everywhere about the United States. The narcissism of such a position boggles the mind. In such an ideological stance it’s not enough to be critical of Washington’s actions and motivations, as well we should be, it is necessary to parrot the talking points of Washington’s enemies. (The same phenomenon can be seen in certain Islamophobic and right-wing circles.) In this narrative, the militarization of the uprising in Syria was an American plan, not a foreseeable reaction to a brutally violent crackdown on a predominately peaceful opposition movement by the security forces of the Ba’ath regime. This conflict is, so the argument goes, a creation of Washington, and perhaps Riyadh, and the opposition is made up of only of blood-thirsty sectarian Islamists who are generally seen as but tools of malicious statecraft. Such a narrative, of course, denies the agency of Syrians, seeing them as so many lifeless puppets waiting for a tug from the imperialist American hand.

This is why discussions of Syria in such quarters tend not to be discussions of Syria. They’re actually discussions of “American capitalism” or “American imperialism” – take your pick. So let me be clear: if your opinion of Syria is actually an opinion about the United States, I have no interest in hearing it, and it’s probably safe to say that most Syrians (or at least all of the ones I know) who are faced with the business end of the regime’s ordinance don’t either. I can’t think of a single Syrian who’s willing to get killed so you can flaunt your anti-imperialist street cred from the comfort of your local coffee shop.

Lest I be accused of shilling for American intervention here, let me set a few things straight. In addition to endangering my family’s lives, the proposed “punitive strikes” that are all but inevitable probably won’t make anything better on the ground, and may make things worse, which is why I’m against them. My opinion on American intervention in general and in this conflict in particular (about which more in a subsequent post) is that the US is not to be trusted to act in anything but what it sees as its interests, and often a woefully short-sighted understanding of those interests to boot. So no, Washington does not really care about those children killed last week in a chemical attack, just as it didn’t care about the Iranians or Kurds killed in previous ones. Consequently, my feeling is that a vicious, and viciously short-sighted, realpolitik in Washington would probably like nothing better than to let its enemies fight indefinitely in Syria, burning the country to the ground as they do so.

But please, don’t let the conflict in Syria be about opposing America. Let it be about Syria, and what might actually help Syrians – you know, the actually existing people who are dying by the tens of thousands in this brutal war. But if you can’t do that, then do me a favor, and please shut up.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity

Republished by uruknet.info

Terry Moran reporting from the region for ABC News, 11:50am 30 August 2013:
"This crisis has strengthened Bashar al-Assad, no doubt about it."
UPDATE: Elizabeth o'Bagy writes in the Wall St. Journal, 30 Aug 2013:
a U.S. strike could very well bolster Assad's position and highlight American weakness, paving the way for continued atrocities.
Obama's current dilemma is of his own making. He set it up almost precisely a year ago when he stumbled into the White House Press room and warned Assad not to cross his red-line. Obama has had a long working relationship with Assad and has never supported regime change in Syria but for political reasons he has been forced to feign support for the democratic struggle and opposition to Assad's use of military power to suppress his people.

Obama's red-line statement came amidst more words of support for the opposition. It was designed to put certain limits on Assad's use of military power and to indicate to him what would and wouldn't be acceptable behavior to the superpower. Assad has now decisively crossed that red-line and this has forced Obama to act. Given that Obama does not favor an opposition victory, we can expect a military action full of sound and fiery but signifying little. Assad knows Obama won't take him out and he has used this massive chemical attack to deliberately provoke the US into attacking him so that he can galvanize his base.

The Initial Blunder

President Barack Obama was not even expected at the White House Press Briefing on the afternoon of 20 August 2012 when he surprised everyone including Jay Carney, his press secretary, and said "I thought I’d come by and just say hello." He spoke about his health care program before taking questions which eventually got around to Syria.

Chuck Todd asked him "whether you envision using U.S. military, if simply for nothing else, the safe keeping of the chemical weapons, and if you're confident that the chemical weapons are safe?" In responding to Todd's question, Obama first reiterated his view "that President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, that he needs to step down," noted that "we’re providing humanitarian assistance" and that they were also providing "some assistance to the opposition in thinking about how would a political transition take place," but no military support. "I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel."

He then when on to make the statement that may well come to define his presidency:
"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation
We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.

All right, thank you, everybody."
And so Obama abruptly ended the press conference. He probably realized he said too much already.
We now know that this famous red-line statement was not an ultimatum that emerged from discussions within the National Security Council. According to the New York Times this "Off-the-Cuff Obama Line Put U.S. in Bind on Syria:"
The origins of this dilemma can be traced in large part to a weekend last August, when alarming intelligence reports suggested the besieged Syrian government might be preparing to use chemical weapons. After months of keeping a distance from the conflict, Mr. Obama felt he had to become more directly engaged.

In a frenetic series of meetings, the White House devised a 48-hour plan to deter President Bashar al-Assad of Syria by using intermediaries like Russia and Iran to send a message that one official summarized as, “Are you crazy?” But when Mr. Obama emerged to issue the public version of the warning, he went further than many aides realized he would.
“The idea was to put a chill into the Assad regime without actually trapping the president into any predetermined action,” said one senior official, who, like others, discussed the internal debate on the condition of anonymity. But “what the president said in August was unscripted,” another official said.
Consequences, Intended or Not

President Obama spoke with the arrogance of a superpower when he laid down the law with his surprise comments to anyone in Syria who might even think about using sarin gas, but whether he intended them or not, his remarks had certain consequences. They also gave Bashar al-Assad three other pieces of valuable information:

1) Obama told Assad the US would not intervene so long as he continued the slaughter by conventional means. I called that out with Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria a few hours after Obama made his red-line statement. At the time, the uprising against the Assad regime had already taken 25,000 lives but Assad was only tentatively using his air force and had not yet started using his large ballistic missiles against the people. Once he knew their use alone would not provoke a US military strike, he greatly accelerated their use and consequently the death toll in this conflict quickly climbed to over a hundred thousand.

When asked about a possible military strike against Syria in response to this massive new chemical attack at the White House Press Briefing Tuesday, Jay Carney issued the standard presidential reply to all such questions:
We have never taken military force off the table and we will not now in response to this flagrant violation of international norms.
But that is exactly the favor Obama did Assad a year ago August. First he re-affirmed that he had "not ordered military engagement" but that chemical weapons use would "change my calculations significantly." The implication being that the military option was off the table so long as Assad didn't use chemical weapons. Its hard to say if any lives would have been spared if Obama had also indicated that at some point the US might find slaughter by more conventional means intolerable but its also hard to see how such a proclamation would have made things any worst.

2) Obama gave Assad a road-map for introducing chemical weapons into the conflict in an acceptable way.

Why did Obama say "a whole bunch of chemical weapons?" What exactly is a whole bunch of chemical weapons? Such fuzzy language has no place in laws, let alone ultimatums. Can one imagine schools that prohibit "a whole bunch" of drugs or weapons on campus? How could you enforce such a rule?

And yet this is exactly the road map that Assad has used to introduce chemical weapons into the arsenal of weapons he is using to suppress his own people. In a whole series of chemical attacks since December, he has stayed safely to this side of "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" until this most recent attack on 21 August 2013.

The first use was on 22 Dec 2012 in the rebel-held al-Bayyada neighborhood of hotly contested Homs. While this use by the regime was documented by video tapes, witness and doctor testimony and confirmed by a general who defected from the chemical weapons division days later, only seven people died so it could hardly be considered that "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" were used.

Then there were two attacks on 19 March 2013. In one of them, Khan al-Assal, 31 people were killed. Both Britain and France conducted investigations and found the Assad regime responsible but the Assad regime blamed the opposition, which denied responsibility and nothing was done. Apparently, "a whole bunch" involved more than three dozen deaths.

There was no question of who was responsible for the gas attack on 13 April 2013 in Sheik Maqsoud, Aleppo because the gas cannisters were dropped from helicopters and only the regime flies those. Using that delivery method was very much "in your face" but since only two women and two children were killed and another 16 made sick, there was no question of it passing the "whole bunch of" test.

And this has been the pattern of chemical attacks up until now. Almost certainly, the Assad regime has been behind all of them. Jhadists have not used sarin gas missile attacks anywhere in the world and there has been nothing indicating that anyone in the opposition has this type of capability. The videos of so-called rebel labs making chemical weapons with lye have all been debunked. These chemical weapons attacks have all been small scale attacks, very tentative in nature, in the beginning. This has been Assad's pattern with the introduction of every new weapons system into the conflict. There has been the suspicious on the part of some observers that the poisons were being deliberately watered down or mixed with non-lethal agents to throw investigators off the scent. All of these gas bombs fell through the "whole bunch of" loophole Obama included in his chemical weapons prohibition and all of them have been given a pass by Obama.

Assad calls for US intervention

The attack that took place on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 killed over a thousand people and undeniably involved "a whole bunch of chemical weapons." That attack took place about 3:00AM Damascus time, it was still August 20th in Washington, DC and so a year to the day exactly after Obama threw down his "red-line" gauntlet to Assad.

This brings us to the third thing Obama telegraphed to Assad with his off-the-cuff red-line statement:

3) Obama told Assad exactly what he needed to do if he wanted to force the US to intervene militarily. US intervention has great political advantages for Assad and might be worth it provided he doesn't get hurt too badly militarily.

After Obama very publicly told Jeffrey Goldberg last year with regards to Iran "as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he can't afford to have his bluff called by Assad. So Assad could know with a high degree of certainty that Obama would respond with a military strike to this massive use of chemical agents.

Syrian Regime carried out the nerve gas attack on East Ghouta

There can be little doubt that Assad is responsible for this attack. The Arab League holds him responsible. Certainly, the White House has no doubt as they claim to have intercepted communications within the Assad regime about the attack. Apart from that, there is a lot of other evidence that says the Assad regime was behind this attack.
Nerve gas is the perfect weapon for ethnic cleansing. Assad has been moving Alawite and Shia families into areas he has cleansed the Sunni's out of. When he has done this the old fashion way, with bombs, as in Homs and Qusayr, he has left these families very little to move into. He could hardly afford to do this to Damascus. With sarin gas he can clear the people and spare the buildings. The gas clears in hours and the area can be re-inhabited immediately.

The attack took place on an area of Damascus that has been liberated for a long time. In spite of consistent Assad regime attempts to take back these areas and move the opposition out of Damascus, the people have stubbornly held on. It is well documented that the Assad regime was bombarding this area before the chemical attack, and they were bombarding it after the attack, destroying the evidence and using their offensive as an excuse to keep the UN inspectors out. It is ludicrous to think an opposition force carried out a chemical attack on itself in between more conventional Assad regime attacks.

Yezid Sayigh, an analyst of Arab militaries at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut speculated as to why Assad may have made this attack:
“They clearly felt a need to use chemical weapons quite a while ago and were able to get away with that, bluntly, as long as they kept it within certain limits,” he said. “Maybe they felt they needed to achieve significant progress in the Damascus area, and loosened the rules of engagement.”
The Stratfor Global Intelligence Group is the largest private intelligence organization in the world, it is known as the private CIA, and it covers things like Syria for its corporate clients. This is what it said about the situation around East Ghouta in a report it issued on 17 June 2013:
Syrian loyalist forces are also on the offensive in Damascus and in the south. Having mostly isolated the sizable rebel pocket in the Eastern Ghouta region with the seizure of Otaiba, loyalist forces continue their efforts to reduce the rebel pocket, though they have yet to make much headway.
So the Assad regime was being frustrated in its attacks on East Ghouta, and that was more than two months ago. Now guess which side used nerve gas on East Ghouta?

Video from Tuesday shows regime strikes on Irbeen city in East Ghouta, Damascus.

The attack was a very sophisticated one, with percussion bombs used to shatter windows prior to the deployment of the gas and then a massive amount of gas deployed with multiple rockets. Only the Assad regime has the arsenal and training necessary to carry out that kind of attack with chemical weapons. Neither Al Qaeda nor any of its affiliates have ever carried out a nerve attack of any size anywhere in the world and now suddenly they can kill over a thousand in Syria with nerve gas in rockets? It simply doesn't past the smell test.

Other investigators have looked at the likely trajectory of poison gas missiles embedded in the targets and determined that they were fired from Syrian military bases. Brown Moses has compiled a list of over 131 videos from the event so there is a lot of direct evidence.

And always, when considering who is responsible for this mass murder with chemicals, the context must also be remembered. The Assad regime is already slaughtering thousands of Syrian civilians with its air force and ballistic missile force. That is undeniable, as is the fact that the Assad regime is overwhelmingly responsible for the death and destruction in this conflict.

Obama wants to discipline the regime not change it

Obama has already signaled that any military action will designed to send a message and not advance the opposition cause of regime change. Max Fisher analyzed it this way in the Washington Post on Tuesday:
Military thinkers from Sun Tzu to Napoleon Bonaparte have long emphasized the element of surprise. So it might seem strange that the Obama administration is not just clearly telegraphing that it likely plans to launch limited strikes against Syria, but also when it’s going to strike and what with. Even the likely target list is starting to come out. This is the opposite of how military tactics are supposed to work, right?

Actually, publicly revealing when, how and where the United States (and some allies) will likely strike makes sense, given what Obama wants to accomplish. If his goal were to fully enter the Syrian civil war and decisively end it, then, yes, secrecy would be the way to go. But the administration has been very clear that it has a much more modest goal: to punish Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons so that he, and future military leaders, won’t do it again.

What’s about to happen, if the United States and allies do go through with the strikes, is less of a war and more of a ritual. This isn’t about defeating Assad, it’s about punishing him.

Flash and Bang

While the limited strikes are bound to generate a lot of flash and bang, as appropriate for sending a message, they specifically won't do what Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has suggested they should do, that is to “tip the battle in favor of the insurgents.”

As presidential press sectary Jay Carney said on Tuesday "the options that we are considering are not about regime change" and as Martha Raddatz said on ABC World News that same evening "They don't want regime change."

In spite of long feigned support for the struggle for freedom and democracy in Syria, the imperialists know they have enjoyed a good working relationship with Assad. He has given Israel its quietest border and kept both the Palestinian and Syrian people on a short leash. He has supported the US "War on Terror," working with the CIA rendition and torture programs and has generally proven to be just another petty dictator looking for his piece of the imperial pie. The US imperialist have no real interest in seeing him replaced by an Iran like theocracy, and even much less so a truly democratic, and people orientated, Syria.

Fred Hoff, a key Obama Syria hand since 2009, who lobbied for much more serious strikes that would significantly degrade Assad's offensive capabilities, said:
“Something that is significantly less than that, something that is seen as symbolic, I think would just enable Bashar al-Assad to say I have stood up to the world’s only superpower and faced it down.”
Assad knows this. He knows that Obama isn't going to hit him hard or knock him out of the box, just as he knows Obama won't threaten him personally. And there are definite political benefits for him in drawing the US into the Syrian conflict. All along he has tried to paint himself as the underdog, fighting a conspiracy of Western backed terrorists, but that story has become very tattered as the death toll continues to rise as a result of his air attacks. A direct attack by US forces could revive Assad's anti-imperialist underdog status like nothing else and he badly needs to rally both his internal and external support networks for a desperate push to preserve his regime in at least a part of Syria.

And apart from provoking Obama, Assad needs to use his chemical weapons for strategic reasons. In spite of claims by the pro-Assad activists and much of the Western media that the tide has turned in his favor in the civil war, the facts on the ground say he's not doing so well. He lost a major airbase near Aleppo and is very close to losing Syria's second largest city entirely. He knows he can probably never get back control over large portions of the country so now he is trying to create an ethnically cleansed Alawite-Shia-Christian area around Damascus, Homs and the Latakia area by the sea. Only he ain't been doing to good. The rebels have been able to mount a successful offensive in what he thought his safest rear area around Latakia, taking several towns, and the opposition areas in Damascus have proven very stubborn and have refused to yield to conventional arms. Hence the chemical attacks. Obama's rebuke, even if military, is likely to be timid and ineffective. There will be more chemical attacks.

In Summation

We can already see how even the threat of an imminent US attack on Syria has had the effect of "turning the tide" in the US Left with some forces that were just starting to question there outlook on the Syrian Revolution, suddenly dropping such considerations as they rush to the "US Out of Syria" barricades.

One can imagine that effect multiplied ten times inside of Syria, which is what matters to Assad. For more than two years now Assad has been losing this war, and not because of bombs dropping from American planes but because of soldiers dropping from his army. Defections have been his biggest problem and lately defections have been rising. Probably nothing could stanch the flow of defectors like an Obama missile strike.

Not much of a strike, mind you, just enough of a strike so that Assad can say "You're not going to dessert your country just when the long awaited direct war with the US imperialist has started are you?"

The Obama administration has been going out of its way lately making clear to anyone who will listen that they prefer Assad over the opposition. I've been saying that for a long time but now they are out of the closet with it with General Dempsey's latest statements opposing military support for Assad's opposition.

With that stance widely broadcast in the past several weeks, Assad could easily believe that even if he provoked a US strike, and he already knew just how to do that, it would be relatively mild and not harmful to him personally.

But personally, I hope I'm wrong about this. I hope he takes the sucker out!

For more on Obama's real Syria policy, see these other posts by me:
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

FYI: I was there on the mall in Washington 50 years ago with my father and my brother. I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preach and I heard Bob Dylan sing. I was 14 and it was my first demonstration.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do’s and don’ts for progressives discussing Syria

Republished from Mondoweiss:
Ramah Kudaimi on August 27, 2013

With Syria back in the news due to the horrific chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds and threats from the US to engage in military strikes, below are some do's and don'ts for progressive/radical anti-war organizations/activists in the US as you figure out a proper response.

1. DON'T in any way say or imply both sides are wrong and it's not clear who we would be supporting if we get involved militarily. This is an insult to every Syrian who has and continues to go out in the streets and protest both the regime and those forces who are looking to use this time of war to assert their own power over others. It is a shame how many progressive groups in the US just jump on the “both sides are bad” wagon so we shouldn't get involved. There are one million children who are refugees and that is the fault of the regime. It is the regime who is bombing cities with jets; it is the regime that has ruled the country with brutal force for decades. Any statement that doesn't acknowledge this is again an insult to those who have sacrificed so much.

2. DON'T over conflate Iraq and Syria. Just as ludicrous those who look to Kosovo as an example of military intervention to support it in Syria are, it is quite pathetic when so many progressives and leftists are just obsessed with supposedly false chemical weapons claims. There are 100,000 Syrians dead, majority killed by conventional weapons. So there are a million and one excuses for the US to intervene and faking chemical weapons attacks is not needed. There is also no basis I believe in claiming al Qaeda has access and uses such weapons. Al Qaeda fought the US for a decade in Iraq and not once deployed such weapons. But all of a sudden they're using them in Syria? And if the rebels had these weapons, the regime would've fallen a long time ago.

3. DON'T obsess over al-Qaeda, Islamist extremists, jihadists, etc. Since 9/11 progressives have rightly shunned the use of all these labels when it comes to the US War on Terror, yet we now use them freely when it comes to Syria and actually believe it. The overwhelming majority of Syrians, both those who have taken arms and those who continue to resist through nonviolent means, have nothing to do with the extremist groups and are rising up against all forces who are destroying their country, whether they be regime or supposed "opposition" groups. It is also important to understand that the Free Syria Army is not a central command army with orders given from the top. It is a loosely affiliated group of different battalions and anyone can claim to be part of it.

4. DO point out all the US failures toward Syria and how dropping bombs on the country is not what is needed. I personally don't believe that US is going to get militarily involved. They promised weapons to the rebels and have yet to deliver. No way is the US getting in because as has been pointed out by Gen. Martin Dempsey and in a NYT opinion piece, it is so much for useful for US "interests" for Syrians to kill each other. I think taking a position of the US should not get involved through a military intervention is fine. DON'T put it as "Hands off Syria" implying this is some kind of American conspiracy. DON'T argue this is about US not having a right to taking sides in a civil war. DON'T make it all about money for home since we do want more humanitarian aid. DO frame it as what will help bring the suffering of Syrians to an end.

5. DO point out US hypocrisy as it judges Russia for sending weapons to the regime. Just last week a story came out that the US is sending $640 million worth of cluster bombs to Saudi. Weapons continue to flow to Egypt, Bahrain, and Israel despite massive human rights violations. DO call for an end to all sales of weapons to all regimes in the region.

6. DON'T let genuine concerns with US imperialism, Israel, Saudi, etc make you look at pictures and videos of dead children and think conspiracy. Bashar is an authoritarian dictator and his record of resistance is a bit sketchy. Just remember he collaborated with the US on things such as CIA renditions. Just because the CIA is training a few fighters in Jordan or some anonymous rebel leader is quoted in some Israeli paper doesn't mean this isn't a legitimate Syrian uprising against a brutal regime.

7. DO highlight the continued bravery of the Syrian people who take to the streets and protest against the regime, extremists, and all others looking to destroy their struggle for freedom and dignity. As in with everywhere, coverage of violence trumps coverage of continued nonviolent resistance.

8. DO strongly urge people to donate for humanitarian aid. Between deaths, imprisonments, internal displacement, and refugees, I think 30-40 percent of the Syrian population is in one way or another uprooted.

9. I have no actual solutions to suggest that you encourage people to support. Perhaps pushing for an actual ceasefire might be an option, which would require pressure on Russia to tell Bashar to back down. I know my not having answers about how to resolve anything is a shortcoming, but sometimes the best course of action is to just be in solidarity with folks in their struggle through simply recognizing it.

10. Syrians deserve the same respect for their struggle as all other struggles in the region: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and always Palestine.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, August 22, 2013

AntiWar.com Disparages Chemical Attack in Syria

I am reprinting an AntiWar.com blog post in full because I think this one should haunt them forever:
Syrian Rebels Claim Hundreds Killed in Chemical Weapons Attack
Officials Deny Allegation
by Jason Ditz, August 21, 2013
Oddly timely since the UN chemical weapons experts arrived in the nation just days ago, Syrian rebels are now claiming a sudden massive chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus, saying 213 people were killed in a nerve gas strike on Ghouta. Other rebels claimed 635 had died.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, always willing to buy into anything the Syrian rebels say, dubbed it a “shocking escalation,” but the even more shocking aspect would be the timing.

It makes no sense to believe that after finally capping off months of negotiations to get chemical weapons inspectors into the country the Syrian military would just happen to pick that same moment to launch a strike far beyond anything previously alleged.

Riad Haddad, Syria’s Ambassador to Russia, denied the claim, saying that it was fabricated and meant to mislead the inspectors who had just arrived. The UN has yet to comment on the matter, but will presumably show up in Ghouta to investigate it.
[note from Clay: Syrian regime is blocking UN experts’ access to “chemical attack” site]
They treat this attack as if it didn't really happen. Those children aren't really dead. This is all just a CIA fabrication. Why would such a good guy as Assad even do something like this? It just makes no sense!

So it didn't happen. That's the way they think.

The AntiWar.com article didn't include any pictures of dead children, which I find ood, because there are so many this time. And originals! No need to go digging through the files and hoping no one will notice.

Anyway, here are some graphic suggests AntiWar.com can add:

Ghouta Massacre - more terrorists killed by Assad | 21 Aug 2013

Suffer the little children if we don't make chemical attacks a red-line we enforce!

Assad Must Go Now!

Those little angel aren't sleeping, they are massacred by chemical weapons | 21 Aug 2013

Hundreds of dead kids due to poisonous gases by Assad Regime | 21 Aug 2013

Their right to know what happened to them, let this dead world know | 21 Aug 2013

A mother in Damascus, found her child among a row of dead children | 21 Aug 2013

A statement from Jobar's Medical Point regarding the chemical attack

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Assad Knows: Chemical Attacks Kill Children First!

A few late night thoughts.

Clearly these latest chemical attacks are the most terrible the Syrian people have witnessed. But there is something else about them. Something about the timing. They come almost a year to the day of Obama's famous "red-line" proclamation, almost as if Assad was mocking him.

There is something else. Something much darker.

I wrote Assad's New Strategy: Nothing Makes People Flee Like Murdering Their Children three weeks ago and it is terrible but it is true.

There is something else I realized this evening, as I posted the pictures of the dead and dying children: A chemical attack disproportionately affects children, it has a definite bias in favor of killing them - and Assad knows this!

A gas attack actually isn't the best way to kill soldiers. They are likely to be in their prime, in good health. They may have training and equipment to deal with it. No, gas attacks have a preference for the very young and the very old, for those in ill health and pregnant women. They are especially mean weapons. Even a nuclear strike is more egalitarian, killing everyone, but a chemical attack, by its nature, will kill the child before it kills the parent, kill the civilian before it kills the soldier and may even, as agent orange is still doing in Vietnam, kill the children of children not yet born.

And this is what we are allowing Assad to do to our children?

Ghouta Massacre - more terrorists killed by Assad | 21 Aug 2013

Suffer the little children if we don't make chemical attacks a red-line we enforce!

Assad Must Go Now!

Those little angel aren't sleeping, they are massacred by chemical weapons | 21 Aug 2013

Hundreds of dead kids due to poisonous gases by Assad Regime | 21 Aug 2013

Their right to know what happened to them, let this dead world know | 21 Aug 2013

A mother in Damascus, found her child among a row of dead children | 21 Aug 2013

A statement from Jobar's Medical Point regarding the chemical attack

If you watch this video you'll see how he vividly shows how civilians suffered much more than soliders, often just because they didn't know what to do and did the wrong thing.
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

1300+ Dead after Obama "Green-lights" new CW attack in Syria

After the top US General, Martin Dempsey, told US Representative Eliot Engel on Monday that the Barack Obama administration opposes intervening militarily in Syria, the Assad regime today slaughtered over a thirteen-hundred Syrians with a chemical weapons attack, most of them women and children.

This new sarin gas attack, at 3:00am in Ghouta, Damascus appears to be far more massive than any earlier Syrian chemical weapons attacks and there can be little doubt that it has been spurred on my this recent announcement that the Syrian people could expect no protection from the US. Obama has already shown that his "red-line" against Assad chemical weapons use was only so much hot air and on Monday Dempsey wrote:
"We can destroy the Syrian air force… The loss of Assad's air force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict.
AP is reporting:
Dempsey: Syrian rebels wouldn't back US interests
Published: Today
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were to seize power right now, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Effectively ruling out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn't require U.S. troops on the ground, Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a letter to a congressman that the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force and shifting the balance of the Arab country's 2½-year war back toward the armed opposition. More...
Clearly, humanitarian concerns are not at the top of the US list. Neither is the question of what is best for the Syrian people. They will support the side that best serves US [imperialist] interests and that ain't the people fighting Assad. The US could stop these air attacks, including this chemical attack, but it doesn't see it in its interest to do so. It took just two days for the Assad regime to receive this messase and respond accordingly.

Reuters is reporting this morning:
Opposition says as many as 1,300 killed in gas attack near Damascus

By Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis
BEIRUT/AMMAN | Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:32am EDT
Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of gassing many hundreds of people - by one report as many as 1,300 - on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades.

Western and regional countries called for U.N. chemical weapons investigators - who arrived in Damascus just three days ago - to be urgently dispatched to the scene of one of the deadliest incidents of the two-year-old civil war.

Images, including some taken by freelance photographers and supplied to Reuters, showed scores of bodies including of small children, laid out on the floor of a clinic with no visible signs of injuries.

Reuters was not independently able to verify the cause of their death. The Syrian government denied that it had used chemical arms.

George Sabra, one of the leading opponents of Assad, said the death toll was 1,300 killed by poison gas rained down on suburbs east of Damascus.

"Today's crimes are ... not the first time the regime has used chemical weapons. But they constitute a turning point in the regime's operations," he told a news conference in Istanbul. "This time it was for annihilation rather than terror."

An opposition monitoring group, citing figures compiled from medical clinics in the Damascus suburbs, put the death toll at 494 - 90 percent of them killed by gas, the rest by bombing and conventional arms. The rebel Syrian National Coalition said 650 people had been killed.

If the cause of death and the scale of the killing were confirmed, it would be the worst known use of chemical weapons since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988.

Activists said rockets with chemical agents hit the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar during fierce pre-dawn bombardment by government forces.

The Damascus Media Office monitoring center said 150 bodies were counted in Hammouriya, 100 in Kfar Batna, 67 in Saqba, 61 in Douma, 76 in Mouadamiya and 40 in Irbib, all suburbs of Damascus. More...
A mother in Damascus, found her child among a row of dead children | 21 Aug 2013
BBC News is reporting:
Syria chemical weapons allegations

21 August 2013 Last updated at 08:27 ET
The BBC has seen video and eyewitness testimony that appears to corroborate allegations of chemical weapons' use in the Syrian town of Saraqeb. So what do we know about the alleged instances of chemical weapons use in the conflict so far? More...
al Ghouta | Damascus | Child hysterical & can't focus, after regime CW attack | 21 Aug 2013

The New York Times is reporting:
Syrian Rebels Accuse Government of Chemical Attack

Published: August 21, 2013
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Antigovernment activists accused the Syrian government of pounding areas east of the capital, Damascus, with rockets carrying poison gas early Wednesday, saying that people had been killed in their sleep and that local hospitals were filled with casualties.

Amateur videos posted online showed medics, with hand-pump respirators, trying to revive people laid out on floors and hospital gurneys, along with images of rooms full of bodies. The source of the images could not immediately be verified, and the government of President Bashar al-Assad denied the allegations of a chemical weapons attack. More...
Children killed in Ghouta Chemical Massacre | 21 Aug 2013

UPDATE 9:00 pm pst

Ghouta Massacre - more terrorists killed by Assad | 21 Aug 2013

Brown Moses has posted a play-list of 131 YouTube Videos relate to this attack. He also talks about the munitions that might have been used in his blog today:
Are These The Munitions Used In Today's Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack?

Those little angel aren't sleeping, they are massacred by chemical weapons | 21 Aug 2013

The Guardian thinks this attack is for real:
Chemical weapons experts say strike near Damascus fits with lethal toxin use
Analysts say videos of attacked rebel-held areas show asphyxiations and emergency staff overwhelmed with victims

Peter Beaumont and Ian Sample
Wednesday 21 August 2013 16.11 EDT
Experts who have examined the first video footage of the immediate aftermath of the attack on people on the outskirts of Damascus Wednesday morning believe it shows the most compelling evidence yet consistent with the use of a lethal toxic agent.

Among those interviewed by the Guardian were analysts who had previously raised questions over the authenticity of previous claims or who had highlighted contradictions.

If confirmed, the attack, quickly blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad by Syrian opposition sources, would be the worst involving chemical weapons in decades. Estimates of the fatalities ranged between 100 and 1,300 people.

As the White House appealed to the UN for an immediate investigation,it was reported that three separate strikes involving suspected chemical weapons had occurred within a three-mile radius, in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, in the rebel-held areas of Jobar, Zamalka and Ein Tarma.

"The video footage and pictures this time are of a far better quality," said Jean Pascal Zanders, a former analyst with the chemical and biological warfare project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who has worked in the field of chemical, biological and nuclear proliferation since the mid-1980s and has questioned some previous claims.

Zanders said: "You can clearly see the typical signs of asphyxiation, including a pinkish blueish tinge to the skin colour. There is one image of an adult woman where you can see the tell-tale blackish mark around her mouth, all of which suggests death from asphyxiation.

"What is also different in this footage is that we are seeing the chaos of the first response to what occurred. We are seeing the emergency services being overwhelmed by the innocent victims. It feels very authentic."

Hundreds of dead kids due to poisonous gases by Assad Regime | 21 Aug 2013

Human Rights Watch issued this report today:
Syria: Witnesses Describe Alleged Chemical Attacks
Government Should Give UN Investigators Immediate Access
August 21, 2013
(New York) – Witnesses in Eastern and Western Ghouta, outside Damascus, described symptoms and delivery methods consistent with the use of chemical nerve agents during attacks by government forces on August 21, 2013. The attacks killed several hundred people and injured hundreds more.

Seven residents and two doctors who were first responders told Human Rights Watch that hundreds of people, including many children, appeared to have been asphyxiated in the attacks that began in the early hours of August 21. The killing of civilians on a large scale in a single incident raises concerns that serious crimes were committed. The government denied on its state TV channel that it had used chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta, an area largely controlled by the opposition.

“A huge number of people in Ghouta are dead, doctors and witnesses are describing horrific details that look like a chemical weapons attack, and the government claims it didn’t do it,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ”The only way to find out what really happened in Ghouta is to let UN inspectors in.” More...
Their right to know what happened to them, let this dead world know | 21 Aug 2013

From Syria Freedom Forever we have this:
Statement of the Revolutionary Left Current in Syria on the massacre in the region of East Ghouta resulting from the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime

21 Aug 2013
At dawn on August 21 2013 hundreds of Syrians have fallen, and among them a huge number of children and women, victims of deadly weapons: poisonous gases and explicit use of chemical weapons, in the regions of East Gouta in the countryside of Damascus, as part of a fierce military attack waged by the regime since this morning on these areas. The list of sufferings and sacrifices of the masses of our people has lengthened after more than two years, it is no longer possible to count the hundreds of thousands of martyrs and wounded, detainees and millions of displaced and refugees. The suffering of our people has continued and it became more unbearable. Cry goes unheeded, and lingers the death silence of the human conscience.

Killing and coercion of our people continue, perpetrated by the machine of death and destruction of a regime that exceeds fascism by its savagery. It is a tragedy that the world has not known for a long time, the tragedy of a people revolting for freedom and liberation from the clutches of a dictatorship, from its savage repression and from its savage exploitation of the oppressed in our country, serving the interests of a narrow bourgeois clique.

Our revolution has no sincere ally, except the popular revolutions of the region and of the world and of all the militants struggling against regimes of ignorance and servitude and exploitation. This crime is part of the criminal and terrible actions of the ruling juntas against the masses of our people of unarmed civilians in shocking disregard for the human conscience and at a time when the forces of counter-revolution organized an offensive against the revolutions in the region, led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the regime has found an opportunity to commit the heinous massacre. Yet our rebellious and determined people, proven by his injuries, will continue its resistance against the criminal tyrants, they will inflict a defeat and punishment they deserve for their crimes.

We bury our dead and will look after our wounded. We will only be more determined and resolute in our struggle for the fall of the murderous and destructive regime and the victory of our people’s revolution.

For the edification of Syria for freedom, justice, equality and social justice

No to Washington! No to Moscow!

No to Riyadh! No to Tehran!

Glory to the martyrs and healing for the wounded and victory of the popular revolution all the power and wealth of the people

Revolutionary Left Current in Syria Damascus on August 21, 2013

For more on Obama's real Syria policy, see these other posts by me:
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria