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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Democracy Now debuts new lie about Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack

Almost from the beginning, opinions about the cause of the sarin attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, 4 April 2017, have fallen into two camps. Most media outlets, intelligence agencies and governments have agreed with reports from eye witnesses on the ground that what happened was that a Syrian jet dropped a sarin bomb on them.

The Assad regime, and its supporters in Moscow, don't dispute the fact that a Syria warplane dropped something or that civilians died from sarin, but they say that the chemicals came from a terrorist warehouse that was bombed with a conventional bomb, and it was the stuff in the warehouse that did the real damage. RT.com stated, 4 April 2017:
The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.
Sputnik News stated 12 April 2017:
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia stands by its assertion that the Syrian forces struck a militant chemical weapons production facility on April 4, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday.
"According to our absolutely reliable information, the point at issue are Syrian Arab Republic air force's Su-22 airstrikes on a site controlled by terrorists where chemicals were produced," Ryabkov told reporters.
Using that logic, the US could have gone ahead and bombed the dikes in North Vietnam, something it never did, and then denied responsibility for the mass drownings because it didn't drop any water. The best that can be said of the Assad/Russian explanation is that if it happened as they insist, then they took advantage of preexisting conditions to cause the chemical massacre of civilians.

Perhaps seeing the weakness of this original lie, or more likely because the whole sarin in the "terrorist warehouse" thesis is falling apart, today Democracy Now floated a third explanation that the conspiracy theorists will love. Now the new story is that the terrorists released the sarin in the street to implicated the Assad regime and get western support. If that sounds familiar, you were alive in 2013. To promote this new story, host Amy Goodman brought in a well known pair of Putin apologists, Stephen Cohen,  a contributing editor at The Nation magazine, and Jonathan Steele, former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian. Steele led off in introducing this new thesis:
JONATHAN STEELE: But as Lavrov pointed out in his remarks with Tillerson when they were having their joint press conference, the Syrian government has written to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, offering an inquiry, offering access to the airfield that was hit by the American cruise missiles, but also calling, quite legitimately, for the rebels to give access to the site where the sarin gas was used, to see whether indeed it was caused by an airstrike or caused by somebody on the ground who was doing a dirty trick to try and discredit the Syrian government.
This is indeed a very new tact because, as we see above, the official Russian/Assad version is that they released the sarin when they bombed the warehouse that was storing it. Amy Goodman quickly reminded him that this explanation has already been disproved:
AMY GOODMAN: The Guardian examined the warehouse and silos directly next to where the missile had landed. And Shaheen says they, quote, "found nothing but an abandoned space covered in dust and half-destroyed silos reeking of leftover grain and animal manure." He went on to write, quote, "Residents said the silos had been damaged in air raids six months ago, and had stood unused since then." Your response?
The warehouse was an important food source for this rebellious community. No doubt that is why it was bombed. It was left empty because the people know that if they tried to use it, it would just be bombed again.

Amy could have added that the missile crater was in the street, not in the warehouse. There was no recent strike on the empty warehouse. In any case, Steele had to concede the point, which would mean that the story being told by the Assad regime and the Russians is false, even if this new theory is plausible. This is a point nobody bothered to raise on Democracy Now because they are hoping to slip the new lie in over the disproved lie without anybody noticing:
JONATHAN STEELE: Well, that’s true. I mean, that report is accurate. But the crucial evidence is: Where did the sarin gas come from? 
That quickly he concedes that Damascus and Moscow have been lying about the murder of 80+ civilians with sarin. However, he is ready to advance a whole new theory in defense of Assad, and remember, this is a man who thinks a question is evidence:
And Professor Theodore Postol of MIT has just come out with a report trying to discredit the White House statement of the day before, a four-page White House statement. And Postol argues that the 122-millimeter rocket tube that is lying on the ground, that has been shown to reporters and others who’ve come to the site, was not broken open by impact with the ground, but by something that crashed onto it from above. That suggests it has to have been broken by somebody standing on the ground, putting explosives onto it from above, rather than being something that was dropped from an aircraft from on high.
We know from his past work, as well as from this statement that Postol has a very biased view. He is out to discredit the White House statement which repeats what the Syrians under attack said happened. The Democracy Now crowd would rather leave the Syrians out of this, so they only address the claims of Western sources.

Democracy Now co-host Nermeen Shaikh asked Cohen to weigh in:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Stephen Cohen, I’d like to ask you: If, in fact, as Russia and the Assad regime claim, they had nothing to do with this chemical weapons attack, what do they believe—who do they believe is responsible?
But they didn't claim they had nothing to do with it, Shaikh. They said they bombed a warehouse containing CW in a civilian area on purpose. That was their story. Cohen seemed to have forgotten that too:
STEPHEN COHEN: Well, we come back to where we began. That’s what they asked Tillerson. They showed him their intelligence, which corresponds to what Jonathan says. And, by the way, Jonathan Steele is one of the preeminent journalistic authorities on Russia and knows a lot about the Middle East. I take very seriously what he told you.
So Cohen strokes Steele, and backs up his story, claiming the Russian showed Tillerson the evidence, and just like that ---- they've replaced the lie about the bomb in the terrorist warehouse full of chemical weapons with a new one about how the terrorist released the sarin in the street.

They are helping the child killers, and they do it all with a straight face.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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