“You know what I did? I left troops to take the oil. I took the oil. The only troops I have are taking the oil, they’re protecting the oil. I took over the oil.”

  • « Chemical attack » kills scores near Damascus, Syrian opposition claims

    An apparent chemical attack in rebel-held districts near the Syrian capital of Damascus killed scores of people on Wednesday, wire services reported.

    Ce matin, les activistes annonçaient 213 morts. Dans l’après-midi 650 mort. Désormais 1300 morts.

    • Le graphique de Libération essaie-t-il de nous dire quelque chose ?

      – « Dimanche 18 août : Un mission de l’ONU avec des experts est arrivée à Damas pour inspecter trois sites où des armes chimiques auraient été utilisées »

      – « Mercredi 21 août : Les forces pro-Assad auraient bombardé avec des armes chimiques les quartiers tenus par les rebelles à la limite de la Ghouta (banlieue Est de Damas)

      3 jours après l’arrivée des experts de l’ONU, à 10 kilomètres du centre ville de Damas ?

    • Was There Just a Major New Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria? - By David Kenner

      This is not the first time chemical weapons attacks have been reported in the neighborhoods east of downtown Damascus. In May, the French daily Le Monde published a dispatch from the suburb of Jobar — one of the neighborhoods reportedly affected by the attack on Wednesday — where its reporters claimed to have witnessed the repeated use of chemical weapons.

    • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama’s Hand?

      Regarding the plausibility of these reports, the con is that it is not easy to kill a dispersed population with sarin. Chemical weapons are mostly battlefield weapons, used in WWI and the Iran-Iraq War at a military front where troops were massed together. In contrast, when the terrorist cult Om Shinrikyo loosed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, they killed 12 people instead of the thousands they were aiming for. This is because the circulating air in the subway dispersed the gas. Likewise, towns are heat pumps throwing warm air into the atmosphere, and this air circulation would typically disperse the gas.

      The rebels are alleging that the gas was delivered by fighter-jets in the form of gas-tipped missiles and that they know it is sarin because the victims were nauseous.

      The more likely scenario for hundreds of deaths like this would be the firing by helicopter gunships of sarin-tipped missiles at close quarters into markets or schools. Fighter jets fly high and don’t have that accuracy (Syria doesn’t have smart bombs)

      The pro is that if hundreds of people are dead for reasons other than shrapnel, then something killed them, and we could be seeing a repeat by the Baath Party in Syria of the Iraqi Baath Party’s genocidal Anfal campaign against Kurdish separatists in 1987-88 toward the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

    • Syrie : incertitude sur un éventuel bombardement à l’arme chimique

      De son côté, la Russie, l’un des plus fidèles alliés du régime de Bachar al-Assad, a critiqué les soupçons d’utilisation d’armes chimiques par les autorités syriennes. « Tout cela nous fait penser que nous avons à faire une nouvelle fois à une provocation planifiée à l’avance », estime le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères dans un communiqué.

      Opposition says as many as 1,300 killed in gas attack near Damascus

      Russia, too, urged an “objective” investigation but Assad’s biggest foreign ally also heaped scepticism on his enemies’ claims. A foreign ministry spokesman in Moscow said the release of gas after U.N. inspectors arrived suggested that it was a rebel “provocation” to discredit Syria’s government.


      Noting the “criminal act” took place as the U.N. team got to work, the Russian spokesman said: “This cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation ... We call on all those who can influence the armed extremists make every effort to end provocations with chemical agents.”

    • Je référence le billet de Brian Whitaker, parce qu’il circule beaucoup. Mais je trouve que c’est essentiellement de l’agitation de conjectures. Method in Assad’s madness ?

      So a short alternative answer to the question “why?” is that Assad has little to lose now from using chemical weapons and potentially a lot to gain on the political front. He may well be thinking: “If I can get away with this I can get away with anything.” And he could be right.

    • J’avais posté ceci au mauvais endroit : Was There Just a Major New Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria ? - By David Kenner

      This is not the first time chemical weapons attacks have been reported in the neighborhoods east of downtown Damascus. In May, the French daily Le Monde published a dispatch from the suburb of Jobar — one of the neighborhoods reportedly affected by the attack on Wednesday — where its reporters claimed to have witnessed the repeated use of chemical weapons.

    • The “Saudi Dilemma” Mires Jordan in Syrian Quagmire

      The statement made recently by the Jordanian prime minister, regarding preparations for chemical warfare, clearly indicates that an important wing in the Jordanian government has endorsed the Saudi-American vision for Syria. It is intriguing that an alleged chemical attack took place in the Ghouta area near Damascus, less than two days after the Jordanian prime minister forestalled such eventualities.

      To be sure, it is highly improbable that the Syrian regime would stage such attacks, given the current international climate and the presence of a UN team in Damascus to investigate previous instances of alleged chemical attacks. It is therefore likely that the Saudi-led camp may be involved in Ghouta’s incidents, whether in terms of preparation or execution.


      The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.

    • Q&A : Syria ’toxic attacks’ near Damascus

      Experts have expressed several reservations about what exactly the video footage shows and which weapons could have been used.

      “At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

      “In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”

      Dr Zanders had doubts about claims that a nerve agent was used.

      “I have not seen anybody applying nerve agent antidotes,” he wrote in a blog post. “Nor do medical staff and other people appear to suffer from secondary exposure while carrying or treating victims.”

      Meanwhile Prof Kekule said the symptoms did not fit with typical chemical weapons use as the victims did not appear to be suffering pain or irritation to their eyes, nose and mouth.

      “Some of perhaps all patients are briefly decontaminated with water or water and detergent in the video. The water is spilled over the chest, but (at least in the video) not over the face and eyes.”

    • Il n’y avait pas encore de prise de position tranchée d’Angry Arab, mais il est en train de poster une série de messages particulièrement sceptiques :

      Who are worse liars than the Syrian regime ?

      After watching Syrian developments for two years, one can ask: who are worse liars than the Syrian regime? The answer is clear: the exile Syrian opposition and the armed gangs of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In two years, they have produced more liars than any party in Syria. And this is a general statement not pertaining to a particular incident that took or did not take place.


      Do you notice this: the Syrian exiled opposition and the armed gangs of Saudi Arabia and Qatar upload hundreds of videos per day, and always of civilian victims. Do you notice that they never show armed people among the dead? Is this necessary to keep the myth alive that the regime is fighting unarmed civilians?

      Picture of Syrian children

      A comrade sent me this: "Why are the dead children all lined up in one place posing for the picture? Israel killed many children in 2006 and we didnt see this, in Qana too where they were all in one place. What do they do? They take them out of the hospital and lie them down on the ground and take videos? Seriously, chemical attack or no chemical attack and regardless of who killed them, tell me how are the pictures taken? I saw one picture with over 20 kids. They were all in one place when this happened? Have you seen this is any other war?"

      تساءلت رفيقة: وكيف يكوّمون جثث الأطفال هكذا؟ تأخذهم المعارضة المُسلّحة من المستشفيات وترميهم في أكوام وتأخذ صورهم, بصرف النظر عن أي شيء آخر

    • Doutes à la BBC, mais aussi doutes au New York Times :

      The videos, experts said, also did not prove the use of chemical weapons, which interfere with the nervous system and can cause defecation, vomiting, intense salivation and tremors. Only some of those symptoms were visible in some patients.

      Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World, a journal that covers unconventional weapons, said that the medics would most likely have been sickened by exposure to so many people dosed with chemical weapons — a phenomenon not seen in the videos. He said that the victims could have been killed by tear gas used in a confined space, or by a diluted form of a more powerful chemical agent. Others suggested that toxic industrial chemicals might have been used.


      At least one photograph posted on Facebook by an activist showed what looked like a makeshift rocket. But loyalist militias and Hezbollah have both fired makeshift rockets at rebel positions in this war, and could presumably be suspects for any attacks with improvised rockets on rebel-controlled neighborhoods.

    • Vatican Urges Caution over Syria Chemical Arms Claims

      The Vatican on Thursday called for caution over opposition allegations that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in an attack in the suburbs of Damascus — a charge denied by the authorities.

      “There should not be a judgment until there is sufficient proof,” Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva, said in an interview with Vatican radio.

      “What immediate interest would the government in Damascus have in causing such a tragedy?” he asked, adding that the real question was: “Who does this inhuman crime really benefit?”

      Tomasi also restated the Vatican’s opposition to armed intervention in Syria, calling for negotiations “without preconditions” and a “transition government”.

      “Experience has shown with Iraq and Afghanistan that armed intervention does not bring any constructive results,” he said, calling for an end to arms supplies to both the government and the opposition.

      The Vatican diplomat also criticized the “incomplete analysis” of the situation in Syria and the Middle East as a whole being made by the media.

    • Only Assad can prove the ’toxic gas’ claims are false | Fawaz Gerges

      However, it is also important to note that, analytically and strategically, his alleged use of such weapons defies logic. Beyond the nature of the attack itself, therefore, there are other questions the international community needs to ask.

      First, why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons on such a scale while there is a strong team of UN inspectors in Damascus? That would be foolish and reckless.

      Second, why would the Syrian army use non-conventional arms when it had already gained the upper hand in Ghouta, a strategic suburb, in the past nine months? The town has been besieged and under constant attack by the Assad forces – they have recently launched a major assault to recapture on the suburb. A few days ago the Syrian National Coalition released a public statement naming Ghouta mintaqa mankuba [a disaster area] and calling on the international community to pressure Assad to allow food and medicine to be delivered to the besieged neighbourhoods.

      Third, why would Assad utilise chemical weapons at this stage and bring about a potential western military intervention? His decision to allow the UN to investigate the earlier alleged chemical attacks was designed to neutralise the opposition’s calls for direct western intervention.