Assad’s spokesman: Syrian rebels killed 25 people with chemical weapons

posted at 2:41 pm on March 19, 2013 by Allahpundit

This is the third claim of people being killed by poison gas in Syria in four months. The first two alleged that Assad’s forces were responsible, which is at least plausible logistically. It’s no secret that he has chemical WMD on the shelf and there’s no reason to think he has any moral objection to using it. And yet, there’s no hard reason to think that he has. Both of the earlier claims were dubious, with U.S. officials stepping forward in the second case to help debunk it. The White House has said before that chemical weapons are America’s “red line” in Syria, so if Assad finally takes the plunge, he’ll have to have reached a moment of such desperation that he no longer fears U.S. intervention as a result.

Any reason to think the rebels have chemical weapons of their own and might be willing to use them? Sort of. Back in December, a video circulated online purporting to show rebels gassing rabbits as a warning to Assad that they can play hardball too if need be. John Kerry warned literally yesterday about Assad’s weapons falling into terrorists’ hands, a possibility made more probable by reports of high-ranking Syrian military officials defecting to the rebels’ side. There have been reports now for months too that Assad’s troops have been “activating” part of his chemical stockpile by combining the precursors for gases like sarin. If the rebels managed to overrun an Assad arms depot and either got control of a fully assembled shell or got control of the precursors and had the expertise in their camp to put it together, then yeah, it’s kinda sorta possible that today’s story is true.

But wouldn’t they lose more from it than they gain?

Neither of the accusations could immediately be verified, and a chemical weapons expert in the U.K. told CBSNews.com there was very little evidence to suggest any actual chemical weapons had been deployed. A U.S. official, speaking anonymously to the Associated Press, also said there was no evidence of a chemical attack. Also expressing doubts was the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which reported no independent information of chemical weapons use.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the administration had no evidence to suggest the rebels had used chemical weapons, but added: “We are looking carefully at the information as it comes in… This is an issue that has been made very clear by the president to be of great concern to us.”…

Russia, one of the Syrian regime’s few remaining allies, joined the Assad regime in accusing the rebels of carrying out a chemical attack, calling it an “extremely dangerous” development in the crisis. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said rebels had detonated a munition containing an unidentified chemical agent early Tuesday in Aleppo province, without giving further details. The claim was nearly identical to the reports by Syria’s state media…

“I saw mostly women and children,” the Reuters photographer, who was not identified, told his editors. He said after visiting the University of Aleppo hospital and the al-Rajaa hospital — both in state-controlled parts of Aleppo — that victims “said that people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine.”

A chemical weapons expert tells CBS that even conventional weapons can produce a chlorine-type smell, and that if deadly gas had been involved, the doctors at the hospital who treated the victims would be affected too since they weren’t wearing protective clothing. Besides, what sense would it make for the rebels to risk complicating the west’s anti-Assad position by using WMD on a random bunch of civilians? The U.S. has provided aid, both overt and covert, to the opposition but that’ll become untenable if they start breaking out the sarin. To preserve any chance of a more robust American intervention on their behalf later, the rebels have to be careful not to do anything too politically toxic. As such, if chemical weapons do end up being used, it makes more sense strategically and logistically that Assad’s forces will end up using them and trying to pin it on the rebels to spoil their international support.

Speaking of politically toxic Syrian rebels, take a gander at this LA Times piece from over the weekend. The CIA’s not waiting for Assad to fall to figure out which jihadis in the opposition have a rendezvous in their future with American drones.



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Yeah, but they weren’t CHEMICAL, chemical weapons…

catmman on March 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Wonder where they got them?

sandee on March 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM

So basically the US position is that UNLOESS the attack occurs in front of Barack and John Kerry, and the Nobel Committee, and is filmed, and the results immediately rushed to a Scotland Yard Lab, THERE WAS NO CHEMICAL ATTACK, because IF there were, we’d have to do something about it.

JFKY on March 19, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Assad knows the rebel groups are no more salient to just about anybody than himself, all of the actors being bad gives the head back actor free license, to lie while committing barbarism.

Speakup on March 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM

But wouldn’t they lose more from it than they gain?

Not if they can blame it on Assad. This is now a propaganda war.

a capella on March 19, 2013 at 2:49 PM

a chlorine-type smell

muslim-on-muslim violence, nothing new here. I don’t think they’re getting enough hugs from NASA.

RedInMD on March 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM

The White House has said before that chemical weapons are America’s “red line” in Syria, so if Assad finally takes the plunge, he’ll have to have reached a moment of such desperation that he no longer fears U.S. intervention as a result.

But, if it’s anything nuclear in North Korea or Iran – basically, we just don’t give a shit.

But those Syrians better not use any chem weapons! Boy, oh boy! They better not!

I’m sure that Assad is shaking in his sandals.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 19, 2013 at 2:53 PM

So basically the US position is that UNLOESS the attack occurs in front of Barack and John Kerry, and the Nobel Committee, and is filmed, and the results immediately rushed to a Scotland Yard Lab, THERE WAS NO CHEMICAL ATTACK, because IF there were, we’d have to do something about it.

JFKY on March 19, 2013 at 2:46 PM

I know. Such an absurd concept seeking evidence before starting trillion dollar wars and stacking up bodies. They should just go with faith and have the mission accomplished banners printed already.

lester on March 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Time to replay Bark’s Cairo Speech over loudspeakers placed throughout Syria, turn those bugger up to 11; obviously the Syrians couldn’t hear it the first time.

Bishop on March 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

wmd’s do not exist…just a bad cold maybe?

right2bright on March 19, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Such an absurd concept seeking evidence before starting trillion dollar wars and stacking up bodies.

1) Mayhap the answer is to not have “Red Lines” think of that Lester?
2) My point is that after having created this red line, the Administration is busy running awy saying, “llalalalala I’ NOT listening.”

Beyond that you captured the essence of my position.

JFKY on March 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM

But Saddam didn’t WMD? Yeah chemical weapons in Syria came from the tooth fairy.

Odd the media seems to think so.

Speakup on March 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

I know. Such an absurd concept seeking evidence before starting trillion dollar wars and stacking up bodies. They should just go with faith and have the mission accomplished banners printed already.

Guffaw. Love it when the most reprobate imbeciles among us stamp their feet and act like they have any moral authority whatsoever.

tom daschle concerned on March 19, 2013 at 2:59 PM

I know. Such an absurd concept seeking evidence before starting trillion dollar wars and stacking up bodies. They should just go with faith and have the mission accomplished banners printed already.

lester on March 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Agreed, and the troops should have been completely withdrawn from the mideast by the end of 2009 like that one dude promised.

Bishop on March 19, 2013 at 2:59 PM

people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine

How much bleach and ammonia would be need to be mixed to produce this results?

agmartin on March 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on March 19, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Don’t worry…

The Obama administration don’t give a shite about this, either.

catmman on March 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM

1) Mayhap the answer is to not have “Red Lines” think of that Lester?

2) My point is that after having created this red line, the Administration is busy running awy saying, “llalalalala I’ NOT listening.”

Beyond that you captured the essence of my position.

JFKY on March 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM

It could very well be that had they not declared a red line, Assad would have gone ahead with gassing the Sunnis. Then we’d be in anyway. Now he knows what he’s up to and so does the world.

lester on March 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Poison gas was first used in WWI at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April, 1915, when the Germans employed chlorine gas. It’s a truly horrible way to die.

troyriser_gopftw on March 19, 2013 at 3:05 PM

lester on March 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Gitmo! Gitmo!

a capella on March 19, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Wasn’t there recent news about US-trained Syrian Rebel returning to Syria?

Sir Napsalot on March 19, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Where would the rebels (or AQ, if you prefer) get these weapons? They’re an area weapon, most effective against a large concentration of enemy in a given area. A lot are needed, and must be used with care because a wind shift can trigger a disaster for the side using them. It also makes no sense to use gas on civilians, for only loss of 25.

Damascus is fullabull, far as I’m concerned.

Liam on March 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM

So is that the kind of support Sec. Kerry was talking about? Why are we helping the rebels when they use chemical weapons against civilians? I told you our support of the rebels was wrong on so many levels. This is just one of them.Gawd!

jake49 on March 19, 2013 at 3:12 PM

I thought a Red Line was on a tachometer of race cars.

docflash on March 19, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Oh wait, I think it is time to redraw the line, huh Kerry?

jake49 on March 19, 2013 at 3:14 PM

They’re all bad actors.

Curtiss on March 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

I would love to find out Assad’s WMDs were marked “made in Iraq”.

1921 C DRUM on March 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Enter the Assyrian, any time now from stage left?

If the rest of the Middle East is any indication in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the last 12 years, we probably won’t be any happier – and probably worse – with whomever comes after Assad.

Screwed either way.

There is no clean entrance or exit in this mess, and even refusing to join will neither be clean nor messy.

Like one big vomit. Yeah, you feel good afterwards, but now the mess has to be cleaned, and maybe you could have prevented yourself from vomiting in the first place had you watched what you ate.

The Assyrian. Remember that folks.

Logus on March 19, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I would love to find out Assad’s WMDs were marked “made in Iraq”.

1921 C DRUM on March 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Ding ding ding ding. Remember all the trucks leaving Iraq for Syria in the runup to OIF.

But they’ll never tell us even if it turns out to be true.

Missy on March 19, 2013 at 3:49 PM

We don’t know what the truth is, and I’m sorry but it’s not worth more dead Americans.

MoreLiberty on March 19, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Huh, did I have a bad word in my “Hooray For Hollywood” parody?

GWB on March 19, 2013 at 3:53 PM

The REB’s ‘red lines’ are just a game to him. He will do nothing.

slickwillie2001 on March 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Ollie North was highly skeptical of the chemical weapons claim as well on Fox today. Seemed to believe that if in fact it was chemical that there was no way the hospital teams would be treating anyone without hazmat suits on, which he felt would definitely be provided to hospital staff by Assad.

can_con on March 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Maybe the HotAir censor/filter will release my previous post at some point? Maybe? *sigh* Was it the word ba zookas? *shakes my head*

GWB on March 19, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Hooray for the Arab Spring!

jnelchef on March 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Which side are we on again?

Foxhound on March 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM

can_con on March 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Yeah, by all means let’s pack our entire emergency department into a small poorly ventilated room with this patient whose skin and clothes may still be off-gassing.

DrSteve on March 19, 2013 at 4:54 PM

I know. Such an absurd concept seeking evidence before starting trillion dollar wars and stacking up bodies. They should just go with faith and have the mission accomplished banners printed already.

lester, it’s time for your violin lesson! on March 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Some Inconvenient Truths for our Low-IQ Democrat Voter here:

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime became official U.S. policy in 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act—a bill passed 360-38 by the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate. The law called for training and equipping Iraqi dissidents to overthrow Saddam and suggested that the United Nations establish a war-crimes tribunal for the dictator and his lieutenants.

-snip-

…in 1997 a key member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet (thought by most observers to have been Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) asked Gen. Shelton whether he could arrange for a U.S. aircraft to fly slowly and low enough that it would be shot down, thereby paving the way for an American effort to topple Saddam. Kenneth Pollack, a member of Mr. Clinton’s National Security Council staff, would later write in 2002 that it was a question of “not whether but when” the U.S. would invade Iraq. He wrote that the threat presented by Saddam was “no less pressing than those we faced in 1941.”

-snip-

In the U.S., there was a bipartisan consensus that Saddam possessed and continued to develop WMD. Former Vice President Al Gore noted in September 2002 that Saddam had “stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton observed that Saddam hoped to increase his supply of chemical and biological weapons and to “develop nuclear weapons.” Then-Sen. John Kerry claimed that “a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his [Saddam's] hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

Even those opposed to using force against Iraq acknowledged that, as then-Sen. Edward Kennedy put it, “we have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing” WMD. When it came time to vote on the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, 81 Democrats in the House voted yes, joined by 29 Democrats in the Senate, including the party’s 2004 standard bearers, John Kerry and John Edwards, plus Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Joe Biden, Mrs. Clinton, and Sens. Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller. The latter, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that Saddam would “likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.”

Please, lester. Never stop putting your utter stupidity on display here. You’re a Hot Gas Treasure!

F-

Del Dolemonte on March 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I would love to find out Assad’s WMDs were marked “made in Iraq”.

1921 C DRUM on March 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

And the Left would commit mass suicide.

Del Dolemonte on March 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM

The rebels (i.e. Mujihadeen, jihadis) have been performing attrocities for a long time. I get information on the oppression of Christian minorities in Muslim areas. There are many first hand accounts of the muj in Syria slaughtering Christians, filming the bodies and stating that Assad’s men killed poor innocent families from Rebel areas. We shouldn’t be surprised, this is a regular tactic by Muslims around the world. Western media keeps buying it, so…

As has been said, this whole conflict is as much a propoganda war as anything. The Western powers decided long ago that Assad was going to be replaced by the same Muj who took over Egypt & Libya. If it weren’t for the interference of Russia it would have already occurred and the persecution of minorities would really have taken off.

Yet British Prime Minister Cameron wants more weapons for the same muj his troops are fighting in Iraq. The Obama regime fully backs the Muj too.

If it takes a chemical weapon strike that can be blamed on the Regime just long enough to garner international approbrium, then I am convinced the West’s leaders are more than willing to sacrifice a few hundred Christian or Muslim lives to advance Assad’s overthrow.

Liam1304 on March 20, 2013 at 1:21 PM