Was it the Syrian rebels that used chemical weapons?

posted at 9:21 am on May 6, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

So much for the “red line” nonsense in a civil war.  When evidence arose that sarin gas and other chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the assumption was that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had deployed their long-held chemical munitions.  That put pressure on the West to intervene in the conflict, especially after Barack Obama’s ad-libbed red-line declaration.  The UN has determined, however, that it was the rebel forces that used the chemical weapons:

U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.

Well, that puts a different light on the conflict, no?  Perhaps it’s better to say that it puts actual light on the war in Syria.  Both sides in this case are horrid choices for the US.  The only intervention that could possibly be in our interest would be to stage a massive invasion and decade-long occupation that would allow us to put down Islamist terrorists on both sides and establish a secular-based representative government, but few in the US will sign off on another Iraq.

John McCain still wants his intervention, even with the latest revelation:

“Apparently, the Syrians and Iranians have crossed a red line with the Israelis,” McCain said. “And that means that weapons of an advanced nature — probably missiles — have been moved from Iran into Syria with intentions of moving them to Hezbollah.”

McCain said the Israeli intervention ”will probably put more pressure on this administration” to act, but cautioned against deploying any U.S. troops, arguing in favor of arming the rebels and establishing a “safe zone.”

“We need to have a game changing action,” McCain said. “And that is no American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone, and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting for obviously, the things we believe in.”

Which side is “fighting for, obviously, the things we believe in”? The hereditary dictatorship that is getting Hezbollah to fight on its side, or the rebels who are imposing shari’a law and using chemical weapons, and which has no secular fighting force to speak of?


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On one hand I’d say “cover-up” to save Obama’s tail…

On the other hand…can they both lose?

Rogue on May 6, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Well, it would give 0bama an out. So there is that.

cozmo on May 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Who knows, since their are Al-Qaeda elements in the rebel forces their is a chance of this being true, but this report is also coming from the UN, the home of dictators and tyrant club.

It’s anyone’s guess. Let them both bleed white.

Lance Murdock on May 6, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Let the UN take the lead in persuading Syrians to kill each other more humanely.

Drained Brain on May 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM

This is a strange conflict from my point of view since I hope both sides wipe each other off the face of the earth. Anybody else feel that way?

Wine_N_Dine on May 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM

As the cover-up about the attack in Benghazi is revealed, I am less convinced than ever that we can trust our government to tell us what is really happening in that part of the world. I will be inclined to believe Israeli news media than in our “lean forward” Obama mouthpieces.

KyMouse on May 6, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Both sides in this case are horrid choices for the US. The only intervention that could possibly be in our interest would be stage a massive invasion and decade-long occupation that would allow us to put down Islamist terrorists on both sides and establish a secular-based representative government, but few in the US will sign off on another Iraq.

Which is why putting down markers like “red lines” are especially stupid threats. It is the kind of thing to expect from Kim Jong Un or Fidel Castro not the President of the United States.

Face it, the nation is being run by a stupid, lazy, moron with the mentality of a very slow sixteen-year-old.

Happy Nomad on May 6, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Let the UN take the lead in persuading Syrians to kill each other more humanely.

Drained Brain on May 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Unlike the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no reason why the United States should become embroiled in one faction of radical Muslims killing another faction of radical Muslims in a nation of no strategic importance.

But, with the rat-eared coward’s legacy on the line it is certain that he will act stupidly.

Happy Nomad on May 6, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Waiting to find out that the rebels in Libya that Obama armed were also alQueda who later killed the American ambassador who then went to Syria with Obama provided & Libyan confiscated weapons to fight Assad where Obama has been secretly arming the same Libyan/alQaeda rebels who are now Syrian/alQaeda rebels who got a hold of the Syrian chemical weapons and used them…and all because Obama gave them their start in Libya…

albill on May 6, 2013 at 9:35 AM

In Syria no matter which side you take, it’s the WRONG one. Best thing-let them kill each other–the more the better. Maybe give weapons to BOTH sides. LOL.

MaiDee on May 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Who cares?

Akzed on May 6, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Is it crazy to say that sending arms and money to al-Queda as they attack with WMD is a red line for impeachment?

elfman on May 6, 2013 at 9:41 AM

I don’t think anybody used sarin. I do suspect that the rebels contaminated soil and blood samples in an attempt to get the west to believe sarin was used. The shaving cream on their faces in the ER was hilarious.

Blake on May 6, 2013 at 9:44 AM

And where would the rebels be getting nerve agents? The only weapons possibly more guarded than them are nukes. In any case, both sides are going to lie, and I don’t trust the UN, either.

McCain is an idiot extraordinaire, so he’s another one I have to disregard. Why would he be so itching for an interventionist war, anyway — seemingly more than Obama? Given his history, I would expect him to be either a rabid hawk for American interests only (no more Vietnams!) or a staunch pacifist quick to question any alleged provocation.

We are ruled by true idiots.

Liam on May 6, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Thinning the herds of turds…stay out.

hillsoftx on May 6, 2013 at 9:49 AM

So, will Rubio withdraw his idiotic support for the Syrian “rebels”?

Pork-Chop on May 6, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Best thing-let them kill each other–the more the better.

MaiDee on May 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Yep. The world is overpopulated anyway. Our well intended efforts to save everyone from wars, famines, plaques, and self-destruction will only serve to prolong and increase suffering and the ultimate death toll.

Daryl on May 6, 2013 at 9:52 AM

toss a coin. did the UN try to pin it on the rebels to give 0bama some cover or did the rebels really do it in an attempt to frame assad and get the US to come down on him? oh well, that “smart power” is at work so all the middle east problems will be solved im sure.

chasdal on May 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM

What are the odds that some idiot used chemical weapons by mistake?

In many cases in the middle east, the jihadi’s are people who are familiar with weapons but cannot read. That is all it would take.

thgrant on May 6, 2013 at 9:58 AM

I seem to remember reading , a few month ago , that the rebels were using crude
bombs made from pool chemicals . There were pictures of people with burns not
consistent w/ sarin gas .
Not to say I’d put anything beyond anybody .

Lucano on May 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Not one to normally put my thumbs in my suspenders, but I called it last week. Not much to brag about though because it’s been all over the internet if the administration cared to look or even know.

The FSA had posted videos last summer showing they were experimenting on animals with a nerve agent.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM

The red line has been crossed. Chemical weapons were used in Syria Let’s help the rebels who used them!

/obama off

It’s the Second Arab Spring. Like the first Arab Spring, that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt and Libya and killed our Ambassador.

Time to learn our lesson. Assad is a Baathist soul mate of Saddam Hussein, and the rebels are supporters of Sharia Law, abuse of women, and use chemical weapons on their own people. Both are enemies of “the things we believe in”, so let them kill each other and we’ll have fewer enemies in Syria.

But why is Bibi bombing Syria? Israel has been surrounded by enemies since its creation, and the Israeli intelligence service probably knows lots of things we don’t. Bibi also knows he can’t trust Obama, who will probably want to make one more land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians like those wonderful deals Clinton and the two Bushes tried to make before him, and Israel has had enough of giving land for peace that never happens and brings Israel’s enemies closer to its borders.

Let’s let Bibi handle this situation, since he knows better than we do what’s in Israel’s best interest, our only real friend in that part of the world. If Assad is busy fighting rebels in his own country who have chemical weapons, he’s probably pulling his troops out of Lebanon to defend himself. Which gives Israel a great opportunity to establish a buffer zone on its northern border, and a land where Lebanese Christians can practice their faith in peace.

Bibi is looking at the Syrian conflict through different eyes–why trade land FOR peace with the Palestinians when the Syrian civil war gives him an opportunity for land AND peace?

Steve Z on May 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM

The killing going on in Syria is at small potato stage.I won’t be impressed until both sides use WMD’s on each other.

docflash on May 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM

The UN has determined, however, that it was the rebel forces that used the chemical weapons:

No, the UN has said they have determined that. Only the gullible would believe they actually have without asking for the evidence, especially when the UN says it is only strong, concrete (whatever that is) suspicions, and not incontrovertible proof.

The problem I have is that no evidence has been presented that the rebels could acquire Sarin. We’ve no seen any rebel force use Sarin before, have we? Not in the last 13 years has it been used, that I can recall. How did these schmucks get it? Have the Syrians reported that some was stolen? It seems to me if the Syrians had lost some they would be pointing that out immediately, just to cover their butts on the issue. Have they ever done that? BTW, Syria is not a party to the treaty banning production and stockpiling, so they aren’t violating anything by actually having the stuff.

Dusty on May 6, 2013 at 10:07 AM

The UN has determined, however, that it was the rebel forces that used the chemical weapons:

Let’s see the evidence. UN determinations have been no more reliable that anyone else’s.

We know Assad has chemical weapons. If “rebel forces” have them, where did they get them? How did they get them? And who exactly are these “rebel forces”.

As long as we are playing this game… How do we know Assad, or his allies, have not tried to make it look like “rebel forces” used chemical weapons?

This mess is why is was stupid for Comrade O to draw any kind of “red-line”. We should stay out of that mess.

Our only interest is to make sure chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us. And if the UN “determination” is true, that may have already happened. So now what, Comrade O? Is it okay for al-Qaeda affiliated “rebel forces” to have chemical weapons? Are you planning to draw another “red line”?

farsighted on May 6, 2013 at 10:12 AM

The killing going on in Syria is at small potato stage.I won’t be impressed until both sides use WMD’s on each other.

docflash on May 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Doc, they’re pushing 100K dead if they haven’t already crossed that line. If they start using chemicals, the world is going to see what the sum of all fears we’ve been talking about looks like. Both sides are ruthless. If either or both employ gas, it’ll get ugly. Ugly I think on a Biblical scale.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Wait a tic,maybe someone else did it,or,more than likey,
they accidentally went off???!!
(sarc)

Syria chemical weapon fears

UN investigators in Syria say there is ‘no conclusive proof’ either side of conflict used chemical weapons – @AJELIve

May 6, 2013, 2:10 p.m. GMT by editor
========================================

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/syria-chemical-weapon-fears

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:19 AM

farsighted,

This video and others like it have been all over the internet. About the only place I can find it now is on this channel, liveleak.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=94c_1354787624

The rebels claimed to have captured sarin gas from the SAA installations they’ve overtaken and in the video, it shows them experimenting with their own concoctions.

I’d turn the volume down. They add music and propagandize the film.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Both sides are ruthless. If either or both employ gas, it’ll get ugly. Ugly I think on a Biblical scale.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Well considering they are using fortifications from the time of the Crusades, Biblical scale destruction seems apt. Seriously, what was the rat-eared coward thinking when he put down markers with his bluster about “red lines.” There are no good sides in this conflict.

Happy Nomad on May 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

MeanWhile……………………

Al Arabiya English ‏@AlArabiya_Eng 18h

#BreakingNews: Damascus allows Palestinian factions to attack Israel from Golan Heights: sources
===========================

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BreakingNews&src=hash

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:25 AM

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Well considering they are using fortifications from the time of the Crusades, Biblical scale destruction seems apt. Seriously, what was the rat-eared coward thinking when he put down markers with his bluster about “red lines.” There are no good sides in this conflict.

Happy Nomad on May 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

They’re basically living in rubble now.

But obama had no idea who he was throwing his support behind. The FSA, Al Nusrah, they’re mostly foreign fighters now. A lot of Jihadists and Al Qaeda.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 10:26 AM

U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.

How convenient! I guess this lets Obama off the hook.

Vince on May 6, 2013 at 10:34 AM

US has no information to suggest Syrian rebels have capability or intent to use sarin, US official says – @Reuters

3 mins ago by editor
========================

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/syria-chemical-weapon-fears

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Here is a thought behind the moving “red line”: In the pre- and early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam moved his chemical weapons to Syria (or stashed them and they have been found by parties involved in the civil war in Syria), and now they are being used. If Obama admits that they were used, and causes deeper digging-exposing more people to the truth- his administration would have to admit that Bush was right.

Obama would rather have 50 Benghazi incidents or 500,000 dead Syrians than admit that.

Not that we should get involved, other than to throw a fence around the place, arm both sides and let them wipe each other out. There is no winner for the world if Assad or the Islamists win.

Spartacus on May 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………….

Top Breaking News ‏@h0tbreakingnews 1m

U.S., allies to stage naval exercise in Gulf energy shipping hub http://dlvr.it/3KwMKB #BreakingNews
====================================

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BreakingNews&src=hash

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Results for syria
*****************

https://twitter.com/search?q=syria

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Wine_N_Dine on May 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Human life is human life, but it is very hard not to agree with you. More to the point, civil wars, even ersatz ones, are the absolute worst. We have no dog in this civil war and one wonders where Senator McCain was during the alleged “civil war” in Vietnam and the issue made of it by every lefty with a typewriter.

IlikedAUH2O on May 6, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Spartacus on May 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Note the media never asking the question:

“Where did Syria get nerve gas?”

Wasn’t it odd that Iraq had a military commander named “Chemical Ali” and no WMDs?

And…I better stop there.

IlikedAUH2O on May 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Which is why putting down markers like “red lines” are especially stupid threats. It is the kind of thing to expect from Kim Jong Un or Fidel Castro not the President of the United States.Happy Nomad

Actually, I believe Obama copied Netanyahu. Netanyahu speech UN assembly 2012:
So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn? The red line should be drawn right here.

Michael Luciano writes:
In his address, Netanyahu reiterated his call for the establishment of a “red line” concerning Iran’s uranium enrichment. During his speech, the Prime Minister held up a diagram on which he literally drew a red line to emphasize the need to stake out a clear point at which Iran’s nuclear program would reach the point at which it could no longer be stopped. Netanyahu said that red lines could have prevented wars in the past including WWII and the Persian Gulf War. (http://www.policymic.com/articles/15438/israel-red-line-netanyahu-un-speech-gets-tough-on-iran-nuclear-program)

Monas on May 6, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Monas on May 6, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Yeah. Obama probably thought that sounded pretty cool so he did it too.

However, we know Netanyahu’s red line is not just a bombastic threat.

Vince on May 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Why do we have to pick sides? Why can’t we just arm both sides and let them kill each other for a decade or so. Syrian government rendered useless, Al Queda busy fighting for Allah, winners Isreal and the US.

bds1976 on May 6, 2013 at 11:18 AM

And…I better stop there.

IlikedAUH2O on May 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Why stop. Preach it. The weapons came from somewhere.

hawkdriver on May 6, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Who cares? Just stay out of it and let them kill each other off.

dentarthurdent on May 6, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Give oppressed minorities (Christians etc) a one way ticket out, then,

Let. It. Burn.

StompUDead on May 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM

If Obumble wants to arm them – I say we just send both sides a few planeloads of pressure cookers – one of which already containing the ashes of the Boston bombers.

dentarthurdent on May 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Well, if it was – gee, I wonder where they found them?

mojo on May 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM

“We need to have a game changing action,” McCain said. “And that is no American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone, and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people in Syria Israel who are fighting for obviously, the things we believe in.”

FIFY Senator.

AesopFan on May 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Is anyone surprised at this? Anyone? Bueller?

BKeyser on May 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

So, will Rubio withdraw his idiotic support for the Syrian “rebels”?

Pork-Chop on May 6, 2013 at 9:51 AM

No, he’s working on a path to citizenship for the rebels.

Alabama Infidel on May 6, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Hmmmm….seems more likely that Assad did indeed use the gas and this is yet another cover-up/deflection to get Obama out of the mess he’s in.

Whoever used it, both sides are made up of bad guys and I see no point in getting involved.

Jack_Burton on May 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

I frankly don’t care WHO used them. Assad is a fascist Muslim dictator and the rebels are AQ linked terrorists.
They’re all bad guys, and if it was the rebels who actually did it – this just proves the point.
We shouldn’t be helping ANYONE in that civil war.

dentarthurdent on May 6, 2013 at 2:22 PM

For those of you who think that sarin is sooooooooooo hard to get, how did a lefty Japanese cult get it in 1995?

Steve Eggleston on May 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Note the media never asking the question:

“Where did Syria get nerve gas?”

Wasn’t it odd that Iraq had a military commander named “Chemical Ali” and no WMDs?

And…I better stop there.

IlikedAUH2O

Where did they get nerve gas? Most likely from their own laboratories. They’ve had a chemical weapons program for years. They didn’t need to get them from Iraq. Now, that doesn’t mean Iraq’s weapons didn’t end up in Syria, my only point is that Syria’s possession of chemical weapons doesn’t say anything in regards to what happened to Iraq’s weapons.

xblade on May 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM