Again: U.S. investigating whether Assad used poison gas in Syrian rebel village this month

posted at 11:21 am on April 22, 2014 by Allahpundit

A grim complement to yesterday’s post about Obama’s “manhood problem” in the Middle East. What should he do about this to reassert American “manhood”?

The United States has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, the U.S. State Department said on Monday…

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told ABC television’s “This Week” on April 13 that the attack was “unsubstantiated.”

Psaki said chlorine was not one of the priority one or two chemicals Syria declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under a Russian-U.S. agreement for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile…

The Syrian government failed to meet a February 5 deadline to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors, some 1,300 metric tons, out of the country. It has since agreed to remove the weapons by late April.

The gas attacks last summer that pushed the White House to the brink of bombing Assad involved sarin, a more lethal chemical than chlorine. Chlorine was, in fact, used repeatedly by Al Qaeda in Iraq beginning in late 2006 and on through the first half of 2007. (Chemicals that “smelled strongly of chlorine” have been used before in the Syrian civil war too.) It’s efficient at making people sick but usually doesn’t kill them; according to early reports, the attack in Kfar Zeita killed two and wounded up to 100, which fits the basic casualty pattern from chlorine. All of which is to say, Assad’s claim that jihadi rebels were behind the attack isn’t entirely out of left field. They proved eight years ago that they can get their hands on the chemical and that they’re willing to use it in certain circumstances. That’s the evergreen dilemma for U.S. intel in responding to WMD attacks in Syria: Since both sides are thick with degenerates, there’s no way to make an easy first-blush calculation of responsibility. The potential smoking gun in this case, I think, isn’t the chemical itself but the means of delivery. If it really was dropped by helicopter, then that’s Assad’s boys. If not, it could be a long investigation.

But let’s say it’s true — Assad did it. What’s O’s move now? We can take another look at arming the “moderate” rebels in the Free Syria Army, but how much do you trust them after their top commander was cashiered for being ineffective? If nothing else, arming them would theoretically make life for more difficult for our friend Vladimir, but then it would also make life more difficult for Iran, whose cooperation Obama is seeking on nukes. And don’t forget that Al Qaeda in Pakistan has been moving assets to Syria lately in hopes of setting up a base there amid the chaos. How should we play that one — send in weapons to “moderates” and hope hope hope that jihadis don’t end up confiscating them, or sit back, wait for AQ to get there, and then start droning away? Which response will impress our dear friends the Sunnis more vis-a-vis America’s “manhood”?

Exit question via Sally Kohn: Is the GOP trying to rhetorically emasculate Obama or something?

Update: A nice piece from Reuters on how chlorine fits through a loophole in Assad’s disarmament deal with the west. Since it has many industrial uses, he’s not required to cough it up the way he is, say, sarin. If it was his side that used it in Kfar Zeita — and Reuters says the evidence is mounting that it was — it may mean that he really has disgorged most of the highly dangerous stuff and has turned to chlorine as back-up.


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Time to get a committee together to study the issue. snicker

rhombus on April 22, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Why is a chemical attack worse than getting blown to bits? Since it was chlorine it was probably the rebels.

major dad on April 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM

It’s famous drone delivery of ordered goods by Amazon.

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM

The only reason to arm the rebels is to keep the fighting going. Problem being that lots of innocents are going to be killed.

rbj on April 22, 2014 at 11:33 AM

When your enemy is destroying itself, stand back and watch.

antisense on April 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Remember when James Carville said that Hillary should give him one of her balls so they could both have one?

myiq2xu on April 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Ya, but, did this one cross any red lines?

dentarthurdent on April 22, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told ABC television’s “This Week” on April 13 that the attack was “unsubstantiated.”

Really, Reuters? Really?

RINO in Name Only on April 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM

I’m more interested how a nation can be this stupid this long. Is America that stupid or is something else shielding Islam?

BL@KBIRD on April 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Is the GOP trying to rhetorically emasculate Obama or something?

Too late. It’s already done. And, it wasn’t the GOP. And, it wasn’t rhetorical. It’s congenital.

trigon on April 22, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Can someone please remind me again of any reason… I’ll settle for just one… that we would support the rebels in Syria.

Other than, of course, that they are not Baashar al-Assad…

JohnGalt23 on April 22, 2014 at 11:44 AM

What should he do about this to reassert American “manhood”?

He should resign to, um, let the office be assumed by Vice President Biden … wait,

Biden should then resign to let the office be assumed by, um, Weepy … wait …

What was the question again?

Dusty on April 22, 2014 at 11:44 AM

And if the “investigation” reveals the use of gas – then what? This Administration has made it cleat that it has no idea what it’s doing – do we really expect anything to come from this, other than more hand wringing?

Hill60 on April 22, 2014 at 11:49 AM

And if the “investigation” reveals the use of gas – then what? This Administration has made it cleat that it has no idea what it’s doing – do we really expect anything to come from this, other than more hand wringing?

Hill60 on April 22, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Semi-strongly worded whining to Putin to commence shortly….

dentarthurdent on April 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told ABC television’s “This Week” on April 13 that the attack was “unsubstantiated.”

Really, Reuters? Really?

RINO in Name Only on April 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Thank you for catching that; I just read right past it. But in Reuters’ defense, the Syrian ‘activists’ are very similar to the activists that Obama has as friends.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Semi-strongly worded whining to Putin to commence shortly….

dentarthurdent on April 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Vlad trembles in fear hilarity.

hawkeye54 on April 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

U.S. investigating whether Assad used poison gas in Syrian rebel village this month

Why? Why bother? Who does Obama think he is kidding?

Blaise on April 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Remember when Erdogan and Turkey banned twitter/youtube a couple of weeks ago? They did it because they were caught setting up a false flag attack in Syria. That’s right, a NATO “ally” was caught planning a false flag attack that could drag in the US.

ninjapirate on April 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

I’m more interested how a nation can be this stupid this long. Is America that stupid or is something else shielding Islam?

BL@KBIRD on April 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM

The correct answer is C): Both A) and B).

bigmacdaddy on April 22, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Can someone please remind me again of any reason… I’ll settle for just one… that we would support the rebels in Syria.

JohnGalt23 on April 22, 2014 at 11:44 AM

SMARTPOWER™

bigmacdaddy on April 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Vlad trembles in fear hilarity.

hawkeye54 on April 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

“Hahahahaha, out vait, you vill do vat? Oh stop – Barry, you are KILLINGK me – no, really, I can’t breath, ahh, hahahahahahahaha”

dentarthurdent on April 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Why is a chemical attack worse than getting blown to bits? Since it was chlorine it was probably the rebels.

major dad on April 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Speaking from a victim’s standpoint. You get blown to bits you die pretty quick, not much pain. Chlorine on the other hand and you will be in extreme stress for a while. Depending on how much you breath in and how long you’re in it. Speaking from experience one small intake of chlorine and your lungs just shut down. I got puffed in the face with it and literally could not take a breath. Almost passed out before I could get my lungs working again and even then it was extremely painful. Burning sensation for hours. Felt like my throat was on fire. Burned my eyes too but the breathing difficulty was the worst. Doctor told me I was lucky it was such a small amount and warned me about possible complications like chemical induced pneumonia. All in all if I had a choice I’d take getting blown up over dying from chlorine gas.

Oldnuke on April 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Why is a chemical attack worse than getting blown to bits? Since it was chlorine it was probably the rebels.
major dad on April 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Oldnuke on April 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

OTOH – with Muslims involved, if you kill everyone with a chemical attack, it deprives the “religion of peace” killers of the joy of grabbing their tied up victim by the hair and slowly carving their head off with a kitchen knife….
Of course, given the Muslims’ propensity for car bombs and suicide vests, they do seem to enjoy their “blowing to bits” as well….

dentarthurdent on April 22, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Putin told them to do it just to weaken Obama further.

Tater Salad on April 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

I’ll say it again- we should not be arming or helping the “rebels” in any way, shape, or form. The fact that we still are says that the Obama administration (and its RINO cohorts like McCain) has an alternative reason to do so– they hate Assad, they are promoting fundamental Islam, they think this will help them gain more control in the Middle East–I don’t know. But something isn’t right here, aside from the stupidity of our elected officials.

ImmigrantsWife on April 22, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Old Nuke, agreed but I was just saying blown to bits to make a point, awful lot of the victims here are not blown to bits but suffer pretty severe injuries so they do suffer. Chlorine is pretty ineffective but it is nasty stuff to be sure. It is far more effective as a terror agent than anything, someone yelling “gas, gas, gas” will certainly get your heart rate up, it sure did me. Dropping a container of the stuff out in the open just is not going to be very effective at all, in an enclosed structure it is a different story. Regardless, I’m skeptical as to who used it and how it was delivered.

major dad on April 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Old Nuke, agreed but I was just saying blown to bits to make a point, awful lot of the victims here are not blown to bits but suffer pretty severe injuries so they do suffer. Chlorine is pretty ineffective but it is nasty stuff to be sure. It is far more effective as a terror agent than anything, someone yelling “gas, gas, gas” will certainly get your heart rate up, it sure did me. Dropping a container of the stuff out in the open just is not going to be very effective at all, in an enclosed structure it is a different story. Regardless, I’m skeptical as to who used it and how it was delivered.

major dad on April 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Yeah, I knew what you were saying. I’ve made the same argument about nuclear weapons. They are, after all, just big bombs. Dead is dead how you got that way is sort of irrelevant. I just wanted to chime in on how I personally felt about chlorine. You’re absolutely right about chlorine too. Pretty ineffective as a weapon. It disperses too rapidly. Again speaking from experience. At one of the plants where I worked back in the early 70s we used chlorine as a biocide for our circulating water systems. He had one ton cylinders of chlorine in an array. One of the operators was switching out a cylinder and got the sequence wrong. He ended up venting the entire cylinder to atmosphere. Huge green cloud spread out downwind of the the array. Luckily there were no houses or settlements in that direction for a couple of miles. Don’t know if the plant managers ever even reported it or not. Never heard of any reports of strange smells on the local news. Another time an operator did about the same thing with a 150lb cylinder only he did it in a building. Had to evacuate the building and then I donned a gas mask, specifically for chlorine, and went in and fixed what he had screwed up. Took hours to ventilate the building and make it safe. I finally just took over all chlorine operations personally and forbade the operators from doing anything other than calling me for any chlorine related operations. After that we had no more problems with chlorine.

Oldnuke on April 22, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Why investigate? Obuffoon won’t do anything anyway except, possibly, dedicate a round of golf to the victims.

Annar on April 22, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Again: U.S. investigating whether Assad used poison gas in Syrian rebel village this month

…more red lines!

KOOLAID2 on April 22, 2014 at 9:23 PM