Saturday, 10 February 2018

US Forces Leave Iraq: Military Presence Failed to Produce Desired Results


US Forces Leave Iraq: Military Presence Failed to Produce Desired Results

US Forces Leave Iraq: Military Presence Failed to Produce Desired Results

The US-led coalition is drawing down or “adjusting” its military presence in Iraq. With ISIS on the ropes, the remaining forces will refocus on “policing, border control, and military capacity building.” A senior official close to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been reported to say that 60 percent of the US troops will be withdrawn. About 4,000 US personnel will remain as part of a training mission. There were 8,892 US troops in Iraq as of late September. The American soldiers are being shipped to Afghanistan, where  roughly 14,000 troops are already stationed.
It’s conspicuous that the move is taking place against the backdrop of the upcoming May elections in Iraq. The American withdrawal will boost the chances of the US-friendly prime minister, Haider al-Abadi. But rebuilding the country is a large order for that cash-strapped government. Much of the nation is in ruins. The US-led coalition has not done much to propel the process of reconstruction.
So, the contingent in Afghanistan will receive reinforcements. However, the situation hasn’t budged an inch since 2001. The Taliban movement has gained ground recently and is now active in 70 percent of the countryAccording to Randall Schriver, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, the war in Afghanistan costs $45 billion annually. Republican Sen. Rand Paul has said that tens of billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in that country. All attempts to reboot the operation have ended in failure. Despite that, there seems to be no prospect of pulling the plug on the failed policy.
But fighting terrorists seems to be no longer the prime mission with  the focus now shifting to Russia and China.
What will be the outcome of this reduction in US forces? Iraq is preparing an operation to clear the mountainous area near the Iranian border where some anti-government armed groups are still active. The Iraqi government needs it to be secure before it starts transporting its oil from Kirkuk. According to Reuters, Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day of crude produced in Kirkuk for Iranian oil, which will be sent to southern Iraq. The oil is going to be transported by truck and the deal will boost Iran’s regional influence.
Last December, the Iraqi government announced plans to build a new 350-kilometer (220-mile) Kirkuk-Ceyhan (Turkey) oil pipeline to carry up to one million barrels a day. If that pans out, Turkey will see its regional influence grow. About the same time, Iraq reached a deal with China’s state-run Zhenhua Oil to develop the southern section of the East Baghdad oil field, which is believed to hold eight billion barrels. As one can see, Iraq’s leaders are wise enough not to put all their eggs into one basket.
Iraq has recently been turning to Russia for oil deals, military assistance, and nation building. Military cooperation between the two countries has been on the rise. The bilateral contacts indicate the Iraqi government’s desire to expand that relationship.
And the United States? It should be noted that the US troops are hardly safer in Iraq than in Afghanistan. The US had no serious political plan when Iraq was invaded in 2003 and there is no such thing as an Iraq policy now. It is one of those wars that never end. It’s easy to get in, but next to impossible to get out. Look around, it’s not difficult to find conflicts like that in many places today, such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, you name it.
The US military presence around the world is mushrooming. Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in over 170 countries with no great victories to boast of. America is gradually pulling out of Iraq with no glory. The US is not popular in that country. Many Iraqis left the country after the US invasion, because of the massive security problems. Nor is America indispensable there. The Iraqi war was a costly military adventure that has produced many almost unsolvable problems.
In the same way, Washington may get involved in real fighting in Syria. For instance, with no proof to back up the allegation, the US insists that Syria’s government is using chemical weapons. The White House says Damascus would “pay a heavy price” if it were to carry out such an attack. Strikes against Syrian military infrastructure could lead to casualties among Iranian, Turkish, or Russian military personnel. That could also trigger a response.
In Iraq, a clash between US military and pro-Iranian militias can never be ruled out. Huge sums of money are being spent to force America to balance on the brink of conflict in faraway countries and risk its soldiers’ lives without any results to brag about. It makes one question the wisdom of a policy that calls for a military presence in so many places simultaneously. America has a lot to lose and nothing to gain.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

US Massacre Of Syrian Troops Threatens To Unleash Wider War

By Bill Van Auken
February 09, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – US warplanes and artillery batteries carried out an unprovoked massacre of up to 100 pro-government troops in the northeastern province of Deir Ezzor Wednesday, signaling the initiation of a new and far more dangerous stage in the more than three-year-old direct US military intervention in Syria.
The Syrian government denounced the attack as a “war crime” and “direct support to terrorism,” insisting that its forces came under US attack as they were carrying out an operation against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) elements between the villages of Khasham and al-Tabiya on the eastern side of the Euphrates River.
While the Pentagon proudly claimed to have killed 100 pro-government fighters, Damascus allowed that the US strikes claimed “the lives of dozens, injuring many others and causing massive damage in the area.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said it had confirmed only 20 dead among the pro-government forces.
Whatever the precise number of casualties—the Pentagon’s figures are suspect given that the bombings and artillery barrages were not followed up by any ground attack—the incident marks a major escalation of US aggression against Syria, eclipsing the firing of 59 US cruise missiles last April in response to an unsubstantiated allegation of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province.
The only previous US attack resulting in comparable bloodshed was the September 17, 2016 US airstrike against a Syrian army position near the Deir Ezzor airport, which killed 62 soldiers and wounded some 100 more. The Pentagon claimed that attack was the result of an “unintentional, regrettable error.”
This time around, the US military said that it was exercising its “inherent right of self-defense” in attacking the forces of a government whose territory American troops are occupying without either its consent or any mandate from the United Nations.
The official story from the Pentagon is that a column of 500 pro-government fighters, including tanks and artillery, had attempted to take control of territory east of the Euphrates River that had been seized by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US proxy ground force that is overwhelmingly dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. It accused the government forces of launching “an unprovoked attack on a well-established SDF position,” where US Special Forces “advisors” who direct the Kurdish fighters were deployed.
Pentagon officials speaking on condition of anonymity told the media that they believed Russian military contractors operating with the Syrian government forces were among the dead.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported that it had no military personnel in the area. It also said it was aware only of 25 Syrian militia members having been wounded in the US strikes.
Russia’s Defense Ministry added in a statement that the American attack once “again showed that the US is maintaining its illegal presence in Syria not to fight the Daesh group [ISIS], but to seize and hold Syrian economic assets.”
The area where the fighting took place is a center of Syria’s oil and gas fields. The village of al-Tabiya is the site of the Conoco gas plant, which was previously run by ConocoPhillips until the energy corporation turned it over to the Syrian government in 2005. After the area fell under ISIS control, the Islamist militia used gas and oil exports to secure much of its financing.
Washington is determined to deny the Syrian government control over these resources and to that end has sought to carve out a US zone of control covering roughly 30 percent of the country, while cutting off its borders with Turkey and Iraq.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry raised pointed questions about the US version of events, particularly the vast disparity between the claim of 100 Syrian government troops killed and, on the other side, a total of one SDF fighter wounded.
“First of all, how could a 500-strong unit attack a headquarters with tank and artillery support and, as a result, inflict an injury on one counter-attacker?” asked Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. “How could those who were in that headquarters remain in those conditions for the half hour or more needed to call in and ensure air support?”
“How, within such a short period of time, could a decision have been made to open massive fire for effect on Syrian armed forces?” she continued. “To clarify all these questions, and to get a full picture of what happened, relevant information is now being gathered, both through our military experts and through the Foreign Ministry.”
Despite the words of protest from Moscow, the Pentagon reported that it had used its “deconfliction line” with the Russian military to provide advance notice of its strike on the Syrian government forces and remained in contact during and after the attack. “We had a very productive conversation,” said Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. “…we told them, they knew what was happening. They agreed not to attack Coalition forces. So, from that respect, it was successful.”
The attack on Deir Ezzor is part of a steady ratcheting up of the multisided conflict in Syria, provoked overwhelmingly by Washington’s announced decision to maintain a permanent US military occupation of the country and pursue a “post-ISIS” policy centered on the original US objectives of Syrian regime change and rolling back Iranian and Russian influence in the region. Until launching the anti-ISIS campaign in 2014, Washington had sought the ouster of the government of President Bashar al-Assad by means of supporting and arming the Al Qaeda-linked militias out of which ISIS itself emerged. This sparked the bloody seven-year-long war that has claimed the lives of some 350,000 Syrians, while displacing millions of others.
Since invading the country over three years ago, the US military has relied primarily on the Kurdish YPG as its proxy ground force, but it also continues to arm and train Islamist militia groups. During the US-backed siege of Raqqa and other formerly ISIS-occupied towns, the US military and its Kurdish proxies organized the evacuation of large numbers of ISIS fighters and their redeployment to Deir Ezzor in order to turn them against the Syrian government forces advancing on the province’s strategically vital oil and gas fields.
To the west, the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, which came in response to US plans to organize a 30,000-strong “border security force” based largely on the Kurdish YPG and create what Ankara sees as a de facto Kurdish state on its border, threatens to escalate into a direct conflict between the US and Turkey, ostensible NATO allies.
On Wednesday, the top US commander in Syria and Iraq, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, visited Manbij, the Syrian city on the western side of the Euphrates that has been occupied by the YPG and its US Special Forces handlers. The visit came just one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the American forces withdraw from Manbij, vowing that the Turkish military would extend its offensive into the city.
Asked if he was worried about the Turkish threat, Gen. Funk responded, “It’s not in my job description to worry; my job is to fight.”
Meanwhile, both the US and French governments have issued condemnations of Damascus over bombings in Idlib province and Eastern Ghouta, as well as unverified allegations of using chlorine gas against civilian populations. The State Department issued a statement saying that the bombings “must stop now.”
The hypocritical Western media, which went largely silent as the US killed tens of thousands of civilians and razed entire cities to the ground in last year’s sieges of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, has suddenly woken up to report the civilian casualties resulting from the bombardments by Syrian and Russian warplanes. Once again they are churning out propaganda to prepare for a military escalation that has the potential of triggering a direct military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers, the US and Russia.
This article was originally published by “WSWS” –
Copyright © 1998-2018 World Socialist Web Site

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A history of israeli military aggression against Syria

An F-16I, operated by the Israeli military (file photo by AFP)An F-16I, operated by the Israeli military (file photo by AFP)
Below is a quick look at Israel’s acts of military aggression against Syria:
June 9-10, 1967: Israel attacks Syria, occupying the country’s Golan Heights during its Six Day War on Arab territories.
October 5, 2003 (Ain es Saheb airstrike): An Israeli warplane squadron attacks a camp about 24 kilometers northwest of the Syrian capital, Damascus, injuring a civilian guard.
September 6, 2007: Israel attacks Dayr al-Zawr Province in northeastern Syria, striking what it says is a suspected nuclear reactor.
November 11, 2012: Israel fires a “warning shot” in the direction of Syria, alleging that it is responding to a stray mortar round fired from the southwestern Syrian province of Quneitra.
November 17, 2012: Israel opens artillery fire against positions belonging to the Syrian Army, alleging that it was retaliating for attacks on an Israeli patrol near the demilitarized zone. It later stages a direct strike at the source of mortar shells that it says the Syrian Army fired in response to the first Israeli strike.
January 30, 2013: Israeli warplanes strike a convoy that Tel Aviv claims was carrying weapons to Hezbollah.
March 24, 2013: The Israeli military releases a guided missile at a Syrian trench used for deploying machineguns. It alleges it is responding to shots fired at Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights, though affirming that none of its troops had been wounded in the alleged incident there.
May 21, 2013: Israeli forces attack what they say is the source of fire targeting an Israeli vehicle in the Golan Heights.
July 17, 2013: The Israeli military fires at a group of unidentified individuals on Syria’s border after an Israeli patrols comes under purported fire near the demilitarized zone.
August 17, 2013: Israeli forces hit a Syrian Army outpost with a guided missile, alleging that they are responding to Syrian mortar rounds.
March 18, 2014: Israel hits Syrian military targets, including a military headquarters and an Army base, with artillery and aerial fire, describing the attacks as tit-for-tat strikes after a purported explosive goes off near an Israeli military vehicle close to the Syrian border. It says one Israeli soldier was killed in the alleged incident.
March 28, 2014: Israeli forces fire volleys of bullets at what the regime calls the source of Syrian mortar shells fired at Israeli military positions on Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
June 23, 2014: The Israeli regime bombards Syrian Army targets several times, killing at least 10 Syrian soldiers in response to an alleged strike a day earlier on a water truck moving along the border fence.
July 15, 2014: The Israeli military kills 18 Syrians, including eight civilians, in attacks on three locations on Syrian soil. It says it had come under rocket attack in the occupied Golan Heights earlier.
September 23, 2014: Israel downs a Syrian military aircraft that it alleges wandered into the occupied Golan Heights.
August 20, 2015: Israel takes Quneitra and its neighboring province of Rif Dimashq under successive airstrikes, hitting Syrian military outposts and soldiers. The regime claims it had come under rocket fire in the occupied Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee area earlier. It kills five civilians in an attack on a vehicle a day later, claiming it is seeking to take out those behind the rocket attacks.
November 28, 2016: Israel hits an abandoned UN building in the occupied Golan Heights, claiming it is suspected of being used by the militants.
March 16-17, 2017: Israel confirms, for the first time, that it targeted what it called a convoy belonging to the Hezbollah resistance movement near the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra. The attack marked the deepest foray by Israel into Syrian territory yet.
April 23, 2017: Israel’s military strikes positions on the outskirts of Quneitra’s capital city of the same name, killing three forces allied with the Syrian government.
June 24, 2017: Israeli warplanes destroy two Syrian tanks and a machinegun position in response to alleged shells hitting Israel the previous day, killing several Syrian soldiers and civilians.
June 24-26, 2017: Israel kills 13 Syrian soldiers in repeated attacks on Syrian military targets in Quneitra.
October 21, 2017: Israel hits Syrian artillery positions after five mortar rounds come down in an open area in the occupied Golan Heights. Syrian government sources say later that the mortar fire, which caused no damage or casualties, had been aimed at “terrorists linked to Israel.” The terrorists, they say, “had [themselves] launched mortar shells, upon the instructions of the Israeli occupation, on an area of empty land inside the occupied territories to give the Israeli enemy a pretext to carry out its aggression.”
February 10, 2018: The Israeli military conducts strikes against Syrian positions. The Syrian military hits at least one Israeli F-16 warplane during the attacks.
The Israeli military confirms the downing of the F-16

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TIGER FORCES ELIMINATE LARGE GROUP OF ISIS TERRORISTS, CAPTURE LOTS OF WEAPONS IN SOUTHEASTERN IDLIB (PHOTOS)


Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)
Click to see the full-size image
On February 10, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Tiger Forces recaptured the village of Umm Sirjah and several other positions in the southeastern Idlib countryside form ISIS, according to Syrian pro-pro-government sources. During their advance, the Tiger Forces ambushed and killed a large group of ISIS fighters and captured loads of weapons and ammunition.
ISIS fighters were able to break the SAA siege on them in the northeastern Hama countryside and managed to reach the southeastern Idlib countryside on February 9 after they had conducted several VBIED attacks against the SAA.
Syrian oppositions sources claimed on February 9 that the SAA and its allies had opened a route for ISIS to attack Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) positions in the southeastern Idlib countryside. However, the recent clashes between the SAA and ISIS confirm that these claims were fake.
Form its side, HTS and its allies were not able to recapture any position in the southeastern Idlib countryside from ISIS fighters. However, the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a reported that HTS fighters had killed over 20 fighters of ISIS while they were repelling a new attack of the terrorist group in southern Idlib.
Currently, few hundreds of ISIS fighters are besieged by HTS inside the villages of Umm Khalakil, Luwaybidah and Musharifah in the southeastern Idlib countryside. Syrian pro-government activists believe that HTS will not be able to eliminate the new ISIS pocket any time soon.
Captured weapons:
Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)
Click to see the full-size image
Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)
Click to see the full-size image
Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)
Click to see the full-size image
Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)
Click to see the full-size image
Tiger Forces Eliminate Large Group Of ISIS Terrorists, Capture Lots Of Weapons In Southeastern Idlib (Photos)

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Stephen Pollard and Freedom of Speech

Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm. 
Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.

Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.
Stephen Pollard, the caricature of an editor for the rabid Zionist Jewish Chronicle, an outlet that operates as an Israeli mouthpiece and has openly waged intense campaigns against freedom of speech, has once again expressed his support for elementary rights including the right to offend. In today’s Daily Mail Pollard writes: “Snowflakes? They’re today’s fascists!” Pollard often champions ‘freedom of speech.’ This time he probably tries to gain credit with the PM office following the attack on Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg as he attempted to give a talk to students at Bristol University.  I need not mention that I didn’t see Pollard or the JC denouncing Zionist hooligans who interfered with my right to play Jazz. Nor did I see the JC or Pollard fight for Alison Chabloz‘s right to perform her cabaret. Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.
And when Pollard writes “through editing the newspaper (JC), I am confronted daily with the legacy of that unique evil, including the suppression of debate, the distortion of truth and even the burning of books at the heart of that terrible chapter in our history,” it is hard to figure out whether he describes the “Third Reich’s totalitarian impulse” as he calls it, or his own editorial decisions. After all, before my literature event at Reading International Festival two months ago, Pollard’s Jewish Chronicle published the following headline: “ ‘Horror’ over appearance of Gilad Atzmon at Reading International Festival”
Pollard’s JC  wrote,  “Berkshire Jews  are ‘horrified’ over the scheduled appearance of an antisemitic author at the Reading International Festival.”  Is this how Pollard defines ‘welcoming debate’? In my universe the above line fits nicely within ‘suppression of debate’ and is an extreme form of book burning! I can see a clear contradiction between Stephen Pollard ‘the advocate of freedom of speech’ and the outlet which he edits that employs every trick in the Hasbara book to close debate on Israel, Zionism, Jewish ID politics, Jewish lobbying and the Holocaust.
Pollard, writing today in the Daily Mail, makes a surprising pivot and repeats the arguments I raised in my recent book Being in Time.  “We are now witnessing our own version of Newspeak, in which a form of cultural fascism masquerades as caring concern.” In November Pollard’s paper campaigned to suppress a proposed debate on my book and now he repeats the message of that book almost word for word. But, in my opinion, Pollard makes an error in his use of terminology. It is not ‘cultural fascism’ that introduced the current tyranny of correctness. It was cultural Marxism, a bunch of post Marxist tribal ideologists who thought and still think that it is down to them and only to them to decide who deserves a platform and what are the boundaries of freedom
Listen to Stephen Pollard in advocacy of ‘freedom of speech.’ His point seems to be; ‘You can say whatever you see the need to say as long as I can denounce you as an anti-Semite, a racist and a bigot.’

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Finally the truth seeps out: Mattis Admits No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People

Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People
by Ian Wilkie
Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has “no evidence” that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.
This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mattis went on to acknowledge that “aid groups and others” had provided evidence and reports but stopped short of naming President Assad as the culprit.
There were casualties from organophosphate poisoning in both cases; that much is certain. But America has accused Assad of direct responsibility for Sarin attacks and even blamed Russia for culpability in the Khan Sheikhoun tragedy.
Now its own military boss has said on the record that we have no evidence to support this conclusion. In so doing, Mattis tacitly impugned the interventionists who were responsible for pushing the “Assad is guilty” narrative twice without sufficient supporting evidence, at least in the eyes of the Pentagon.
This dissonance between the White House and the Department of Defense is especially troubling when viewed against the chorus of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) experts who have been questioning the (Obama and Trump) White House narratives concerning chemical weapons in Syria since practically the moment these “Assad-ordered events” occurred.
GettyImages-665704116
A view of the damaged Shayrat (‘ash-Shairat’) airfield at the Syrian government forces military base targeted by US Tomahawk cruise missiles, southeast of the central and third largest Syrian city of Homs, April 7, 2017. STRINGER/AFP/Getty
Serious, experienced chemical weapons experts and investigators such as Hans Blix, Scott Ritter, Gareth Porter and Theodore Postol have all cast doubt on “official” American narratives regarding President Assad employing Sarin.
These analysts have all focused on the technical aspects of the two attacks and found them not to be consistent with the use of nation-state quality Sarin munitions.
The 2013 Ghouta event, for example, employed home-made rockets of the type favored by insurgents. The White House Memorandum on Khan Sheikhoun seemed to rely heavily on testimony from the Syrian White Helmets who were filmed at the scene having contact with supposed Sarin-tainted casualties and not suffering any ill effects.
Likewise, these same actors were filmed wearing chemical weapons training suits around the supposed “point of impact” in Khan Sheikhoun, something which makes their testimony (and samples) highly suspect. A training suit offers no protection at all, and these people would all be dead if they had come into contact with real military-grade Sarin.
Chemical weapons are abhorrent and illegal, and no one knows this more than Carla Del Ponte. She, however, was unable to fulfill her U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism mandate in Syria and withdrew in protest over the United States refusing to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use by “rebels” (jihadis) allied with the American effort to oust President Assad (including the use of Sarin by anti-Assad rebels).
The fact that U.N. investigators were in Syria when the chemical weapon event in Khan Sheikhoun occurred in April 2017 makes it highly dubious that Assad would have given the order to use Sarin at that time. Common sense suggests that Assad would have chosen any other time than that to use a banned weapon that he had agreed to destroy and never employ.
Furthermore, he would be placing at risk his patronage from Russia if they turned on him as a war criminal and withdrew their support for him.
Tactically, as a former soldier, it makes no sense to me that anyone would intentionally target civilians and children as the White Helmet reports suggest he did.
There is compelling analysis from Gareth Porter suggesting that phosphine could have been released by an airborne munition striking a chemical depot, since the clouds and casualties (while organophosphate-appearing in some respects) do not appear to be similar to MilSpec Sarin, particularly the high-test Russian bomb-carried Sarin which independent groups like “bellingcat” insist was deployed.
America’s credibility was damaged by Colin Powell at the United Nations in 2003 falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of having mobile anthrax laboratories. Fast forward to 2017 and we encounter Nikki Haley in an uncomfortably similar situation at the U.N. Security Council calling for action against yet another non-Western head-of-state based on weak, unsubstantiated evidence.
Now Secretary Mattis has added fuel to the WMD propaganda doubters’ fire by retroactively calling into question the rationale for an American cruise missile strike.
While in no way detracting from the horror of what took place against innocent civilians in Syria, it is time for America to stop shooting first and asking questions later.
Ian Wilkie is an international lawyer, U.S. Army veteran and former intelligence community contractor.

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israel learning about International Law the hard way


Syrian air defenses respond to new Israeli raids near Damascus – state TV

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Pentagon Trained Syria’s Al Qaeda “Rebels” in the Use of Chemical Weapons

This article was first published in April 2017 following the accusations directed against the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own people.
The issue is now once more before the UN Security Council. Read carefully.
The Western media refute their  own lies.
Not only do they confirm that the Pentagon has been training the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons, they also acknowledge the existence of a not so secret “US-backed plan to launch a chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime” 
London’s Daily Mail in a 2013 article confirmed the existence of an Anglo-American project endorsed by the White House (with the assistance of Qatar) to wage a chemical weapons attack on Syria and place the blame on Bashar Al Assad.
(Update; April 8, 2017) Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airbase in retaliation for Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people confirms that the “False Flag” Chemical Weapons attack scenario first formulated under Obama is still “on the table”.  Our analysis (including a large body of Global Research investigative reports) confirms unequivocally that Trump is lying, the Western media is lying and most of America’s allies are also lying.
The following Mail Online article was published and subsequently removed. Note the contradictory discourse: “Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al Assad”, “White House gave green light to chemical weapons attack”.
The Pentagon’s Training of  “Rebels” (aka Al Qaeda Terrorists) in the Use of Chemical Weapons
CNN accuses Bashar Al Assad of killing his own people while also acknowledging that the “rebels” are not only in possession of chemical weapons, but that these “moderate terrorists” affiliated with Al Nusra are trained in the use of chemical weapons by specialists on contract to the Pentagon.
In a twisted logic, the Pentagon’s mandate was to ensure that the rebels aligned with Al Qaeda would not acquire or use WMD, by actually training them in the use of chemical weapons (sounds contradictory):
“The training [in chemical weapons], which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American. (CNN, December 09, 2012, emphasis added)
screenshot of the CNN article, the original link has been redirected to CNN blogs,
The above report by CNN’s award winning journalist Elise Labott (relegated to the status a CNN blog), refutes CNN’s numerous accusations directed against Bashar Al Assad.
Who is doing the training of terrorists in the use of chemical weapons?  From the horse’s mouth: CNN
And these are the same terrorists (trained by the Pentagon) who are the alleged target of  Washington’s counterterrorism bombing campaign initiated by Obama in August 2014:
“The Pentagon scheme established in 2012 consisted in equipping and training Al Qaeda rebels in the use of chemical weapons, with the support of military contractors hired by the Pentagon, and then holding the Syrian government responsible  for using the WMD against the Syrian people.
What is unfolding is a diabolical scenario –which is an integral part of military planning– namely a situation where opposition terrorists advised by Western defense contractors are actually in possession of chemical weapons.
This is not a rebel training exercise in non-proliferation. While president Obama states that “you will be held accountable” if “you” (meaning the Syrian government) use chemical weapons, what is contemplated as part of this covert operation is the possession of chemical weapons by the US-NATO sponsored terrorists, namely “by our” Al Qaeda affiliated operatives, including the Al Nusra Front which constitutes the most effective Western financed and trained fighting group, largely integrated by foreign mercenaries. In a bitter twist, Jabhat al-Nusra, a US sponsored “intelligence asset”, was recently put on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
The West claims that it is coming to the rescue of the Syrian people, whose lives are allegedly threatened by Bashar Al Assad. The truth of the matter is that the Western military alliance is not only supporting the terrorists, including the Al Nusra Front, it is also making chemical weapons available to its proxy “opposition” rebel forces.
The next phase of this diabolical scenario is that the chemical weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda operatives will be used against civilians, which could potentially lead an entire nation into a humanitarian disaster.
The broader issue is: who is a threat to the Syrian people? The Syrian government of Bashar al Assad or the US-NATO-Israel military alliance which is recruiting “opposition” terrorist forces, which are now being trained in the use of chemical weapons.” (Michel Chossudovsky, May 8, 2013, minor edit)


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