21 August 2013
On Wednesday August 21, 2013, it was reported by numerous media outlets that a chemical weapons attack took place inside Syria which killed anywhere from 213 to 1300 people in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka, and Jobar. The attacks were allegedly the result of rockets with chemical agents hitting the neighborhoods shortly before dawn. The attacks, if reports are accurate, would be the largest and most severe chemical weapons usage since the beginning of the Syrian destabilization campaign in 2011.
As Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis report for Reuters,
A nurse at Douma Emergency Collection facility, Bayan Baker, said the death toll, as collated from medical centers in the suburbs east of Damascus, was 213.
"Many of the casualties are women and children. They arrived with their pupil dilated, cold limbs and foam in their mouths. The doctors say these are typical symptoms of nerve gas victims," the nurse said.
Extensive amateur video and photographs purporting to show victims appeared on the Internet. A video purportedly shot in the Kafr Batna neighborhood showed a room filled with more than 90 bodies, many of them children and a few women and elderly men. Most of the bodies appeared ashen or pale but with no visible injuries. About a dozen were wrapped in blankets.
Other footage showed doctors treating people in makeshift clinics. One video showed the bodies of a dozen people lying on the floor of a clinic, with no visible wounds. The narrator in the video said they were all members of a single family. In a corridor outside lay another five bodies.
A photograph taken by activists in Douma showed the bodies of at least 16 children and three adults, one wearing combat fatigues, laid at the floor of a room in a medical facility where bodies were collected.
Deputy head of the Syrian National Coalition (Western-backed death squad umbrella coalition), George Sabra, has insisted that the death toll is 1,300.
Indeed, before the dust from the rockets even settled, corporate media outlets such as the New York Daily News recently ran the headline “Bashar al-Assad kills 1,300 in Syrian nerve gas attack, activist estimate,” clearly suggesting that Assad was the guilty party, despite there being so many loose ends to the story now being spread about in the mainstream media circuit.
However, as has been the case with every other propaganda push against Assad regarding chemical weapons, there is absolutely no evidence to implicate the Syrian government in the launching and use of chemical agents against the Syrian people or even the death squads themselves. In fact, the accounts being published throughout the mainstream media are very suspect in their own right.
First, although there is some video evidence of chemical weapons usage, the estimates of the extent of the atrocity as well as the blame for the attacks are coming entirely from the death squads themselves. Both in the title to the Reuters article mentioned above and in nearly all of the mainstream media reports, statistics and information is prefaced by the phrase “activists say.” “Activists say,” of course, can be translated merely as “death squads” say, as the activists being referred to are indeed nothing more than terrorist killers politically, ideologically, and physically invested in the outcome and presentation of the Syrian crisis. In short, these individuals have a vested interest in the blame for these attacks being placed on Assad, popular opinion being turned against the Syrian government, and some type of condemnation or military action being taken against the Syrian army.
Second, the location of the attack is heavily suspect. The Ghouta region, where the attacks allegedly took place, is an area that is currently overrun with death squad organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra and is largely seen to be under death squad control. It is also interesting to note that the attacks come at a time when this area has been under heavy military bombardment as of late, suggesting that the death squads themselves may have detonated chemical weapons as a move of desperation and coordination with NATO/Anglo-American interests seeking to justify military action against Syria.
Third, and even more interesting, is the fact that the chemical weapons attacks comes just days after a team of U.N. chemical experts entered Damascus and checked into a hotel a few miles from the targeted area. With this in mind, one must ask “why would Assad order the use of chemical weapons in this area at such an inopportune time?” Given the track record of Assad’s cleverness, this seems to be an incredibly foolish move, even as the Syrian army has gained the clear upper hand against the death squads. Why detonate chemical weapons in front of UN chemical experts? Why wait until after they arrive to do so? Why detonate chemical weapons so close to them?
These questionable details have caused even mainstream “experts” to hesitate when commenting on the nature of the alleged chemical attacks. For instance, Charles Lister, an analyst at HIS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, stated,
Logically, it would make little sense for the Syrian government to employ chemical agents at such a time, particularly given the relatively close proximity of the targeted towns (to the U.N. team).
Nonetheless, the Ghouta region (where the attacks were reported) is well known for its opposition leanings. Jabhat al-Nusra has had a long-time presence there and the region has borne the brunt of sustained military pressure for months now.BBC security correspondent Frank Garnder also stated something similar, when he said, “Firstly, the timing is odd, bordering on suspicious. Why would the Assad government, which has recently been retaking ground from the rebels, carry out a chemical attack while UN weapons inspectors are in the country?”
Likewise, Swedish diplomat and former UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus stated to Reuters that, “It would be very peculiar if it was the government to do this at the exact moment the international inspectors come into the country….at the least, it wouldn’t be very clever.”
While it is important to examine information impartially as it appears, it is also important to speak out against falsehoods and nefarious propaganda. We cannot allow such tired and blatant propaganda to engulf Syria, the Middle East, or the world in war.
 Evans, Dominic; Oweis, Khaled Yacoub; “Activists say more than 200 killed in gas attack near Damascus.” Reuters. August 21, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-syria-crisis-gas-idUSBRE97K07O20130821
 “Syria opposition group claims 1,300 killed in chemical attack in Damascus suburbs.” CBS News. August 21, 2013.http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57599467/syria-opposition-group-claims-1300-killed-in-chemical-attack-in-damascus-suburbs/
 Brown, Stephen Rex. “Bashar al-Assad kills 1,300 in Syrian nerve gas attack, activist estimate.” New York Daily News. August 21, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/213-feared-dead-syrian-nerve-gas-attack-article-1.1432526
 Watson, Paul Joseph. “Experts: Syria Chemical Weapons Attack ‘Suspicious.’” Infowars. August 21, 2013.http://www.infowars.com/experts-syria-chemical-weapons-attack-suspicious/
 Turbeville, Brandon. “False Flag Attacks in Syria Pin Atrocities on Assad To Justify ‘Red Line’ Engagement.” Activist Post. March 30, 2013. http://www.activistpost.com/2013/03/false-flag-attacks-in-syria-pin.html
 Turbeville, Brandon. “New U.N. Chemical Weapons Report On Syria Blames Assad.” Activist Post. June 4, 2013.http://www.activistpost.com/2013/06/new-un-chemical-weapons-report-on-syria.html