The Truth Report: What Happened in Syria
An ATP Report Production – On This Episode Barry Nussbaum Details the Repeated Mass Murders Perpetrated by The Assad Regime and The American Response.
Welcome to this segment of The Truth Report, I’m Barry Nussbaum.
As the world knows, on April 4th Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad ordered Syrian military jets to take off from the airbase at Shayrat to carry out chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians in Khan Sheikhoun. Approximately 90 are dead and several hundred more are suffering the horrible effects caused by contact with poison gas. In spite of thousands of witnesses to the attack, hundreds of real time videos showing the victims, and the entire court of world opinion certain that the Syrian Air Force had carried out the chemical attack, two countries are releasing statements to the contrary. Today on The Truth Report, we are going to examine the truth behind what happened in Syria, the actions by Assad, and the American response.
First the Syrian story. A Syrian military statement categorically denied the use of “any chemical or toxic substance” in Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday, adding that the military “has never used them, anytime, anywhere, and will not do so in the future.” Nobody believes this story! Because it is a ridiculous lie. Russia, which has carried out air strikes in support of President Assad since 2015, meanwhile said the Syrian air force had struck Khan Sheikhoun “between 11:30am and 12:30pm local time” on Tuesday, but that the target had been “a large terrorist ammunition depot” on its eastern outskirts. “On the territory of the depot, there were workshops which produced chemical warfare munitions,” it added, without providing any evidence. “Terrorists had been transporting chemical munitions from this largest arsenal to the territory of Iraq.”
So, the Russian story is, the Syrians bombed their own people, who had been making chemical weapons which then blew up. The U.S. says its military radar systems monitored a Syrian air force fixed-wing aircraft take off from Shayrat airbase in Homs province on Tuesday morning and fly over Khan Sheikhoun on two occasions. U.S. military officials said that U.S. radar systems picked up flashes on the ground, indicating that ordnance had been dropped on the rebel-held town about the same time that the first casualties with breathing difficulties were reported.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British armed forces joint chemical biological radiological nuclear (CBRN) regiment, said Russia’s assertion that the strikes had hit rebel chemical weapons were “pretty fanciful”. “Axiomatically, if you blow up sarin, you destroy it,” he told the BBC. Experts say the explosion resulting from an air strike on a chemical weapons facility would most likely incinerate any agents. Sarin and other nerve agents are also stocked in a “binary manner”, which means they are kept as two distinct chemical precursors that are combined just before use, either manually or automatically inside a weapon when launched.
“It’s very clear it’s a sarin attack,” Mr. de Bretton-Gordon added. “The view that it’s an Al-Qaeda or rebel stockpile of sarin that’s been blown up in an explosion, I think it’s completely unsustainable and completely untrue.” He also noted that chlorine was the only chemical believed to have been used in attacks in Aleppo over the past year. Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the free Idlib army rebel group, called Russia’s claim a “lie” and said rebel fighters did not have the capability to produce nerve agents. The U.K.’s representative to the U.S., Matthew Rycroft, also told the security council that his country had seen nothing to suggest that any non-state actors in Syria had the sort of chemical weapons that would have been consistent with the symptoms. The French envoy, Francois Delattre, meanwhile said there was “no fire” after the air strike, even though a strike on an ammunition depot “would have caused a fire”.
What is sarin? Sarin is highly toxic and considered 20 times as deadly as cyanide. As with all nerve agents, sarin inhibits the action of the acetylcholinesterase enzyme, which deactivates signals that cause human nerve cells to fire. This blockage pushes nerves into a continual “on” state. The heart and other muscles – including those involved in breathing – spasm. Sufficient exposure can lead to death via asphyxiation within minutes. Sarin is almost impossible to detect because it is a clear, colorless and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its purest form. It can also evaporate and spread through the air.
Has sarin been used in Syria before? The Syrian government was accused by western powers of firing rockets filled with sarin at several rebel-held suburbs of the capital Damascus in August 2013, killing hundreds of people. President Bashar Al-Assad denied the charge, blaming rebel fighters, but he did subsequently agree to destroy Syria’s declared chemical arsenal. U.N. inspectors found rockets containing sarin were used in a 2013 attack outside Damascus. The U.N. has continued to document the use of chemicals in attacks by the Syrian air force. A joint investigation concluded in October that government forces had used chlorine as a weapon at least three times between 2014 and 2015. It also found Islamic state militants had used sulphur mustard in one attack.
By the way, you may remember national security advisor Susan Rice bragging on camera a few years ago that the Obama administration had ensured that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed!
A bit of history here is important. In August 2012, President Obama said that any attempt by Syria to move or use its chemical weapons would change his administration’s “calculus” in the region, evoking the possibility of more direct U.S. intervention in the conflict. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus,” Obama said. “That would change my equation…We’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans.” Obama’s implication was clear. If Assad uses chemical weapons again, it would cross Obama’s red line and he would act. Assad did use chemical weapons some months later, killing many Syrians in yet another chemical attack. Obama did absolutely nothing.
The new President was not willing to repeat the mistakes of Barack Obama. The Syrians were slaughtered on Tuesday. On Wednesday Trump asked for military options. On Thursday, he struck ordered a massive missile barrage of 60 tomahawks launched from two U.S. navy destroyers in the Mediterranean.
On Friday at the United Nations, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the United Nations. In a very aggressive speech, Haley said that the United States “will not stand by” when chemical weapons are used on civilians, and that the country was fully justified in its actions. Haley condemned the use of chemical weapons and also said that the Iranian and Russian governments deserved some of the blame for the recent attack for propping up Assad’s regime. Great job ambassador! I’m thrilled to have you representing the values of the United States at the world body that so often cares nothing for human rights!
Stay in touch, we will be following up on this story! You can write to me directly by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And go to our website where you can sign up to be on our mailing list so you never miss an important episode.
You can handle the truth, we intend to bring it to you! I’m Barry Nussbaum.