The White House responded early this week to Seymour Hersh’s “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” Director of National Intelligence Shawn Turner, in an official statement to the Ankara-based news outlet Today’s Zaman, said [bold emphasis mine]:
“We’re not going to comment on every inaccurate aspect of this narrative, but to be clear: the Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. We have made that judgment based upon intelligence collected by the United States and by our partners and allies. It is a view that is shared overwhelmingly by the international community and has led to unprecedented cooperation in the dismantling of Assad’s CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles. The suggestion that there was an effort to suppress or alter intelligence is simply false. Likewise, the idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.”
The final United Nations report on chemical weapons usage in Syria was published December 12, 2013. Anyone in the world, with internet access, can read the UN report; it contains some damning information related to rebel possession and use of chemical weapons.
From page 21 of the 82 page document:
“The United Nations Mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people,” [emphasis mine, and for all bolded below].
The report states that chemical weapons were “probably used” at five sites in Syria during the two-and-a-half year long conflict. Most significant is that at two sites, the victims were Syrian government soldiers, and at another, the victims were regime soldiers and civilians. While the purpose of the investigation was not to establish the culprit in each attack, the report identifies the victims in three out of the five incidents as regime soldiers. This is a tacit UN admission that the rebels possess and have used chemical weapons. Not once were rebel fighters confirmed to be victims of chemical attack.
On page 19 of the official United Nations report:
“Khan al Asal, 19 March 2013: 111. The United Nations Mission collected credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan al Asal on 19 March 2013 against soldiers and civilians.”
Also on page 19:
“Jobar, 24 August 2013: 113. The United Nations Mission collected evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons in Jobar on 24 August on a relatively small scale against soldiers…”
“Ashrafiah Sahnaya, 25 August 2013 117. The United Nations Mission collected evidence that suggests that chemical weapons were used in Ashrafiah Sahnaya on 25 August 2013 on a small scale against soldiers.”
Even the generally pro-rebel and very establishment New York Times had to admit the following in a December 12, 2013 article, Chemical Arms Used Repeatedly in Syria, U.N. Says:
Chemical weapons were used repeatedly in the Syria conflict this year, not only in a well-documented Aug. 21 attack near Damascus but also in four other instances, including two subsequent attacks that targeted soldiers, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.
Concerning the first reported usage of chemical weapons in the entirety of the Syrian conflict, the NYT admits in the same article that Syrian soldiers were on the receiving end:
The report said the panel had corroborated “credible allegations” that chemical weapons were used in the first reported attack — a March 19 episode involving soldiers and civilians in Khan al-Assal in the country’s north.
According to BBC News coverage of the final UN report:
Chemical weapons were “probably used” at five out of seven sites in Syria, UN investigators say in a report. In two cases, the weapons affected [regime] soldiers, and in a third, [regime] soldiers and civilians, the report says.
According the Jerusalem Post’s December 13 coverage of the final UN report:
The report noted that in several cases the victims included government soldiers and civilians…
Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector, who currently works at Tesla Laboratories Inc., in an RT News interview on White House claims of the missile trajectories in the August 21 sarin gas attack in Syria:
…right now as it stands, these rockets could have never been fired from government controlled territory. They would be fired more from a rebel type of a territory or a border of a contested territory.
From the official news page of Tesla Laboratories Inc. [emphasis mine]:
Tesla’s Richard Lloyd, in collaboration with MIT’s Ted Postol, has created some media buzz with his analysis of the chemical weapons being used in Syria. Richard and Ted held a 2-day seminar in late January at Tesla HQ, that covered several in-depth studies including performance analysis of the Iron Dome system and forensic exploration of various weapons being used in Syria. Of particular note is his and Ted’s performance modeling of the large-capacity Syrian chemical rockets employed this past summer. Their conclusions bring into serious question the launch sites for these attacks claimed by the U.S. State Department.
In May 2013, Carla Del Ponte, a top UN human rights investigator and former UN Chief Prosecutor and veteran International Criminal Court prosecutor, was the first to accuse the rebels using Sarin gas against regime forces and civilians (see here, here, and here). Del Ponte’s assertions, based upon her information gathering team on the ground, caused a row in Europe, but it seems the only major American outlet to cover the story was the LA Times. During a Swiss-Italian TV interview, she was convinced enough to be very blunt in her assessment, saying, “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indication of the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”
All the way back in May 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported:
A leading member of a United Nations investigatory commission says there are “strong concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that Syrian rebels have used the nerve agent sarin.