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By skinster
#15104699
Hellas me ponas wrote:No I literally told you assad is fighting for the imperialists. And that's Russian and American interests I explained it to you earlier lad


The US is not on the same side as Syria or Russia, it is at war with Syria and Russia in Syria. They don't have the same interests.

wat0n wrote:They are both acceptable to you when they criticize Israel or the US, so you have no business rejecting them when they criticize Syria and claim it practices a policy of identity-based discrimination against Kurds. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.


Both HRW and Amnesty Int joined the war on Syria, so I don't trust them as a source for anything relating to Syria, since it's all negative.

The only opposition I know vis-a-vis the Kurds and the Syrian govt is that the former were trying to make a little settler colony in Syria like Zionists did, but Kurds don't have the power Zionists do so that mostly failed.
By wat0n
#15104705
skinster wrote:Both HRW and Amnesty Int joined the war on Syria, so I don't trust them as a source for anything relating to Syria, since it's all negative.

The only opposition I know vis-a-vis the Kurds and the Syrian govt is that the former were trying to make a little settler colony in Syria like Zionists did, but Kurds don't have the power Zionists do so that mostly failed.


Let me see if I get this straight, so what you are saying is that they "joined" the war in Syria even though the reports predate the war? :eh:

The funny thing is, I don't take their word as gospel. Unlike you, not because of who they criticize but because they lack the authority and capabilities to launch proper inquiries (I haven't forgotten the Nayirah fiasco by Amnesty 30 years ago), although in this case an Arabic-speaker should be able to confirm if these are true (since they relate to Syrian law, it's simply a matter for an Arab, preferably Syrian, lawyer to look for these and translate them). More generally, I'm of the view that these claims should be taken exactly as that, simple claims that ought to be investigated since these NGOs are not prosecutors and lack the powers and capabilities they have. This applies regardless of whether we are talking about Israel, about Syria, about Venezuela, or about anywhere else.
By skinster
#15104708
wat0n wrote:Let me see if I get this straight, so what you are saying is that they "joined" the war in Syria even though the reports predate the war? :eh:


No, I didn't say that. I thought the HRW/AI reports you shared were the ones I'd seen post the war that was made on Syria. I'll read through the report. Of course if there's any discrimination or racism, I oppose it, but it doesn't change my opposition to the war on Syria.
By skinster
#15104719
No, they don't. You've been misinformed. But if you think they do, I'm sure you have evidence to support your position. I'll wait on that before trusting you.
#15104723
And you are doing great because that's what a good citizen has to do.
Cross your sources and make a discussion based on your cultivated and reasonable logic :lol:

Can I retract a my "claims" back then? Because I don't think I'll be able to show you any of my sources.
I'm taking it all back. Nevermind. Assad is fighting for freedom. Russia is a big almighty bear. And USA loves Europe.
Good? :)
By skinster
#15104726
No need to get melodramatic because you can't prove your absurd claims that opposite sides of the war in Syria are actually allies. This is a political forum, you are expected to provide evidence for claims you make if people don't believe you.

Back on topic:
By skinster
#15107432
wat0n wrote:On the other hand you have been quite busy defending and denying the use of chemical weapons against Sunni civilians by the Syrian regime. Do you have anything else to add?


How can I deny something that didn't happen? The OPCW confirmed there was no evidence to the claims that the Syrian army used chemical weapons on its own people at the exact same time they brought in weapons inspectors. The people at the OPCW who stated this were then censored because they didn't perpetuate the lie that was being demanded of them by powerful Western governments. It was a big story not so long ago, you can read all about it here.

Also, Sunnis are a sect that make up the majority of the Syrian army. They're not sectarian. The so-called "moderate rebels" on the other hand...
By skinster
#15107490
@wat0n you've mentioned Syria/Assad in the Black Lives Matter and cancel culture thread. How come you don't talk about it here? Is it because you're full of shit?

The answer is yes, obviously.
By wat0n
#15107499
@skinster a quick search will net the following:

Leadership Panel of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (2016) wrote:Talmenes, Idlib governorate, 21 April 2014

54. The Leadership Panel examined the existing information regarding the two
impact locations in Talmenes on 21 April 2014. There is sufficient information for
the Panel to conclude that the incident at impact location No. 2 was caused by a
Syrian Arab Armed Forces helicopter dropping a device causing damage to the
structure of a concrete block building and was followed by the release of a toxic
substance that affected the population.
55. This conclusion was based on the following:
• Ahrar al-Sham and the Nusrah Front had a heavy presence around Talmenes.
Both were said to have been in control of the town. Talmenes was subject to
regular artillery and air force attacks around and on 21 April 2014. On that day
there was an ongoing battle between government forces and armed opposition
groups, as well as the Nusrah Front, around the two military bases at Wadi
Deif and Hamidiyah, both of which are in close proximity to Talmenes.
• Witnesses stated that the release of toxic chemicals followed the explosion of a
barrel bomb dropped from an aircraft.
• Both the Government and the armed opposition groups do not deny that
chlorine was used in Talmenes on 21 April 2014.
• The Government stated that the impact (location No. 2) was caused by a landbased projectile launched by an armed opposition group. The structural
damage was not found to be consistent with this.
• Only one of the two alleged impact sites (location No. 2) has been found
plausible by the Mechanism.
• When the incident occurred, the Government had lost control of six airbases,
including Taftanaz airbase (Idlib governorate). The Government informed the
Mechanism that 15 helicopters had been left behind at Taftanaz airbase, 9 of
which had been deemed operational.
• The Leadership Panel reviewed all the information gathered and found no
evidence that armed opposition groups in Talmenes had been operating a
helicopter at the time and location of the incident.
• While the exact number of patients could not be definitively established, it is
obvious that large numbers of people were affected by toxic chemicals.

Sarmin, Idlib governorate, 16 March 2015

56. The Leadership Panel examined the existing information regarding the two
impact locations in Sarmin on 16 March 2015. There is sufficient information for
the Panel to conclude that the incident at impact location No. 2 was caused by a
Syrian Arab Armed Forces helicopter dropping a device that hit the house and was
followed by the release of a toxic substance, matching the characteristics of
chlorine, that was fatal to all six occupants. The remnants of the device are
consistent with the construction of a barrel bomb.
57. This conclusion was based on the following:
 Witnesses confirmed that at least one helicopter flew over Sarmin at the time
of the incident.
 Expert and forensic analyses support witness statements that a device or
“barrel bomb” dropped from a helicopter impacted through the ventilation
shaft of a house (impact location No. 2) inhabited at the time by a family of
six. The damage was consistent with the kinetic effect of a device or barrel
bomb falling from high altitude rather than the explosion or detonation of any
high explosive.
 Multiple videos of location No. 2 show HCFC gas canisters inside the house,
with a purple substance on the floor.
 The Government indicated that there had been no Syrian Arab Armed Forces
flights on 16 March 2015, but did not provide any supporting information.
However, the Mechanism obtained information from other sources that
corroborates witness statements of Syrian Arab Armed Forces helicopter flights
on the date and at the time of the incident.
 When the incident occurred, the Government had lost control of six airbases,
including Taftanaz airbase (Idlib governorate). The Government informed the
Mechanism that 15 helicopters had been left behind at Taftanaz airbase, 9 of
which had been deemed operational.
 The Leadership Panel reviewed all the information gathered and found no
evidence that armed opposition groups in Sarmin


Of course, this isn't necessarily the final truth. The investigation didn't have the authority of a judicial prosecution and could not dig much into the facts. But the allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government are serious. There's also an allegation against ISIL:

Leadership Panel of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (2016) wrote:Marea, Aleppo governorate, 21 August 2015

58. The Leadership Panel examined the existing information regarding the
incident in Marea on 21 August 2015 and determined that there was sufficient
information to conclude that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)3 was the
only entity with the ability, capability, motive and means to use sulfur mustard in
Marea on 21 August 2015.
59. This conclusion was based on the following:
 Marea had been a traditional stronghold of armed opposition groups, which
were fighting against government forces. On 21 August 2015, ISIL advanced
westward towards Marea.
 Several witnesses and a number of other sources provided information that
Marea had been bombarded by around 50 artillery shells, several of which
filled with sulfur mustard, from the east or south-east, an area under the
control of ISIL.
 On that and the following days a number of people went to hospital with
symptoms related to exposure to sulfur mustard.
 A large number of photographs and videos of the munition used in Marea
were received and analysed by the Mechanism. Four sources stated that the
munition used was 130-mm artillery shells. The photographs and videos of the
munition are consistent in relation to the release of a dark viscous liquid from
the artillery shell.
60. In relation to the cases of Kafr Zita (18 April 2014), Qmenas (16 March 2015)
and Binnish (24 March 2015), the Leadership Panel was close to having sufficient
information to reach a conclusion on the actors involved and recommends further
investigation of the three cases.


The other incidents are inconclusive.
By skinster
#15107509
:eh:

Chemical weapons and cover-ups: the Western media’s Syrian shame
Inspectors had serious doubts that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in Douma. Why did the media ignore this?

What should have been one of last year’s biggest news stories has gone largely unnoticed. Major Western powers – the US, the UK and France – went to war on dubious grounds. When inspectors at a supposedly neutral UN body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), could not find evidence that justified Western powers’ actions, their work was censored and manipulated to fit the desired facts.

Here was another dodgy or ‘sexed-up’ dossier of the kind that led the West to war in Iraq. It is the kind of story you might expect newspaper editors to jump at – it is both explosive and in the public interest. But with a few honourable exceptions, the mainstream media has largely steered clear of it.

The cover-up
Two years ago, in April 2018, the US, the UK and France fired over a hundred missiles against the Syrian regime. It was alleged that Bashar al-Assad’s government had carried out a chemical-weapons attack on Douma, a suburb of Damascus, killing nearly 50 people. The airstrikes were launched a day before a planned inspection by the OPCW.

Despite the impending inspection, the Western powers said they had drawn their own conclusions that the Assad regime had carried out a chemical-weapons attack. The White House said that regime helicopters were seen dropping barrel bombs on Douma. Remnants of the bombs were said to look like ‘chlorine barrel bombs from past attacks’. In addition, video footage of the victims showed them to have symptoms of chlorine and sarin poisoning.

President Donald Trump put it more starkly in a tweet:

‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.’

The OPCW’s fact-finding mission appeared to corroborate this version of events. Its final report said that there were ‘reasonable grounds’ to find that chlorine gas was used in Douma. But dissenting scientists at the OPCW objected that the reports that were eventually published differed sharply from their original findings. Unable to resolve the issues internally, OPCW whistleblowers used leaks to get out their side of the story.

In May 2019, an unpublished report by Ian Henderson was leaked – though not by Henderson himself. Henderson is a ballistics expert who headed the fact-finding mission’s engineering subteam, which visited the Douma site. One of Henderson’s key claims – supported by all but one of his team members – was that two cylinders that the Syrian opposition claimed contained chlorine were more likely to have been placed manually rather than dropped from the air. This is significant because only Assad’s forces had the air capacity to pull off the attack from the air as alleged.

Henderson was sent to Douma as part of the fact-finding mission, but in July 2018, the OPCW announced a new ‘core’ team, which in Henderson’s words, ‘essentially resulted in the dismissal of all of the inspectors who had been on the team deployed to locations in Douma and had been following up with their findings and analysis’. Only one of the core members of this team was deployed to Douma, the rest were deployed to Turkey. In a statement to the UN in January 2020, Henderson said: ‘The findings in the final FFM [fact-finding mission] report were contradictory, were a complete turnaround with what the team had understood collectively during and after the Douma deployments.’



In November 2019, Jonathan Steele, former chief correspondent for Guardian, interviewed an OPCW whistleblower for Counterpunch magazine. Alex (a pseudonym) told Steele that there had been heated internal arguments over the levels of chlorinated organic chemicals (COCs) present at the site of the alleged attack. Alex explained that earlier, unpublished versions of the OPCW’s report essentially said that ‘the levels of COCs found were no higher than you would expect in any household environment’. But these findings were excluded from the OPCW’s final report.

A week later, a leaked email from an OPCW inspector was seen by Peter Hitchens at the Mail on Sunday. After it was published on Wikileaks, Reuters also verified that the email was genuine. It alleged that the final report had not only redacted ‘crucial facts’, but that other evidence had ‘morphed into something quite different to what was initially drafted’. The final OPCW report was ‘highly misleading’ and at times ‘inaccurate’. ‘This redacted version no longer reflects the work of the [fact-finding] team’, was the inspector’s conclusion.

Since then, even more evidence has emerged showing internal dissent at the OPCW and a cover-up. As Peter Hitchens has reported, when Ian Henderson learned that his findings would not be included in the final OPCW report, he lodged a copy in a secure registry called the Documents Registry Archive (DRA). But emails from a senior OPCW official called for this to be covered up. ‘Please get this document out of DRA… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery / storage / whatever in DRA’, the official wrote. According to an internal memo seen by the Mail on Sunday, ‘as many as 20 OPCW staff have expressed private doubts about the suppression of information or the manipulation of evidence’.

And yet the story of the cover-up has been largely ignored in the mainstream media. Though every national outlet covered the ‘official’ (that is, edited) version of events, few covered any of the leaks that cast doubt on it. Peter Hitchens, Jonathan Steele and the Independent’s Robert Fisk are among the few ‘mainstream’ journalists to have taken the leaks seriously – and Steele’s account was published on the radical US website Counterpunch, not in the mainstream press. Aside from that, it has largely fallen to alternative media, such as the Grayzone, to cover the story in detail.

The media
One journalist tried and failed to get his outlet to cover the story. Tareq Haddad was a journalist at Newsweek. He trained at the Press Association, then worked at the Hull Daily Mail and the IB Times, before joining Newsweek in September 2019.

Haddad had a great deal of experience covering the Syrian war. After Turkey invaded Syria, he was investigating allegations that Turkey had used white phosphorus in an attack on a northern Syrian city. White phosphorus is a skin-burning chemical, but its use is not generally regarded as a war crime. It was during that investigation that he came across the story about the OPCW.

Haddad pitched the story. It had already been verified at this stage. ‘We had the WikiLeaks releases and then the story by Peter Hitchens’, he told me. ‘I was kind of going back and forth with my editors trying to get justification for why they would not want it. They did not give me any valid reasons in that time’, he said. After around 10 days, Haddad resigned.

What should have been one of last year’s biggest news stories has gone largely unnoticed. Major Western powers – the US, the UK and France – went to war on dubious grounds. When inspectors at a supposedly neutral UN body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), could not find evidence that justified Western powers’ actions, their work was censored and manipulated to fit the desired facts.

Here was another dodgy or ‘sexed-up’ dossier of the kind that led the West to war in Iraq. It is the kind of story you might expect newspaper editors to jump at – it is both explosive and in the public interest. But with a few honourable exceptions, the mainstream media has largely steered clear of it.

In November 2019, Jonathan Steele, former chief correspondent for Guardian, interviewed an OPCW whistleblower for Counterpunch magazine. Alex (a pseudonym) told Steele that there had been heated internal arguments over the levels of chlorinated organic chemicals (COCs) present at the site of the alleged attack. Alex explained that earlier, unpublished versions of the OPCW’s report essentially said that ‘the levels of COCs found were no higher than you would expect in any household environment’. But these findings were excluded from the OPCW’s final report.

A week later, a leaked email from an OPCW inspector was seen by Peter Hitchens at the Mail on Sunday. After it was published on Wikileaks, Reuters also verified that the email was genuine. It alleged that the final report had not only redacted ‘crucial facts’, but that other evidence had ‘morphed into something quite different to what was initially drafted’. The final OPCW report was ‘highly misleading’ and at times ‘inaccurate’. ‘This redacted version no longer reflects the work of the [fact-finding] team’, was the inspector’s conclusion.

Since then, even more evidence has emerged showing internal dissent at the OPCW and a cover-up. As Peter Hitchens has reported, when Ian Henderson learned that his findings would not be included in the final OPCW report, he lodged a copy in a secure registry called the Documents Registry Archive (DRA). But emails from a senior OPCW official called for this to be covered up. ‘Please get this document out of DRA… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery / storage / whatever in DRA’, the official wrote. According to an internal memo seen by the Mail on Sunday, ‘as many as 20 OPCW staff have expressed private doubts about the suppression of information or the manipulation of evidence’.

And yet the story of the cover-up has been largely ignored in the mainstream media. Though every national outlet covered the ‘official’ (that is, edited) version of events, few covered any of the leaks that cast doubt on it. Peter Hitchens, Jonathan Steele and the Independent’s Robert Fisk are among the few ‘mainstream’ journalists to have taken the leaks seriously – and Steele’s account was published on the radical US website Counterpunch, not in the mainstream press. Aside from that, it has largely fallen to alternative media, such as the Grayzone, to cover the story in detail.

‘I fear very much that if we were now back in 2003, and Iraq had been invaded, and no weapons of mass destruction had been found, I am not sure that story would have got out’, says Hitchens. ‘If it had got out, those who did cover it would have been called chemical-weapons deniers or Saddam apologists, which is the fate of those who have actually joined in covering the OPCW story’, he explains.

Hitchens has been called an ‘Assad apologist’ and a ‘denialist of war crime’ for his articles. Similarly, Haddad was accused by his former employer of pitching ‘a conspiracy theory rather than an idea for objective reporting’. ‘Anyone that opposes military aggression is very quickly smeared’, says Haddad.

Many of the smears come from third parties who deny or downplay the significance of the leaks. ‘It has been noticeable that the OPCW, which is the principal subject of the leaks and is where the sources to whom I have talked had been working, has at no stage denied anything that I have written’, Hitchens tells me. ‘They have sort of blustered vaguely about sticking to the original story. But they have not said these documents are false. They have not said that the people involved are lying.’

According to Hitchens, the lesson Western governments learnt after the debacle in Iraq was not to ‘stop making stupid wars in parts of the world where they did not know what they were doing’. Instead, governments ‘learned to defend themselves better from the attacks of the media’.

As the OPCW did little to defend itself at first, that role fell to Bellingcat, a website which specialises in ‘open source’ investigations. Belingcat’s work is often presented as ‘citizen journalism’, and is the subject of numerous puff pieces in the press. Among the funders of this ‘citizen’ journalism is the National Endowment for Democracy, a think tank which promotes Western military intervention and regime change, and which is, in its own words, ‘dependent on continued support for the White House’. This is not a disinterested party to the Douma affair.

Bellingcat accuses those who have published the leaks of misunderstanding the issue, even claiming that the redacted OPCW report incorporates the dissenting inspectors’ doubts, which it plainly does not. (Read Peter Hitchens’s full rebuttal here.) Bellingcat seems to have also devoted a large amount of resources, including a series of articles, videos and computer models, to questioning the leaks and discrediting the whistleblowers. All of it fails to address convincingly the question of a cover-up. Nevertheless, if Bellingcat’s intention was to ward journalists off the story, then it succeeded. We know from Tareq Haddad’s experience that his foreign-affairs editor at Newsweek cited one of Bellingcat’s ‘debunkings’ as a reason not to run the Douma story.

Although the OPCW cover-up didn’t much interest news editors, one story that caught their eye was the existence of a group of academics who had formed a working group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (SPM). The Times splashed this news on its front page. Inside, it devoted a double-page spread to attacking SPM members as apologists for Assad. By this stage the working group had yet to produce any actual work on the conflict. (Tara McCormack, one of the group’s members, has written about the experience for spiked.) Whatever the views of the individuals concerned on Syria, or anything else for that matter, The Times treatment acted as a warning shot to those who might challenge the government’s position on the alleged chemical attack. The SPM story provided the media with an opportunity for tubthumping denunciations of the alleged traitors and saboteurs in our midst.

Propaganda and a failure of skepticism
Journalism during wartime has always been beset with problems. Sources can be murky and information is hard to verify. Propaganda and misinformation are rife. The Syrian conflict has been particularly vulnerable to this.

Back in 2011, a blogger, calling himself ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’, who claimed to have been caught up in the revolution, managed to hoax several major media outlets, including the Guardian and CNN. When she was ‘abducted’ by the Syrian regime, thousands demanded her release. In the end, the ‘gay girl’ turned out to be Tom McMaster, a middle-aged man from Atlanta, Georgia. A frivolous – and ultimately harmless – example, but nevertheless it illustrates the willingness of many in the media to go along with certain sources, especially if they affirm a pre-existing narrative about the conflict.

Peter Hitchens warns that there are now all kinds of ‘open source’ bodies reporting on the Syrian conflict, which are taken as good coin by journalists. These are not hoaxers, of course, but they are often not the neutral observers their titles make them out to be. He gives the example of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Its reports on the conflict are regularly referenced by the news media, and even by newswires like AP and AFP. ‘As far as I know it was run from a second-hand clothes shop in the English Midlands. But these things are treated with authority and you have to wonder how that happens’, says Hitchens. The Coventry-based ‘Syrian’ observatory has even taken funding from the UK Foreign Office for its media work.

A recent investigation by Middle East Eye found that the British government has played a huge propaganda role in the Syrian conflict. It has given contracts to communications companies which run press offices and give media training to opposition spokespeople. Most of this propaganda effort was geared towards the Syrians themselves, but the UK government also played a role in moulding the story in the UK press. Opposition voices were often vetted and briefed by British handlers before they could speak to journalists.

Hitchens tells me there has been a ‘failure of scepticism’ and an ‘enormous amount of conformism’ when it comes to reporting on the Syrian conflict, and in the media and society more broadly. ‘What most people are afraid of… is of being outed as a nonconformist, as some sort of weirdo’, he says. ‘Well, this does not bother me. I was still brought up in the days when it was actually considered admirable to stand against the tide. Not just in theory, but in practice.’

Hitchens readily admits that he used to be a ‘warmonger’. ‘I was a tremendous enthusiast for the Cold War’, he says. But there has been a political shift, especially as the establishment has gone from being largely conservative to largely liberal. And liberal-leaning papers like Guardian, which once might have been the natural home for revelations like the Douma leaks, end up defending the wars waged by a liberal establishment. As Hitchens puts it:

‘The patriots have become the anti-war troublemakers, and the anti-war troublemakers have become the authoritarian warmongers… What this really reveals is a complete reversal and inversion of British politics. The left used to be the exposers of untruth and the publishers of the Pentagon Papers, but this tradition has gone. Now you find probably the most conservative columnist in British journalism doing what lefties used to do in the 1960s.’

A willingness to be sceptical and to challenge conformism ought be the bare minimum of what we should expect from the media – even if it means causing trouble. The unwillingness to tell the OPCW story speaks to a far broader journalistic failure.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/07/1 ... ian-shame/
By skinster
#15107558
You have not been able to prove any time the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people because it didn't happen.

It's 2020. Most of the others making that claim in here shut up about it when it wasn't provable, months and years ago, but it looks as if you're just looking into this just today.

Let me know what you find that supports your position that the Syrian army was running around attacking its own people with the chemical weapons they gave up to the West right before the war.
By wat0n
#15107560
You didn't even address the same incidents in the OPCW letter to the UN, what part of that wasn't clear to you? Note that this is the same UN you are so keen to believe in when it comes to Israel, so you have no grounds to now disregard it.
By skinster
#15107563
Every allegation of chemical weapons use by the Syrian army against its own people - that you also claim - was false.

I'll wait for you to prove otherwise.

Cue more deflection.
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