New CW claims pose threat of Pindo escalation of Syrian war
Tom Eley, WSWS, Aug 3 2016
On Tuesday, UKUSA media published new claims of Syrian government use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held northern city of Saraqeb, in Idlib province. The story, put forward by the anti-government Idlib Civil Defense or “White Helmets” group, alleges that 30 civilians experienced breathing troubles after chlorine gas canisters were dropped from a helicopter in a residential part of the city. No deaths were reported. The claim was first reported on the Idlib Civil Defence Facebook page. The group posted a YouTube video that purported to show area residents wearing oxygen masks. Saraqeb is located in the same region that saw a Russian helicopter downed a day earlier, killing all five servicemen on board. Moscow strongly denied that any chemical weapon attack had taken place. In a statement, Kremlin spox Dmitry Peskov said that the Idlib Civil Defense claims were fabricated.
Meanwhile, Syrian government claims that rebel groups had killed five people in a chemical weapon attack on the government-held portion of Aleppo were virtually ignored by Western media. This deadly attack was verified by Aleppo’s health director, Mohamad Hazouri. “Five civilians were killed and eight others suffered suffocation due to a terrorist attack with shells containing poisonous gas,” he told the state-run news agency, SANA. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported yesterday that rebel shelling of government-held parts of Aleppo had killed 30 civilians since Monday, including women and children. These facts were not reported in a lengthy Guardian article dedicated to the alleged government attack in Saraqeb. Other major UKUSA news sources, including BBC, Reuters, Fox and CBS, also focused their coverage on allegations of a government attack.
Pindo State Dept spox Kirby acknowledged that Washington is “not in a position to confirm” the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. Nonetheless, he threateningly added that if the allegations were confirmed, it would be “extremely serious.” Allegations and insinuations that the Syrian regime is waging chemical warfare should be taken as a warning. In August and September, 2013, the Obama administration seized on claims of a Syrian government sarin gas attack, later proven by journalist Seymour Hersh and others to be fabricated, to bring Pindostan to the brink of yet another full-scale war in the Middle East. Obama ultimately decided against direct Pindo involvement after the British parliament scuttled UK entry, and amid mass popular disaffection with war and sharp divisions within the military-intelligence apparatus. Obama’s last-minute pullback from direct Pindo involvement has been the source of sharp recriminations in Pindo ruling circles. Proponents of an attack, including the current Democrat presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, viewed the decision as a humiliating retreat that would embolden Russia, which maintains its only foreign naval base in Syria.
The new claims come amid a rapid erosion in the position of the Pindo-backed Islamist rebels in Syria. Government forces, backed by Russian air power, have made consistent gains over the past year, culminating in the current siege on the rebel-held city of Aleppo. Western portions of the city are already in government hands. In an attempt to break the siege, rebel forces led by Jabhat al-Nusra, recently rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, have launched a last-ditch offensive, attacking Aleppo on its south-western outskirts. The outcome remains unclear, though a Russian military spokesman, Sergei Rudskoy, claimed on Monday that the Islamist forces had been badly beaten. On Tuesday, rebel forces claimed that they had expanded their attack and that they had gained ground in certain Aleppo neighbourhoods. This was disputed by Rami Abd’el-Rahman of SOHR, who stated that government forces had retaken five of the eight positions the rebels had gained on Sunday. Iranian forces and the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah are also reportedly involved in the fighting against Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Middle East analyst Firas Maksad told al-Jazeera:
This is really their last stand. If they lose Aleppo, which they’ve held a major portion of now for about four-odd years, they might as well have lost all the battle for Syria.
The Islamists’ position is further threatened by the rapprochement between the Turkish government of Erdogan and both Russia and Syria. Erdogan narrowly survived a Pindo-backed coup on Jul 15, after he signalled his intention of normalizing relations with Damascus and Moscow. Erdogan, who was reportedly alerted to the coup by Russian intelligence, has responded to Pindo machinations by taking further steps toward cooperation with Russia. He will meet with Putin in St Petersburg on Aug 9 to discuss greater economic cooperation, including a proposed natural gas pipeline dubbed Turkstream, that would bypass the Pindo client state in Ukraine. Turkey has been the main staging base for both Islamist fighters and weapons supplied by Pindostan, the Toads and Qatar to fuel the fighting in Syria. The Obama administration is prepared to do almost anything to prevent defeat in a war that has already killed over 400,000, made upwards of 10 million into refugees, and destroyed what had been, prior to 2011, one of the most advanced Arab societies. Pindostan and its proxy fighters are clinging to sections of Aleppo, a city that had served as the major supply route for weapons distributed to Islamists across Syria, and where 250,000 people are believed to still reside. Pindostan has sought to scuttle Russian proposals to evacuate the city through humanitarian corridors. Sam Power called the proposal “chilling” and Jackass Kerry claimed that it is a “ruse.” Russia claims that Islamist militias are preventing residents from evacuating. Pindostan has opposed every serious effort at a negotiated settlement to the war, insisting that there can be no peace discussions without the removal of Assad. That is, Washington insists that the blood-letting must continue until regime change is achieved and Syria is reduced to a vassal state of Pindostan.