yesterday we had the groon’s version of this drivel, here is the nyt’s version, complete with bullshit photo

Syria Used CW Three Times in One Week, Watchdog Says
Ben Hubbard, NYT, Apr 8 2020

Victims of a sarin attack in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, which led
to a punitive missile strike by Pindostan. Photo: Alaa Alyousef/AP

BEIRUT — An investigative team with the international group that monitors compliance with the CW ban accused the Syrian government on Wednesday of having launched three CW attacks on one village in northern Syria in Mar 2017, sickening scores of people. The team, established by the OPCW, said in a report that in the span of one week, Syrian fighter jets had twice dropped bombs containing sarin nerve agent on the village and a helicopter had targeted its hospital with a cylinder containing chlorine. Reports of CW use have surfaced frequently during Syria’s nine-year civil war, and boxtops from Pindostan, Turkey and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using banned weapons to try to break the back of the rebel movement that is seeking to oust Pres Assad. The OPCW verified the use of CW in many of these cases, but had refrained from assigning blame for who deployed them, raising criticism from activists that holding back such judgments diminished the chances for accountability. So the organization established an investigative body, known as the Investigation and Identification Team, that was assigned to determine responsibility for CW use in Syria. The report on Wednesday was the team’s first, and it pointed the finger at Assad’s forces. The team based its investigation on a range of evidence, including witness testimonies, videos, forensic reports on recovered munitions scraps, medical records and satellite imagery, the report said. While acknowledging reports of dozens of CW attacks in Syria, the report focused on three, in the rebel-held village of Latamina in northern Syria during the last week of Mar 2017. On Mar 24, the team found, a Syrian fighter jet dropped a bomb carrying sarin on the village, sickening 16 people. The next day, a Syrian military helicopter dropped a cylinder containing chlorine on the village’s hospital, which crashed through the roof, released its noxious fumes and sickened 30 people. On Mar 30, a Syrian fighter jet dropped another bomb on the village containing sarin, sickening at least 60 people. Sarin is a banned nerve agent, and its use is considered a war crime. While chlorine has legal uses in industry and cleaning, its use as a CW also is considered a war crime. The investigative team said it had examined alternative possibilities for each attack, including claims by the governments of Syria and Russia that the attacks had been staged by anti-government activists to demonize Assad’s government. But the team called its conclusions “the only ones that could be reasonably reached from the information obtained.” Such attacks, the team’s report said, could only be carried out based on orders from “the highest levels” of the Syrian military. But names of those believed responsible were redacted from the public version of the report. Despite the mounting evidence of repeated CW use by Assad’s forces, little has been done by the international community to hold them or their leaders accountable. But Wednesday’s report provided some consolation to survivors of the attacks it described. Ahmad al-Rahmoun, who passed out after breathing in gas from the attack on Mar 30 wondered why it had taken so long for an international body to assign blame. He said:

Until today, my bones, my eyes are hurting. Why did they wait until today to accuse Bashar?

He called for Assad to be prosecuted as well as “all the pilots behind such attacks.” The Syrian government has denied throughout the war that its forces have used CW, while accusing rebels and anti-government activists of faking attacks to generate international sympathy. Russia and Iran have backed his denials. The OPCW team said in its report it had received no cooperation from the Syrian government in its investigation, nor was it able to visit the attack sites. The Syrian government did not immediately comment on the findings. Pindostan, a strong supporter of the team’s investigation, welcomed the report as a demonstration of what Sec State Pompeo called OPCW’s “unbiased and professional” work. Pompeo said in a statement:

No amount of disinformation from Assad’s enablers in Russia and Iran can hide the fact that the Assad regime is responsible for numerous CW attacks.

The attacks in Latamina received little attention at the time because they did not kill anyone, but they came just days before a Syrian government CW attack on another town nearby, Khan Sheikhoun, killed more than 80 people on Apr 4 2017. Pres Trump responded to that attack by ordering the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at military sites in Syria to punish Assad for using CW. The White House later declassified a report that accused Syria of not only carrying out the attack, but also working with the Russian government on a disinformation campaign to deflect blame. After the deadliest CW attack in Syria’s war, on an area near Damascus known as Ghouta in Aug 2013, Russia facilitated an international agreement for Syria to give up its CW stockpiles and dismantle its capabilities. While members of the Obama administration lauded the agreement for getting rid of Syria’s CW peacefully, reports of CW attacks by Assad’s forces continued to surface. The three CW attacks attributed to the Syrian government in Wednesday’s report came after Syria was supposed to have relinquished all of its CW.

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