On April 21, 2017, the US Secretary of Defense, Mattis said, alongside his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still had a significant amount of chemical weapons.
“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt,” Mattis told reporters during his tour of the Middle East. Mattis did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.
Mattis sounded very much like Dick Cheney, on August 27, 2002, when Cheney declared falsely: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”
A UN commission on Syria has not come to the same conclusion as general Mattis, and maintains that there could be various sources of “chemical agent release” in Idlib.
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, says it cannot yet say for certainty what the source of the gas allegedly used in Idlib really was. Citing eyewitnesses, experts and studied data, they said on Friday that “nerve gas” was released in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in April.
“[It was] likely sarin or a sarin-like [substance],” the commission’s chair, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told journalists during a Friday press briefing after having presented preliminary results of the investigation at a closed UN Security Council meeting.
A White House assessment has claimed that it had evidence that “sarin” was used, but its assessment contains no evidence. The report actually includes a number of factually false statements, for example: “The World Health Organization stated on April 5 that its analysis of victims of the attack in Syria showed the had been exposed to nerve agents.” The WHO report from April 5 however stated no such thing. It only noted: “[S]erious reports of the use of highly toxic chemicals in an attack in Khan Shaykhun…” Thus the WHO made no analysis of its own, but only mentions “reports”.
Immediately after the incident, bodies of the dead and wounded were brought to Turkey.Turkey’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear teams (KBRN) prepared an initial report over the possible material of the alleged chemical attack, relying on the symptoms of and tests conducted on the victims and their testimonies. The report stated that the initial findings of the tests conducted on around 30 victims brought to Turkey for treatment pointed to a chlorine gas attack, says researcher Ali Ornek.
The Turkish government news agency Anadolu also mentioned only chlorine: “[W]arplanes carried out a chlorine gas attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, according to Syrian opposition Health Minister Firas Jundi.”
The first OPCW statement on April 4 too referred to chlorine, not sarin. The OPCW is investigating the incident in southern Idlib under the on-going mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which is “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported: “Turkey sent a report to the United Nations just before a UN Security Council meeting to address accusations that the Syrian government staged a chemical weapons attack on April 4, stating that the gas used in the attack was chlorine gas.”
Chlorine is not designated a chemical weapon under the chemical warfare regulations. The symptoms of chlorine ingestion and the effects of sarin exposure are quite different.
The neuroscientist and neuro-pharmacologist Denis O’Brien, analyzed the symtoms of the casualties that were shown in the various videos made after the alleged attack. His detailed diagnostics and chemical-biological explanations are humorously titled Top Ten Ways to Tell When You’re Being Spoofed by a False-Flag Sarin Attack.
O’Brian notes the total absence of feces, urine, vomit and cyanosis (turning blue) in the videos which sarin exposure causes, according to the CDC database. All of the videos and pictures of the incident were taken in al-Qaeda controlled territory, and all witnesses were under al-Qaeda control. They all confirmed “sarin” without the slightest proof.