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Another lie debunked: Daesh, not Assad, behind 2015 Syria chemical attack

By Shabbir Rizvi

For nearly ten years, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government has been viciously smeared by Western politicians and media outlets for the alleged use of chemical weapons, without evidence.

There have been unsubstantiated allegations against the Syrian Arab Army and Assad that suggest the parties authorized and used banned chemical weapons not only on combatants but civilians.

These claims are now being put to rest one-by-one through independent watchdogs.

The Hague-based chemical weapons watchdog, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, in a report recently declared that “ISIS” (Daesh) terrorists were responsible for the 2015 chemical weapons attack in Marea that Western governments blamed on Assad. 

The report is damning: it includes the specific chemical agent used (Sulfuric mustard compounds), the artillery projectiles used (122 mm), and how only Daesh would be responsible based on all of the examined evidence, debunking the lies that were peddled by Western governments and media. 

“In the course of its investigation, the IIT was able to link additional organizational structures and individuals to the use and deployment of chemical weapons by the Islamic State, including ISIL’s Diwan Al-Jund (Department of Soldiery) and the Committee for Military Development and Manufacturing, identifying a total of four named individuals as perpetrators. Two further ISIL members were identified as the primary drivers of ISIL’s chemical weapons program,” the report states.

So why does the obvious conclusion of the report matter so much? 

The report from the OPCW, despite absolving the democratically-elected Syrian government, is too little and too late. It is a stark reminder that an Iraq-style “weapons of mass destruction” allegation could still be used to invade a sovereign nation and topple a sovereign government. 

The report comes after nearly 10 years of the incident. Some might say that time and precious resources are needed to investigate such a degree. However, simple pre-established facts had already absolved Assad and the Syrian government long before any watchdog investigation. 

In the time that it took for this investigation to take place, the Syrian government faced a slew of sanctions and condemnations based on a false pretext of the usage of chemical weapons.

Not only that, the Trump administration used the allegation of “chemical weapons” as a reason to directly strike Syrian property, using their “own intelligence” that was not independently verified. 

Let's start from the beginning with the relationship between the  OPCW and Syria: in the midst of ongoing US-backed ‘rebels'  destabilizing Syria, the Assad government worked quite closely with the OPCW in order to satisfy UNSC Resolution 2118, which made the OPCW the primary watchdog to ensure the Syrian government revealed and destroyed all of its chemical arsenals. 

The resolution came after a false-flag chemical weapons attack that was attributed to Syrian forces, however, leaked Pentagon documents showed that an Al Qaeda cell (Al Nusra, who were fighting against both Daesh and the SAA)  in Syria was likely responsible as they had the chemical weapons capabilities and more incentive to use them. 

In any sane world, a non-state actor (especially one being an affiliate of Al Qaeda) having chemical weapons would be the main issue. How did they make them? Who supplied them? How many more do they have?

Instead of these serious questions, Western imperialists decided it was in their best interest to pin the blame on Assad, either directly accusing him or making ambiguous remarks. 

Let's examine the motive: The usage of chemical weapons, an international war crime, would be the perfect invitation for the US and even NATO forces to charge into Syria, remove President Assad and the Syrian government, and set up their own comprador government.

In this sense, Al Qaeda and other Takfiri groups such as Daesh motivated to overthrow Assad are basically receiving the green light from the Pentagon: use these chemicals and we will blame and come after Assad with you.

Therefore, seeking to put an end to this foul play from the US and their imperialist junior partners, the Assad government (working primarily with UNSC permanent seat Russia) agreed to resolution 2118 from the UNSC. 

The UNSC Resolution affirmed “its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic” while ensuring Syria “endorses the decision of the OPCW Executive Council 27 September 2013, which contains special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof and calls for its full implementation in the most expedient and safest manner.”

To put it succinctly, Syria was put into a position where it either complied with the decision based on a false flag attack, or faced losing territory, autonomy, or both. 

According to the OPCW’s own timeline, Syria complied with the request. The chemical weapons that were within the Syrian arsenal (that could not be linked to the false flag gas attack) were destroyed under OPCW supervision. 

Yet Western pundits, politicians, and media still insisted that Assad was responsible for a number of chemical weapons attacks, without any real concrete proof.

The Syrian government now had neither the means, as the weapons were destroyed, nor the motive, which would risk an all-out NATO-style government toppling that Libya fell victim to just years before. 

Daesh, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, however, were running amok at the time - using chemical weapons that were confirmed time and time again by the OPCW, including now.

And each time chemical weapons were used, Western media and politicians never ruled out the Assad government being the perpetrator, despite (for example) acknowledging within the same breath that Assad would have no means to conduct such an attack.

There are numerous examples of this, where Western media is quoting various administrations, using a supposed “if Assad had chemical weapons” to justify direct war with Syria. 

This report is not the first to absolve Assad and it will not be the last. But these reports mean nothing if they do not thoroughly conclude the “means” of chemical weapons creation and deployment by Takfiri terrorists.

The OPCW is not designed to do that. Let’s not forget that in 2002 the United States forced the ouster of the OPCW’s then-Director General José Bustani, who had Saddam Hussein ratify the Conventional Weapons Agreement - creating a serious block to the US’s goal of invading Iraq on the pretense of Saddam having “weapons of mass destruction.” 

The United States threatened to pull its funding of the OPCW, which it then funded roughly one-fifth of. Member states, under the coercion of the Bush Doctrine, voted to dismiss Bustani, who protested that he be removed because he was not “obedient enough.”

It is without a shade of doubt that the US was arming “moderate rebels” in Syria - “rebels” who just happened to work alongside both Daesh and Al Qaeda, namely splinters of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (Assad’s opposition). This operation was given the name “Timber Sycamore.”

A report that would truly deliver justice would disclose the full involvement of the US in arming these groups, which ones, to what extent, and what rationale was given in order to make those decisions.

The world must know how these Takfiri terrorist groups came into possession of chemical weapons and the source must be put to justice. 

Clearly, the OPCW, despite being a world-recognized group, can still be used as a political weapon under a hegemonic, US world order. Such a report coming years and dozens of sanctions and strikes later is not a sign of any justice.

And it doesn’t help that mainstream media fails to report on the new findings either. It's the classic case: a loud allegation, and a whimper of an update years later. 

The United States had the most rational motive to accuse Assad and the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, even if they knew they weren’t.

The Bush Doctrine’s insistence on preemptive strikes without UN approval are still alive and a third of Syria is still occupied by US forces who are openly looting Syrian resources to the tune of billions. 

Justice for Syrians would mean kicking out the occupying US regime, which just like it did in Iraq, occupies and destroys Syria on a pretext of lies and destabilization of its own making.

You do not need to wait 10 years for a report to see these facts clearly now, or even ten years ago.

Shabbir Rizvi is a Chicago-based political analyst with a focus on US internal security and foreign policy.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)

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