Exclusive: Repercussions of chemical attack in Syria

 

Missile fired by the US in “retaliation” misses by hundreds of miles, but curiously aids ISIS attack near Palmyra

Asif Haroon Raja

“In the coming days the American people will learn that the (US) Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib.” Former DIA Col Patrick Lang 

The civil war was triggered in Syria in March 2011 by the Syrian rebels supported by the US, NATO, Saudi led Gulf States and Turkey. The war has wrought havoc and the country lay utterly ruined. Nearly 470,000 people including 50,000 children have died in the conflict and 4.8 million have fled the country.

The cities and infrastructure are destroyed, there is very little electricity, 80% are living in poverty, and economy has shrunk by 55%. Syria war is the worst man-made disaster since 2nd World War. But for the Iranian and Hezbollah ground support and Russian air intervention in September 2015 in support of the beleaguered Bashar al Assad regime, a regime change would have occurred long time back and Assad would have met the fate of Saddam and Qaddafi.

There are dozens of militant groups operating in the country among which ISIS is the most powerful group, which has carved out its own caliphate under Abu Bakar Baghdadi stretching from Raqqa in Syria to Mosul in Iraq and is in control of oil and gas fields in northeastern Syria. Other prominent outfits are Free Syrian Army (FSA) led by Gen Idris, Al-Nusra Front led by Jeewani, Army of Conquest and Al-Qaeda.

A very serious situation had developed in Syria as a result of two chemical attacks on Ghouta near Damascus on August 21, 2013, killing hundreds of people including large number of children. The ruling regime was blamed for the attacks. Egged on by Riyadh, Doha and Ankara, Obama Administration and NATO had finalized plan for a direct military action and had deployed Tomahawk cruise missiles to bomb the defence infrastructure of Syrian armed forces. No proof was furnished, and to this day it’s unknown who had fired Sarin-tipped rockets. It was generally suspected that Mossad was behind the chemical weapons attack. The US Congress, American public and British Parliament reeling under public pressure, and wary of the expanding war in the Middle East, had opposed military action, fearing that it might trigger a world war. Donald Trump was among the opponents.

Vladimir Putin provided a way out to Obama by suggesting destruction of chemical stockpiles of Syria in return for cancellation of the airstrikes. Obama relented, thereby averting bigger crisis, but at the cost of annoying Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Since that time, Russia under Putin started gaining diplomatic edge over USA in the Middle East. Putin overshadowed Obama after he physically intervened in Syrian war.

It has now come to light that the Ghouta incident was a false flag attack by Saudi sponsored Jihadists to secure the bombing on Damascus.

The US intervened in Syria by air in September 2014 to destroy ISIS but failed to achieve any results. Puzzlingly, the ISIS grew stronger and richer because of its unchecked oil trade extending right up to Gulf of Mexico. It is speculated that the US never made any sincere effort since its real target was Assad and not ISIS.

In response to the formal request made by the Syrian government for military help against the rebels and Jihadist groups in July 2015, Russia sent military advisers. Moscow announced that it was extending military support to stabilize legitimate government and create conditions for a political compromise. It initially stationed its jets at Khmeimim airbase and sent T-90 tanks, artillery and Special Operations Forces to an airbase near Latakia seaport in August 2015. On August 26, 2015, Syria-Russia Friendship Treaty was signed and in last week of September, a Joint Information Centre manned by representatives from Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran was established in Baghdad for coordination. USA, UK and Turkey declined to join. Russian warships of Black Sea Fleet moved to East Mediterranean. Tartus naval base in Syria was used by Russia.

Russian air force began striking targets initially on Homs and Hama in northwestern Syria on September 30. Till January 2017, Russian jets carried out 19160 combat missions and delivered 71000 strikes on terrorist infrastructures. Russia employed Su-25, Su-35, Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, attack helicopters as well as cruise missiles. In December 2015, Sharyat airbase near Homs was made functional. From August 16, 2016 onward, Russian jets made use of Hamadan airbase in Iran. On October 15, 2016, Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov moved forward in support of Russian forces in Syria.

Bolstered by Russia’s air support, the Syrian Army managed to recapture lost spaces including Homs, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, and Palmyra and considerably improved its position. Offensive launched against strategically located Aleppo in September 2016 came to successful conclusion in December.

In August 2016, 4000 Turkish troops in conjunction with 7000 pro-Turkish Syrian rebels launched Operation Euphrates and since then have captured Jarabalus, al Rai, and Al-Bab in northern Syria.

500 Special Forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines supported by US bombers joined the ground combat in Syria to bolster the efforts of the rebels named as moderates.

Raqqa, the capital of ISIS Caliphate, is surrounded by US backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

With so many powers having materially intruded in war torn Syria, it has become the most dangerous flashpoint. However, Israel which is the main instigator behind the strategy of fomenting chaos in the Middle East and toppling militarily and economically stronger Arab regimes so as to accomplish its dream of establishing Greater Israel, is dissatisfied with the ongoing status quo which is going in favor of President Assad and hence wants his removal at any cost.

While George Bush had pleased Israel by downing regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama had obliged Israel by way of stepping up the offensive in Afghanistan, starting Arab Spring, toppling regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, bisecting Sudan, making Somalia a failed State, and creating chaos in Syria, Yemen and Egypt. However, the pro-war hawks in USA and Israel feel that Obama buckled down in Syria because of which the US prestige was severely dented.

Hence the reins of power were handed over to the most unpredictable and rash Donald Trump so as to outshine Putin and to put fear of USA in the hearts of the world. He is assigned to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, legitimize Jewish Forward Settlements in Palestinian lands in West Bank and Gaza, and get rid of defiant Assad, linked with Iran and Hezbollah, who shows eyes to Israel. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt are also on the hit list of Israel.

The security situation in Syria took a sudden nosedive in the wake of a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun village in Idlib Province on 4 April, 2017. True to their traditions, the US administration and the US led western media joined by the Jewish controlled media hastened to pin the whole blame on Moscow backed Assad regime. Pictorial war launched by the western media described the attack as most horrendous and gruesome. No sooner the news became viral on all media outlets, Trump while expressing his anguish over the killings of babies lost his cool and stated that he had changed his mind about Syria.

Pentagon rushed to put forward military options and Trump gave a ‘go ahead’ signal without consulting the Congress or seeking approval of the UN. The US Ambassador at the UN, Nikki Haley made hue and cry and warned that in case the UN tried to come in the way, the US will brush aside norms of diplomacy, international law and the UN Charter and will go ahead at its own. This impetuous and disjointed decision to strike Syria was taken without gathering any proof of the Syrian regime’s involvement and without determining as to what kind of gas used – Sarin, Mustard or Chlorine. The knee jerk reckless reaction was exactly similar to the impulsive reactions in Afghanistan in October 2001, in Iraq in March 2003 or in Libya in 2011.

Explanations given by Moscow and Damascus that the bombs were dropped on a chemical warehouse (Sarin gas) in use of the rebels were debunked and scoffed at arguing that if Sarin is bombed with incendiaries, it will be rendered INERT by the exceedingly high temperature of any blast. In their view, it just takes 150 °C to decompose Sarin into various forms of phosphorous. The average missile emits 2,480 °C (4,500 °F) which is way beyond what it would take to completely erase any Sarin.

Yet another claim that pictures of the White Helmets wearing only gas masks and no HAZMAT suits meant there wasn’t a Sarin attack was also laughed at. BBC also rubbished the claims.

The US didn’t deem it fit to take into account other possibilities like ISIS, which had used mustard gas on three occasions. Possibility of Mossad or CIA, notorious for undertaking suchlike perverted acts cannot be altogether ruled out; their aim being to provoke Trump and give him an excuse to launch a direct military action in Syria.

The point to note is as to why the urgency to opt for such a dangerous option that could spell disaster and particularly when Bush administration, CIA and Tony Blair had to cut a sorry figure on account of their over confidence that Saddam was in possession of WMDs. It has still not been proven that Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11 attacks.

The reason why the US took such a hasty and thoughtless decision was that none has been held accountable for the devastation inflicted upon the targeted Muslim countries without any plausible reason. Trump, who has been flexing his muscles since his takeover was desperate to show his power and direct assault in Syria has satiated his ego that he is a man of action.

At 3.40 a.m. in the early hours of 7th April, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from the two Alreigh Burke – guided missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, deployed in the Mediterranean Sea on the Sharyad airfield in Homs province from where the alleged chemical attack had been carried out on the Khan Sheikhun village on April 4, killing 75 people including 10 children. Nine civilians including children were killed. The news that the airbase was completely destroyed and 99 jets destroyed were false.

The attack was hailed by Syria’s opposition, USA, NATO, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while it was condemned by Damascus and Tehran. Syrian government denied using chemical weapons and condemned the attack. Iran and Russia denounced the act terming it an act of aggression, which will damage Russia-US relations.

Russia has suspended military communications and agreements with the US. This has increased the risk of an accidental clash of two air forces operating in volatile Syria.

The blatant attack has ruined the prospects of thaw in USA-Russia relations and peace returning to Syria in the near future. There is no one in Trump’s Administration suggesting prudence. All are haughty and war crazy. Zionists have seized control of all power houses in USA and none can stop them from treading into dangerous domains having fatal consequences. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cautioned Moscow about the US intentions to boot out President Assad, the last thorn in the flesh of Israel. Another American string-puppet has been readied, who will happily share bed with Israel and like Gen Sisi, will approve Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

The regime change in Damascus will result in converting battle worthy Syrian Army into a National Army like in Iraq, meant to fight terrorism only. It will deprive Russia of its sole toehold in the Middle East and dispossess it of the Gazprom gas pipeline to Europe via Syria. It will radically reduce the influence of Iran in Syria and enable USA to construct its own gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe via Syria.

Unless Russia devises a new strategy to effectively deal with American belligerence, and gets out of its dithering mode, the US might regain its influence that had declined substantially in the wake of its anti-Muslim and pro-Israel policies. As things stand at present, the US has taken advantage of Russia’s hesitancy after it had gained a definite political, diplomatic and military edge over USA and had put its rival on the back foot. Russia waited for too long to go headlong in ousting ISIS from its power base in Raqqa. For unknown reasons, it called off its offensive several times after the UN mediated peace talks in Geneva commenced in February 2016.

In 2016, the ISIS was suffering defeats and losing ground in both Iraq and Syria. Knowing that the ISIS was CIA creation and is secretly backed by USA and Israel, Russia relied on Washington that it will help in eliminating the ISIS through joint efforts and then will cooperate in its efforts to restore peace and arrive at a political settlement under the umbrella of the UN.

One wonders why Russia overlooked the US-Israel grand design. Russian had deployed S-300 and S-400 in November 2015 to improve air defence system against hostile air attacks. Why couldn’t it detect and strike the cruise missiles? Or it looked the other way since it had been making good use of 3M-14T cruise missiles against the rebels. Why Russia didn’t wake up when the US Special Forces were deployed to block Syrian Army’s advance towards Aleppo? These were fatal mistakes, which has once again made the position of Assad regime vulnerable.

With the battle of Mosul reaching the final stage and the ISIS almost wiped out by the Iraqi forces, the US in collusion with Turkey and the Kurds will now concentrate on snatching Raqqa from the ISIS so as to add a feather in its cap that it has demolished the IS Caliphate. This milestone should have been achieved by Russo-Syrian forces.

USA is likely to dangle a carrot to Russia that to earn its cooperation, it will have to sacrifice Assad. Will Putin take the bait and relent? If he does so, he will cook his goose. China will hang on to its defensive strategy till 2025 and will focus on its six economic corridors to push forward its One-Belt-One-Road concept and hence will be of little use to Russia in its hour of trial in Syria.

Currently President Xi is on an official tour in Washington and the two leaders are exchanging sweet smiles. Xi’s concerns will be high tariffs imposed by USA on Chinese products and of course the militarized South China Sea.

While the offensive act will do little to alleviate Syria’s human rights crisis, it may improve Trump’s approval ratings or may backfire.

Sharyat air base is one of the largest and most active base which is extensively used by Russian jets. The way it was ruthlessly bombed, the whole infrastructure as well as the assets deployed on it should have been destroyed. Interestingly, very little damage was caused to hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars.

Having learnt about the impending attack, all jets less 5, troops and assets had been shifted. Missiles could do no damage to runaways. Control towers were partially damaged but were functional. In less than 24 hours after the cruise missiles assault, five jets that were there and had survived flew off.

Americans are questioning as to why such a big risk was taken and what gains were made by firing $ 100 million worth missiles. Yet another handle has come in the hands of protestors in America to beat Trump with.

Had this important air base along with assets been destroyed, it would have taken considerable time to reconstruct the airfield and make good the losses. It would have certainly rolled back the offensive capability of Syrian forces and dented Russia’s air capability, thereby tilting the balance in favor of the rebels.

Former DIA Col Lang has claimed that Trump’s decision to launch cruise missiles was based on a lie. He reveals that Russia had fully briefed the US that there was a target in Idlib, believed to a weapons/explosive depot of Islamic rebels. The storehouse had chemicals and not sarin. The chemicals included phosphates and chlorine.

There was a strong wind blowing on that day which spread the chemicals and killed/injured the civilians. Trump had castigated George W. Bush for launching an unprovoked, unjustified attack on Iraq. He has committed the same blunder.

The game is on, but the dice at present is loaded slightly in favor of USA.   

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre, and who takes part in TV talk shows and seminars, and delivers talks. email:[email protected]

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14 Responses to "Exclusive: Repercussions of chemical attack in Syria"

  1. roger  April 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Brig. Raja. Pakistan needs to reconsider the air corridor currently provided to US. Intel to the benefit of RAW, and puppy crops, but worst of all, sustaining the Afghanistan occupying force. As it seems, US armed forces presence in Afghanistan don’t any reason to occupy the land other tan exert pressure on Iran nuclear developments to the West and Pakistan nuclear deterrent to the East.In any case, supporting terrorists operating in both nations.

  2. wjabbe  April 10, 2017 at 6:42 am

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/10/russia-threatens-real-war-with-us-in-syria-as-boris-johnson-ca/22033429/ Quote:
    “LONDON — Russia has warned of a “real war” with the US if they attempt to issue them with an ultimatum over their support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
    British foreign secretary Boris Johnson will on Monday call for Western powers to impose sanctions on Russia if it fails to cut ties with Assad following his chemical weapons attack on his own civilians.
    However, the Russian embassy in London warned of a “real war” if the US and its allies impose any such ultimatum.
    Any such threat by the G7 nations “brings us to real war” they warned, before questioning the leadership of US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Johnson.
    In a joint statement, Russian, Iranian and Assad-supporting forces said that the US attack on Syrian airbase last week had crossed a “red line” and warned that any further attacks would be responded to with force.”

  3. wjabbe  April 10, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Recall the plane with the russian choir going down and the incident in Tur key with the russian ambassador; little has been written as follow up on these incidents. The CIA and Mossad are secret criminal organizations operating outside of any lawful control. They could be pressuring Putin behind the scenes even through personal threats to him or his family. He is under enormous pressure but is nobody’s fool either. He doesn’t want to risk WWIII over saving Syria but he also doesn’t want to lose the investment he has already made. The stakes are very high here. This is a turning point in Syria which could go either way at this point. I am sure he is carefully considering his options. But time is on his side if he just waits them out. The impetuous Trump wants action now. Putin should not give him this advantage and delay delay delay. Let Trump dig a hole he can get out of; then Putin must bury Trump and do the world a favor. Impeach Trump before he blows up the world. Trump is a liar, cheater, coward and bully. Putin would best give him the silent treatment and his middle finger.

    • wjabbe  April 10, 2017 at 5:07 am

      Correction: Line -5 can should read can’t.
      Above all, Putin does not want to appear to be the aggressor or law breaker. He has carefully followed all the rules. It is the outlaw U.S. which is the lawbreaker here and throughout this mess in Syria. Putin therefore has the high ground and this is always an advantage despite the media liars of the West. Stick to your guns Putin. You can and may still win this war. I hope you do. Remember this: Putin is in Syria totally legally with permission of the legal Syrian Government. The U.S., on the other hand is there totally ILLEGALLY without any permission at all but is a trespasser. The US is an outlaw nation. The recent missile strike was totally unjustified and totally illegal. Putin: Do not let them bait you into doing something stupid. YOu have the high ground. Hold on, time is on your side. You can still win and beat the cowardly giant. All you have to do is remains silent and wait. Nothing more yet.

  4. roger  April 9, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Brig. Raja. An excellent article. Russia has had to endure a war on its own land, Japan, had the worst of all war experiences buit Americans do not have any at all experience about war at home. If McMaster, Mattis Dunford and othere Pentagon celebrities feel confident about Russian reaction time they have the wrong calculation. US does not have an impervious roof to MIRVd ICBMs, no matter EW or THAADS, once the missile passes point of no return, no matter widespread continental ABMs, plenty of them may get through, and there is no warning to American people to hide in time. Deep tunnels and underground routes have a short time to protect the the Deep State, sooner would need to surface again.to breath the radioactive air as the victims. Armchair wargaming is only breeding fools at the service ofIsrael.

  5. Khalid Talaat  April 9, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Thank you Big. Asif Raja for an excellent overvue. Your article states in 2013… “No proof was furnished, and to this day it’s unknown who had fired Sarin-tipped rockets. It was generally suspected that Mossad was behind the chemical weapons attack.” There was proof that the Sarin gas was home made and not atomized and delivered by arial explosion, because the inspectores did not use hazmat suites. In other words it was home cooked. Bandar Bush’s name came up at the time.
    On another point, a Russian General indicated that only 23 of the 60+/- CM found their target. An analyst made the point that had the Russians attacked the CM it would have been an act of returned aggression leading to escalation. He suggested CMs that came near Russian bases were counter measured by Russian Magrav technology a la USS Donald. That is a plausible explanation for it makes it appear as if it was a malfunction of the CMs.
    I think we will see more US hardwre falling from the sky like a rock and maybe even handed back to the US. Remember the US high tech drone handed back by Iran to NASA? I hope this analyst is correct. Maybe we can avert WW3.

  6. wjabbe  April 9, 2017 at 4:50 am

    What if some of those missiles from the US Ship intended to destroy Syria and aid ISIS had veered “off” course and hit Tel Aviv or even Natanyahu’s house instead? Wouldn’t that have been a shame? None of these guidance systems are 100 per cent accurate. Or how about that tower in NY? The U.S. from Trump on down is nothing but a criminal outlaw nation.

    • wjabbe  April 9, 2017 at 5:06 am

      One can be sure that if this had happened Netanyahu would have used this as a golden opportunity to sympathy scam the U.S. out of more billions of dollars. But what if we used their argument they use that the “fog of war” was responsible for the attack by Israel on the Liberty? Please pretty please citizens of Israel: Vote this piece of human garbage out of office ASAP. He is a hazard to human life everywhere and even the planet itself, especially is totally unnecessary and decadent 40 bodyguards too.

    • wjabbe  April 10, 2017 at 5:41 am

      And finally Mr. Putin think about this: In the short time Trumpty Dumpty has been US President, he has killed innocent children and adults in Yemen. The downed Osprey there had many dead servicemen inside but Trump dropped a bomb to blow up their remains! According to this article he has killed 9 innocent people including children in Syria with his failed missile strike the other day where only 23 of the 59 even succeeded or got through a dismal success rate or large failure rate. Therefore is not Trump a murderer of many innocent people even his own military with these totally failed military and totally outlaw illegal ones also? Trump is a liar, a coward, a bully, a con artist, a draft dodger and an accused sex offender. Hang on to your dossiers of 9/11 and the golden showers to be made public at just the right time in history to bury international outlaw and criminal Trump and the liars about 9/11 protecting Israel from their crimes. At the other end he must be impeached ASAP before he blows up the planet.

  7. Trakkath  April 9, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Destroying evidence like at 911 ?

    What Do We Have Here?
    https://youtu.be/9pTkw3fJoBs

  8. Cold Wind  April 9, 2017 at 4:05 am

    We hope Russia will now reevaluate its reticence in taking on the task of liberating Raqqa. Why should Putin continue, under the circumstances, to accept US exclusionary tactics in this area? The key is Raqqa and who liberates it.

  9. Amelius  April 9, 2017 at 1:15 am

    “Yet another handle has come in the hands of protestors in America to beat Trump with.”

    Indeed. If Col Patrick Lang turns out to be right, and the public finds out that the US intelligence community knew Syria did not use chemical weapons, and that the US was even fully briefed about the target in Idlib, Trumpty Dumpty might have a great fall…If any of his political opposition was ever genuine, might they use this belligerent act of aggression by Trump to make a case for impeachment, or worse? Or do they just wait until this orange imbecile destroys everything?

    • Trakkath  April 9, 2017 at 4:33 am

      Search for Karen Hudes on YouTube and Twitter and see what is reality. Trump is not the legal president but just the CEO of US Inc. which is bankrupt now.

  10. Amelius  April 9, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Thank you for this excellent article. Very well done, in my opinion.

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