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David Habakkuk • 4 years ago


The ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda Media’, which is a group of British academics who are interested in these matters, published a ‘Briefing note’ on the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and other alleged chlorine attacks in Syria since 2014, a few days ago.

I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in a serious examination of the evidence on these matters.

In addition to being published on the 'Working Group' site, the note is reproduced on the blog run by Professor Tim Hayward of Edinburgh, one of its members, and anyone wanting to comment can do so there.

(See http://syriapropagandamedia... ; https://timhayward.wordpres... .)

Dmcna • 4 years ago

I am sure it’s worthy and that I agree with it, but I struggle with the clunky prose: telling us that chlorine released in industrial accidents has showed a less devastating result on the victims and then a few lines later that the effects in Douma could only have been produced by chlorine if released on an industrial scale. Still clunkier however have been the attempts of British intelligence to fake chemical attacks. I hope they and their jihadis do not try one in Idlib, but part of me is curious to see if they can even be bothered to make it plausible. As one of the targets of their deception I am quite offended by their carelessness.

English Outsider • 4 years ago

Dmcna - you write: - "I struggle with the clunky prose: telling us that chlorine released in industrial accidents has showed a less devastating result on the victims and then a few lines later that the effects in Douma could only have been produced by chlorine if released on an industrial scale."

I'm not sure that there is a discrepancy on the Hayward blog linked to by Mr Habakkuk, if these are the passages you find contradictory:-

- "Experts agreed that the images showing bodies of victims lying close together in an apartment building were not compatible with exposure only to chlorine, from which the victims would have been able to escape by moving to the windows or leaving the building. This is supported by experience of industrial accidents with chlorine in which those exposed are usually able to escape."

- "For chlorine to be useful as a weapon, it would have to be released on an industrial scale as in 1915 rather than as a single cylinder or barrel dropped from the air."

I don't see these passages - if they are the passages you refer to - as contradictory but in any case a later passage makes it clear that the authors distinguish between the effects of exposure to chlorine in the open or where there are means of escape, and exposure in a confined space:-

" Although there has been no experience with use of chlorine by a state as a weapon since 1915, there is ample experience with industrial accidents, in which fatalities have been rare unless the quantity of chlorine released exceeds one ton (creating a cloud too big to run out of) or the victims are in a confined space."

I think that might account for the discrepancy you find - unless I've missed the point. The link cited is very condensed so I might have.

But the involvement of the UK is the main point that concerns me. You say: - "Still clunkier however have been the attempts of British intelligence to fake chemical attacks." I doubt very much that British Intelligence, or freelancers working for them, did fake chemical attacks.

Below the Colonel makes it clear that the White helmets are a UK responsibility:-"The managers are from British SOF and propaganda units, not the WHs themselves. The US military is not a participant in the WH operation." Setting aside the question of the supplies coming from Turkey, it seems possible therefore that whatever Western involvement there was in these alleged poison gas attacks was also down to the UK alone.

But the degree of that UK involvement is at this stage unclear. The sites don't seem to have been salted. That indicates that no chemical weapons experts were assisting on the ground. Nor were the videos that convincing, especially not, it seems, to those with any expertise. That also indicates that there were no trained personnel directly involved in staging the incidents.

The most likely explanations are these -

1. That UK experts were only involved to the extent of collecting evidence afterwards and ensuring that such evidence backed up the Jihadis' stories.

2. That the UK provided the Jihadis with specialist training in using the necessary materials but were not involved in designing the scenarios in which that training was used.

The supposition that that was as far as the UK could have gone in assisting with these events is not due to my reluctance to accept that UK personnel were directly involved in staging atrocities, though I'd be very surprised indeed if they had been. It's based on the fact that none of the alleged poison gas attacks was unequivocally convincing and had there been closer supervision by experts they would have been.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

The UK participation is in conceiving the operation, selecting leaders, providing a modicum of training but not in direct participation in the attacks. Coordination in timing is obvious. The US USAID is the source of most of the money.

English Outsider • 4 years ago

Colonel - to the outside observer this looks very much like the Steele operation: using a chain of intermediaries in an attempt to evade accountability: the use of freelancers who are not subject to the constraints of precise documentation as officials are: and those freelancers in turn working with seldom identified assistants within the country. Stretch the chain long enough and I suppose the right hand can really claim not to know what the left hand was doing. Pure evil, however it was fixed up, when it came to the results.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

The difference between government officials and freelancers is often without real difference in the world of secret intelligence and covert operations where the apparent separation is simply manufactured so as to cause you to seek actual separation.

semiconscious • 4 years ago

'I hope they and their jihadis do not try one in Idlib, but part of me is
curious to see if they can even be bothered to make it plausible...'

been thinking the same thing. truly amazing/depressing that it's reached this point. smh...

Sic Semper optimistic. U.S foreign policy has a mind of its own. The nationalist here in the States more than likely have very little to do with its change in direction. Like bond market money, it has a long wide view of the world and its conquest.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

Sounds like Borgist BS

David Habakkuk • 4 years ago

If you want to commit suicide, be my guest.

Enrico • 4 years ago

We summon such moral outrage over staged CW attacks in Syria, but not even a mention over the quite real atrocities committed in Yemen.

Willy B • 4 years ago

The Olive Group, the mercenary firm that Konashenkov named, is under the umbrella of something called Constellis Holdings, which also owns Academi, the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater, the company founded by Eric Prince. The CEO of Constellis is a man named Jason Deyonker, a University of Michigan classmate of Prince's and the man who bought out Blackwater, enabling Prince to move his operation to the UAE.


Eric Newhill • 4 years ago

IMO, now that Trump is aware of who and what the White Helmets are, he should arrange for them to be tracked and then blasted into oblivion by some kind of traditional ordnance. Call it an accident, collateral damage, fortune de guerre, whatever. It would be useful to avoid another false flag poison gas incident as well as sending a message to their handlers.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

IMO he is probably like a mushroom on this. Kept in the dark and fed horseshit.

Johnboy4546 • 4 years ago

If Trump really is being kept in the dark then Assad could solve that problem by quietly threatening to launch a chemical attack on US forces in eastern Syria if Trump launches any more tomahawks at him.

That must result in discussions at the very highest levels, where someone will let slip that, umm, it's a hollow threat Mr President because, err, Assad doesn't have any chemical weapons.

Silence in the room until Trump asks the obvious next question: then who the hell is planning to gas the civilians in Idlib???

That'd be us, Mr President.

Philip • 4 years ago

Johnboy, IMO, a chemical threat against the US army would be a strategic mistake. The US public opinion would unite against Damas and allies. Russians would never allow.

James Thomas • 4 years ago

Assad threatening to launch chemical weapons against US forces would be music to the neocon's ears. It would be the dumbest move since the Germans sank the Lusitania.

Johnboy4546 • 4 years ago

Not openly, James. Nothing so crude.

But a quiet word along these lines: You intend to attack me as-if I use chemical weapons, even though you KNOW that I don't.

Well, OK, if I am going to be attacked as-if I have used chemical weapons even when I haven't then.... explain to me why I shouldn't just use chemical weapons?

After all, what difference is my restraint making as far as your behaviour goes?

The threat doesn't need to be much more than that to provoke intense discussion within the Administration, which at one point must end with someone calling Bullshit! on Assad's threat because, emmm, errrrrr, we know he doesn't have any chemical weapons, Mr President.

Remind yourself of the context of my original post: Col Lang speculated that Trump is being kept in the dark on this. I'm suggesting a means by which Assad can force Trump's advisors to...... advise him.

O rly • 4 years ago

israel has already shuttled many white helmets to safety, where they will pop up again is anyone's guess.

Guest • 4 years ago
Pat Lang • 4 years ago

The managers are from British SOF and propaganda units, not the WHs themselves. The US military is not a participant in the WH operation. The US military have their own fun and games apart from this operation.

FB • 4 years ago

Well...the Russian media in recent days has been repeatedly warning about the upcoming planned chemical provocation...the US and Russia both now have ships in theater and more on the way...

One thing I have to wonder about is Turkey...As Barbara Ann noted here, the foreign agents that Russian MoD speaks of are supposedly in Jisr ash-Shughur, which is on the Turkish border...in fact the Turks control the entire border with Idlib province...so it is hard to see how any of this preparation, including the infiltration of the agents, plus the delivery of chlorine etc...could be happening without Turkey's approval, or at least knowledge...

Just recently high level Turkish officials, including the defense minister were huddling with their Russian counterparts to iron out the Idlib issue...and they came out sounding conciliatory, as the Colonel noted in his previous post 'Turkey Accepts Russian View on Syria'...

Yet the unfolding events with the naval buildup, the continued Russian warnings and Bolton making threats all point in the direction of yet another confrontation...I have to wonder just what role is Turkey playing in this...?

O rly • 4 years ago

In previous incidents, there was at least a plausible argument that if there was a substantial bombing campaign against the government it could alter the course of the war.

even if they do a repeat with significantly more targets and missiles i don't see how it could change anything.

im cotton • 4 years ago

Well, maybe they just want to do it in honor of Sen. McCain.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

that was good. Keep it up.

Philip • 4 years ago

Future replacement of J. Votel by K. McKenzie (USMC) : what impact on the Syrian war?

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

None. he has been well vetted for the job.

Biggee Mikeee • 4 years ago

Colonel: Your opinion of this piece would be welcome.

U.S. troops reinforce deployment without clear reasons in west of Anbar: Source


Pat Lang • 4 years ago

If it is true then there is probably a connection to the US military desire to maintain a US dominated zone in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Guest • 4 years ago
Pat Lang • 4 years ago

Yes. The objective of a US dominated zone meshes nicely with blocking the road from Syria to Iran.

James Thomas • 4 years ago

There has been chatter on Debka that has suggested to me exactly what you posit (about the Iraqi side of the border):

Unhinged Citizen • 4 years ago

Why Russia, has been so ineffective against this group of crisis actors and the propaganda they generate, is a little baffling.

Why have they not targeted the individuals and their activities with smart munition air strikes?

Letting your ally get pummeled by another round of meaningless cruise missile strikes,right under your nose, and now in proximity to your own forces is going to look like nothing except weakness.

James Thomas • 4 years ago

Relatively small scale strikes allow the Russians to test their latest kit (integrated air defences) against advanced western weaponry under real world conditions. That is pretty useful to the country that is playing catch up.

Barbara Ann • 4 years ago

In the TASS article referred to, Konashenkov names the village near Jisr ash-Shughur that the chlorine was allegedly delivered to as Halluz. syria.liveuamap.com shows the village in Latakia province, but more accurate maps, e.g. Google, seem to show it just inside Idlib, at coords 35.782,36.274. The village is less than 2km from the Turkish OP at Ishtabraq Mount, itself right on the road linking Halluz with JaS. Konashennkov even names the group the chemicals were delivered to as Hizb al-Turkistani al-Islami.

The level of detail in the announcement is interesting. In your opinion Colonel, is this an attempt to head off a false flag in this specific location, or a wider effort to deter one - i.e. by signalling that the GRU knows exactly what the various parties are up to?

As not even Reuters appears to have picked up this announcement (nor the fact that yesterday a member of the Duma suggested deploying tactical nukes to Syria), I hope Gerasimov reiterates his April red line announcement. For good measure VVP should do so too this time - just so there can be no doubt of Russia's position.


smoothieX12 . • 4 years ago

nor the fact that yesterday a member of the Duma suggested deploying tactical nukes to Syria

Vladimir Gutenev who offered this advice should know that any Russian Navy's large combatants deployed around Syria do have "tactical nukes". Presence of the tactical nukes in Syria makes absolutely no military sense and is nothing more that one of the MP PR himself on a new wave of mindless American actions in Syria.

Barbara Ann • 4 years ago


I see TASS reported Konashenkov repeating his warning re the US Naval build up today. Given the evident profound ignorance driving US policy towards the risk of a superpower confrontation, I can't help feeling the time for such low-profile messaging is past.

Putin's March 1st speech evidently was not the Sputnik moment it may have been intended to be. Something else is needed to force the 'Russia experts' to update their models, or at least make people like Mattis sit up & take notice. A very public demonstration of the Zhinzal's capabilities would seem to fit the bill, perhaps combined with flights of so-equipped MiG-31's within range (2,000km?) of the offending vessels. My great fear is that absent a blatant signal of this kind, the neocon crazies will only pay attention when we see the weapon used for real - by which time it will be too late. Would be interested in your views.


smoothieX12 . • 4 years ago

God forbids Kinzhal be used on any US asset, same goes for any American missile, be that accidentally or by design flying, into Russian asset. Hopefully the deconfliction line will do the job. Per neocon crazies--I will reiterate: overwhelming majority of those people are not on the front lines and, being mostly concentrated around upscale D.C. communities, in words of Phil Giraldi: "the only danger they face is choking on foie gras". Those people do not operate in a normal logical, moral, let alone military professional frameworks, so until they know that they have literally a bull's eye on them poor dears and countdown starting they will continue to push the envelope. But that means only one thing--Russia striking US proper--the last thing Russia wants to do and is not going to do unless attacked first. I wrote an article precisely on this issue at Unz on Friday.


Neocons are American people's responsibility to remove from power and, hopefully, make many of them face both the court of properly educated public opinion and a court for war crimes not to speak of a treason.

Barbara Ann • 4 years ago

I read your Unz article - very good. Re the neocons pushing the envelope, I do wonder how many times Mad Dog will need to save the World before the sort of justice you describe arrives. My hope for Trump being the catalyst for this is fading.

Pat Lang • 4 years ago

I think it is probably an attempt to dissuade.

FB • 4 years ago

Some intriguing noises coming from China about sending troops for Idlib operation...

'...Both China's ambassador to Syria as well as its military attache in the
country have raised the possibility of Chinese military operations in Syria alongside the Syrian government.

Chinese Ambassador Qi Qianjin reportedly stated that the Chinese "military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in
Idlib and in any other part of Syria," while military attache Wong Roy Chang reportedly said the Chinese military could participate in an operation to retake rebel-held Idlib if Beijing made the political decision for it to do so...'

That from Stratfor earlier this month...

Whether that actually happens is an open question...but it would seem that Russia and Turkey are huddling to try to iron out a general agreement before shooting begins...

exmaple • 4 years ago

Google " uyghur idlib"

The Beaver • 4 years ago

Brig. Ali,

First my apologies for my unladylike comment:
With whom are the analysts of Stratfor sleeping in DC or Beijing ( because for sure Stratfor did not get entry visas for Damascus) to write this .
Note: It is common knowledge about the M.O. of some of those analysts working for Stratfor and we have some posts about them on SST some yrs ago.

China will not participate in Idlib and Putin will not let that happen now that he is on his last mile to free Idlib. The jihadis from Uyghur will be "taken care" by the militias working with the SAA or Hizb'Allah in Syria.
Xi is very shrewd and will not let his Chinese soldiers be killed on a foreign soil far away from the motherland .Won't be good on the domestic level. China will sit on the fence and will react only when the UNSC tables some blue drafts.

Ivan Freely • 4 years ago

Just lip service from the Chinese.