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Letter exchange re article on chemical weapons

Assad’s Chemical Weapon?

Dear WIP: In his article in the May 2017 issue of Works in Progress, Peter Bohmer claims that “there is close to but not 100-percent  proof” that Assad carried out the recent sarin attack on Khan Shaykhun in Syria. He further suggests that “those who deny or cast doubt on Syrian government responsibility would not accept any evidence that challenges their preconceived notions and ideology.”

Peter is welcome to dismiss those who disagree with him in this way, but I myself would be very surprised if it turned out that Assad was responsible for the attack. However evil he may be, Assad is no fool, and so far as he goes, that attack made no sense militarily or politically.  Rather, it looks very much like a false flag operation designed to provoke and justify the United States’s attacking Assad.

Here is a link to a fourteen page Assessment of White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017 by Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at Massachusetts Institute of cTechnology: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_Vs2rjE9TdwR2F3NFFVWDExMnc/view.

From this report: “’Analysis of the debris as shown in the photographs cited by the White House clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive on top of it that crushed the container so as to disperse the alleged load of sarin,’ rather than dropped from a plane” (in the al Qaeda held area).

It would be very good if Peter could provide solid information to back up his claim that Assad was responsible for this sarin attack, for those of us who are saddled with preconceived notions and ideology.

Best wishes,

Dave Jette

Response to letter on May article by Peter Bohmer

To WIP,

A good summary of the strong evidence that the Syrian air force used Sarin Gas in bombing the civilian population In Khan Shaykun in Idlib Province, Syria  is the May 1, 2017 report by Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/05/01/death-chemicals/syrian-governments-widespread-and-systematic-use-chemical-weapons.   In this report, they cite the highly respected Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which concluded that the gas used in the April 4th attack was Sarin. Several eyewitness accounts testified that the deadly gas was dropped on that morning by a Syrian Air Force, Russian made plane.   The Human Rights Watch report also documents three other uses of poison gas by the Syrian government against its own population since December 12, 2016. Although the politics of Human Rights Watch is often questionable and not sufficiently critical of the United States foreign policy, their facts are for the most part accurate

The letter questioning my claim also mentions the refutation by Professor Theodore Postol that the government of President Bashar al-Assad used Sarin in this recent attack and in the earlier and even more deadly one of 2013.  For a refutation of Postol, see the commentary by Louis Proyect,  https://louisproyect.org/2017/04/17/going-postol-how-an-mit-professor-ended-up-in-bashar-al-assads-camp/   Proyect’s refutation is not totally conclusive but he correctly points out that there have been no claims whatsoever of prior use of Sarin by the armed organizations opposing the Assad regime. This was one of the possibilities put forward by those who claimed other groups but not Syria had used this poisonous gas on April 4th.  Moreover, the claim by Postol and others that Sarin wasn’t used on April, 4th because the “White Helmets” tended to the many wounded and dead soon after this deadly explosion without protective gear and survived. This survival is plausible as the lethal effects of Sarin are very short lived.

The Sarin attacks are consistent with the past, present and future brutality of the Assad regime; their continuous massive killing, wounding, torture, imprisonment, disappearance   and displacement of millions of Syrians.  This, even more than the use of Sarin, is the main crime of the Assad regime against the Syrian people

Peter Bohmer

May 26, 2017

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