UN Team Heard Claims of ‘Staged’ Chemical Attacks

Exclusive: A widely touted U.N. report accusing the Syrian government of two chlorine-gas attacks relied on shaky evidence and brushed aside witness testimony that claimed some incidents were staged, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

United Nations investigators encountered evidence that alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian military were staged by jihadist rebels and their supporters, but still decided to blame the government for two incidents in which chlorine was allegedly dispersed via improvised explosives dropped by helicopters.

In both cases, the Syrian government denied that it had any aircraft in the areas at the times of the purported attacks, but the U.N. team rejected that explanation with the curious argument that Syria failed to provide flight records to corroborate the absence of any flights. Yet, if there had been no flights, there would be no flight records.

The controversial map developed by Human Rights Watch and embraced by the New York Times, supposedly showing the flight paths of two missiles from the Aug. 21 Sarin attack intersecting at a Syrian military base.

The controversial map developed by Human Rights Watch and embraced by the New York Times, supposedly showing the flight paths of two missiles from the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack intersecting at a Syrian military base. The analysis was later discredited when aeronautical experts found that the one missile carrying sarin had only one-fourth the necessary range.

The U.N. team also dismissed out of hand the possibility that jihadist rebels who had overrun some air bases and thus had operational helicopters at their disposal might have used them as part of a staged event designed to incriminate the Damascus regime and thus justify U.S. or other outside military intervention.

Another problem with the U.N. team’s findings is that the home-made chlorine bombs had minimal military value, inflicting relatively few casualties and only a handful of deaths.

Why the Syrian government, which was under intense international pressure regarding alleged chemical weapons use and was in the process of surrendering its stockpile of such weapons, would have jerry-rigged a handful of homemade bombs and dropped them for no discernible military effect makes little sense.

However, since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been thoroughly demonized over his harsh reaction to an uprising that began in 2011, pretty much any accusation against him – no matter how unlikely or implausible – is widely accepted in the mainstream Western media and political circles. In other words, the U.N. team was under pressure to reach a guilty verdict.

Accusations of Staging

Yet, the evidence from at least one of the incidents examined by the U.N. team suggests that an attack on Al-Tamanah on the night of April 29-30, 2014, might well have been staged by rebels and then played up by activists through social media.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

Accounts from other people, who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah, provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the U.N. report.

The report said, “Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM (the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission).

“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”

Some other witnesses alleging a Syrian government attack offered curious claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bombs” based on how the device sounded in its descent.

The U.N. report said, “The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

As in other cases that were investigated, the U.N. team demanded that the Syrian government provide flight records to support its denial that any of its aircraft were in the air in that vicinity at the time of the attack.

“The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic stated that no military activities were conducted from land or air in Al-Tamanah on the dates of the incidents, but did not provide any records of flight operations to support this statement,” the U.N. report said.

In the Al-Tamanah case, the U.N. team judged the evidence insufficient to reach a firm judgment regarding who was responsible. However, in two other cases, in Talmenes in April 2014 and Sarmin in March 2015, the U.N. team accused the Syrian military of dropping chlorine-infused “barrel bombs.”

Investigative Limitations

Yet, regarding all eight cases that were examined, the U.N. team acknowledged significant limitations on its ability to investigate.

Map of Syria, showing Golan Heights in the lower left corner.

Map of Syria, showing Golan Heights in the lower left corner.

The report said, “As was the case with the Fact-Finding missions, the lack of access to the locations under investigation due to the dire security situation on the ground affected the manner in which the Mechanism [a committee from the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] was able to conduct its investigation.

“Visits to certain locations would have facilitated the ability of the Mechanism to (a) confirm and access specific locations of interest; (b) collect comparative environmental samples; (c) identify new witnesses; and (d) physically evaluate the material of interest to the Mechanism (e.g., remnants).

“Other challenges and constraints include the following factors: (a) the time period that had elapsed since the incident (i.e. in some cases, more than two years since the incident); (b) the lack of chain of custody for some of the material received; (c) the source of information and material was of secondary or tertiary nature; (d) some of the information material, including those depicting the size and nature of the incident, were misleading; (e) finding independent sources of information that could provide access to individuals and information material proved difficult; and (f) the impact locations were not preserved and were compromised by the time they were recorded (e.g., the videos and photographs of the impact locations were taken days after the incident and in many cases after the remnants had been removed from the impact location).”

In other words, the U.N./OPCW investigation was compromised by its inability to conduct an effective on-the-ground assessment and was forced to rely on witnesses who were often allied with the rebel forces or sympathetic to the political opposition to President Assad.

This problem is reminiscent of what happened inside the U.S. Intelligence Community in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq when some 18 witnesses – supposedly “defectors” from Saddam Hussein’s regime – became “walk-ins” who presented claims about the Iraqi government’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

CIA analysts debunked some of these bogus claims and traced some of the deceit to the machinations of the pro-invasion Iraqi National Congress (INC), but – given the political-and-media hatred of Saddam Hussein – the CIA analysts were under intense pressure to accept some of the dubious accounts that were then incorporated into U.S. intelligence products and used to justify a war under false pretenses.

As with Iraq – where the U.S. government had helped fund anti-regime groups such as the INC – a similar situation exists inside Syria where U.S. officials have assisted the “opposition” in organizing politically and mastering propaganda skills. So, the means and opportunity for depicting regime “atrocities” through social media are there, along with the motive.

These activists – as well as the radical jihadists and other armed rebels – have become increasingly desperate to induce the United States to intervene militarily against the Syrian army and thus make their desired “regime change” possible.

Obama’s Red Line

The emphasis on creating a chemical weapons casus belli increased when President Barack Obama set the Syrian government’s possible use of such weapons as a “red line” that might cause him to intervene directly with U.S. forces.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on confronting the terrorist group ISIL in Syria, on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure for New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014.  (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on confronting the terrorist group ISIL in Syria, on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure for New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

That comment and the political pressure for instituting another Mideast “regime change” were the backdrop for the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, which anti-Assad activists, the mainstream U.S. press, and the U.S. State Department immediately blamed on government forces.

In the ensuing days, Obama came to the edge of authorizing a retaliatory military strike before hearing from U.S. and other Western intelligence services that they had doubts about who had actually pulled off the attack.

Since then, the sarin case against Assad has largely collapsed (although to defuse the crisis he agreed to a Russian plan for Syria to surrender all its chemical weapons). The evidence now appears to indicate that radical jihadists released the sarin with the goal of goading Obama into joining the war on their side, i.e., a false-flag operation.

As the sarin case fell apart in 2014, the U.S. government shifted its emphasis toward chlorine-gas allegations. I first encountered this bait-and-switch tactic when I pressed a senior State Department official to back up or back off the increasingly discredited sarin gas claims.

While sidestepping the sarin case, the official asserted that the Syrian government almost surely was responsible for the more recent chlorine-gas incidents, citing the bombs’ delivery by helicopter and arguing that only the Syrian government possessed such aircraft.

According to the U.N. report, however, that belief regarding the government’s monopoly of helicopters may not be true, since rebel forces had captured air bases where operational helicopters were present. That means, at least theoretically, the jihadists could have staged the night-time attacks – complete with prior alarms spread by activist first-responders, known as “white helmets,” about the imminent arrival of “government” helicopters with chlorine bombs.

But the more nettlesome question, which the U.N. report does not address, is why would the Syrian government launch these strange attacks while realizing that any chemical weapons incident could prompt U.S. military intervention that could tip the war in favor of the jihadists and other rebels, especially since the chlorine attacks had virtually no military value.

Few Fatalities

While the makeshift chlorine bombs may have sent scores of civilians to get medical attention, very few of the casualties were fatal, according to the U.N. report. By contrast, the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack killed hundreds, with the U.S. government putting out an even higher (and almost surely exaggerated) number of 1,429 dead.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In both these cases – the sarin and chlorine investigations – U.N. officials were under enormous pressure from the U.S. State Department and Western governments to come up with something that could be used to justify “regime change” in Damascus.

The U.S. State Department and various anti-Assad non-governmental organizations also had a strong motive to play up any accusations of Syrian chemical weapons use. Obama’s critics still hope to push him into an increased military intervention to remove Assad from power.

Significantly, the recent U.N. report was initially leaked to The New York Times, which has been at the forefront of agitating for another “regime change” operation in Syria. Not unexpectedly, the Times produced an article on Aug. 24 that applied no skepticism to the accusations and simply blamed the Assad government for two of the chlorine attacks.

The U.N. report wasn’t officially available until the end of August, but even then it was extremely difficult to access at the U.N.’s Web site. This week, I finally reached a U.N. press representative who walked me through the maze of links required to get to the right page, but it turned out that the page had been off-line since last Friday, the press aide said. Finally, on Tuesday, I was sent a link that worked.

Though these technical glitches may well have been coincidental, the effect was to delay any critical review of the U.N.’s report. By the time its evidentiary and logical gaps could be examined by the public, the conventional wisdom had already solidified regarding the Syrian government’s guilt.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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31 comments for “UN Team Heard Claims of ‘Staged’ Chemical Attacks

  1. Nancy
    September 8, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    So, in effect, we have no sound body to stop the Western regime-change fanatics and their delusional?

    • Winston Smith
      September 10, 2016 at 7:32 am

      Yes. I’m afraid the Un has been completely taken over for a long time. This is not the first time. The sarin attack 20013 report was rewritten at UB headquarters, with ban involved, and the leader summoned back from Sweden to rewrite it.

  2. RPDC
    September 8, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    It took the NYT not one, not two, not three, but FOUR guesses to correctly describe Aleppo, so I think they can be fairly ignored for the remainder of the conflict.

    To summarize,

    1) First, they claimed Aleppo is the “de facto capital of ISIS” [ISIS isn’t in Aleppo at all]

    2) Next, they changed that to say that Aleppo is an “ISIS stronghold” [wrong again]

    3) Incredibly, they posted a “correction” that described Aleppo as “the capital of Syria” [Yeah . . . Damascus]

    4) Finally, they issued a “correction to the correction” and gave up, describing Aleppo as a “war-torn” city

    Note that this was in their story correcting Gary Johnson for not knowing anything about Aleppo.

    http://www.mediaite.com/print/ny-times-issues-correction-to-its-correction-of-gary-johnson-piece/

  3. Dorothy Hoobler
    September 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you Mr. Perry for your journalistic integrity on Syria. Why the US has decided to destroy the country is not quite clear . It had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Center and has never had a state religion so it cannot be classified as an Islamic fundamentalist country. It is one of the oldest continuous centers of Christianity. The destruction of Syria, home of the world’s oldest capital city will disgrace this country forever.

    • September 9, 2016 at 8:30 am

      It is very clear why Syria has to be destroyed:

      1) Turkey in the north wants to use the waters of Euphrates and Tigris alone and not share it with Syria and Iraq, while Israel wants to keep the water rich Golan Heights. Israel also wants to conquer the Litani river area in southern Lebanon, and Hezbollah, a close ally of Syria, is in the way.

      2) Qatar wants to have a pipeline crossing Syria to transfer gas to Europe.

      3) Saudi Arabia, UAE, and fellow Arab monarchies consider any secular and socialist Arab government as a threatening example of an alternative system and want to prevent a Shiite dominated axis consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq.

      4) Israel loves the chaos in the surrounding Arab countries. Syria was the biggest supporter of the Palestinian cause.

      5) The MIC (military industrial complex) lobbyists need continuous war to boost profits, Pentagon and CIA need war to justify their excessive funding and to increase their influence. Syria buys weapons from Russia and not from the USA.

      6) The USA plays the longterm geopolitical game of a destabilization push from Syria to Iran to Central Asia, North Caucasus, Volga region (Russia’s “soft underbelly” with a significant Muslim population).

      • incontinent reader
        September 9, 2016 at 12:22 pm

        Bob – Superb article.

        Wolf Mato – All excellent points, to which you might add:

        1) Hillary Clinton’s email advocating regime change in Syria as a means of weakening Iran to ensure Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the Middle East;

        2) The desire by the U.S., Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel to sabotage of the proposed Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian pipeline which would provide economic benefit to Iran, Iraq and Syria, while competing with Turkey’s energy hub and Israel’s marketing of its offshore natural gas (and oil from the Golan) to Europe (or at least its plans to do so).

    • September 10, 2016 at 7:48 am

      It is all to make it safe for Israel.

  4. Ames Gilbert
    September 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    C’mon, chlorine is a gas at room temperatures. To contain it safely and in useful amounts at room temperature, it must be pressurized and placed in non-reactive heavy metal cylinders. To let it out in quantities in the open that are dangerous to humans, there must be dozens if not hundreds emitting the gas at the same time. My grandad, a captain in WWI, was present when the British forces tried this out. They had TEN THOUSAND cylinders working together to produce a great wave of gas that started towards the German lines. Then the wind changed, and the wave started rolling back. Though equipped with state-of-the-art gas masks of the day, there were thousands of British casualties, and no German ones. That pretty much ended the experiment.
    So, unpressurized chlorine somehow contained in a few “barrels” get dropped by definition in the open, and this is supposed to cause many casualties? Even if you mixed precursor chemicals that generated free chlorine on the spot upon impact, this is not going to create much danger, unless the precursors splashed directly on one. True, chlorine gas is heavier than air, and will gather in pockets (just like WWI), but even collecting in a basement, most people would be able to escape quite easily; the smell is very distinctive, and you wouldn’t need to know its name or nature to start moving away from it.

    • RPDC
      September 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      This is interesting stuff. Any chance you have links or further info about the mechanics and/or feasibility of using chlorine gas as a weapon? I just did some superficial digging and didn’t come up with much. I saw that liquefaction of chlorine occurs at very low temperature, and that it will remain a liquid at room temp as long as it’s maintained under pressure (around 7atm), but what little I saw seemed completely impracticable for small-scale usage.

    • September 11, 2016 at 12:14 am

      Good points! What they’ve been alleging here, as the UN-OPCW report explains, is these barrel contain flasks of potassium permanganate powder and tanks of hydrochloric acid. When the bomb blows up (weakly,) they think these mix before getting scattered, and emit chlorine gas. It’s never said to affect thousands in a warfare sense, just dozens, and half the time some unlucky family gets stuck in a basement with the gas and passes out, or (because loss of consciousness isn’t a normal effect) whatever, and they die there. Usually “displaced” and/or “unidentified” people. It makes no sense. And the whole motive is not to kill lots, but to cause irrational panic, and the opposition’s activists don’t seem inclined or able to get the people over that, and so the world has to come and save them from the “psychological torture.” See http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2016/08/terrible-flaws-in-opcws-syria-chlorine.html

  5. Chris Chuba
    September 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I believe this to be pure propaganda to promote regime change but I will play devil’s advocate here.

    The argument, and I consider it a weak one, goes like this. Sure, chlorine is a very inefficient weapon. In WW1, Chlorine was so useless that it was quickly replaced by Phosgene and Mustard Gas. However, Assad’s using this as a psychological weapon in order to depopulate rebel held areas. While Chlorine is a bad weapon compared to conventional explosives, not even worth the effort, it is cheap and has a fear factor, especially for Iraqi refugees.

    Now I consider this argument absurd. If Assad was trying to use chlorine in the manner, he would have deployed it on a much larger scale. Issuing a total of 5 attacks, isn’t going to get the job done.

  6. Wobblie
    September 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    What was it that the great George Bush II said? “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me… can’t get fooled again.”

    But of course Liberals and Conservatives will buy anything their masters say no matter how many times they are fooled into unnecessary wars.

    https://therulingclassobserver.com/2016/09/04/paradise-suppressed/

    • Joe Wallace
      September 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Wobblie:

      It was difficult to capture the folk wisdom of George Bush II. Didn’t he actually say: “If wishes were horses . . . then fool me . . . can’t get fooled again?”

  7. Bruce Dodds
    September 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you for your diligence in investigating this issue, Mr Parry. It’s important work.

  8. Daniel
    September 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    At this point, with the timing of this and so many unsubstantiated incidents always pointing to the U.S. preferred conclusion that more aid/weapons/war are needed anywhere they would like, I reserve judgment on all hyperventilation from government or media figures as events unfold (remember John Kerry demanding that we bomb Syria?), and wait to be convinced that these are NOT false flag events or outright fabrications. 9.9 times out of 10, the first story out of the mouths of these folks is wildly inaccurate or flat out false. Thank God for this site and others who dare investigate, ask questions and have a genuine concern for the truth.
    As an aside, I happened by the T.V. this morning to hear imminent warnings of ISIS coming to kill us all(!) then remembered that Congress was back in session. Their preying on our fears and majority ignorance of world affairs is most disgusting.

    • Chris Chuba
      September 8, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      It’s funny (in a bad way) that the biggest attack yet has just been reported in Eastern Aleppo city. I use the word funny because Assad seems to choose to attack the rebels when he is on the verge of defeating them in battle. Being a cynical person, I believe that the rebels are desperately trying to save their rear ends after getting their rear ends handed to them on the battlefield.

      There is absolutely no motive for Assad to use chlorine gas on a besieged city. It’s a horribly inefficient weapon and it won’t terrorize the population into leaving because they can’t.

  9. Dam Spahn
    September 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Wow. Regime change based upon evidence that smells like Nigerian yellow cake. Since mainstream media is little more than a propaganda mill, going forward, our new war (either one) president will have a clear path towards WW3. How profitable.

  10. CJ
    September 8, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Excellent report – you must be the first to objectively analyse this even in the alternative media.

    These were the references and links I found which seem to be different to the one you mention above:

    This one ( http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/dc3651.doc.htm )contains the embedded link to the download page here:
    http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2016/738

    I thought this was interesting inside the report:

    “9. The initial period of the Mechanism’s work from 24 September to 13 November 2015 was taken up by the setting up of the office, both in New York and in The Hague. As explained in the Mechanism’s first report (S/2016/142), during this time the Mechanism recruited staff with relevant skills and expertise; held planning meetings and consultations with Member States; adopted measures to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of its work, including protection of documents, evidence and witnesses; began the development and implementation of a records management system within a robust information security regime applicable to all information obtained or generated by the Mechanism; and began its extrabudgetary fundraising to support its activities and its material and technical needs. On 9 November 2015, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council that the Mechanism would begin its full operations on 13 November (see S/2015/854).”

    so who provided the dosh?

    cheers

  11. Peter Loeb
    September 9, 2016 at 6:19 am

    An excellent article. With thanks,

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  12. Roger
    September 9, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Arab society is built around intimate and constant contact between extended families, each composed of about 20 to 25 people or more, from grandfather to nephews and nieces and relative marriages. It is therefore utterly inconceivable that President Assad could have barrel-bombed and gassed so many people without the fact being common knowledge among the population, many of whom are fighting, and might have participated in such actions, or heard about them from other fighting friends or relatives.
    The figure of 250,000 murdered is 1 in 80, on a population of 20 million.
    And yet the army – a mostly citizen army I may add – is still loyal to the death, as is the greater part of the citizens, under five years of terrible privations.
    I must therefore conclude that the entire western meme about Assad’s murderous behaviour is balls, and ought to bring the perpetrators – too numerous to name – to a rope under the nearest lamp-post.

    • Gregory Herr
      September 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you for this. Assad is a better man than most Western “leaders,” and Syrian society is woven tightly around family. The Syrian Army is valiant. This “war” is disgusting and shameful. The limits of human disgrace are being stretched as we speak.

  13. September 9, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Thank your your important work of countering the mainstream media narrative!

    A meaningful forensic examination in a war zone is impossible and what the UN commission presents as a probe is hearsay.

    Nothing new here, but where are the usual hospital bombings? In February, the first time the Islamists got in serious trouble, there were four bombings reported, when Mallah Farms fell, the record was pushed to six. Now, as the Ramouseh offensive collapsed, nothing. Did they run out of hospital photographs?

  14. Exiled off mainstreet
    September 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    It is disgusting that the UN has been converted by yankee influence from an agency to prevent war to one to create it. It is also unfortunate that the power structure and corporate media is fully on board with this war crimes complex. Unfortunately, we have to resort to independent websites such as this one, which is perhaps the best of them.

  15. Abe
    September 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    In both these cases – the sarin and chlorine investigations – fake “citizen investigative journalist” Eliot Higgins was at the forefront of efforts to come up with something that could be used to justify “regime change” in Damascus.

    In March 2012, using the pseudonym “Brown Moses,” British blogger Higgins purportedly began “investigative” blogging on the armed conflict taking place in Syria, claiming this to be a “hobby” in his “spare time”.

    A mainstream media darling, Higgins “arm chair analytics” were enthusiastically promoted by the UK Guardian and New York Times, as well as corporate sponsors like Google.

    Higgins’ “analyses” of Syrian weapons were frequently cited by MSM and online media, human rights groups, and Western governments seeking “regime change” in Syria.

    Higgins’ accusations that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack were proven false, but almost led to war.

    Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observed that “although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, [he] has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.”

    Despite the fact that Higgins’ accusations have repeatedly been disproven, he continues to be frequently cited, often without proper source attribution, by media, organizations and governments.

    Higgins and his Bellingcat site are at the center of a Propaganda 3.0 disinformation campaign using so-called “open journalism”, “social media journalism”, “open-source intelligence” as conduits for deception.

    Among his many shenanigans, Higgins serves as the main mouthpiece for “barrel bombs” allegations. See https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2015/07/08/a-brief-open-source-history-of-the-syrian-barrel-bomb/

    Higgins and Bellingcat have been working with major corporations like Google and Youtube in support of the US/NATO “hybrid war” against Russia and Syria.

    For more on Higgins and Bellingcat deception operations, see the article and comments section at https://consortiumnews.com/2016/04/14/the-credibility-illusion/

    For information on Higgins and Bellingcat propaganda about MH-17, see the article and comments at https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/17/mh-17-two-years-of-anti-russian-propaganda/

  16. LJ
    September 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    It seems obvious that that when the Syrian Government is under pressure for using Chlorine in barrel bomb attacks in the UN Security Council that they are not going to conduct just such an attack in time for that day’s 6 O’clock News. This is reminiscent of the sarin attack outside Damascus that occurred simultaneously just 9 miles away from where the UN Inspectors were checking into their hotels upon there arrival in Syria to conduct an investigation into sarin attacks in Syria. (Remember?). Arabs are not subtle and terrorists are not smart. They have shown repeatedly that they do not respect any human life. Friend of foe. To me it was obvious that this latest Chlorine story was a false flag but I don’t work for the US Government or mainstream Western or Arabic media sources. .

  17. J'hon Doe II
    September 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Speaking of staged attacks. 9/11 was a hum-dinger !
    It started the transfer of tax dollars from the American People to corporations, and unparalleled profits for the war industry (fascism).
    It started the “GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR” now in it’s 15th year of world-wide death,destruction and displacement!

    Thank-you very much PNAC and associates.

  18. Joe L.
    September 10, 2016 at 11:24 am

    When it comes to Syria, I kind of wish that China would really put its’ foot down. I read recently on the BRICS Post that China is providing arms and training for the Syrian Government (http://thebricspost.com/china-to-provide-aid-training-to-syrian-government/#.V9QhC2XRVYQ). It seems to me that the only countries that can really put a stop to the US’ (and western) fantasies of regime change are Russia, China, and their allies. Also, overall as I think many people are starting to realize, is that the US (and the western world) are ultimately using “terrorists” to overthrow countries for their own geopolitical and economic interests – that has to be the definition of evil. I think if China, which is currently the world’s largest economy according to PPP and will be the world’s largest economy in every other detail in the next decade or so, took a strong stance on Syria and said enough regime change then that would really make countries think. Seems to me our politicians mainly understand money so if the world’s largest economy (according to PPP) says enough then they are likely to listen. Being Canadian, I recently saw our country (at the behest of the US), put in an application to join the AIIB (as much of Europe has already done, again at the behest of the US). From my view, US leadership for the world means endless wars for plunder, blood to enrich a handful of nations, the constant search for an enemy – that’s just evil. My only hope is that China will not follow in the US’ footsteps and will largely be a peaceful nation. Also, that with the decline of the US Empire that will be the end of Empires in general. One last footnote, it will be interesting to see how history remembers this chapter, and if in the decades to come it will be truthful about the underlying agendas surrounding these stupid wars in the Middle East. It seems to me that many people are starting to understand the dangers of “exceptionalism” which makes your perceived enemies inferior and justifies their eradication – that’s a dangerous group think. Hopefully more people will understand the dangers, and evils, of Empire and start listening to the truth tellers such as Mr. Parry, John Pilger, Chris Hedges, Seymour Hersh etc.

  19. Bill Rood
    September 11, 2016 at 12:44 am

    …the U.N. team rejected that explanation with the curious argument that Syria failed to provide flight records to corroborate the absence of any flights. Yet, if there had been no flights, there would be no flight records.

    Well, there you have it. Once again, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  20. September 11, 2016 at 3:33 am

    For the record, I noticed these were the incidents they dropped. JIM director Gamba saisd in an interview “we cannot get sufficient information, or that there is information that is too contradictory for us to be able to continue with this – so there will be no further investigation in these three cases, that is: Kafr Zita (11 April 2014); in Al-Tamanah (29 to 30 April, 2014); and in Al-Tamanah again (25 to 26 May, 2014).” http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54795#.V8YPYo-cHIU

    As I note (see my name link here), these are also the attacks where people were listed as dead, and all of them were “internally displaced,” as luck would have it … 10-13 people in 3 incidents, only one fighting age male, one old man, 4 women, 7 girls, one boy – possibly all from a dispersed pool of “displaced people” where most of their fighting age men and boys were killed on day 1 – which could have been in February, when area Islamists raided the Alawite village of Ma’an and abducted some 80 civilians after killing others… Somehow the one case of these the JIM could finally blame on the government is the one that also, by listing, only killed locals in Telmennes.

  21. dahoit
    September 11, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Right now I’m listening to the roll of dead Americans who died on 9-11 for Israeli hegemony,of which Syria is just the tip of the iceberg.
    What a disgrace,the failure of our MSM to connect the dots that reveal their chosen lands perfidy in creating the day that changed everything.

  22. TellTheTruth-2
    September 11, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    The Ziocon war mongers and false flag attacks are Siamese twins. Ziocon = conflation of Zionist and Neocon. Many of these individuals are responsible pushing the US & Britain to invade Iraq. They do the bidding of AIPAC and hence Israel.

    A partial list of Ziocons includes: Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Doulas Feith, David Wurmser, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristoll, Midge Decter, Dov Zakheim, Robert B. Zoellick, Eliot Cohen, William Kristoll, Robert Kagan, Joshua Muravchik, Meyrav Wurmser, Irwin Stelzer, Michael Ledeen, Daniel Pipes, Lawrence Kaplan, Marty Peretz, David Brooks, John Podhoretz, Neal Kozodoy, Jonah Goldberg

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