Chemical experts doubt the truth of mass gas attacks in Syria.

"Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army's Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: "None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear," he says, "and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed." This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that "there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control."
Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous material exposure at England's Cranfield University who has worked with Britain's Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that "from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the casualties coming in ,and it would affect those treating them who are not properly protected. We are not seeing that here."
Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any external signs of trauma?
"  Ha'aretz


This article in an Israeli newspaper makes it clear that it is not at all clear
who carried out these attacks or if there actually were chemical attacks.  pl


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29 Responses to Chemical experts doubt the truth of mass gas attacks in Syria.

  1. confusedponderer says:

    The lack of protective gear and is also a thing I wonder about.
    With nerve agents sight problems and loss of bowel control would be obvious problems (we were taught a little rhyme about that, “Where the pupil narows, the anus widens”), and with blister agents … well, no blisters or chemical burns reported.
    We were also warned about the nasty phenomenon of a ‘casualty-daisy-chain’, in which contaminated casualties poison careless decontamination and unprotcted medical personnel.
    There is no indication of a workflow for clean casualty decontamination and treatment in any of the pictures. These are just a bunch of sick people hanging around.
    About everything about that story looks wrong.
    Jihadis have used chlorine spiked bombs in Iraq. Chlorine would be available in countries like Syria because it is needed for water purification in the climate. Iirc that jihadis have gained control over some water treatment facilities.

  2. confusedponderer says:

    Besides, I just love that Photo.
    For company it needs this one:

  3. Peter C says:

    Excellent choice on the photo! Here we go, weapons of mass destruction, see the suffering right in front of your eyes. Many U.S. TV and Radio voices are all aghast of the sight of suffering children, pontificating we (the U.S.) has to do something to stop this.
    I too thought the same about the photos of dead and harmed people, haw can a chemical attack be so neat and contained. So many of our media people do not even know the difference between an AK-47 and an A-4 carbine. The U.S. military has been in a hot deployed war footing for over 10 years and many of our T.V. journalists don’t take the time to understand both sides motivations and methods in the conflict. The T.V. journalists just eat whatever is fed them. There are some very good journalist out there, but their voices are not big corporate media voices.

  4. The beaver says:

    A bit OT;
    Like they say in French: deux poids deux mesures
    Guess it’s OK for KSA/Qatar/UAE to arm and finance the rebels but Hizb’Allah 🙁
    Wonder which Salafist group has just lobed rockets at Israel from South Lebanon

  5. toto says:

    Le Figaro of France (supposedly a staid conservative publication) is pushing a pretty wild scenario.
    Apparently Jordanian-based, American-trained commandos have been helping some rebel groups recently, with considerable success. This would somehow explain the regime’s decision to launch a chemical attack:
    The “chemical attack” sounds extremely suspicious to me, but I’m wondering if you had any information about these alleged commandos and their alleged “successes”.

  6. Tigershark says:

    Could it “just” be result of a shell burst at a chlorine tank at a water purification facility or chlorine bleach manufacturing plant?

  7. ISL says:

    For the dissembler who cannot call a coup a coup in Egypt*, I am going to imagine he has already listened to General Dempsey that it is not in US interest to enable Al Quaeda to take power in Syria.
    I assume if the fix was in, General Dempsey would be more discrete or on message or simply keep his view out of the public domain.
    * the question as to how the US should respond to the coup is separate from describing it accurately.

  8. turcopolier says:

    If I knew I would not tell you. If this were true t would not alter the suicidal decision the Syrian government would have to have made. pl

  9. Matthew says:

    ISL: The problem with Juan Cole’s and Andrew Sullivan’s canned outrage over Syria is that the rebels are even more ghastly than Assad.
    The red line that the “humanitarian interventionalists” want to draw does not contemplate taking military action against the rebels if–as is likely–they were behind this chemical attack.
    Consequence: Complete incoherence. See, e.g.,

  10. Stephanie says:

    Obama doesn’t want to go to war in Syria, but he has boxed himself in with a series of foolish statements designed to keep the genuine hawks at bay: “Assad must go,” “red line,” “game changer,” etc. I don’t believe Assad would be suicidal enough to use chemical weapons when he’s gained the initiative on the ground, but even if he had done so, that wouldn’t make intervening on behalf of the rebels a smarter move, nor would it automatically elevate the rebels to a higher plane of morality.
    The Administration couldn’t call the coup a coup because there would have been immediate legal consequences and they would have had to cut off the Egyptian bribes, I mean aid.

  11. Matthew says:

    Eakens: We are not privy to the truth yet. A fair-minded person has to admit that. The unfair-minded just begin to speculate and their repeated speculations become the “truth.” See, e.g.,
    It’s Saddam’s WMD all over again. Sigh.

  12. mbrenner says:

    Were the Obama people really interested in the truth about the alleged chemical attack, shouldn’t they trying every method to insert US personnel (CIA, Special Ops,whomever)into the area? Surely, among the tens of thousands of such highly trained forces there must be a pertinent capability available.
    Of course, they prefer ambiguity since at this point they prefer to prevaricate. The last thing the White House wants is unrefutable evidence of the red line being crossed.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Can I please have some Kool-Aid with that?

  14. Fred says:

    I think equally they don’t want our erstwhile “allies” amongst the rebels to knockoff whoever gets sent so their deaths could be blamed on Assad.

  15. turcopolier says:

    What flavor? pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    Yes. This is in rebel controlled ‘muslim’ territory. pl

  17. ISL says:

    I am voting for a foreign policy not based on hypocrisy, which I think does more damage than cutting off the aid would. Except Egyptian aid is believed by Israel to be in its interest.
    I see no love purchased by all that aid. On the other hand, I am quite confident that we can get respect and fear (militarily), should Egypt actually close the Suez canal or do other things that directly inadvertently affect US interests. Probably, the one sure way the generals could find themselves permanently out of power is by overtly opposing US interests – we are adept at smashing societies – and they would not risk it. But this would require the US to actually have a set of interests or even a coherent policy.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Whatever he (in the photo) was having.

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are making excuses for him; he is the President of the United States if the hawks wnat their war and are in US Congress; they could have had their war anyway.

  20. Doug Tunnell says:

    The NYT ran a pretty revealing, first hand account of life, imprisonment and torture in the land of our erstwhile “allies” just today :

  21. Alba Etie says:

    Ah the Reverend Jones blue plate special for the Sheeple …

  22. oofda says:

    Some thoughts from a U.S. Army Chemical Corps officer regarding the alleged chemical attack.
    Not sold either. But Kazeta and Co. are being disingenuous. Sarin is a non-pervasive agent. If a round detonated at any altitude in a hot dry climate (like say, Syria), it would disperse very quickly and not necessarily immediately render anyone giving aid after the fact a casualty, as if Syrian civlians have PPE anyway.
    Regarding the symptoms, or lack thereof, no one can ever guarantee the exact symptoms every victem will have, that is especially so when no one knows the concentration or composition of the mixture. If it was Sarin, it probably was not close to pure.
    English MOD man is using the wrong nomenclature.
    Wide dispersal does not mean pervasive at all. It just means more rounds used or favorable weather. Sarin is the exact opposite of pervasive.

  23. confusedponderer says:

    Point taken.
    If one thinks of Aum and their cooking of Sarin – theirs was impure also, and had sufficient effect to cause significant casualties …
    What I wonder most about all this is this: Apparently rebels are cooking chemical weapons. I would see that as a significant security concern. I would not dream of celebrate it as an opportunity to pin something, anything on Assad.

  24. Stephanie says:

    True, on paper, but Congress has more or less ceded the initiative on warmaking powers (and foreign policy in general) to the executive.

  25. Alba Etie says:

    And wasn’t the Japanese sarin attack by Aum in a subway – a closed space?

  26. Truth will be like a fire. It will come out tomorrow if not today.

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