Syrian Rebels and Chemical Weapons

The disturbing evidence continues to mount.

[](/sites/default/files/uploads/2013/05/rb.jpg)Last month, courageously and despite all the media hype was one of the first to publish our detailed findings from Arabic sources which demonstrated that it was the Syrian Islamist rebels and not the Syrian regime who used chemical weapons.

While our findings went against the tide and few believed them, the major media trumpeted the sounds of war claiming that it was the Syrian regime that used chemical weapons against innocent civilians. Now, our conclusions have been confirmed; Reuters has shed doubt on the common belief and just reported that:

“U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.”

The report was based on former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte who told Swiss TV that a UN commission has indications Syrian rebel forces used nerve agent sarin as a weapon.

Yet when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel read a letter sent by the White House to Congress, he stated that the Syrian regime likely used chemical weapons. Such unconfirmed allegations were also passed to President Obama who described the situation as a “red line” and a “game changer” – only to later temper his statement down by stating: “We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened.”

John McCain and Lindsay Graham also jumped to judgment calling for U.S. intervention and the granting of weapons to the jihadists. In a recent joint statement, the two Republican senators Mike Rogers and John McCain expressed huge concerns regarding the Syrian regime using chemical weapons, which today is becoming more doubtful.

But instead of listening to rational thinking, meanwhile, the White House expressed its doubts over Del Ponte’s revelations, saying it was “highly skeptical” that Syrian rebel forces had used sarin.

“We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.

Yet such a claim is void of any evidence; how could the United States make such strong allegations, especially since weapons inspectors will only determine whether banned chemical agents were used only if they are able to access sites and take soil, blood, urine or tissue samples and examine them in certified laboratories? This is indeed the question poised by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works with the United Nations on inspections.

That type of evidence, needed to show definitively if banned chemicals were found, has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents. “This is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used,” said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based OPCW.

While the White House takes a position accusing the Assad regime of lobbing chemical weapons, it fails to answer the obvious: one assault happened in the town of Khan al-Assal, a predominately Shiite town. The Syrian revolution is a Sunni movement, and one of its main goals is to remove the Shiite Assad regime. The town has also been a common victim of attacks by Al-Qaeda, a Sunni organization. This is an indication that Sunnis, and not the government – which is Shiite – conducted the attack.

Moreover, neither the rebels nor the government deny that amongst the victims were military personal. In fact, it is said that out of the 26 dead 16 were Syrian soldiers.

According to Middle East expert Walid Phares, if Assad ever escaped from the rebels and hid in the northwestern part of Syria, where most of the Alawites live, and his enemies came to attack there, he would use chemical weapons “to defend his own community,” not kill them.

Furthermore, a medic at the local civilian hospital said that he personally saw soldiers attending to the wounded at the scene of the attack which is now confirmed by Del Ponte.

Another factor that deserves attention is that the device used for the attack was not advanced; both American and independent weapons analysts confirm this. If the Assad regime had such incursion, then it would have utilized something of a more sophisticated arsenal.

Also, if the government was behind this, the attack would have killed more than just 26 people, since Syria is said to own the largest chemical arsenal in the region.

And what about the arsenals captured by the rebels? We have showed the use of Scud missiles never seen on western media as well as major missile cache obtained by rebel forces.

The growing evidence suggests that it is the Syrian rebels who are guilty of using chemical weapons against civilians. The Obama administration would do well to stand back before it punishes the wrong party and, by so doing, continues its lethal habit of making matters worse rather than better – and  strengthening and emboldening our deadliest enemies in the Middle East.

Theodore and Walid Shoebat are the authors of For God or For Tyranny. Walid is the author of the new book, The Case For Islamophobia. Visit their site at

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