Whose Chemicals?

Carla Del Ponte is a Swiss lawyer, a retired UN official, and a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). These weighty credentials qualify her as the most prominent non-Russian skeptic so far on the issue of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons in Damascus.

This is not Ms. Del Ponte’s first dissent against received wisdom: she gained notoriety a few years ago while still at ICTY by exposing the Kosovars’ harvesting of organs from Serbian prisoners of war. Her efforts on behalf of Serbian victims show that she is not in thrall to the NATO narrative, but she is hardly a lapdog for the Russians — her prosecutorial position with the ICTY is evidence enough of that.

Thus her opinion will be hard to dismiss, and may yet put a damper on the plans of Messrs. Obama, Cameron, and Hollande to rendezvous in Damascus — if, that is, her statements ever spread widely enough in the legacy media.

According to AINA:

Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Nerve Gas, Not Assad’s Regime: U.N. Official

Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.

But she said her panel had not yet seen any evidence of Syrian government forces using chemical weapons, according to the BBC, but she added that more investigation was needed.

Damascus has recently facing growing Western accusations that its forces used such weapons, which President Obama has described as crossing a red line. But Ms. del Ponte’s remarks may serve to shift the focus of international concern.

Ms. del Ponte, who in 1999 was appointed to head the U.N. was crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, has sometimes been a controversial figure. She was removed from her Rwanda post by the U.N. Security Council in 2003, but she continued as the chief prosecutor for the Yugoslav tribunal until 2008.

Ms. del Ponte, a former Swiss prosecutor and attorney general, told Swiss TV: “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals. According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”

She gave no further details, the BBC said.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was established in August 2011 to examine alleged violations of human rights in the Syrian conflict which started in March that year.

It is due to issue its next report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.

Rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Almokdad denied that rebels had use chemical weapons.

“In any case, we don’t have the mechanism to launch these kinds of weapons, which would need missiles that can carry chemical warheads, and we in the FSA do not possess these kind of capabilities,” Mr. Almokdad told CNN.

“More importantly, we do not aspire to have (chemical weapons) because we view our battle with the regime as a battle for the establishment of a free democratic state. … We want to build a free democratic state that recognizes and abides by all international accords and agreements — and chemical and biological warfare is something forbidden legally and internationally.”

See also the BBC’s report about Ms. Del Ponte’s heretical opinions on the chemical attack in Damascus.

Hat tip: Henrik Ræder Clausen.

12 thoughts on “Whose Chemicals?

  1. Personally I’ve never understood the moral difference between getting gassed with chlorine or shot by a machine gun. Once you factor in modern aerial bombardment with incendiaries, area bombing, heavy artillery and the like as we saw in ww2 gas seems like a relatively small scale weapon of limited strictly tactical value. It’s main problem is that it is hard to control and can harm your own side. I’ve always seen ww1 hysteria about gas as allied propaganda designed to vilify the Hun for the public back home. A Thousand strong raid by Bomber Command on places like Hamburg or Cologne or the Blitz in London strike me as much larger moral hazards than lobbing gas at a tactical target.

    • Gas was banned exactly because they were developing technologies to deliver it in large quantities onto civilian populations.

      Imagine those thousand bomber raids in WWII putting down thousands of tons of gas onto cities. There are persistent agents that not only kill on initial exposure, but hang around for quite some time afterwards.

      When the bomber prophets of the 1920s were pushing “the bomber will always get through” line they were envisioning gas attacks, not high explosive or incendiary attacks. Much like the later problems with nuclear weaponry, you only need to get a small proportion through to do disproportionate damage.

      • All’s right in love and war. The shots of ‘dead’
        civilians showed a few lying on their backs, hands
        or fingers interlocked left hand with right hand. Is that how people die. Also the numbers seemed to go down and down, from 355 to 322 to 80 etc. Let’s get real, the US was planning an attack or
        outright war from 2 or 3 months back. Just maybe
        someone in the US tipped off these ‘rebels’ that a US attack was imminent and that a little
        provocation would be good beforehand. Could that someone have been connected somehow to the
        US Special Forces unit that was seen training the
        ‘Rebels’ with Turkish Army help on a US Army/Air
        base in southern Turkey in May 2011 ? It looks
        like the Zio-Globalists are getting their own back
        on V Putin.

      • See here, the actual attack wasn’t on that scale. An hour of 150mm howitzers would have killed thousands, but not have, apparently been a crime of this magnitude. 80 people gassed? Start a war over that? Get out of here.

        Your Invocation of General Douet is silly. The gas attacks you are imagining did not happen. The nearest thing to that sort of gas attack was the US in Vietnam using Agent Orange. Didn’t kill people but it despoiled the fiscal and environmental basis of the Enemy. I do not think that a tactical use of gas is the same as an area campaign to exterminate a city. Then you have the Nuclear Strike of course.

    • Let’s not forget that it was the French who launched the FIRST mustard gas attack during ww1. The Germans somehow acquired that reputation.

  2. It could be a Al queda affiliate on the rebel side ,but for me the most likely culprit and the the group with most to gain would be Hizbollah.
    I remember reading in several reports in the run up to the Iraq war of large convoys leaving Iraqi army depots escorted by Russian Speznatz troops,bound for the Hizbollah stronghold of the Bekkah valley.The speculation was Saddams stocks of Sarin were being sold or moved to a safer location.
    I am not certain of the shelf life of these weapons ,but if Israel felt that W.M.D weapons had been used by Hizbollah it would definitely widen the conflict.

  3. Assad had no reason to use chemical weapons.

    The “rebels” do.

    Lying for Allah is a dogma.

    So I HOPE Obama admits that:

    “Intelligence updates show that the gas attack in Syria was an Al Qaeda opera, cynically sacrificing their own people in order to gain a hoped-for military advantage. We’ve learned prudence from the brutal experience of Iraq. The U.S. will not be tricked into combat- for anyone. We are standing down.”

  4. The problem with chemical weapons is that they are far more “indiscriminate” than most conventional weapons. That is to say, they are far more likely to kill non-combatants in most situations, and this is particularly true of their use by or against an urban insurgency.

    The problem with these particular weapons is worse. If they were really used by the rebels, then it is almost certain that the weapons and delivery systems were provided by the U.S. government for the express purpose of being used in a “false flag” attack to create a justification for the U.S. entering the war. The U.S. government has so little credibility that this was actually being predicted in several quarters before these attacks occurred. I have no confidence that such a scenario is at all unlikely.

  5. Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

    For sure there is a geopolitical game being played out, but humanitarian intervention is a nonsense excuse to go to war, a deceitful and despicable lie on which to spill the blood of Patriots. Cameron and Hague are cowards that will not mutter the true motives of their warmongering.

    Will British servicemen be ordered to chant “Allahu Akbar” as they launch the Cruise Missiles.

  6. The very fact that this administration, from Obama, Biden, and Kerry, on down states that it is certain the Assad regime used chemical weapons on the rebels, makes me almost certain that they are lying to further their (and the Muslim Brotherhood’s) agenda in Syria. I appreciate Ms. del Ponte’s stand.

  7. To quote a line from a Dead Kennedys song: “the triggerfinger wants an excuse now”;
    excuses will come to the current administration just as easily as they did to the Bush
    administration.In some uncanny way,i am reminded of Collin Powell’s pathetic
    performance,when he was justifying the attack on Irak with a handful of drawings.
    Facts?We dont need no stinkin’ facts.Lets have a quick little
    feel-good intervention in Syria,what do we care what Carla del Ponte says,right?!
    She is just a highly esteemed prosecutor and attorney general anyway.Pahhh!
    That part of the world will eventually be on fire,no matter who intervenes for whatever reason…..there’s really no need to fuel the blaze even more.

  8. The red flag for me on this affair is the fact that every necessary and easily answered question is being left a blank.

    For example, what was the delivery system, rocket or artillery? Knowing the answer to that question would go a long way to determining the responsible parties. But I still have not found any definitive answer, anywhere on the web, to that question.

    One witness claimed that Syrian tank forces were shelling the area at that time. But tanks don’t carry chemical weapons. Because of the uncontrollable dispersal nature of chemical weapons, they are delivered with standoff systems. If Syrian Army tank units were in the area, engaging rebel forces, then that would argue against the Syrian Army being the source.

    What was the agent used? Describe symptoms indicate a nerve agent, but which one? Sarin is only assumed; it is not a verified fact. Sarin would have left a residue that would have sickened first responders, but there where no initial reports of such a thing happening. Nerve agents kill by causing a loss of muscle control; this includes things like breathing leading to asphyxia. But this also leads to the uncontrolled release of all sorts of body fluids, to put it politely. I didn’t see any initial videos/pictures coming out of the area that showed victims in such a state. Note, http://www.liveleak.com is where you can find a lot of uncensored videos posted by both sides of the conflict in Syria.

    Was the area affected a small, few blocks in size, densely populated neighborhood, or was it a large dispersed area 50-100 acres in size or more? Was the area a neighborhood inside of Damascus proper, or was it an isolated residential area outside of Damascus?

    Has any independent agency verified the true number of casualties yet?

    Until such obvious questions, and others, are answered, any decision to back one side or the other could end up being tragically premature.

    In the chaos of war, anything, no matter how illogical it may seem, is always a possibility. But if one were to try to look for a logical answer, I would consider the possibility of a rogue officer(s) within the ranks of the Syrian Army with loyalties to the regime in Iran, rather than the Assad family. Thus this incident could be a false flag operation intended to sucker the USA into an attack on Syria, which in turn, would give cover for Iran/Hezbollah to launch an attack on Israel.

    • the ONLY “evidence” are “testimonies” of “victims” “evacuated” by the “rebels”.
      So easy to fabricate, far easier than it is to actually launch an attack.
      Just pop a canister of whatever in an apartment store or school and away you go.
      Enough eager young kids willing to be a martyr for “the cause” being recruited all over Europe all the time and given free flights to the area by their mosques.

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