by Waseem Shehzad (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 3, Sha'ban, 1439)
Like Donald Trump, the US missiles fired at Syria on April 13 turned out to be not so smart after all. At least 71 of the 103 missiles were intercepted by the aging 1960s era surface-to-air missiles that Russia had supplied to Syria.
The US-UK-French attack was illegal; it was launched on a false pretext. Luckily, the missiles caused little damage except for the destruction of the Syrian Scientific Research Centre (SSRC) building complex in Barzeh district outside Damascus.
The SSRC produced medicines including cancer-fighting drugs. Two other abandoned buildings in Homs were also destroyed. In his policy pronouncements by tweets, Trump had boasted that “nice and new and smart” missiles were coming. Quite aside from his poor grammar, the missiles turned out to be duds. Moscow had warned that if any Russian personnel or assets in Syria were hit, they would respond including targeting the platforms from which the missiles are fired.
The US was careful not to get in the way of the Russians or the Iranians. General Joseph Dunford, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at a hurriedly convened press briefing at the Pentagon with his boss, US Secretary of War, General James “Mad-dog” Mattis immediately after the attack, said that the Russians were notified that America would only be using the “de-confliction fly zones.”
Despite the bluster, the Americans and their allies — Britain and France — knew that the allegation of the use of chemical weapons was false. This was confirmed by two American sources independently. Seth Doane of CBS News was in Damascus and he visited the destroyed SSRC building the day after the strike.
In his report for CBS, Doane said, “One of the targets of US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria was still smoldering late Saturday (April 14) afternoon.” He is the only American network correspondent inside Syria. The French news agency, AFP also reported, “At destroyed Syria lab, workers deny producing toxic weapons.”
If the US military allegation that the Barzeh complex was a “center for the research, development, production, and testing of chemical and biological weapons,” then it was strange to note that nobody wore gas masks or any protective gear around the complex.
Jason Pearson, reporter for America One News Network (AONN) went to Douma where it was alleged a chemical weapons attack had occurred. He said that not one person out of 30 that he spoke to in different locations had heard of the chemical weapons attack. The allegation was false and engineered by British intelligence. The Russians have said they have conclusive proof of this.
The veteran British journalist Robert Fisk also found no evidence of a chemical weapons attack. He spoke with Dr. Assim Rahaibani at the medical clinic where the widely publicized videos were filmed showing children being hosed down with water. This was ostensibly to relieve poison gas inhalation. Dr. Rahaibani said,
I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on [that] night, but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of [government] shelling and aircraft were always over Douma at night — but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.
People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a White Helmet, shouted “Gas!,” and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia, not gas poisoning.
This account is in line with statements by Russian authorities. At a Moscow press conference on April 13, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a “foreign intelligence agency” was behind the chemical weapons attack story. General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry was more forthright. He said images of victims of the purported attack had been staged with “Britain’s direct involvement.”
The White Helmets — creation of a British mercenary — specialize in the black art of propaganda. It staged the chemical weapons attack under orders from UK intelligence to provide its Western sponsors with a pretext for attack. The Western media never tires of telling readers that White Helmets are a “humanitarian organization.” If so, why did they flee with the terrorists when the latter abandoned Douma? Do the people of Douma no longer need help after its liberation by the Syrian army?
The White Helmets’ cover has been blown. It was the courageous reporter Eva Bartlett who first exposed them following the liberation of East Aleppo in December 2016. Prior to that, Western media was full of reports about how the White Helmets were heroically rescuing people from the rubble following “bombing” by the Syrian army. Eva Bartlett found that nobody in East Aleppo had even heard of the White Helmets!
The US-UK-French attack on Syria though limited in scope is part of a broader American strategy to demonize Russia and China. As America’s New Defence Strategy (released last October) stressed, the new threats facing the US come from Russia and China. Terrorism is no longer top of the list; it was never a threat but American warlords need something — anything — to scare their gullible people about imaginary threats so that hundreds of billions of dollars can be shoveled to arms manufacturers. War is profitable business for the merchants of death.
Reviewing the editorial line of all the major newspapers in the US, FAIR (Fairness And Accuracy in Reporting) reported that not one paper questioned the legal or moral basis of US attack on Syria. This ranged from such establishment mouthpieces as the New York Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, to West Coast publications like the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury et al. Such uniformity of opinion about militarism is frightening, even if revealing.
The latest strikes however have exposed the limits of US power. There is one other unfinished business: the Israeli strike on the T4 military base in Syria where a number of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed. Iran has vowed to settle its score with the Zionists. Unlike the US, Iran does not make empty threats.