News summary by New Cold War.org, April 5, 2017 (weblinks to extensive news and analysis reports are further below)
A predictable and intense campaign by Western media and governments has been unleashed following an aerial bombing of a chemical storage compound in territory controlled by anti-government forces in northwest Syria. On April 4, the northern Syria town of Khan Shaykhun (Sheikhoun) in Idlib province was struck, reportedly by one airstrike. As many as 70 residents or more, depending on the report, are said to have died from chemical poisoning. Khan Shaykhun is located app 80 kilometers south of Aleppo.
The Russian government says that Syrian warplanes did conduct an airstrike in the town on April 4, striking a warehouse. The Russian foreign ministry has called for an full investigation.
Donald Trump issued a statement on April 4 saying the latest tragedy is a consequence of the Obama administration’s failure to go to war in Syria in 2013. He said, “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.” His representative at the United Nations threatened unilateral military action against Syria at the emergency meeting of the Security Council on April 5. That day, Trump made another statment blaming the Syrian government.
On August 21, 2013, an apparent chemical weapons attack occured in the town of Ghouta, Syria and it was similarly blamed on the Syrian government and armed forces. This led Western governments to the brink of an Iraq-style ‘shock and awe’ assault on Syria. But wary of antiwar opposition in the U.S., and following the failure of then-British Prime Minister David Cameron to win a vote in the British Parliament on August 29 to join an assault (Wikinews), the Obama administration pulled back. Following that, an all-party resolution at the Security Council was approved which saw Syria dispose of the chemicals in its possession that were capable of being weaponized (Wikipedia).
In her statement on the latest events, British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated her government’s regime-change policy towards Syria. May said on April 3, “I’m very clear that there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria which is representative of all the Syrian people. I call on all the parties involved to ensure we have a transition away from Assad … we cannot allow this suffering to continue.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on April 5 that the UN Security Council should urge the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to launch a fact-finding mission with full access to the site where the tragedy is reported to have occured.“It is crucial to call upon an OPCW fact-finding mission in charge of investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria to collect evidence of the incident under the following condition – the composition of the fact-finding mission will be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval, and it will be balanced in terms of geographical [representation],” Zakharova said, according to Interfax (report on RT.com).
The OPW has begun investigative work, according to a report in TASS. The organization has previously accused the Syrian government of using chlorine gas in military operations.
Writing in Al-Masdar News (weblink below), Paul Antonopoulos asks, “… this of course begs the question: With the Syrian Army and its allies in a comfortable position in Syria, making advances across the country and recovering lost points in rural Hama (province), why would they now resort to using chemical weapons? It is a very simple question with no clear answer…”
News and background:
Rebel warehouse with chemical weapons hit by Syrian airstrike in Idlib – Russian Ministry of Defense, RT.com, April 4, 2017
Iran slams chemical attack in Syria, urges disarmament of terrorist groups, Press TV, April 5, 2017
Trump’s ambassador to the UN says Russia and Syria are enemies of peace, U.S. may take its ‘own action’ in Syria after chemical weapon poisonings, report of UN Security Council meeting on April 5, on RT.com, April 5, 2017
… Earlier the [Security Council] was briefed by Kim Won-soo, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, who acknowledged that the organization so far has no independent evidence on the suspected chemical weapons attack.
The Korean diplomat expressed grave concern over the media reports on the incident, saying that if confirmed, it would constitute the deadliest use of chemical weapons in Syria since the Ghouta attack in August 2013.
Kim reported that all chemical weapons declared by the Syrian government had been removed and destroyed. Verification for a handful of sites has not yet been completed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons due to security concerns, he added.
He also said that chemical weapons inspectors are currently in the process of finalizing their findings on several cases of the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria over the past several months. The report will be available in several weeks, Kim said.
‘It crossed a lot of lines’: Trump on alleged chemical gas attack in Syria, RT.com, April 5, 2017
Donald Trump blames Syrian government for chemical poisonings in tow of in northern Syria
[More on Trump and other U.S. reaction here in Guardian report.]
Another dangerous rush to judgment in Syria, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, April 5, 2017
Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack, by Paul Antonopoulos, published on Al Masdar News, April 4, 2017
False flag chemical weapon attack in Syria?, eight-minute, video report broadcast on Syriana Analysis YouTube channel, April 4, 2017
Two background articles on the presence of chemical weapons in Syria, by award-winning U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh, both published in the London Review of Books: