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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to be tried as a mass murderer

Gas clue in Syria phone call,War clouds.


United States intelligence services overheard a Syrian official in ”panicked phone calls with the leader of a chemical weapons unit” after last week’s alleged chemical attack, Foreign Policy magazine has reported.

”An official at the Syrian Ministry of Defence exchanged panicked phone calls with leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1000 people,” the report said.

”Those conversations were overheard by US intelligence services,” the magazine said on Tuesday. ”That is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime – and why the US military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.’

The body of a victim who was killed by what activists say was a chemical weapons attack and discovered on Friday, is seen in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus

United Nations investigators in Syria on Tuesday embarked on a hunt from bomb craters to blood samples for evidence of chemical weapons, even as officials from the US and Britain said it was indisputable the agents had been used.

”The best evidence you can find is an actual weapon, even if it’s exploded or broken up,” said Ralf Trapp, a former adviser at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

”If you find a weapon you can tell whether it was something that was designed to deliver a liquid, and you will have residual contamination.”

Video footage of victims posted on the internet is convincing to Dr Trapp. ”It’s [on] a scale where you cannot stage it,” he said.

Doctors Without Borders said three hospitals it supports in Damascus had treated about 3600 patients with neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on August 21, and that 355 died.

The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has said rebels were behind the attacks.

”We all hear the drums of war around us,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said. ”If they want to attack Syria, I think that using the lie of chemical weapons is fake and not accurate, and I challenge them to show evidence.”

The UN’s inspection team includes nine OPCW investigators and three experts from the World Health Organisation. The OPCW is a multinational group established to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which went into force in 1997 and bans the development, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical arms.

Longer-lasting byproducts of a nerve agent such as sarin can be found in soil, rubble or animal corpses, Dr Trapp said.

Sarin interferes with cholinesterase, an enzyme in the body that regulates the movement of muscles and glands. Victims can survive if treated quickly enough with antidotes.

Doctors Without Borders said staff at its hospitals in Damascus reported large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress.


The UN investigators may be able to test survivors for depressed levels of cholinesterase, Dr Trapp said. But to establish the precise agent responsible, blood would need to be sent out for testing.

History suggests a thorough analysis is needed before the US and its allies decide whether to take military action, said Matthew Meselson, co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons.

While initial reports of Iraq’s deadly chemical attack on Kurds in Halabja in 1988 proved correct, US accusations in 1981 that Russia had supplied a chemical agent that communist forces in Vietnam and Laos dispersed over Thailand were false; the so-called ”yellow rain” turned out to be honeybee droppings.

”It’s essential that any head of state or government official who’s making momentous decisions on the basis of chemical analysis must talk not just with other political figures or subordinates, but with individuals who are deeply knowledgable about the science itself,” Professor Meselson said.

Bloomberg, AFP, Washington Post

Damascus, Syria (CNN) — Saying “there is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons attack in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Vice President Joe Biden signaled Tuesday that the United States — with its allies — was ready to act.

“Those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children should and must be held accountable,” Biden said in a speech to the American Legion.

The vice president’s remarks echo those made by other U.S. officials in recent days, as well as many of the nation’s foremost allies.

Dead animals are seen at the Zamalka area, where activists say chemical weapons were used by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the eastern suburbs of DamascusA man inspects bodies of victims found on Friday and were killed by what activists say was a chemical weapons attack, in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus130827102208-01-syria-morgue-story-top

French President Francois Hollande said his administration was “ready to punish those who made the decision to gas these innocent people,” adding that “everything leads us to believe” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are responsible.

British Prime Minister David Cameron — who talked Tuesday with U.S. President Barack Obama — called lawmakers back from their summer vacations to consider a response to Syria, as the UK military prepares contingency plans.


And U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that U.S. forces are “ready to go” if ordered to strike Syria by President Barack Obama.

“The options are there. The United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options,” Hagel said.

Western leaders were reacting to a growing consensus that the Syrian regime was responsible for an August 21 attack that killed more than 1,300 people, most of them dying from exposure to toxic gases, according to rebel officials. The opposition — which has said it’s been targeted by chemical weapons attacks in the past as well — backed up its latest allegations with gruesome video of rows of dead bodies, including women and children, with no visible wounds.

Opinion: For U.S., Syria is truly a problem from hell

Syrian officials, though, have steadfastly denied using chemical weapons in this or other cases.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday that his government would never use such munitions against its own people, daring those who disagree to present evidence publicly.

He said rebel forces were to blame for security concerns near the suspected chemical sites, arguing that Western leaders are using the claims as an excuse to go after al-Assad’s regime.

“We all hear the drums of war,” Moallem said. “They want to attack Syria. I believe to use chemical weapons as a pretext is not a right.”

And if foreign powers do strike the Middle Eastern nation, its foreign minister said the government and its forces will fight back.

“Syria is not easy to swallow,” said Moallem. “We have the materials to defend ourselves. We will surprise others.”

U.N. inspectors in Syria, but what will they find?

The United Nations has sent inspectors to Syria to try to get to the bottom of the wildly conflicting accounts of chemical warfare.

The opposition says chemical payloads were among the ordnance fired into the rebel stronghold of Ghouta. The government, via state TV reports, claims that its forces came into contact with toxic gas Saturday in Jobar, on the edge of Damascus — blaming this on “terrorists,” the term it commonly uses for rebel fighters.

CNN could not independently confirm either account, including videos purported to show the aftermath of each.

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On Monday, U.N. inspectors visited the town of Moadamiyet al-Sham, despite a close call with snipers that left one of their vehicles damaged and an explosion nearby.

The inspectors had been expected Tuesday to head to Ghouta, but that trip was pushed back a day “in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team.”

Moallem blamed rebel forces for failing to guarantee the U.N. group’s safety and denying that its forces have delayed inspections by continually shelling Ghouta.

Video posted Tuesday to YouTube purported to show the area being shelled, though CNN could not verify this video’s authenticity.

Yet Biden reiterated the claim that Syrian forces were shelling the suspected chemical attack site. And U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said it may be too late for a valid inspection of what happened — saying “too much time has passed” and accusing al-Assad’s government of using the U.N. investigation “as a stalling tactic or a charade to hide behind.”

The United States, meanwhile, is conducting its own investigation: An intelligence report detailing evidence of the alleged attack could be released as early as Tuesday, a U.S. official told CNN. The report will include forensic evidence and intercepted communications among Syrian military commanders, according to the official.

The vice president said that beyond whatever inspectors do or do not find, common sense and the recent past point to one culprit.

“The Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons,” he said Tuesday.

Russia leads international charge against strikes

The calls for a military response were not without opposition.

Russia is leading the charge internationally, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov having said there is no proof yet Syria’s government is behind last week’s chemical attack. His office compares the Western allegations against Syria to claims Iraq was hoarding weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. invasion in 2003 — allegations that fell apart once American troops began searching for them.

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And Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry accused Washington of trying to “create artificial groundless excuses for military intervention.”

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Horrific video we must show you

Moscow bemoaned the U.S. postponement of a meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday in The Hague, where top diplomats from both countries had planned to discuss the war in Syria.

And Russia criticized the United States for, in its view, trying to bypass the U.N. Security Council to take action on the reported chemical attack.

Should anything be moved through the U.N. council, Russia — which has a permanent seat on it — could block it.

Still, that’s what former British Foreign Secretary David Owen urged world leaders to do before unleashing missiles or warplanes on Syrian targets.

Omran al-Zoubi, Syria’s information minister, on Tuesday challenged the United States to “present this proof to the rest of the world” — claiming that they are asking for trouble if they do not.

“If they don’t have proof or evidence, then how are they going to stand up to the American public opinion and to the world public opinion and explain why they are attacking Syria?” al-Zoubi told CNN from Damascus.

Some worldwide have expressed concern that intervening in Syria may provoke broader conflict in the Middle East or ensnare Western powers in another bloody conflict after years of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cameron said that he understands those concerns, vowing that any action would have to be “proportionate, … legal (and) would have to be specifically about deterring the use of chemical weapons.”

Still, he said it’s critically important that action be taken to show the international taboo against chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

“This is not about wars in the Middle East; this is not even about the Syrian conflict,” he said. “It’s about use of chemical weapons and making sure, as a world, we deter their use and we deter the appalling scenes we’ve all seen on our television screens.

Syria diplomacy: Why Jordan wants military meeting to be hush-hush

CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reported from Syria. CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta and Jomana Karadsheh from Jordan. Michael Pearson wrote and reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Botelho, Ben Brumfield, Boriana Milanova, Chris Lawrence, Jim Acosta, Josh Levs, Joe Sterling, Elise Labott, Jill Dougherty and Saskya Vandoorne also contributed to this report.

However the video below gives another side to the war mongering gas attack scenario by the Syrian regime. It highlights that the rebels supported by the USA were responsible for the attack.You be the judge.



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