Syria

Anyway, back to Syria.

Ankara denied previously the reported 350,000 of the 3.6M Syrian refugees have been sent to Tr controlled N Syria forcibly. They haven’t commented on the Amnesty report to date:


E2A: More Russian MilPol from Chechnya are being sent to the area that the SDF have withdrawn from:
Meanwhile the US are reportedly strengthening assets remaining in Syria. Whether this is al Tanf or around the oilfields is unknown at this time:
I think it is the oil. Based on an analysis of open source info!

He is making the job of Russian and Syrian Int very easy...

 
I think it is the oil. Based on an analysis of open source info!

He is making the job of Russian and Syrian Int very easy...

Agreed. Not a ‘u-turn’ per se but it appears the US isn’t fully pulling out from the SDF controlled areas:
“One of the most significant gains by the U.S. and our partners in the fight against ISIS was gaining control of oilfields in eastern Syria - a crucial source of revenue for ISIS,” the defense official said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

“We must deny ISIS this revenue stream to ensure there’s no resurgence.”

A second U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “continue to prepare options to take to the president.”
 
Agreed. Not a ‘u-turn’ per se but it appears the US isn’t fully pulling out from the SDF controlled areas:
It looks like policy being made on the hoof. It is sensible of the US to maintain a presence and, if they can remain in central Eastern Syria until the threat of IS2 has passed (if it does) that will be good.
We need to keep an eye on how the decisions of the POTUS re. US overseas commitments impacts on the World as we are, I think, about to see the creation of some vacuums.
The next big thing will be Idlib. An SAA offensive there will provoke Erdoğan to who knows what. The effect of the chain of consequences could be dramatic.
 
It looks like policy being made on the hoof. It is sensible of the US to maintain a presence and, if they can remain in central Eastern Syria until the threat of IS2 has passed (if it does) that will be good.
We need to keep an eye on how the decisions of the POTUS re. US overseas commitments impacts on the World as we are, I think, about to see the creation of some vacuums.
i personally don’t see any of the alternatives to the coalition in E Syria being beneficial to preventing IS-2 for a while. Hopefully the SDF do gain a deal (as much as one is worth) with Assad’s govt. That and somehow the money needed to rebuild the area is provided which will undoubtedly come with caveats, whoever provides it.

The vacuums will be hoovered up, by Iran, Assad’s govt and Russia. None of which will deal with the millions abroad.
The next big thing will be Idlib. An SAA offensive there will provoke Erdoğan to who knows what. The effect of the chain of consequences could be dramatic.
It will be interesting to see how much Erdogan backs down with his Turkoman area in Idlib and of course what Russia does. Probably watch from the sidelines until Assad’s forces are failing. They aren’t Republican Guard units being used in those assaults tmk, more the drabs recently ‘recruited’.
 
i personally don’t see any of the alternatives to the coalition in E Syria being beneficial to preventing IS-2 for a while. Hopefully the SDF do gain a deal (as much as one is worth) with Assad’s govt. That and somehow the money needed to rebuild the area is provided which will undoubtedly come with caveats, whoever provides it.

The vacuums will be hoovered up, by Iran, Assad’s govt and Russia. None of which will deal with the millions abroad.

It will be interesting to see how much Erdogan backs down with his Turkoman area in Idlib and of course what Russia does. Probably watch from the sidelines until Assad’s forces are failing. They aren’t Republican Guard units being used in those assaults tmk, more the drabs recently ‘recruited’.
Why do you think Russia might stand back in Idlib? They have been bombing targets in Idlib - business as usual so not much media coverage - and were involved from the off in the summer fighting in Idlib. The map at Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news and incidents today - syria.liveuamap.com
shows air/artillery bombardment today similar to that seen in the run up to the attack focused on KS.
_20191025_171437.JPG

(Though there has been some speculation about an attack on Idlib city itself, from the east and north east).
 
The idea of being floated right now of sending a US task force equipped with tanks or other armoured vehicles to Eastern Syria to prevent the Syrian regime or terrorist groups, such as daesh, from seizing control of these resources sounds like a belated u turn.

Sending heavy armour in to an area, after a major withdrawal of other assets, where the possibility of a repeat of the Russian merc attack, but, without the air support that was then available, sounds like a clusterf*ck in the making.
 
The idea of being floated right now of sending a US task force equipped with tanks or other armoured vehicles to Eastern Syria to prevent the Syrian regime or terrorist groups, such as daesh, from seizing control of these resources sounds like a belated u turn.

Sending heavy armour in to an area, after a major withdrawal of other assets, where the possibility of a repeat of the Russian merc attack, but, without the air support that was then available, sounds like a clusterf*ck in the making.
Trump is apparently talking about a force of 500 men. The composition is to be confirmed but, as you say, MBT have been mentioned. His focus is on defending the oilfields, it seems. I think US forces are still around the DeZ area, though not in-city (this all from open source stuff so I stand to be corrected). What the SDF attitude is where the US remains is an interesting question.
 
Why do you think Russia might stand back in Idlib? They have been bombing targets in Idlib - business as usual so not much media coverage - and were involved from the off in the summer fighting in Idlib. The map at Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news and incidents today - syria.liveuamap.com
shows air/artillery bombardment today similar to that seen in the run up to the attack focused on KS. View attachment 425405
(Though there has been some speculation about an attack on Idlib city itself, from the east and north east).
Standing with Assad’s forces if there’s direct confrontation with Tr forces defending their Turkoman prodigies.
 
An interesting report, via Google translate, re. the OPCW findings about a chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

Source:


Text (parts in brackets are Web links that the translation has converted to plain text):

'An international panel, which has received documents, says critical information has been suppressed on chemical analyzes, toxicological studies, ballistic studies and testimonies

On April 7, 2018, according to reports by the White Helmets and its affiliated Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the Violations Documentation Center, a chemical weapons attack took place in Douma (Duma) ( That makes one pause: alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta ). Helicopters are said to have dropped them.

Remarkable in the memory were the pictures of many deaths, of water-spattered children with oxygen masks and a cylinder of poison gas hanging from the roof of a house and supposed to have fallen onto a bed. Even before the incident could be investigated, the US, Britain and France bombarded alleged facilities of the ongoing Syrian chemical weapons program . The Federal Government welcomed this.

In the final report of the OPCW , which was presented in March 2019, was cautiously argued. Based on soil and blood samples, toxicological and ballistic analyzes, witness interviews and other digital documents from witnesses, it was concluded that there were "good reasons that the use of a toxic chemical took place on April 7, 2018". The toxic chemical was "probably" chlorine gas. The containers were dropped from the air. The corpses on the images of the white helmets could not be examined because they had been buried immediately. So it has not been proven where, when and what they died ( OPCW report: Duma probably used chlorine gas as a weapon).

Doubts always existed about whether there actually was a chemical weapons attack and who it was ( poison gas attack, what happened in Duma on April 7, 2018? ). As usual, doubts were dismissed as disinformation attempts, especially as Russia had tried to portray the incident as a staging of the White Helmets . In May, however, a leaked draft report on the technical evaluation of the canisters found, which is not classified, but was classified as confidential and should not circulate. It was written in February and was a basis for the final report. In the report, the inspectors concluded that they could not say for sure that the two canisters were dropped from a plane.

And they come to the conclusion, which in no way appears in the final report as a consideration that both canisters were "more likely to be placed manually at these two locations than dropped off an aircraft" ( Was a report by inspectors on the Poison gas attack in Duma suppressed? ).

That should have been devastating for the OPCW and the official final report. But the report, which was published by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media , received little attention, probably because he did not confirm the widely ruling narrative. The OPCW Secretary-General gave a rather unconvincing explanation as to why the results of this report were not included in the final report.

However, it seems that more has been lost, which could undermine the credibility of the OPCW. Yesterday, IPPNW (Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War) reported that an "OPCW whistleblower involved in this 'Fact Finding Mission' declared to an international panel of the Courage Foundation on 15 October 2019 that important information on chemical analyzes, toxicological reports, ballistic studies and testimonies was left unmentioned in the final report. Several inspectors involved in the Douma mission were not involved or consulted in the preparation of the final report.

Members of the Courage Foundation's forum for freedom of expression and human rights include José Bustani (OPCW's first Director-General and former Brazilian Ambassador to Britain and France), Richard Falk (Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University), Cristinn Hrafnsson (Editor-in-chief WikiLeaks), John Holmes (retired Major General), dr. Helmut Lohrer (International Councilor of the IPPNW Germany and member of the international board of the IPPNW), Prof. Dr. med. Günter Meyer (Center for Research on the Arab World (ZERAW), University of Mainz) and Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy Officer of the US Secretariat for the Middle East). The explanation of the forum according to the report of the whistleblower states:

Based on the detailed presentation of the whistleblower - including internal e-mails, text messages and suppressed draft reports - we unanimously express our concerns about unacceptable practices in investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma, east of the Syrian capital Damascus, on 7 April 2018 appeared. The testimony led to the belief that central information on chemical analyzes, toxicological studies, ballistic studies and testimony was suppressed, apparently to favor a predetermined conclusion.

The OPCW is called upon to allow all inspectors who have expressed a dissenting opinion to speak, which also corresponds to the "spirit of the convention". In addition, the inquiry into the Douma incident must be revisited to "clarify what actually happened, which would help restore the credibility of the OPCW."

The Douma gas use in question was the reason for the US, French and British bombardment of targets in Damascus and Homs on 13/14. April 2018. It threatened a direct confrontation between the participating nuclear powers and Russia. The Federal Government has a permanent seat on the Executive Council of the OPCW and, if the allegations are correct, shares responsibility if the work of this organization is misused for the subsequent justification of acts of war. Therefore, the Federal Government must stand up for complete transparency with regard to the allegations and ensure that the OPCW can work in accordance with its statutes. Especially against the background that she has made a voluntary contribution of one million euros for OPCW's Syria missions.

IPPNW board member dr. Helmut Lohrer

If the OPCW refuses to respond to criticism or create transparency, it will hardly be able to act as an independent and trustworthy institution. In addition, other results, for example, in Skripal case may also appear in another light.

The Forum of the Courage Foundation is devastatingly critical of the outcome and concrete points of the final report. The crucial conclusions of the investigation in chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and testimonies are "deficient" and have "little reference to the facts".

Thus, many of the chlorinated organic compounds found to be "naturally non-naturally present in the environment" according to the OPCW report are present naturally or through human activities. Although control samples were allegedly collected, no analysis results are available. The report assesses the values of chlorinated organic compounds as the basis of the results, but they are not reported and may have been retained.
Also the tocological investigations would show inconsistencies. For example, it was not stated what conclusions the inspectors drew from their findings. And although the report itself states that "it is not possible to associate the cause of the signs and symptoms with a particular chemical," it is concluded that it must be assumed that it is chlorine gas. The panel has also been able to see whistleblower's documents that included other toxicologists before the report was published, after which the signs and symptoms did not indicate exposure to chlorine. But that was not mentioned in the report.

Ballistic examinations led to conflicting views among the FFM team inspectors, as evidenced by the leaked technical report, which the OPCW Director-General has also confirmed. It was surprising that other hypotheses were so little appreciated in the final report, but this can not technically review.

Reproducing the testimony and the "lack of meaningful analysis" prove the report's "partiality". Witnesses would be told two clearly differentiated and contradictory narratives, but only that supporting the use of chemical weapons would be considered. Amazing was also
Contrary to the statement of the OPCW Director-General, it was evident to the panel "that many of the inspectors of the Douma inquiry were no longer involved or interviewed in the post-mission phase, or contributing or even aware of the content of the final report before publication had". It was particularly irritated by the organizational efforts to prevent inspectors from "raising legitimate concerns about possible irregularities in the context of the Douma investigation".

Edit: I should add that the above is one perspective and is not necessarily the truth about the incident. It sounds as if the panel to which the evidence was presented may have a left-leaning/human rights/FoI focused bias, which may inform the way in which the information has been presented.

Courage Foundation website, so anyone interested can get a sense of the focus of their activities: Courage Foundation
 
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An interesting report, via Google translate, re. the OPCW findings about a chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

Source:


Text (parts in brackets are Web links that the translation has converted to plain text):

'An international panel, which has received documents, says critical information has been suppressed on chemical analyzes, toxicological studies, ballistic studies and testimonies

On April 7, 2018, according to reports by the White Helmets and its affiliated Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the Violations Documentation Center, a chemical weapons attack took place in Douma (Duma) ( That makes one pause: alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta ). Helicopters are said to have dropped them.

Remarkable in the memory were the pictures of many deaths, of water-spattered children with oxygen masks and a cylinder of poison gas hanging from the roof of a house and supposed to have fallen onto a bed. Even before the incident could be investigated, the US, Britain and France bombarded alleged facilities of the ongoing Syrian chemical weapons program . The Federal Government welcomed this.

In the final report of the OPCW , which was presented in March 2019, was cautiously argued. Based on soil and blood samples, toxicological and ballistic analyzes, witness interviews and other digital documents from witnesses, it was concluded that there were "good reasons that the use of a toxic chemical took place on April 7, 2018". The toxic chemical was "probably" chlorine gas. The containers were dropped from the air. The corpses on the images of the white helmets could not be examined because they had been buried immediately. So it has not been proven where, when and what they died ( OPCW report: Duma probably used chlorine gas as a weapon).

Doubts always existed about whether there actually was a chemical weapons attack and who it was ( poison gas attack, what happened in Duma on April 7, 2018? ). As usual, doubts were dismissed as disinformation attempts, especially as Russia had tried to portray the incident as a staging of the White Helmets . In May, however, a leaked draft report on the technical evaluation of the canisters found, which is not classified, but was classified as confidential and should not circulate. It was written in February and was a basis for the final report. In the report, the inspectors concluded that they could not say for sure that the two canisters were dropped from a plane.

And they come to the conclusion, which in no way appears in the final report as a consideration that both canisters were "more likely to be placed manually at these two locations than dropped off an aircraft" ( Was a report by inspectors on the Poison gas attack in Duma suppressed? ).

That should have been devastating for the OPCW and the official final report. But the report, which was published by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media , received little attention, probably because he did not confirm the widely ruling narrative. The OPCW Secretary-General gave a rather unconvincing explanation as to why the results of this report were not included in the final report.

However, it seems that more has been lost, which could undermine the credibility of the OPCW. Yesterday, IPPNW (Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War) reported that an "OPCW whistleblower involved in this 'Fact Finding Mission' declared to an international panel of the Courage Foundation on 15 October 2019 that important information on chemical analyzes, toxicological reports, ballistic studies and testimonies was left unmentioned in the final report. Several inspectors involved in the Douma mission were not involved or consulted in the preparation of the final report.

Members of the Courage Foundation's forum for freedom of expression and human rights include José Bustani (OPCW's first Director-General and former Brazilian Ambassador to Britain and France), Richard Falk (Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University), Cristinn Hrafnsson (Editor-in-chief WikiLeaks), John Holmes (retired Major General), dr. Helmut Lohrer (International Councilor of the IPPNW Germany and member of the international board of the IPPNW), Prof. Dr. med. Günter Meyer (Center for Research on the Arab World (ZERAW), University of Mainz) and Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy Officer of the US Secretariat for the Middle East). The explanation of the forum according to the report of the whistleblower states:

Based on the detailed presentation of the whistleblower - including internal e-mails, text messages and suppressed draft reports - we unanimously express our concerns about unacceptable practices in investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma, east of the Syrian capital Damascus, on 7 April 2018 appeared. The testimony led to the belief that central information on chemical analyzes, toxicological studies, ballistic studies and testimony was suppressed, apparently to favor a predetermined conclusion.

The OPCW is called upon to allow all inspectors who have expressed a dissenting opinion to speak, which also corresponds to the "spirit of the convention". In addition, the inquiry into the Douma incident must be revisited to "clarify what actually happened, which would help restore the credibility of the OPCW."

The Douma gas use in question was the reason for the US, French and British bombardment of targets in Damascus and Homs on 13/14. April 2018. It threatened a direct confrontation between the participating nuclear powers and Russia. The Federal Government has a permanent seat on the Executive Council of the OPCW and, if the allegations are correct, shares responsibility if the work of this organization is misused for the subsequent justification of acts of war. Therefore, the Federal Government must stand up for complete transparency with regard to the allegations and ensure that the OPCW can work in accordance with its statutes. Especially against the background that she has made a voluntary contribution of one million euros for OPCW's Syria missions.

IPPNW board member dr. Helmut Lohrer

If the OPCW refuses to respond to criticism or create transparency, it will hardly be able to act as an independent and trustworthy institution. In addition, other results, for example, in Skripal case may also appear in another light.

The Forum of the Courage Foundation is devastatingly critical of the outcome and concrete points of the final report. The crucial conclusions of the investigation in chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and testimonies are "deficient" and have "little reference to the facts".

Thus, many of the chlorinated organic compounds found to be "naturally non-naturally present in the environment" according to the OPCW report are present naturally or through human activities. Although control samples were allegedly collected, no analysis results are available. The report assesses the values of chlorinated organic compounds as the basis of the results, but they are not reported and may have been retained.
Also the tocological investigations would show inconsistencies. For example, it was not stated what conclusions the inspectors drew from their findings. And although the report itself states that "it is not possible to associate the cause of the signs and symptoms with a particular chemical," it is concluded that it must be assumed that it is chlorine gas. The panel has also been able to see whistleblower's documents that included other toxicologists before the report was published, after which the signs and symptoms did not indicate exposure to chlorine. But that was not mentioned in the report.

Ballistic examinations led to conflicting views among the FFM team inspectors, as evidenced by the leaked technical report, which the OPCW Director-General has also confirmed. It was surprising that other hypotheses were so little appreciated in the final report, but this can not technically review.

Reproducing the testimony and the "lack of meaningful analysis" prove the report's "partiality". Witnesses would be told two clearly differentiated and contradictory narratives, but only that supporting the use of chemical weapons would be considered. Amazing was also
Contrary to the statement of the OPCW Director-General, it was evident to the panel "that many of the inspectors of the Douma inquiry were no longer involved or interviewed in the post-mission phase, or contributing or even aware of the content of the final report before publication had". It was particularly irritated by the organizational efforts to prevent inspectors from "raising legitimate concerns about possible irregularities in the context of the Douma investigation".

Edit: I should add that the above is one perspective and is not necessarily the truth about the incident. It sounds as if the panel to which the evidence was presented may have a left-leaning/human rights/FoI focused bias, which may inform the way in which the information has been presented.

Courage Foundation website, so anyone interested can get a sense of the focus of their activities: Courage Foundation
The first thing to note is that it is a Heise story, which is a major mainstream news outlet. While they may have used information from the "Courage Foundation", it is Heise who are putting their name to this story by publishing it.

The second thing to note is the list of people who are being used as references:
  • José Bustani (OPCW's first Director-General and former Brazilian Ambassador to Britain and France),
  • Richard Falk (Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University),
  • Cristinn Hrafnsson (Editor-in-chief WikiLeaks),
  • John Holmes (retired Major General),
  • dr. Helmut Lohrer (International Councilor of the IPPNW Germany and member of the international board of the IPPNW),
  • Prof. Dr. med. Günter Meyer (Center for Research on the Arab World (ZERAW), University of Mainz) and
  • Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy Officer of the US Secretariat for the Middle East).

I'm not particularly familiar with any of the above. However, if we pick one of the names from the above list, Elizabeth Murray, she had put her name to other publications casting doubt on the published narrative regarding the events in Douma. The following is an example of an open letter she put her name to. I can't vouch for the particular blog in question, but the identical letter can be found in multiple places, so it appears to be something that was picked up and copied by a variety of sites.


Here's the list of people, along with Elizabeth Murray, who signed it.
  • William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • Kathleen Christison, Senior Analyst on Middle East, CIA (ret.)
  • Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)
  • Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer
  • Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.), Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)
  • Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)
  • Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
  • Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)
  • Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq
So we're not talking about a handful of fringe conspira-loons, and Heise isn't a fringe web site. Now granted there could be some American politics involved here, but that is harder to judge.

In any such investigation you are going to have a mass of conflicting data which must then be put into a coherent whole. If someone is so inclined they can indeed direct such a report to produce pretty much any outcome they wish. However, I haven't yet seen something to suggest that the OPCW report was definitely another "dodgy dossier" along Iraq War lines, at least not a deliberate one.

We'll have to wait to see what else emerges in future however before coming to any definite conclusions one way or the other.
 
The first thing to note is that it is a Heise story, which is a major mainstream news outlet. While they may have used information from the "Courage Foundation", it is Heise who are putting their name to this story by publishing it.

The second thing to note is the list of people who are being used as references:
  • José Bustani (OPCW's first Director-General and former Brazilian Ambassador to Britain and France),
  • Richard Falk (Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University),
  • Cristinn Hrafnsson (Editor-in-chief WikiLeaks),
  • John Holmes (retired Major General),
  • dr. Helmut Lohrer (International Councilor of the IPPNW Germany and member of the international board of the IPPNW),
  • Prof. Dr. med. Günter Meyer (Center for Research on the Arab World (ZERAW), University of Mainz) and
  • Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy Officer of the US Secretariat for the Middle East).

I'm not particularly familiar with any of the above. However, if we pick one of the names from the above list, Elizabeth Murray, she had put her name to other publications casting doubt on the published narrative regarding the events in Douma. The following is an example of an open letter she put her name to. I can't vouch for the particular blog in question, but the identical letter can be found in multiple places, so it appears to be something that was picked up and copied by a variety of sites.


Here's the list of people, along with Elizabeth Murray, who signed it.
  • William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • Kathleen Christison, Senior Analyst on Middle East, CIA (ret.)
  • Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)
  • Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer
  • Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.), Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)
  • Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)
  • Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
  • Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)
  • Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq
So we're not talking about a handful of fringe conspira-loons, and Heise isn't a fringe web site. Now granted there could be some American politics involved here, but that is harder to judge.

In any such investigation you are going to have a mass of conflicting data which must then be put into a coherent whole. If someone is so inclined they can indeed direct such a report to produce pretty much any outcome they wish. However, I haven't yet seen something to suggest that the OPCW report was definitely another "dodgy dossier" along Iraq War lines, at least not a deliberate one.

We'll have to wait to see what else emerges in future however before coming to any definite conclusions one way or the other.
The press group, and pressure group, seem to have a good reputation, as you say. I have seen material casting doubt on the OPCW findings about the Douma incident but much of it is Russian in origin, or from less respectable or established sources.
I don't think I can prove this (though it may be in a prior post of mine) but I was doubtful about the attack for two reasons - 1) Russia was about to win in Damascus so why risk that victory by an obvious provocation? 2) Iirc, the cannister was in good condition despite apparently having fallen through a building. The hole above the cannister, and the damage to the surrounding area, didn't seem representative of a large amount of kinetic energy having been expended.
I too will see if anything more comes of this.
 
And a photo from HTS of SAA armour lost in Kabani, Latakia. Looks like x 3 T72, a T72 ARV, an armoured bulldozer and something burned out. Kabani has been the scene of heavy fighting for months but not much is coming out in terms of news/film.
EHy06hyXUAA88D2.jpeg

The hilltop has been blasted clear of vegetation.
 
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And a photo from HTS of SAA armour lost in Kabani, Latakia. Looks like x 3 T72, a T72 ARV, an armoured bulldozer and something burned out. Kabani has been the scene of heavy fighting for months but not much is coming out in terms of news/film.
View attachment 425592
The hilltop has been blasted clear of vegetation.
The vehicles in the foreground may have been there for a while, and that may be a local collection point for vehicles which were damaged elsewhere in the region. We shouldn't interpret that as necessarily being a battlefield.
 
The press group, and pressure group, seem to have a good reputation, as you say. I have seen material casting doubt on the OPCW findings about the Douma incident but much of it is Russian in origin, or from less respectable or established sources.
I don't think I can prove this (though it may be in a prior post of mine) but I was doubtful about the attack for two reasons - 1) Russia was about to win in Damascus so why risk that victory by an obvious provocation? 2) Iirc, the cannister was in good condition despite apparently having fallen through a building. The hole above the cannister, and the damage to the surrounding area, didn't seem representative of a large amount of kinetic energy having been expended.
I too will see if anything more comes of this.
Your views on the Douma use of CW were mentioned on another thread:
It's a complex situation as all sides with an interest in the matter are making cases to support their own interests.

In a practical sense, the ability of an organisation like the OPCW to link the ground evidence (which has likely now been thoroughly contaminated by various visitors) to a particular player is likely to be limited. Had the scene of the attack been sealed at the time, an OPCW assessment would be helpful. It may still be helpful.

The argument for Syrian or Iranian involvement is that Assad or Iran wanted to make a statement to punish the rebels before they left Douma (i.e. as a warning); alternatively it is speculated that the attack was unofficial, and mounted by parts of the Syrian or Iranian forces not wholly under government control.

Bellingcat, a reputable military analysis site (but not, of course, an established body like OPCW) published an analysis of the 'attack', which seems to point to the Syrian government being the guilty party, here:

Open Source Survey of Alleged Chemical Attacks in Douma on 7th April 2018 - bellingcat

It could be argued that Saudi Arabia has an interest in making life difficult for Assad and Russia. However, there is no evidence at present to link the attack to KSA.

In respect of pro-regime views of the chemical attack, tweeters are analysing the photographs of the alleged weapons. An example of this is here:


The pro-government case is basically 'Douma was surrounded and likely to fall. Why would it be in our interests to do this; particularly given the previous US warning about the consequences of another attack?'

They also point out that there are previous examples of rebels appearing to fake injuries to evoke sympathy and support. Such as here:


I'm broadly pro-Assad but the case made in the Bellingcat analysis is persuasive. It would be very helpful if the OPCW could get to the site even now. Ideally, that access would have been green-lighted by all parties as soon as the attack happened. The fact that that did not happen may be indicative of Syrian guilt in this matter.
 
Thank you. I knew I had waffled on about it somewhere.
I should add, seeing as Wikileaks et al are pushing the (Ian Henderson I believe) report that maybe the OPCW final report on the Douma CW use has been circulated to interested parties prior to public release. It seems to be the usual MO.

Now if they had cordoned the area and allowed the FFM mission in, before even the reporters were given a ‘guided tour’, their case would be much stronger.
 
I should add, seeing as Wikileaks et al are pushing the (Ian Henderson I believe) report that maybe the OPCW final report on the Douma CW use has been circulated to interested parties prior to public release. It seems to be the usual MO.

Now if they had cordoned the area and allowed the FFM mission in, before even the reporters were given a ‘guided tour’, their case would be much stronger.
That's a fair point. The story is an interesting one and there will be different views - hence my making observations about the German news article and the pressure group.
There are many news stories which cast doubt on whether Douma was a regime attack or a staged event. Most are from obviously biased or interested sources but this seemed more serious than others (that's not to say it is correct, but it is thought-provoking).
 
That's a fair point. The story is an interesting one and there will be different views - hence my making observations about the German news article and the pressure group.
There are many news stories which cast doubt on whether Douma was a regime attack or a staged event. Most are from obviously biased or interested sources but this seemed more serious than others (that's not to say it is correct, but it is thought-provoking).
Bottom line is apparently nobody (despite the multitude of earlier denials) is saying CW wasn’t used. The ‘placed’ rather than ‘dropped’ angle is being used. The Henderson report was ‘revealed’ in early June. It appears to have been given much more emphasis over the past few days.

Personally, I await OPCW’s final report where thanks to the U.K. they can now apportion blame.
 
Bottom line is apparently nobody (despite the multitude of earlier denials) is saying CW wasn’t used. The ‘placed’ rather than ‘dropped’ angle is being used. The Henderson report was ‘revealed’ in early June. It appears to have been given much more emphasis over the past few days.

Personally, I await OPCW’s final report where thanks to the U.K. they can now apportion blame.
When is the report due to be published?
 

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