April 21, 2014

Syrian gas attacks: banging nails in the coffin, but still...

After Sy Hersh's ludicrous claim in LRB this month that the Turkish government's hitherto unheard-of and probably imaginary chemical weapons program was behind the April gas attack in Damascus, it's worth adding a ways-ago link to some further, actually compelling, chemical-analysis evidence that the Syrian military, for reasons still poorly understood, did actually gas residents of a capital city suburb with Sarin last August. "Hersh and LR were trolling for clicks" would be the most charitable explanation of their regurgitation now of the clearly false Russian government line on this issue. But it would not be totally crazy either to see the Hersh article as an information plant made with the intent of sowing doubt among NATO alliance member populations, where Turkey is both the weakest link in many ways and would be key terrain for any kind of future attempt by the Alliance to support Ukraine militarily. More on Hersh specifically from the same author here.

Also recently from Brown Moses: compelling evidence that the Syrian military has started to use BM-30 SMERCH artillery rockets, an advanced MLRS system with a huge range. The recovered casings have Cyrillic lettering. There is one country, the one that makes them, that is most likely to have given them those. Starts with "R." (More here.)

The apparent first use of the new rockets was against Syrian rebels in Kafr Zita, who also this week convincingly reported a helicopter-delivered improvised chlorine gas munition was used against them by government forces. No fatalities this time (you're probably more likely to kill people by hitting them in the head if you're just going chuck gas cylinders out of transport helos), so it's unlikely this one will raise much of a fuss, nor should it, and the possibility of a rebel planting or blowing up of a gas cylinder on the ground near where the government's helo attack occurred certainly can't be totally ruled out yet, either. But the military futility of the attack in itself may indicate the Syrian military's chemical weapon deployment options truly have been significantly reduced from a year ago, which is a good thing for Syrian civilians.

Posted by BruceR at 10:52 AM