Syria Chemical Weapon Attacks – The Case Against the Rebels

I’ve recently discussed the complete lack of evidence linking Syrian government forces to the chemical weapon attack that occurred on August 21st in Ghouta.  In addition, I’ve presented analysis indicating that Assad had every motive to not engage in such an attack.

Today I want to answer the question: If not Assad, than who?

In short, I believe the rebels, possibly supplied or assisted by foreign intelligence assets, carried out the attacks of August 21st.  This has all the markings of a classic false flag operation.

False Flag and the Hegelian Dialectic (Problem, Reaction, Solution)

For those of you unfamiliar with the false flag paradigm, give Geoff’s first post on Project Souvenir a read.  In short, a false flag operation is an attack carried out by one group, often against themselves, for the purposes of blaming another party.  False flags have been well documented throughout history and have been used often by nations or governments seeking justifications to start wars or consolidate power.

Essentially a false flag is a specific flavour of the more general Hegelian Dialectic or Problem, Reaction, Solution.  In this paradigm an entity seeks to achieve a desired outcome by manufacturing or introducing a problem designed to elicit a reaction from another group (usually the public at large).  The afore mentioned entity then offers its originally desired outcome as the solution.

The paradigm is effective because people don’t realize they’re being controlled and manipulated for a desired effect.  This haze of unawareness is often amplified because the problem events are typically chaotic and highly emotional which serves to undermine logical and critical thinking and permits herd mentality to reign supreme.

False Flag As Applied to the Ghouta Attacks

Interpreting the Ghouta attacks as a false flag operation would break down into the following components:

  1. Problem.  Usage of chemical weapons resulting in civilian casualties.  High numbers of children among the dead.  Guaranteed to invoke strong emotional response.
  2. Reaction.  Universal outrage at the dastardly act.  Requirement for immediate action to prevent further loss of life.
  3. Solution.  Introduction of overt U.S. military action against Syrian government forces to eliminate them as a threat.

Rebel Motives

I think it’s obvious that the rebels had the most to gain from the attacks in Ghouta.  As I discussed in the my last post, Assad had every reason not to engage in such an attack given:

  • His forces were clearly winning the war.
  • Ghouta held no strategic and only limited tactical importance.
  • It would virtually guarantee an overt military response from the U.S. and other Western powers which would, in all likelihood, change the tide of the war against government forces.
  • It would jeopardize his vital re-supply lines with the Russians who couldn’t continue to support him if he used chemical weapons.
  • U.N. chemical weapon inspectors had just arrived in Damascus three days before the attacks occurred.

Conversely, and for exactly these reasons, the rebels had every motive to try and frame Assad for such a chemical weapon attack.  If Assad had everything to loss, the rebels had everything to gain.

Means and Opportunity

But of course just benefiting from some event doesn’t mean that you are the perpetrator of a false flag.  Just because the rebels will clearly be the beneficiaries of the chemical weapon attacks once the U.S. bombs start falling, this doesn’t mean they are responsible for the attacks.

And, given the lack of concrete evidence, proving with absolute certainty that the rebels carried out the attack is, at this point, not feasible.

That said, in addition to motive, we can easily show means and opportunity.  Namely we can establish with certainty that rebel forces do possess chemical weapons.  Further we can provide circumstantial evidence that the rebels have used chemical weapons already in the conflict.

Rebel Possession of Chemical Weapons

In an attempt to keep this to a manageable length, I’ll simply itemize some of the stronger evidence that the rebels do possess chemical weapons.

  • Starting late last year, senior U.S. politicians began expressing their fears that some of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile would fall into the hands of rebel forces.  Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worried that Assad “might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within Syria“.
  • Those concerns turned out to be well founded.  In early December after a bloody two day battle, rebel forces gained control of the Sheik Suleiman military base.  This base was a known centre of chemical weapons research in Syria.  In the aftermath the Syrian government sent letters to the U.N.’s Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon indicating that “terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people… after having gained control of a toxic chlorine factory” and reiterating that the Syrian government would “not use chemical weapons under any circumstance“.
  • In January 2013, Bassam Al-Dada, the Political Advisor to the rebels went on record with Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency indicating the the rebels had both the components and expertise required to carry out chemical weapon attacks.  Al-Dada stressed that “if we ever use them, we will only hit the regime’s bases and centers“.
  • Since April 2013 the battle has raged for control of the Al-Safira chemical weapons plant.  This complex is one the largest chemical weapon manufacturing facilities and produces, amongst other things, sarin gas.  Despite some reports in the alternative media that the rebels have siezed control of Al-Safira, the complex does still appear to be in control of Syrian government forces.
  • In May 2013 Turkish police arrested several members of the Syrian rebels with a 2 kg canister of sarin gas.  Whether the gas was to be used in Turkey or across the border in Syria is unclear, but the important point is the documented evidence of Syrian rebels in possession of sarin gas.
  • Also in May, Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria which investigated the March 2013 chemical weapon attacks (discussed here) stated to Swiss media that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that rebel forces were behind the attacks.  Del Ponte concluded that “the gas was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities“.  Del Ponte is a fairly credible source given her direct involvement on the investigative team and the fact that she previously served as the head of the U.N. war crime tribunals for both Rwanda and Yugoslavia.
  • Also on the topic of the March 2013 attacks, Russia, which conducted its own on-site investigation into the attacks, provided the U.N. with an 80 page report which concluded that it was the rebels who had used the chemical weapons.  While the report has not been made public it’s understood to stand on the following physical evidence:
    • The sarin gas used in the attack was not industrially produced but rather bore the signature of being produced in a makeshift lab.  Hexogen (aka RDX) was used as the explosive charge.  This chemical is not in standard military munitions but is heavily used in IEDs and other terrorist devices.
    • The delivery system was a jerry-rigged Bashar 3 missile.  The rebels do possess this missile.
  • In July, the Syrian government reported that it had uncovered a rebel chemical weapons lab in Jobar, on the outskirts of Damascus.  Among the chemicals present was chlorine.  Given the source, it is of course possible that this ‘discovered’ chemical weapons plant was in fact a fake.
  • In late August, just after the Ghouta attack, a video was posted on YouTube showing Syrian rebels firing a jerry-rigged chemical weapon using field artillery.  The device consisted of a very conspicuous blue canister mounted atop a simple projective with stabilizing fins welded on.  The authenticity of this video cannot be definitively verified.
  • AP’s Dale Gavlak (who also writes for Salon and BBC amongst others) reported that interviews with people in Ghouta heavily implicated the rebels in the August 21st attack.  Specifically, the story features the father of a rebel killed along with 12 others handling chemical weapons allegedly supplied by the Saudis.  Says the father, the weapons had the appearance of a “huge gas bottle”.  The story goes on to report on an interview with another rebel who complains “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them…  We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”.  I give this story high credibility due to the credentials of Dale Gavlak and his extensive experience in the region.

Looking critically at this summary the only thing I would be willing to say with certainty is that the rebel forces do possess chemical weapons.  This fact is established by their seizure of the chemical weapons research centre at Sheik Suleiman and the arrest of Syrian rebels in possession of sarin gas near the border with Turkey.

Beyond the proven possession of chemical weapons, the rest is admittedly circumstantial.  It does however paint a very different picture than the one presented by Western media.  And, compared to the complete lack of evidence provided to implicate Assad, this information is interesting, to say the least.


In the absence of any evidence implicating the Assad government, and with Assad having strong motives to not use chemical weapons, we must look at other possible culprits.

The rebels have both the motive and means to carry out this attack.  If successful such a false flag operation would result in the U.S. entering the conflict on the side of the rebels allowing them to avoid pending defeat.

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