Adding to the confusion over who was behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria, a western reporter has interviewed doctors, rebel fighters and their families in Damascus and Ghouta who say chemical weapons were supplied to them by Saudi intelligence.
The report corroborates both UN and US intelligence sources who say the identity of the culprits in the weapons' recent use is not conclusive. Last week the AP reported that:
"...while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it was "undeniable," a chemical weapons attack had occurred, and that it was carried out by the Syrian military, U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad's orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. "
On the same date of the AP report, reporter Yahya Ababneh in an exclusive for the Mint Press News wrote that:
"Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the [deadly] gas attack."
The Mint Press News report includes first-hand accounts from fighters' families claiming they did not know what the new weapons were, or how to use them. Ababneh quotes "Abu Abdel-Moneim," the father of a rebel fighter,saying:
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,”
The father said the weapons had a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” A female fighter named ‘K.’ said:
"They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them...We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,”
As far back as May 2013, a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that there was evidence, not conclusive, that government opponents had used chemical weapons. The member, Carla Del Ponte, is shown in a BBC segment outlining her suspicions.
The Saudi intelligence chief mentioned in the Mint Press News article, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is the former Saudi ambassador to the US who is famously close to the Bush family, and holds the nickname "Bandar Bush." Prince Bandar was a key early supporter of the invasion of Iraq, and now openly supports the overthrow of the Assad regime. Bandar has also been called, by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "the CIA’s favorite Saudi prince."
Many Middle East experts argue that a US attack on Syria is fraught with peril, as Iran has threatened retaliation and the Russian Foreign Minister has warned that a US attack would have “catastrophic consequences.” Both Russia and Iran are aligned with Assad, as is China. Iran has hundreds of small boats armed with Russian made anti-ship missiles designed to sink American aircraft carriers, including the N-22 Sunburn, the N-26 Onyx, and the Chinese made C-802. Russia is a nuclear-armed state.
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