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article imageOp-Ed: US warns that Assad may be planning a chemical attack in Syria

By Ken Hanly     Jun 27, 2017 in World
Washington - The US White House said on Monday that US intelligence had observed potential preparations for a similar attack similar to those observed prior to an attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhhoun last April blamed on Assad.
More than 70 people were killed in the attack including many children. The US launched Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian base from which the attacks were said to come. Sean Spicer White House spokesperson said: "The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack." Spicer went on: "As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."
Assad denied he used chemical weapons in the earlier attacks. Mainstream commentaries do not bring up the fact that there has just recently been even more questioning of the mainly accepted accounts in the west that there was a chemical attack and that it was by Assad forces. A recent article by Seymour Hersh in a German paper adds to previous criticism. Hersh claims that the US had been informed about the raid which was on a jihadist meeting site and he claims:" Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. "None of this makes any sense," one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. "We KNOW that there was no chemical attack ... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth ... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.“ " Hersh, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, seems unable to publish any more in prestigious US outlets. For a long time Hersh wrote for the New Yorker magazine.
Natasha Ghoneim, an Al Jazeera journalist claimed that the announcement took some military leaders by surprise: "Analysts have said that it is not common for [the White House] to make a public warning like this instead of through diplomatic channels " Some Syrian activists are wondering why the US is issuing a warning rather than taking action. The US could attack those areas where preparations are taking place. However, the earlier attack by the US was on the base where the chemical attack was supposed to have originated. Did they not destroy any of the infrastructure that made preparations for chemical attacks possible?
Senior Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said that the US could be preparing a preemptive strike on Syria using the excuse that Assad was planning another chemical attack. The chair of the Russian parliament upper house said: "In any case, it is Washington that looks very unsavory in this story: they either know about the upcoming attack and are not trying to prevent it, but knowingly put the uncomfortable Syrian leader in the wrong for that… Or the United States is preparing its own preemptive strike on Syrian troops and appeals to the topic that is already ‘famous’ on a global level and will definitely justify any preventive action."
Apparently both President Trump and his national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster were involved in the decision to issue a public warning. The warning was apparently to show Assad that the Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base was not a one-off event. But why would Assad think otherwise? Why would he prepare for another chemical attack when he is doing well militarily with the help of the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah?
The US appears to be gradually becoming more involved in Syria and risking clashes not only with Assad but with the Russians. Trump is the president who campaigned against useless costly US wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere. He is now increasing US involvement in all those wars while the opposition is mostly silent. The announcement is quite suspicious and its rationale ridiculous. If the reports of Assad planning another chemical attack are true one can only conclude that not only is Assad supremely evil, but he is supremely stupid as well.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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