white phosphorous

Caught in a lie, US & allies bomb Syria the night before international inspectors arrive

29196645_1861931340483518_3243294594514812928_n

In January 2009, Israel repeatedly fired White Phosphorous on densely-populated areas of Gaza, targeting civilians. This was widely-documented, yet Israel has never been held accountable. America and allies recently bombed Syria on unproven, zero-evidence, allegations that Syria used chemical weapons. https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/white-phosphorous-mutilated-and-murdered-family-members/

Apr 15, 2018, RT.com, (republished on The Ron Paul Institute)

-by Eva Bartlett

The US, Britain and France trampled international law to launch missiles against Syria, claiming to have “evidence” of the government’s use of chemical weapons. That evidence is based on terrorist lies.
 
After a week of outrageous tweets and proclamations by POTUS Trump, which included continued accusations that Syria’s president ordered a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, east of Damascus, with Trump using grotesque and juvenile terminology, such as “animal Assad,” the very evening before chemical weapons inspectors of the OPCW were to visit Douma, America and allies launched illegal bombings against Syria. The illegal bombings included 103 missiles, 71 of which Russia states were intercepted.
 

For the past week, we were told that the US had ‘evidence’ and the UK had ‘evidence’ that Syria had used chemicals. The ‘evidence’ largely relied on video clips and photos shared on social media, provided by the Western-funded White Helmets (that ‘rescuer’ group that somehow only operates in Al-Qaeda and co-terrorist occupied areas and participates in torture and executions), as well as by Yaser al-Doumani, a man whose allegiance to Jaysh al-Islam is clear from his own Facebook posts, for example of former Jaysh al-Islam leader, Zahran Alloush.

This, we were told, was ‘evidence.’ This and the words of the highly partial, USAID-funded, US State Department allied Syrian American Medical Society, which, like Al-Qaeda’s rescuers, only supports doctors in terrorist-occupied areas.

On April 12, even US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee that the US government does not have any evidence that sarin or chlorine was used, that he was still looking for evidence.

Syria, finding the claims to be lies and the sources tainted, requested that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) immediately come to Syria to investigate the claims. Accordingly, the OPCW agreed to send a team—the visas for which Syria granted immediately—which arrived in Damascus on April 14.

President Trump, instead of waiting for an investigation to confirm his ‘evidence,’ chose the very night before this investigative team would arrive in Syria to inspect the allegations, to bomb Syria. The timing of the attacks is more than just a little timely. And the bombings were illegal.

General Mattis tried to dance around the legality, stating, “the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important United States national interests.”

But he is wrong, this does not permit the US to illegally bomb a sovereign nation, and he knows it. So does Russia. In a statement on April 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the attacks as illegal, noting:

“Without the sanction of the Security Council of the United Nations, in violation of the UN Charter, norms and principles of international law, an act of aggression against a sovereign state that is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism has been committed.”

What if chemicals had been at targeted locations?

In the same Pentagon briefing, General Joseph Dunford specified the US and allies’ targets in Syria, alleging they were “specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.” One target, at which 76 missiles were fired, was the Barzeh scientific research centre in heavily-populated Damascus itself, which Dunford claimed was involved in the “development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.”

This ‘target’ is in the middle of a densely-inhabited area of Damascus. According to Damascus resident Dr. (of business and economy) Mudar Barakat, who knows the area in question, “the establishment consists of a number of buildings. One of them is a teaching institute. They are very close to the homes of the people around.”

Of the strikes, Dunford claimed they “inflicted maximum damage, without unnecessary risk to innocent civilians.”

If one believed the claims to be accurate, would bombing them really save Syrian lives, or to the contrary cause mass deaths? Where is the logic in bombing facilities believed to contain hazardous, toxic chemicals in or near densely populated areas?

Regarding the actual nature of the buildings bombed, Syrian media, SANA, describes the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute as “centered on preparing the chemical compositions for cancer drugs.” The destruction of this institute is particularly bitter, as, under the criminal western sanctions, cancer medicines sales to Syria are prohibited.

Interviews with one of its employees, Said Said, corroborate SANA’s description of the facility making cancer treatment and other medicinal components. One article includes Said’s logical point: “If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I’ve been here since 5:30 am in full health – I’m not coughing.”

Of the facility, the same SANA article noted that its labs had been visited by the OPCW, which issued two reports negating claims of any chemical weapons activities. This is a point Syria’s Ambassador al-Ja’afari raised in the April 14 UN Security Council meeting, noting that the OPCW “handed to Syria an official document which confirmed that the Barzeh centre was not used for any type of chemical activity” that would be in contravention to Syria’s obligations regarding the OPCW.

Bombings based on Al-Qaeda and Jaysh al-Islam Claims

The entire pretext of the US and allies’ illegal bombings of Syria is immoral and flawed. There is no evidence to the claims that Syria used chemicals in Douma. Numerous analysts have pointed out the obvious: that Syria would not benefit from having used chemical weapons. But America, Israel and allies would benefit from staged attacks.

The website Moon of Alabama noted discrepancies in the videos passed around on social media as “evidence” of Syria’s culpability, including the following:

“The ‘treatment’ by the ‘rebels’, dousing with water and administering some asthma spray, is unprofessional and many of the ‘patients’ seem to have no real problem. It is theater. The real medical personnel are seen in the background working on a real patient.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry has released interviews with two men who were included in the footage alleging a chemical attack has occurred. One of the men, Halil Ajij, said he worked in the hospital in question, they had treated people for smoke poisoning, saying: “We treated them, based on their suffocation,” also noting: “We didn’t see any patient with symptoms of a chemical weapons poisoning,” he said.

In an April 14 interview on Sky News, the former British Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, argued that the most elementary stage in the accusations game is to allow the actual inspection to occur.

“The evidence that chemical weapons were dropped is non-existent. Let the inspectors go in and possibly within days we will have a verdict but the jury is still out. …I’m totally confident that the inspectors will not produce one shred of evidence to back up the assertions of the Americans. If the Americans had proof, they’d have brought it forward. What they’re saying and what Mrs. May is saying, is just ‘take our word for it, trust us’. There’s not even a dodgy dossier this time.”

Israel and America benefit from the attacks… and are guilty of chemical weapons use

While the world’s eyes have been glazed over by chemical weapons script-reading journalists of corporate media, little notice is given to the ongoing Israeli slaughter and maiming of Palestinian unarmed demonstrators, targeted assassinations that last re-began with the March 30 murders of at least 17 unarmed Palestinians protesting in Gaza’s eastern regions. Israel’s murder of these unarmed youths, women and men got only mild tut-tuts from the UN, and was relegated to “clashes” by slavish corporate media. Israel is literally getting away with murder, as eyes are turned elsewhere.

ReadIsraeli violence against Palestinians will never end as a result of UN & US hypocrisy

According to Secretary Mattis, the US-led illegal attack on Syria “demonstrates international resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used on anyone under any circumstances in contravention of international law.”

The irony? Both America and its close ally Israel have used chemical weapons on civilians. The US has attacked civilians in Vietnam and Iraq, to name but two countries, with chemical weapons.

In 2009, I was living in Gaza and documenting Israel’s war crimes when Israel bombed civilians all over Gaza with white phosphorous. These were civilians with nowhere to run or hide, including civilians who had fled their homes and taken shelter in a UN-recognized school. I myself documented numerous instances of Israel’s use of white phosphorous.

If this doesn’t outrage American citizens, the billions of US taxpayers’ dollars sent to Israel and spent on the bombing of sovereign nations — and not on America’s impoverished, nor on affordable health care — should outrage.

However, as author Jonathan Cook noted, the issue is not merely Trump’s threats to Syria:

“There is bipartisan support for this madness. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership in the US, and much of the parliamentary Labour party in the UK, are fully on board with these actions. In fact, they have been goading Trump into launching attacks.”

By not attacking Russian forces in Syria this time, the US narrowly avoided a direct military confrontation with Russia, one which would have had global ramifications, to say the least.

The question now is: will the regime-change alliance be stupid and cruel enough to support yet another false flag chemical attack in their unending efforts to depose the Syrian president, or will they give up the game and allow Syria’s full return to peace? The US and allies claim their concern for Syrian civilians, but do everything in their power to ensure civilians suffer from terrorism and sanctions.

 

Interview on Gorilla Radio: Syria, no CWs; Israel, White Phosphorous on Palestinian civilians

My recent interview on BC based journalist, Chris Cook’s Gorilla Radio. Cook wrote:

Monday morning, missiles again flew into Syria, killing at least seven and wounding scores more. Though they didn’t admit responsibility, Israel is implicated. Merely the latest in a series of unanswered military assaults on its neighbour, this latest comes at a critical point in Syria’s long and bitter war.

Over the weekend, US president Donald Trump promised “action” in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians in Douma, the last stronghold of pro-jihadist groups in besieged Eastern Ghouta. And, while Trump and his allies in NATO condemn without benefit of investigation Bashar al-Assad’s government, Russia has issued its own Red Line, saying should any Russians in Syria come under fire Moscow will consider that an act of war.

Eva Bartlett is an independent Canadian journalist and activist who has lived in and reported from Gaza and Syria over the last decade. She has been one of the few Western witnesses of the destruction of war from where the missiles and bombs land, and one of even fewer to fix properly the responsibility on those firing and dropping them. Eva is currently preparing for another foray into Syria, even as Washington’s war drum beats louder.

Listen to our discussion here.

POST CONTINUES

Imperialism on Trial: writers and activists convene in Derry, Ireland

Last week I had the honour of joining a number of incredible writers and orators in Derry, Ireland, in a panel, “Imperialism on Trial”. The five speakers were: John Wight, writer and host of Hard Facts; the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford; author, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark; former MP and host of Sputnik Orbiting the World, George Galloway; and myself.

Organized by Derry resident Gregory Sharkey, the panelists addressed a wide range of issues. As one of the speakers, author Neil Clark, wrote:

“Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The full panel is online from RT’s livestream recording:

* CONTINUE READING

“next time it will hurt more”: Israeli threat against surviving family members of White Phosphorous attack

*photo of baby Shahed: Mohammed, from Khosar

-By Eva Bartlett I first heard of the “Atatra baby” when Red Crescent medics and volunteers brought the burned, mutilated corpse back, weeks after its death.  Nameless, it was only known that the baby was from the northwestern region that had been completely inaccessible for the duration of the Israeli land invasion. The volunteers present when the infant was brought in described their revulsion at her charred skin, her lower body which had been eaten by stray dogs. I first met the Abu Halima family in the burn unit in Gaza’s Shifa hospital.  The various family members suffered serious and deep chemical burns which Dr. Nafez abu Shabaan, head of the burn department, had attributed to white phosphorous burns.  “It is unlike any burns we have treated,” he had said. “The burns go to the bone, and smoke for hours after treatment.” The various members of the family had disfiguring burns, one of whom –a woman of 21 –had 43% of her total body surface area burned, her3 year old daughter with 22%. Visiting the Atatra region the other day, I made the connection between the baby girl, the Abu Halima family, and the house an a-Sifa (in Beit Lahiya) resident asked me to visit. It wasn’t until the sister of an Abu Halima family member had recalled her version of their tragedy that I made the connections between these different stories which were in fact all one collective, sordid story. post continues

documenting Israel’s use of White Phosphorous and widespread destruction

On January 13, a day which began with a visit to the bombed Jazeera hotel (and neighbouring hotel), and continued to the Sheik Rajleen area on Gaza’s coast, where residents terrified by days of Israeli shelling and missile attacks were fleeing in droves and where what could be phosphorous fires still burned, we continued on to an area east of Gaza city, Zaitoun, where more of what might be phosphorous fires burned in patches on the streets, and where an entire neighbourhood of houses had been demolished.

In one day, over 15 houses were demolished by shelling and by the massive bulldozers Israel long-ago acquired specifically for this task. Lemon, orange and olive trees were run over, uproots in masses. While the surrounding streets were barren of life -everyone having evacuated or cowering in their homes -in the patch of destroyed land, newly-homeless residents picked through what once were houses, salving whatever they could: blankets, cooking pots, clothing… Most was destroyed, much unidentifiable. And their work was hurried, hasty under that on-going buzz of drones, the same drones capable at any moment of dropping a targeted missile on any area. As we toured, photographed, breathed in the burn of destructive fires and destroyed lives, we also began to hurry. The sound and sight of two Apaches approaching, gunfire in the distance, was enough to speed our work. post continues