All tagged chemical weapons

Syria: Who's lying?

Tough talk on Syria from the US and Russia. But what does the evidence say?


The world watches four players in the latest act of the tragic implosion of a proud people in an ancient place, home to some of the world's earliest civilizations. The players are two heads of state and their ambassadors. None of these actors are from this beautiful country, yet they hold its fate in their hands. Two on each side of a former Cold War -- both with diametrically opposing views on the crisis.

Enter stage left, United States President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. Both are certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in the ongoing six-year civil war, including on April 4 that reportedly killed 72, including 20 children. This "certainty" prompted Trump to order a cruise missile attack on the airfield from which the U.S. claims the chemical attacks originated.

"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children," he said in an address to the nation after the missile attack. "It was a slow, brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this wholly barbaric attack. No child of God should suffer such horror."

There was a collective groan from many libertarians who had supported Trump for president on the basis of his opposition to unnecessary wars, but now saw him as buying into the "neocon/neolib" narrative of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Haley, for her part, presented the absence of Assad in power as a prerequisite for peace.

"We don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there," she told Jake Tapper on CNN four days after the reported attack, adding that two other priorities were defeating ISIS and removing Iran's influence from Syria as well.

What a contrast to the message being put out by Syria's ally and protector, Vladimir Putin, entering stage right, and his deputy ambassador to the U.N, Vladimir Safronkov. Both say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has never used chemical weapons, including on April 4 in a reported sarin gas attack in the rebel stronghold of Idlib. In fact, Putin went so far as to call the attacks "staged" at a news conference on Tuesday with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.