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The NY Times has just publish a very interesting investigative piece that claims that in late November the Assad regime moved sarin gas components from their holding locations, mixed them and loaded them into 500 lb. bombs at air fields so that they could be delivered in two hours time. That remains the case today.

The NY Times reports:


Hints of Syrian Chemical Push Set Off Global Effort to Stop It

By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — In the last days of November, Israel’s top military commanders called the Pentagon to discuss troubling intelligence that was showing up on satellite imagery: Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites, probably the deadly nerve gas sarin, and filling dozens of 500-pounds bombs that could be loaded on airplanes.

 Within hours President Obama was notified, and the alarm grew over the weekend, as the munitions were loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases. In briefings, administration officials were told that if Syria’s increasingly desperate president, Bashar al-Assad, ordered the weapons to be used, they could be airborne in less than two hours — too fast for the United States to act, in all likelihood.

What followed next, officials said, was a remarkable show of international cooperation over a civil war in which the United States, Arab states, Russia and China have almost never agreed on a common course of action.

The combination of a public warning by Mr. Obama and more sharply worded private messages sent to the Syrian leader and his military commanders through Russia and others, including Iraq, Turkey and possibly Jordan, stopped the chemical mixing and the bomb preparation. A week later Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the worst fears were over — for the time being.

But concern remains that Mr. Assad could now use the weapons produced that week at any moment. American and European officials say that while a crisis was averted in that week from late November to early December, they are by no means resting easy.  More...

From asharq alawsat we have this report:

Syrian defector reveals how al-Assad regime “fabricates” news

04/01/2013
By Adham Saif al-Din
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Syrian regime media defector, who previously worked at the pro-Assad al-Dunya TV, informed Asharq Al-Awsat how the al-Assad regime fabricates news, misleads the public and distorts the reputation of the Syrian revolution on Syrian state television. The Syrian source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also leaked several clips taken from the archive of pro-Assad media that reveals just precisely how the Damascus regime is running its propaganda operations.

Al-Arabiya published a video, leaked by the same media defector, which shows a young Syrian woman – her features blurred to protect her identity – relating the story of how she was kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the city of Harasta in Rif Dimashq governorate. Following this, we see a clip of one of the young men confessing to his part in this kidnapping; the only problem is that the story is a complete sham. In fact, the compete video clip shows the young Syrian woman – her features uncovered – relating the same story, only this time smiling and stumbling over her lines.

The Syrian defector informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the scene will have been pre-prepared at one of the security branches. Following this, Syrian state media correspondents will go to record confessions with the speaker being prompted in what he must say to harm the Syrian revolution and revolutionary forces.”

He added “the large number of security branches and their lack of coordination means that sometimes blatant contradictions appear on television such as with regards to the killing of Sarriya Hassoun, the son of Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun. Syrian state television broadcast the confession of two separate terrorist cells – telling two different stories – regarding Sarriya Hassoun’s death. Of course, both stories highlighted the aspects that the Syrian regime wanted highlighting.”

The Syrian source revealed that he originally comes from one of Syria’s northern provinces and that he previously worked as a news editor at al-Dunya TV in 2011 before the start of the revolution. He later left this job for a different one, preparing to defect from the regime and join the Syrian revolution.

The Syrian media defector asserted that Syria security apparatus interfere and put pressure on Syrian media and Syrian media staff, adding that this had happened at al-Dunya TV during his time there. However he denied that any single security or intelligence authority was responsible for overseeing this, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “all of the security branches interfered in the media’s operations, as is the case with all government institutions in Syria.”

He added ‘within the corridors of al-Dunya TV, no employee or media figure would dare to express any opinion against regime policy for fear of the Syrian security forces and its agents and informers who are everywhere inside every Syrian media organization.”

The source also revealed that “some employees were arrested after their support for the revolution was exposed, whilst some other detainees were freed and they fled the country for Egypt and Dubai” adding “there are others who were arrested and whose fates remain unknown until now.”

The Syrian media defector remains within Syria, where he receives information from some of his former colleagues which allow him to expose the shocking practices of Syrian state media. He refused to reveal who is responsible for this for fear of putting them – and their families – in danger, also refusing to reveal when such files were leaked to him to further confuse their source of origin.

The media defector told Asharq Al-Awsat that Syrian state and pro-Assad media are now doing everything in their power to promote the regime’s line regarding a “foreign conspiracy” against Syria, as well as the presence of “armed gangs” committing atrocities on the ground. He said “there are some people on social media who are actively helping the state-sponsored media to fabricate and promote such news, particularly the pro-Assad Shaam news outlet, as well as the so-called Syrian Electronic Army which is funded by Mujahid Ismail, the leader of the Shabiha in Syria.”

[And I would add to this list certain Kossacks that have made it their mission to make sure the latest Assad fabrication or faked terror attack is reported in the comments to my diaries just the way Assad would like it.]

The source added “as for the biggest pro-Assad newspaper, this is funded by businessman Majd Suleiman, son of well-known Intelligence chief and current Syrian ambassador to Jordan, Bahjat Suleiman.”

CNN previously interviewed former Syrian presidential palace press officer, Abdullah al-Omar, who lately defected from the al-Assad regime and revealed its questionable practices. He said “our job was to fabricate, make deceptions and cover up for Bashar al-Assad’s crimes.”

He also revealed that during the regime’s bombardment of the rebel-held Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs, al-Assad regime loyalist women were brought in and disguised as locals for government television. He said “the women would say that the massacres against men, women and children were perpetrated by armed gangs, when it was actually the Syrian regime, security forces and the Shabiha who were behind these horrendous acts.”

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:53:10 PM PST

  •  Mixed them? (3+ / 0-)

    Sarin has a pretty short shelf life once mixed. It generally isn't mixed and then stored.  That is why it is frequently loaded into binary munitions in which the two precursors are loaded within the same shell but kept separate.  If it was actually seen mixed, the munition would need to be used fairly quickly to retain potency.

    "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

    by Mote Dai on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:30:17 PM PST

    •  Yes, mixed them (0+ / 0-)

      And you're right - it's not going to be soup for long, so to speak. The fact that they mixed it may have indicated that things were dicey for a while.

      Statements coming from the Administration seem to indicate the situation stabilized somewhat, and quickly, after the initial reactions by foreign governments. So there's at least hope that the Syrian government values something.

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:38:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or that it wasn't Sarin (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mote Dai, Claudius Bombarnac
        The fact that they mixed it may have indicated that things were dicey for a while.
        If they had the very best procedure and precursor in the world, Sarin mixed in late Nov would, at this point, be moot. I'm willing to bet that they don't, and their juice is good for maybe two weeks. Ya really don't mix up Sarin that you're not GOING to use- It's pricey, very difficult to handle once mixed, freaks out the local staff, and degrades really quickly.

        It just doesn't take that long to mix up- Premixing would just be lousy resource allotment.

        So why do we think it Sarin?

        Other than Sarin being scary, of course.

  •  I'm still not buying your warmongering. (5+ / 0-)

    Nope.

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:34:58 PM PST

  •  Saddam had also Weapons of Mass Destruction (7+ / 0-)

    and AL Quaida was based in Irak!!!! By now we all know this playbook....NY Times or Fox News it does change anything....this is pure propaganda to start another endless war

    •  In this case (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edrie, Egalitare, Tettodoro

      I don't see warmongering. The world community did react back at the end of November to warn Syria against chemical weapons use, and Obama was disturbed by some perceived movements.

      Syria is acknowledged to have a large chemical weapons store, unlike Iraq whose supplies we supposedly disarmed after Gulf War I.

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:14:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  unfortunately, there's going to have to be an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, mookins, Egalitare

    actual attack with real evidence this time, as if Syrians pushing sea mines out of aircraft wasn't heinous enough

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - Dalai Lama XIV (-9.50; -7.03)‽ Warning - some snark above‽

    by annieli on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:00:14 PM PST

  •  This isn't exactly news (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Claudius Bombarnac

    We knew this back when the warnings to Syria first went out.

    The Times merely fleshes out the details from back when...

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:11:58 PM PST

  •  NYT has a kind of credibility since Miller (6+ / 0-)

    and the "certainty that Saddam has WMD." Certainly, they would never tell us anything if it were a lie. After all, we had Iraqi defectors affirming the truth. Of the thing which was a lie. On these subjects, the NYT's "kind of credibility" would be the "no" kind.

    And anything written by Sanger I've ever read has led me to wonder if he has an after-journalist career waiting in the military establishment.

    Sounds like a last-ditch attempt to go all neo-con on Syria's ass, now that reports are appearing that a) the rebels have lost outside assistance (which they weren't getting we were told before); b) the President and Russians are working behind the scenes to come to some kind of resolution.

    I think the present diarist just wrote a piece on part "a)" above.

    Maybe things like this video taken in Syria is affecting the change in strategy.

    btw, that wonderful liberation of Libya is going just roses as well. They've declared their South as a military zone in a state of emergency, while the spillover there into Mali has that country at Civil War. Which we plan to get involved in.

    More and stronger al-qaeda than there used to be in the area, don'cha know?

    Ah yes, fucking with other countries is a good idea, and there's never any blowback. Our side being so clever and impervious to experience and reason.

    Our War for National Suicide expands apace.


    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:40:36 PM PST

  •  NYT lied the country into war before. (3+ / 0-)

    It could be true but I'm going to need a better source than Judith Miller's alma mater.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:44:59 PM PST

  •  That's some pice of journalism! Article's sources: (5+ / 0-)
    American and European officials say

    one senior defense official said last week

    some officials say

    officials said

    This account is based on interviews with more than half a dozen military, intelligence and diplomatic officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the intelligence matters involved

    Some American and other allied officials

    the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported

    said one Western diplomat

    American and allied officials

    American and other allied officials

    American officials said

    American intelligence official said

    Allied officials say

    said Jeremy Binnie, a terrorism and insurgency specialist at IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

    That is literally every source mentioned in the article.  Unnamed American, European and allied officials and a counter terrorism "expert".  Oh and the report from Der Spiegel (which contradicts them).

    We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by RageKage on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 12:31:08 AM PST

  •  Not a "foreign conspiracy" that NATO/GCC want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusty Pipes

    Assad gone. They have been supplying the opposition with billions of dollars, tons of weapons, hundreds of fighters and high tech logistics within weeks of the start of hostilities. It should also have been obvious when Hillary said in plain English "Assad, leave!"

    It's also not a 'conspiracy' that the US has wanted regime change for years. It's a fact. They had been funding the opposition since the Bush years as shown by wikileaks and this report by Seymour Hersh in 2007.

    The Redirection
    Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
    by Seymour M. Hersh March 5, 2007
    ...
    The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

    Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
    ...
    “It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”
    ...

    The media defector told Asharq Al-Awsat that Syrian state and pro-Assad media are now doing everything in their power to promote the regime’s line regarding a “foreign conspiracy” against Syria, as well as the presence of “armed gangs” committing atrocities on the ground. He said “there are some people on social media who are actively helping the state-sponsored media to fabricate and promote such news, particularly the pro-Assad Shaam news outlet, as well as the so-called Syrian Electronic Army which is funded by Mujahid Ismail, the leader of the Shabiha in Syria.”

    [And I would add to this list certain Kossacks that have made it their mission to make sure the latest Assad fabrication or faked terror attack is reported in the comments to my diaries just the way Assad would like it.]

    Here's some "Assad fabrication" by Reuters and the FSA Tawheed Brigade:
    INSIGHT-Aleppo misery eats at Syrian rebel support
    ALEPPO, Syria | Tue Jan 8, 2013
    ...
    For those who fear the worst for Syria now that the revolt has unleashed long suppressed ethnic and sectarian rivalries, however, evidence in Aleppo that these new institutions have had little practical impact on often rival rebel groups is ominous.

    And all the while relations grow testier between the rebels and Aleppines, for whom many fighters harbour some disdain after the urbanites' failed to rise up on their own against Assad.
    ...
    "PARASITES"

    Rebel commanders interviewed in and around Aleppo in the past two weeks acknowledged problems within the FSA - an army in name only, made up of brigades competing for recognition and resources. But they laid much of the blame on "bad apples" and opportunists and said steps are being taken to put things right.

    "There has been a lot of corruption in the Free Syrian Army's battalions - stealing, oppressing the people - because there are parasites that have entered the Free Syrian Army," said Abu Ahmed, an engineer who heads a 35-man unit of the Tawheed Brigade, reckoned to be the largest in Aleppo province.

    Abu Ahmed, who comes from a small town on the Turkish border and like many in Syria would be identified only by the familiar form of his name, estimated that most people in Aleppo, a city of over two million, were lukewarm at best to a 21-month-old uprising that is dominated by the Sunni Muslim rural poor.

    "They don't have a revolutionary mindset," he said, putting support for Assad at 70 percent among an urban population that includes many ethnic Kurds, Christians and members of Assad's Alawite minority. But he also acknowledged that looting and other abuses had cost the incoming rebels much initial goodwill.
    ...

    •  @CB: I'd suspect you of a not very well-hidden (0+ / 0-)

      political agenda if your views weren't so wildly inconsistent. Yesterday you were quoting favourably from Marxist analyst Gilbert Achcar who calls for a popular revolution in Syria, and today you are citing as a great failing of the FSA that they represent  "the Sunni Muslim rural poor"!
      A few days ago we had a sensible discussion  (or am I confusing you with someone else) about the problems of sustaining an irregular army in an urban setting over a long period of time, and today you are touting as some great revelation the fact that there is corruption in the ranks of the Aleppo fighters. (Which your report says the FSA leadership is trying to combat)
      But one thing is constant - you seem not to read your sources. You make the utterly nonsensical claim that "NATO/GCC  have been supplying the opposition with billions of dollars, tons of weapons, hundreds of fighters and high tech logistics within weeks of the start of hostilities." (where are all these high tech logistics when Asad's bombers attack?) And then you provide a link to an article that reports "most rebels complain of a lack of weapons and a chronic shortage of ammunition, which has hampered their advance on several fronts ...  only a few thousand bullets had reached rebel forces in Aleppo province in one month and sources of revenue were drying up."

      Well which is it, the rural poor or the urban bourgeoisie? an FSA awash with foreign finance and high tech weapons; or one that is running out of ammo?

      •  I've always said I support neither the miltant (0+ / 0-)

        opposition nor the Assad regime. The Syrian revolution has been usurped by foreign interests that could care less about the Syrian people. What we have is really a fight for regime change by the US (which has killed hundreds of thousands very recently just for regime change in Iraq) and the GCC (anti-democratic petro monarchies) in a proxy war against Iran.

        What I do for the most part is simply post links in an attempt to balance Claiborne's one-sided narratives.
         

        A few days ago we had a sensible discussion
        Discussions are only "sensible" if they are in agreement with your viewpoint?
        (where are all these high tech logistics when Asad's bombers attack?)
        Secure high tech communications in a war zone is more effective than arms. (BTW, the amount of money s/b "millions" not "billions".)
        U.S. communications equipment to Syria opposition ‘spy-proof’
        ...
        “They are all designed to be independent from and able to circumvent the Syrian domestic network, precisely for the reason of keeping them safe, keeping them secure from regime tampering, regime listening and regime interruption,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
        ...
        Officials: Syrian rebels’ arsenal includes up to 40 antiaircraft missile systems
        ...
        The Obama administration has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.

        But intelligence officials who closely track the flow of arms into Syria say rebels have acquired dozens of the devices in recent weeks and are using them with increasing effectiveness against Syrian helicopters and military jets.

        At least some of the missiles were supplied by Qatar, which has provided most of the weapons smuggled to Syria’s rebels across the Turkish border, according to two Middle Eastern intelligence officials briefed on the matter.
        ...

        Well which is it, the rural poor or the urban bourgeoisie? an FSA awash with foreign finance and high tech weapons; or one that is running out of ammo?
        If you had been following my posts you would have realized it is BOTH. The conflict in Syria is highly nuanced and is not the simple good vs evil Claiborne attempts to portray. The greatest funding and arming has been from the GCC countries to the salafist and takfiri jihadists who are fighting in Syria. Many of these are poor and uneducated. They have become canon fodder.

        If you know your history, Syria has almost become a replay of Afghanistan in the 80's. It only requires the turning of the various factions of the FSA upon each other when Assad's regime is toppled.

        There are at least 4 corners in this flight and it's not as if everyone did not know how messy it could become.

        Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria

        WASHINGTON — Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.
        ...
         “The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.

        The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.
        ...

  •  A reminder - (0+ / 0-)

    That  civil society lives on in Syria - short video from Agence France Presse of an improvised English class for kids being put on in an Aleppo  Mosque "because it helps them forget their daily fears". (Text is in French but the images speak for themselves.)
    http://www.lemonde.fr/...

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