By Scott Taylor
On Saturday, April 7, I awoke to catch a breaking story on CTV’s news channel. It was being reported that a chemical weapons attack had been perpetrated in a rebel held town in Syria.
Veteran news anchorman Brad Griffin deadpanned a warning to viewers that the video images they were about to see were “graphic and disturbing.”
The shaky footage depicted a number of individuals animatedly washing the alleged victims with water hoses. None of them were wearing any form of gas mask or protective clothing.
One young girl, about three years old was crying loudly – as would any three year old being doused vigorously with cold water. One helper is shown holding another toddler face down while he forcefully gave him thumps on his back as though to dislodge a food particle stuck in the young lad’s throat.
While not graphic, it was certainly disturbing to see such a clumsy attempt to portray the aftermath of a chemical weapon attack. Further footage showed a rebel – this time wearing an old gas mask, but still without a hazmat suit, pointing at a 225-kilogram unexploded barrel bomb that was lying on a single bed amidst some plaster and debris.
While I cannot disprove the allegation that this was a chemical bomb dropped by the Syrian Air force, I can state with some authority that it must be one hell of a sturdy bed frame.
A 225-kilogram projectile dropped from an altitude which would have at least allowed it to reach terminal velocity, penetrates a ceiling without detonating and then gently comes to rest on a small cot? That seems like one hell of an unlucky break for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We know that he uses barrel bombs, so he must be the one to blame. Case closed.
Which brings us to the next question, which is, why would Assad resort to the use of chemical weapons? And why now? The targeted area was the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma, which at the time of the alleged gas attack was under the control of radical Islamist rebels, and heavily besieged by Assad loyalists. Backed by the Russian military, the Syrians had the upper hand in Douma and were in the process of negotiating a ceasefire with the extremist rebels.
That truce subsequently did take place last Thursday with the Islamist fighters relinquishing control of the town to Syrian – Russian forces in exchange for re-location to another rebel-held region of Syria.
So, on the verge of a battlefield victory, why would Assad be so stupid as to employ the one weapon which almost guarantees the condemnation of the world? It also seems rather short-sighted to hurl barrel bombs full of chlorine gas and nerve agents into an area that you know your own soldiers are about to occupy.
Although no independent investigation has been conducted, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, has claimed: “We definitely have enough proof.” French President Emmanuel Macron echoed the claim, saying he too has “proof”, and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May concluded it was “highly likely” that Assad is to blame for employing chemical weapons at Douma.
U.S. President Donald Trump took to the Twittersphere to warn Russia that American missiles will be “coming” against the Syrian military in retaliation for the alleged gas attack, but he did not give a timeline.
Just to recap what we need to swallow in order to accept the presumption of Assad’s guilt and Russia’s complicity: 1) A group of Syrian Islamist extremists is on their last legs and about to capitulate. 2) Unable to restrain his urge to kill his own people, Assad unwisely drops barrel bombs of toxic chemicals on the rebel enclave. 3) The victims include children, which naturally incenses the civilized world. Remember nobody gave a rat’s when the U.S. dropped the Mother-of-All-Bombs (MOAB) on Islamist extremists in Afghanistan because the U.S. assured us that no innocent children or family pets were greased in the blast.
So, essentially, the U.S. will be assisting Syrian Islamic extremists in their efforts to punish Assad, who is allied with nuclear super-power Russia. And at the epicenter of this potential apocalypse is one unbelievably strong bed frame.