SYRIA: Did Assad really order the use of chemical weapons?

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By Mark Ellis

Rebels allegedly load chemical weapons on launcher
Rebels allegedly load chemical weapons on launcher

A number of credible intelligence analysts and Middle East journalists believe President Assad’s forces were not behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but the weapons were supplied by Saudi Arabia to draw the U.S. into the civil war.

“Assad’s forces were winning hands-down,” says Elizabeth Kendal, international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology. “It was the rebels who were desperate and the rebels who gain the most from this chemical attack,” she notes.

“The thing that makes the least sense is that Assad would do it. That makes no sense at all.”

Launcher ready to fire
Launcher ready to fire

Kendal cites the work of Yossef Bodansky, whom she considers the best terrorism analyst in the world. Bodansky carefully documented the movement of troops in the area leading up to the August 21st chemical weapons attack.

“Starting Aug. 17 and 18, nominally Free Syrian Army (FSA) units – in reality a separate Syrian and Arab army trained and equipped by the CIA as well as Jordanian and other intelligence services – attempted to penetrate southern Syria from northern Jordan and start a march on Damascus,” he wrote in a piece published in the World Tribune August 22nd.

“Two units, one 250-strong and one 300-strong, crossed into Syria and began advancing parallel to the Golan Heights border. Their aim was to break east and reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a ‘Free Syria.’”

But things did not go according to plan, according to Bodansky. “The CIA’s FSA forces met fierce resistance by the unlikely coalition of the Syrian Army, local jihadist forces (mainly the locally-raised Yarmuk Brigades), and even tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain. By Aug. 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border.”

The FSA commanders pleaded for massive reinforcements and an air campaign to prevent their decimation, according to Bodansky.

Meanwhile, on Aug. 19, in Ghouta, (where the chemical attack took place) more than 50 rebel fighters laid down their arms and changed sides. They switched their allegiance and were now supporting the government!

“Hence, the last thing the Assad administration would do is commit atrocities against the Ghouta area and the local population which had

Weapon fired
Weapon fired

just changed sides so dramatically. For the opposition, fiercely avenging such a betrayal and petrifying other would-be traitors is a must. Furthermore, in view of the failure of the march on Daraa and Damascus by the CIA’s FSA forces, there was an urgent imperative for the opposition to provoke a Western military intervention before the rebellion collapsed completely, and Assad consolidated victory,” Bodansky notes.

Kendal also cites a piece by Mohammad Ballout, published in Al-Monitor on August 27th, which noted the desperation of the rebels as their position weakened.

At dawn last Wednesday, Aug. 21, rebels suffered a dramatic defeat at the strategic Jobar entrance, which leads to the heart of Damascus. “Jobar’s entrance is the route for reinforcements coming from the heart of Ghouta and from the southern front, which is accessible via Jordan, where armed groups are being trained by the CIA and funded by Saudi Prince Salman bin Sultan,” Ballout noted.

The Saudis have in Ghouta a rebel group with 25,000 fighters led by Zahran Alloush. “He almost certainly receives his orders directly from the Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan,” according to Ballout.

The U.S. has not revealed their intelligence sources, but if the intelligence is coming from the Saudis, this raises additional concerns to Kendal. “I would suggest the Saudis are his (Kerry’s) intelligence source, possibly Prince Bandar himself, which makes the whole thing highly suspicious.”

Rebel celebrates firing
Rebel celebrates firing

“As far as I can ascertain, this intelligence is fraudulent. It’s been set up by Gulf Arabs to get America to fight their battles for them,” Kendal maintains. “The Saudis have an air force but they don’t want to deploy it, so they ring America’s bell and want to send America in.”

Kendal also cites the work of two Middle East journalists, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, who reported: “From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the gas attack.”

Video has been posted on the Internet displaying someone other than government troops firing chemical weapons. “There has been posted mobile phone footage showing rebels – probably Saudis – firing chemical weapons. Some of the weapons were in cylinders and others were in big blue gas tanks,” Kendal reports.

One of the unintended consequences of U.S. policies in Iraq and Egypt has been increased persecution of Christians, and Kendal fears if the U.S. intervenes in Syria, the same scenario may unfold.

“The Christians are under siege in Syria,” Kendal observes. “If Americans bomb, they will strip away security from the government-held

Cannisters allegedly used for delivery of chemical weapons
Cannisters allegedly used for delivery of chemical weapons

districts. It will be absolutely disastrous, which is why people have to think what this will mean for these Christians.”

Kendal believes the rebel forces are predominantly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. “It would be better to let Assad crush the jihadists. He can do it if the West will butt out.”

There may be a spiritual deception at the heart of the West’s misguided policies, Kendal believes. “The fact that the West is so keen to assist and ally with Islamists whose stated aim is the destruction of Jews, Christians, Israel and the West is short-sighted, irresponsible and irrational in the extreme. It is not only wicked, it is a ‘covenant with death.’”