This report suggests the Syrian rebels staged a do-it-yourself atrocity, and the rebels of course deny it. I apologize for being slow to write about this but I do have other responsibilities than this blog. When I first heard about the chemical attack I thought the rebels may well have done it to themselves. Why? My nose didn’t like the smell.
Virtually all the casualties are civilian casualties, with lots of children. That makes good copy for the Western press. Not that in this civil war the Syrian government’s loyalists have been without blemish.
There is a long history of human shield and human sacrifice operations in the region to further PR war purposes. South Park aside, there is good reason to think that the rebels would not blink at killing their own civilians to further their cause.
Deploying chemical weapons is not easy. So it is surprising that shells fired from the Syrian government side could be so effective. The attack did occur at a decent time for it, probably between 2 and 3 AM Damascus time. The weather report says it was 75 degrees F ~50% humidity, and the wind picked up to 10 MPH by 2:45 AM. That isn’t optimum, although it isn’t the worst. Perhaps a Syrian loyalist commander thought the 1 AM conditions were good and sent men to pull the shells. I could see that taking an hour and a half. Would he cancel if conditions had deteriorated? Maybe not. But the jury is still out on whether those 2:45 AM conditions were likely to result in the casualties seen.
Let’s get real here! A positive finding on a chemical attack is the only way for the rebels to win. It is also the only way for certain interventionist minded sorts who want military and intelligence subcontracts to expand their markets into Syria.
The strangest part of this whole business is that the Syrian regime knows that use of chemical weapons will spell its demise. So what idiot would ever give such an order? It makes no sense at all. One could propose that the Syrian regime is desperate, angry, and doesn’t give a damn.
But put this all together and it’s kind of hard to swallow. We shall see. At this point if I had to bet, I’d bet the rebels did it themselves.