Source of chemical attack has not been proven

Source of chemical attack has not been proven

Your editorial of April 14 states without caveat that the chemical gas attack in Khan Shakyun, Syria on April 7 was launched “by the Bashar al-Assad regime.”

This has not been proven, and there are several reasons for doubting the truth of the allegation.

First, the United Nations’ Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed in June 2014 that the Syrian government had complied with a Security Council resolution to destroy its entire stockpile of chemical weapons (the destruction was carried out by U.S. Army engineers).

Second, according to the U.S. military’s own assessments, militant groups like Al-Nusrah Front, fighting the Syrian government, possess their own sarin gas capabilities (not to mention a clear motive in using it in a false flag operation, in order to provoke U.S. intervention against Assad).

Third, at least one previous allegation of Syrian government involvement in a chemical weapons attack has been largely discredited (the Ghouta attack of August 2013, by New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh). Fourth, the Syrian government, whose forces have overtaken large parts of the country from rebel control, had little to gain from launching a chemical weapons attack, except universal condemnation.

These considerations should raise at least a few doubts as to who actually perpetrated the horrible crime of April 7.

Your editorial raised none. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Assad (and I’m not), to wish you had.

Misinformation is a tool of modern warfare. To avoid becoming unwitting practitioners of it themselves, news outlets must clearly identify allegations as allegations, and not treat as truths the assumptions of interested parties in a conflict.

Martin Phipps