WASHINGTON, D.C.– On Monday, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh – best known for breaking some of the biggest stories of the Vietnam and Iraq wars – managed to prove that the Trump administration’s decision to bomb Syrian government territory was based on false pretenses that were entirely unsupported by U.S. military intelligence.
The bombing, which saw 49 Tomahawk missiles hit a largely defunct Syrian airbase, was a response to the Trump administration’s claim that the Syrian government had carried out a sarin gas attack on civilians in the al-Nusra Front-controlled town of Khan Sheikoun in Syria’s Idlib Province last April. But as Hersh revealed, Trump issued the order to target the airbase even though the entire U.S. intelligence community had already told him that they had no evidence that the Syrian government had used a chemical weapon in Idlib.
In addition, a senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told Hersh that he is concerned that Trump will respond with military force every time there is even an accusation of the Syrian government using chemical weapons, regardless of the presence of evidence.
“The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack,” the adviser told Hersh. “Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”
— POLITICO (@politico) June 27, 2017
The Trump administration proved the adviser’s concerns to be correct less than a day after Hersh’s exposé was published. On Monday night, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that the U.S. had “identified potential preparation for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
Spicer also noted that the alleged activity taking place was “similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.” The White House also warned that the Syrian government will pay a “heavy price” if another similar attack takes place.
The Trump administration’s claims regarding these “preparations” lack credibility, as no evidence to support its claims about the April gas attack has been presented to date. In addition, according to The Associated Press, numerous state department officials who are normally involved in coordinating such statements were apparently unaware of the White House’s warning.
The Associated Press also noted that the warning did not appear to have been discussed in advance with other national security agencies, even though the Pentagon, U.S. intelligence agencies and the State Department are typically consulted before the White House issues any declarations that could have a major impact on U.S. foreign policy.
The Syrian government has denied the White House’s latest accusations, suggesting that they foreshadow a coming diplomatic campaign against Syria at the United Nations. Russia also responded by calling the U.S. threats to Syria’s government “unacceptable.”
Recent statements by Nikki Haley, the U.S. representative at the United Nations, paint a worrisome picture for the likely outcome of the situation. In a Monday night tweet, Haley stated that “any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.”
Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) June 27, 2017
Haley’s tweet suggests that any attack in which Syrian civilians are killed, whether it is committed by the Islamic State or the U.S. itself, could be blamed on Assad. The U.S. recently used chemical weapons in Syria and killed over 400 Syrian civilians just last month with no international outcry.
Her tweet also suggests that Russia and Iran could be targeted in the aftermath of such an attack as well. According to Hersh’s sources, this is part of the plan. In a conversation obtained by Hersh, a U.S. security adviser revealed that the U.S. has long had ulterior motives in Syria that go far beyond the borders of that country: “There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran.”
It seems that the possibility of a false flag chemical weapons attack taking place in Syria is no longer an “if,” but a “when.” With intense U.S. military reconnaissance already taking place along the Syrian coast and U.S. allies falling into place to support any action the U.S. may take, existing tensions in Syria are about to become even more heated.
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