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US and France claim proof that Syria is responsible for Douma chemical attack

They “believe” that they are “confident” in their “proof” that must be “assessed”

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The US is brazenly declaring that they have proof that the Syrian government, under the direction of Bashar al-Assad, conducted a chemical attack on the town of Douma, ten kilometers out of Damascaus, and that they have a “very high confidence” in their “evidence”.

Moreover, Russia is “part of the problem” because of its “failure to stop them”, and their “continued distraction on this front” exacerbates the issue, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Additionally, the State Department’s spokesman Heather Nauert is issuing the declaration that “the Syrian government was behind the attack” at a press briefing. The Hill reports:

The U.S. has a “very high confidence” that the Syrian government was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus last weekend, the White House said Friday.

“We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible and, once again, Russia’s failure to stop them and their continued disaction on this front has been part of the problem,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said Friday that the U.S. has proof that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack on Douma that left dozens of civilians dead.

“We can say that the Syrian government was behind the attack,” Nauert told reporters at a press briefing.

Using the same words that the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, used, Nauert asserts that this certainty that the Syrians did it boils down to their “very high level of confidence”, once again omitting to reference anything particular about the evidence that the State Department might possess on the matter.

Nauert insists that “we believe we know who was responsible for this”, where once again, indicating that this is the government making a claim that they “believe in”, while simultaneously insisting that they have proof, but, which “proof” still needs to be “assessed”.

Nauert also says that the State Department will wait on the OPCW to relate its findings on the matter, which findings they claim won’t show who is responsible for the attack, but merely the substance that was used in the attack. Which begs the question: if investigators on the ground at the site of the attack can’t tell you who done it, how are you so “confident” that you “know” who did it? CBS News reports:

The U.S. State Department said Friday that it has proof that Syria was behind the suspected gas attack that left more than 40 civilians dead in Douma last week. Heather Nauert, a department spokesperson, said officials are still trying to determine what kind of chemical was used in the attack.

She said there was a “very high-level of confidence” that Syria was behind the attack, but did not elaborate on what type of evidence the department has.

“We believe we know who was responsible for this. We will still wait — the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will still formulate its facts and its findings, but it does not determine the responsibility, they determine the substance,” Nauert said Friday.

Nauert also refuted Russia’s claim that the alleged gas attack had been staged by the U.K., calling the accusation “one of a long list of instances in which Russia takes information and they try to turn it upside down.”

“We’ve seen a long history of the Russian government sow discord, whether it’s in our own election process or other countries,” she said. “They try to change the story but the facts are exactly what they are. Russia has changed its story once again because the facts have become too inconvenient for them.”

Meanwhile, France’s President Emmanuel Macron is insisting that his government is in possession of “proof”, which is declared without providing any details relative to what the proof is or how it was acquired, that not only were chemical weapons employed in this attack, but that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was indeed behind it all. His government is poised to join the US in a campaign against Assad’s forces on the grounds of the alleged attack once they “have verified all the information.” CNBC reports:

“We have proof that last week, now 10 days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad,” Macron said, without giving details on the evidence or how it was acquired.

The attack on the town of Douma on April 7 killed dozens of people, including children.

“Our teams have been working on this all week and we will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective,” Macron told broadcaster TF1 when asked whether a red line had been crossed.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Macron said France wanted to remove the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capabilities. When asked whether those would be the targets of strikes he said: “When we decide it, and once we have verified all the information.”

The French army is preparing itself for a possible riposte as it waits for the political green light, military sources told Reuters, with several sources underscoring the difficulty of outlining the objectives of such an operation.

The sources said if France were to attack, the strikes would most likely come from warplanes rather than its naval frigate off the Lebanese coast, and that they would likely to take off from France rather than its Middle East bases.

The subject of chemical weapons’ use in Syria has been a thorny issue for Macron. He has warned that he would not accept the use of chemical weapons, which he said was a “red line” that would draw French action, even unilateral.

However, after persistent reports of chlorine attacks over the last year, his foreign minister and aides have been more nuanced saying a response would hinge on French intelligence proving both the use of chemicals and fatalities, and a riposte would most likely be in coordination with the United States.

“France will not allow any escalation that could harm the stability of the region as a whole, but we can’t let regimes that think they can do everything they want, including the worst things that violate international law, to act,” Macron said.

Interestingly enough, the US has been claiming since Thursday that they are in possession of blood and urine samples from the site of the alleged attack which provided conclusive proof that chlorine and some unidentified nerve agent were used in the attack.

The revelation was made while the OPCW was only just then announcing that their investigators were en route to the site in order to conduct an investigation to determine, what the “US officials” are claiming that they already know, beginning such operations on Saturday. The Hill reports:

Blood and urine samples from the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria have tested positive for chlorine gas and a nerve agent, according to U.S. officials.

MSNBC reported Thursday that the U.S. obtained samples from the attack site in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, and determined that they contained traces of chlorine gas and an unidentified nerve agent.

While officials did not identify the nerve agent as sarin, the Syrian government is believed to have used the deadly chemical weapon a number of times during the country’s seven-year civil war.

…The revelation comes hours after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that a fact-finding mission was en route to Syria and would begin investigating the suspected chemical attack on Saturday.

Apparently, since the terrorists have been driven from the site of the attack, likely backed by the US, and that site was secured by Russian backed Syrian forces, and the OPCW has not arrived at the site or begun its investigation, how does France and the US claim to have this “proof”, or these “samples” from the attack site if they didn’t have their guys on the ground in Douma at the attack site conducting an investigation and communicating those results back to their respective governments?

Who are these sources on the ground discovering all of this proof that is being referenced by Western powers in their rush to bomb Syria without a UNSC mandate and potentially starting WW3?

Furthermore, why aren’t these tested samples cited by the Presidents of the US or France and the PM of the UK, in addition to the press secretaries of their state departments in their claims to have all of this “proof” that they are so “confident” that they “believe in” and which still, admittedly, needs to be “assessed”?

Furthermore, if Assad really commanded such an attack, why would he leave damning evidence behind that would categorically prove that not only did the attack go down but that his forces did it? Apparently, if Western media and press secretaries, and leaders, are to be believed, Assad has to be so sadistic that he will conduct atrocious attacks that any fool could tell you that it would bring the West down on him with military operations like a ton of bricks.

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Senator Richard Black: Trump’s historic opportunity to end the war in Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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Virginia State Senate and retired U.S. Marine and Army JAG officer Richard H. Black, and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss a dangerous week’s escalation in Syria, and US President Trump opportunity to break free of Deep State and neocon influence, to finally put an end to a war seeded by George W. Bush and started by Barack Obama.

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Via The New York Times

As Syria’s seven-year civil war enters a climactic phase, the Trump administration is grappling with how to address the emerging political dynamics. President Bashar al-Assad has retaken control of most of Syrian territory, and experts said there is almost no chance that rebel groups will topple him or change the course of the war.

But this week, Russia and Turkey proposed a demilitarized zone to stop a military offensive that Mr. Assad had planned against Idlib Province, the last major rebel enclave in Syria. Even a delay in the rampage would buy time for the United States to help draw up new strategies for dealing with Syria if it definitively falls under Mr. Assad’s rule.

At next week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, heads of state and top diplomats are expected to discuss how to protect Idlib’s residents from Mr. Assad and, ultimately, end the civil war. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has opposed Mr. Assad and deployed Turkish troops to Idlib, is scheduled to speak at the annual forum on Tuesday, as is President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, one of the Syrian government’s most loyal allies.

President Trump will also address the world body that day. He has repeatedly threatened to withdraw American troops from Syria, where they are fighting the Islamic State in the country’s east. But in April, Mr. Trump for the second time ordered airstrikes to punish Mr. Assad for using chemical weapons. The Trump administration is also clinging to a mostly stalled peace process that was begun under President Barack Obama.

“The reality on the ground in Syria has drastically changed, and the United States’ strategy for Syria should shift as a result,” foreign policy scholars wrote this month in an analysis for the Brookings Institution.

There are few easy answers for the United States as it weighs how to shape a potential end game in a war that has killed at least hundreds of thousands of Syrians, has displaced millions more and has shattered the country into competing areas of control. Here are some of the main questions.

The Brookings Institution is advising that the United States should initiate a 10-degree shift in it’s strategy towards Syria.

Neocon Washington think tanks cannot concede that Syria is a sovereign nation with a right to self determination, insisting instead on advising POTUS Trump to foster a “long game” regime change plan that keeps the “Syrian government” weak and off balance, while bolstering Al Qaeda “moderate rebel” controlled provinces, in cooperation with Turkey.

And American troops in Syria…they are advising Trump to keep them right where they are, illegally occupaying Syria.

Via The NYT

Will the U.S. maintain a military presence in Syria?

Yes, at least for the foreseeable future. This month, the American military flew 100 Marines to Tanf, a small outpost in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The small deployment of troops was intended to signal to the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies that the American military was digging in..

Tanf is more than 200 miles from Idlib. But the Russian military twice warned the Pentagon this month — on Sept. 1 and again on Sept. 6 — that it would attack what it said were Islamic State militants in the stretch of desert near the small outpost where American Special Operations forces have been training local militias.

At some point, Mr. Assad will undoubtedly have to address the American presence in northeastern Syria, where United States troops have built a constellation of bases and airfields.

In early September, a State Department envoy, James F. Jeffrey, told reporters in Washington that “the new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year.”

He said he was “confident” that Mr. Trump was “on board” with the American military taking a more active role in Syria.

Here are the chief elements of the “shift” as proposed by the DC “foreign policy scholars” at Brookings:

  • Recognizing what is increasingly obvious: that President Bashar Assad will not be displaced or replaced through the current Geneva peace process. Instead, the United States should work over time to persuade his cronies and allies to convince him to step down in favor of a successor who is largely of his choosing. Other Syrian groups and the international community should have a say in the formation of additional elements of a new Syrian government, as a precondition for the provision of substantial reconstruction aid to and through the central government.
  • Threatening and, if necessary, conducting limited reprisal air strikes against Syrian aerial assets, in retaliation for any future regime barrel bombing, particularly around Idlib. Washington should adopt a similar strategy toward Iran should its proxies attempt attacks against the United States or its allies.
  • Promptly providing humanitarian and reconstruction aid to those parts of Syria not under government control, with U.S. forces remaining in roughly their current number and location to supervise the process and help train provisional local security forces (more like police than opposition forces bent on Assad’s removal). The aid should be provided more locally than regionally, in part to discourage the formation of a single, strong Kurdish zone that would exacerbate Turkish fears of secessionism.
  • Working with Turkey to weaken extremist elements in and around Idlib, including with limited military action if need be, and continuing U.S. military action against residual pockets of ISIS elements in the country’s east until the battlefield defeat of ISIS is complete.

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Putin Keeps Cool and Averts WWIII as Israeli-French Gamble in Syria Backfires Spectacularly

Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


By initiating an attack on the Syrian province of Latakia, home to the Russia-operated Khmeimim Air Base, Israel, France and the United States certainly understood they were flirting with disaster. Yet they went ahead with the operation anyways.

On the pretext that Iran was preparing to deliver a shipment of weapon production systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli F-16s, backed by French missile launches in the Mediterranean, destroyed what is alleged to have been a Syrian Army ammunition depot.

What happened next is already well established: a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, which the Israeli fighter jets had reportedly used for cover, was shot down by an S-200 surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian Army. Fifteen Russian servicemen perished in the incident, which could have been avoided had Israel provided more than just one-minute warning before the attack. As a result, chaos ensued.

Whether or not there is any truth to the claim that Iran was preparing to deliver weapon-making systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon is practically a moot point based on flawed logic. Conducting an attack against an ammunition depot in Syria – in the vicinity of Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base – to protect Israel doesn’t make much sense when the consequence of such “protective measures” could have been a conflagration on the scale of World War III. That would have been an unacceptable price to achieve such a limited objective, which could have been better accomplished with the assistance of Russia, as opposed to NATO-member France, for example. In any case, there is a so-called “de-confliction system” in place between Israel and Russia designed to prevent exactly this sort of episode from occurring.

And then there is the matter of the timing of the French-Israeli incursion.

Just hours before Israeli jets pounded the suspect Syrian ammunition storehouse, Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan were in Sochi hammering out the details on a plan to reduce civilian casualties as Russian and Syrian forces plan to retake Idlib province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country. The plan envisioned the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone between government and rebel forces, with observatory units to enforce the agreement. In other words, it is designed to prevent exactly what Western observers have been fretting about, and that is unnecessary ‘collateral damage.’

So what do France and Israel do after a relative peace is declared, and an effective measure for reducing casualties? The cynically attack Syria, thus exposing those same Syrian civilians to the dangers of military conflict that Western capitals proclaim to be worried about.

Israel moves to ‘damage control’

Although Israel has taken the rare move of acknowledging its involvement in the Syrian attack, even expressing “sorrow” for the loss of Russian life, it insists that Damascus should be held responsible for the tragedy. That is a highly debatable argument.

By virtue of the fact that the French and Israeli forces were teaming up to attack the territory of a sovereign nation, thus forcing Syria to respond in self-defense, it is rather obvious where ultimate blame for the downed Russian plane lies.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, took admirable efforts to prevent the blame game from reaching the boiling point, telling reporters that the downing of the Russian aircraft was the result of “a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

Nevertheless, following this extremely tempered and reserved remark, Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

Now there is much consternation in Israel that the IDF will soon find its freedom to conduct operations against targets in Syria greatly impaired. That’s because Russia, having just suffered a ‘friendly-fire’ incident from its own antiquated S-200 system, may now be more open to the idea of providing Syria with the more advanced S-300 air-defense system.

Earlier this year, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement that prevented those advanced defensive weapons from being employed in the Syrian theater. That deal is now in serious jeopardy. In addition to other defensive measures, Russia could effectively create the conditions for a veritable no-fly zone across Western Syria in that it would simply become too risky for foreign aircraft to venture into the zone.

The entire situation, which certainly did not go off as planned, has forced Israel into damage control as they attempt to prevent their Russian counterparts from effectively shutting down Syria’s western border.

On Thursday, Israeli Major-General Amikam Norkin and Brigadier General Erez Maisel, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force will pay an official visit to Moscow where they are expected to repeat their concerns of “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”

Moscow will certainly be asking their Israeli partners if it is justifiable to subject Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger, up to and including death, in order to defend Israeli interests. It remains to be seen if the two sides can find, through the fog of war, an honest method for bringing an end to the Syria conflict, which would go far at relieving Israel’s concerns of Iranian influence in the region.

 

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This Man’s Incredible Story Proves Why Due Process Matters In The Kavanaugh Case

Accused of rape by a fellow student, Brian Banks accepted a plea deal and went to prison on his 18th birthday. Years later he was exonerated.

The Duran

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Authored by James Miller of The Political Insider:


Somewhere between the creation of the Magna Carta and now, leftists have forgotten why due process matters; and in some cases, such as that of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, they choose to outright ignore the judicial and civil rights put in place by the U.S. Constitution.

In this age of social media justice mobs, the accused are often convicted in the court of (liberal) public opinion long before any substantial evidence emerges to warrant an investigation or trial. This is certainly true for Kavanaugh. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, cannot recall the date of the alleged assault and has no supporting witnesses, yet law professors are ready to ruin his entire life and career. Not because they genuinely believe he’s guilty, but because he’s a pro-life Trump nominee for the Supreme Court.

It goes without saying: to “sink Kavanaugh even if” Ford’s allegation is untrue is unethical, unconstitutional, and undemocratic. He has a right to due process, and before liberals sharpen their pitchforks any further they would do well to remember what happened to Brian Banks.

In the summer of 2002, Banks was a highly recruited 16-year-old linebacker at Polytechnic High School in California with plans to play football on a full scholarship to the University of Southern California. However, those plans were destroyed when Banks’s classmate, Wanetta Gibson, claimed that Banks had dragged her into a stairway at their high school and raped her.

Gibson’s claim was false, but it was Banks’s word against hers. Banks had two options: go to trial and risk spending 41 years-to-life in prison, or take a plea deal that included five years in prison, five years probation, and registering as a sex offender. Banks accepted the plea deal under the counsel of his lawyer, who told him that he stood no chance at trial because the all-white jury would “automatically assume” he was guilty because he was a “big, black teenager.”

Gibson and her mother subsequently sued the Long Beach Unified School District and won a $1.5 million settlement. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later, long after Banks’s promising football career had already been tanked, that Gibson admitted she’d fabricated the entire story.

Following Gibson’s confession, Banks was exonerated with the help of the California Innocence Project. Hopeful to get his life back on track, he played for Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League in 2012 and signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. But while Banks finally received justice, he will never get back the years or the prospective pro football career that Gibson selfishly stole from him.

Banks’ story is timely, and it serves as a powerful warning to anyone too eager to condemn those accused of sexual assault. In fact, a film about Banks’s ordeal, Brian Banks, is set to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival next week.

Perhaps all the #MeToo Hollywood elites and their liberal friends should attend the screening – and keep Kavanaugh in their minds as they watch.

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