Report: U.S. Officials Downplay New Syrian Chemical Strike Allegations

None

Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 20, 2014, 7:06 a.m.

Al­leg­a­tions of a new chem­ic­al at­tack in Syr­ia’s civil war ap­pear to have gained little at­ten­tion in Wash­ing­ton, the Daily Beast re­ports.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from the rebel-held city of Daraya are de­mand­ing a U.N. in­quiry in­to the pur­por­ted Jan. 13 strike, the pub­lic­a­tion said on Thursday. However, loc­al lead­er Ous­sama al-Chourbaji said U.S. State De­part­ment of­fi­cials “didn’t seem to care that much” when they heard last week from a del­eg­a­tion of wit­nesses vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton.

The pro-op­pos­i­tion Syr­i­an Sup­port Group ac­cused forces loy­al to Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad of killing four rebel com­batants with a gren­ade-like device loaded with an uniden­ti­fied gas. The sub­stance is said to have caused a range of ail­ments par­tially al­le­vi­ated by a sar­in nerve agent an­ti­dote.

Dan Lay­man, a spokes­man for the U.S.-based group, said “all of those who were af­fected or killed had the ex­act same symp­toms” as vic­tims of an Aug. 21 sar­in strike in a rebel-oc­cu­pied area close to Dam­as­cus. As­sad’s re­gime nev­er claimed re­spons­ib­il­ity for the 2013 at­tack, but later con­firmed hold­ing chem­ic­al weapons and agreed to sur­render them amid warn­ings of a po­ten­tial U.S. mil­it­ary re­sponse.

Al-Chourbaji, a spokes­man for the Daraya loc­al coun­cil’s med­ic­al branch, said an in­di­vidu­al claim­ing to be from the U.S. State De­part­ment had asked his mu­ni­cip­al body to trans­fer samples from the in­cid­ent to neigh­bor­ing Jordan for ana­lys­is. The coun­cil mem­ber said that re­quest came shortly after the Jan. 13 event, but the Daily Beast re­por­ted that ma­ter­i­als col­lec­ted from the pos­sible at­tack had yet to leave the city as of Thursday.

Al-Chourbaji ad­ded that State De­part­ment of­fi­cials dir­ec­ted the wit­nesses vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton last week to take pho­to­graphs as they col­lect chem­ic­al traces from any fu­ture in­cid­ents.

“They said, ‘If they strike you again with chem­ic­al weapons, take pic­tures and tell us,’” he said. “They just ad­vised us to take pic­tures [to doc­u­ment the tak­ing of the samples] as if we were in a CSI epis­ode. People are dy­ing [and] we are mak­ing a movie.”

What We're Following See More »
CYBER THREATS INCREASING
Clapper: ISIS Will Try to Attack U.S. This Year
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

“Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional panel today. Clapper added that “al-Qaida, from which the Islamic State spun off, remains an enemy and the U.S. will continue to see cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea, which also is ramping up its nuclear program.”

Source:
CLYBURN WEIGHING HIS OWN NOD
CBC PAC to Endorse Clinton This Morning
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC will formally endorse Hillary Clinton this morning, and “nearly a dozen CBC colleagues will descend on” South Carolina next week in advance of that state’s important primary. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the highest ranking black member of Congress, reversed his earlier position of neutrality, saying he’ll make a decision “later in the week.”

Source:
MORE TENSIONS ON KOREAN PENINSULA
Senate Votes 96-0 to Sanction North Korea
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a unanimous vote Wednesday night, the Senate echoed the House’s move last month to stiffen sanctions against North Korea. The bill “would sanction anyone who engages in, facilitates or contributes to North Korea’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms-related materials, luxury goods, human rights abuses, activities undermining cyber security and the provision of materials for such activities.” Senate Democrats said they expect the president to sign the bill. In related news, after South Korea suspended operations at a jointly run power station in the North, Pyongyang declared the area a military zone and cut off a hotline between the two countries.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Large Is Hillary Clinton’s Delegate Lead?
2 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Three hundred fifty-two, thanks to superdelegates pledged to Clinton, and the vagaries of the delegate allocation process in early states. Not bad, considering her results have been a virtual tie and a blowout loss.

Source:
×