Syrian War Crimes, American Retaliation :: By Matt Ward

Early last week, Bashir al-Assad, President of Syria, committed fresh war crimes against his own people. With a death toll now approaching 100 and with several hundred more seriously injured, the casualty rate is sure to rise even further due to the woefully inadequate medical facilities tasked with managing this incident.

Particularly shocking is the high number of children killed or injured in this atrocity. Many are so young they are still wearing diapers, with many babies killed while sleeping in their cots or beds. All display the tell-tale signs of death by chemical nerve agents.

Local hospitals have been completely overwhelmed by these attacks. Indeed, one local hospital was bombed as it was attempting to deal with the huge influx of casualties from the initial chemical attack, a further war crime for which Assad must be held accountable for sometime in the future account .

Doctors Without Borders, one of the first international aid agencies on the scene, reported that initial examinations indicated at least two different chemical agents were used in the deadly Khan Sheikhoun incident. As well as chlorine gas, another more deadly chemical agent has also been found, believed at this point to be sarin.

One eye witness, speaking to a reporter for London’s Independent newspaper relayed that, “There were people shivering all around, suffocating, they had froth from the mouth.”

Many of these people display the telltale signs of death by sarin gas. Sarin is a colorless and odorless nerve agent which causes convulsions, suffocation, vomiting, dilated pupils, coughing blood and foaming at the mouth if inhaled, and is deadly in highly concentrated enough volumes or after prolonged exposure. Many of the casualties had just such symptoms.

Horrifyingly, there is even footage, terrible to behold, of young children caught in the agonizing midst of these convulsions, all of which are now widely available on the Internet. Much of this footage has already been independently verified as genuine. They depict the death throes of little children, and they are haunting. They are barbaric and vicious.

Medical teams have also reported the smell of bleach at a couple of the hospitals used to treat casualties from this attack, suggesting chlorine gas exposure.

This is the worst single example of chemical weapons use since the beginning of the Syria Civil War in 2011, and has led to a fever pitch of condemnation against Syria, the Assad regime and Russia more generally. Russia is now forced into the humiliating and morally defunct position of making up abject lies in order to cover for the horrendous and dreadful atrocities of their Syrian proxy, Assad.

According to the Russians, these fatalities are the result of a Sunni weapons dump that was bombed by the Syrian regime. A laughable excuse if the consequences were not, nor the potential future ramifications, so deadly serious.

The United Nations themselves quickly concluded that the weapons used in this attack match those contained in the stockpiles of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, Equally, French investigators have concluded that the attack, “could not have been ordered and carried out by anyone but the Syrian government.” [1]

If this attack was the work of Bashir al-Assad’s regime, and all credible initial reports suggest that it was, then this would mark an escalation on the part of Assad.

Up to this point the use of chlorine gas, much to the shame of the international community has been a relatively frequent occurrence within Syria. There are regular reports of its use on the Syrian battlefield. However, chlorine gas is usually used as a weapon of terror, not of death.

This attack, however, is different. Whoever launched these strikes, and the only air force capable of doing so in Syria at this point is the Syria Air Force, meant for these people to die. It wasn’t a show of force or intended as an instrument of terror; it was a deliberate calculated intention to cause mass murder.

More than any single event of recent times in the Syrian conflict does this episode demonstrate the totally discredited and utterly weak policies of the previous U.S. administration, previously “led” by Barack Obama.

It was not all that long ago, at the end of 2014, that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shook hands before the world’s adoring press to celebrate the effective “liquidation” of Assad’s chemical stock piles.

This despite the fact that just months previously it had been reported by the OPCW, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, that Assad had not destroyed all of his weapons, nor his weapons making facilities. [2]

Indeed, on May 3rd of that same year, the US military even reported how Assad had refused to hand over 27 tonnes of Sarin precursor chemicals. [4]

It was all an absurd pretence intended to create an appearance of success for Obama and his administration—all lies; which leads us to 2017, and the town of Khan Sheikhoun. This is the location of the latest example of Syrian government atrocities. It surely will not be the last. If the Syrian civil war has demonstrated anything, it is this: Assad feels he is able to use chemical weapons with almost complete impunity at this point, and that the West can no longer hold Russia to account for its actions. (All to the West’s shame.)

Once again, as in times past the diplomats of the world retreat to the safety of the United Nations Security Council so that they can discuss, condemn, threaten and cajole. All of it is pure hyperbole; exaggerated statements and claims that absolutely nobody takes literally, or seriously.

Yet despite this, there are indications that the current U.S. administration might be prepared to go this one alone. Unlike Barack Obama’s infamous “red lines” for Syria, which were crisscrossed with impunity, President Donald Trump is likely to keep and act upon his own points of no return.

Assad is proving once again that the growing empowerment he now feels as a result of Russian support is emboldening him. Assad obviously sees no reason at all to make concessions to weakened opposition forces. His aim clearly is too crush them.

Describing the chemical attacks as “heinous,” Trump went onto explain how the attack had, “crossed a lot of lines for me,” and that it could not be tolerated. Although Trump was not specific about future U.S. strategy, the implications were clear.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump explained how the attack had affected him profoundly:

Yesterday’s chemical attack, and a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter. [4]

Ominously, when referring to the former Obama Administration’s failed policy related to Syrian chemical weapons, Trump responded, “It is now my responsibility.” He continued that this attack had, “…crossed many, many lines.”

Vice President Mike Pence added that, “all options are on the table,” when it comes to the U.S. government’s response to Syria and Bashir al-Assad. [5]

U.S .Ambassador Nikki Haley went even further warning the UN Security Council emergency meeting that countries could be “compelled to act individually if the world body does not take collective action after a deadly poison gas attack in Syria.” [6]

Yet the pertinent question at this point, strangely, is not really about how the West will react to this atrocity. Clearly, at this point something is going to happen.

Indeed, as I am writing this now, news reports are emerging of the beginnings of a large U.S. bombardment of Syrian military facilities by the United States. It would seem, according to initial reports that fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles have been fired from two warships – the USS Porter and USS Ross – both stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. The target seems to be the government controlled Shayrat airfield near the city of Homs.

President Trump has just stated that this strike targeted the airbase from where the initial chemical attack was launched early last week.

Syrian state TV described the attacks as “American aggression.” Ominously, and suggesting there was little mutual agreement over this strike, Russia described this retaliation as one that further “damages U.S.-Russia ties.”

The pertinent question right now is what exactly will Assad do in response to this Western action, and in view of Russia’s response to this U.S. retaliation, will Vladimir Putin respond? It is clear that Assad has felt increasingly emboldened and even secure in Syria. [7]

This may be a signal that this sense of security is coming to an end.

If the United States embarks on further military action against Syria in the next few hours or days, the responses of both Assad and Russia are absolutely critical.

If Russia feels that the U.S. has over stepped the mark with this action what response would Russia sanction on the part of Assad as a form of reply? Or if Assad feels betrayed or abandoned by his Russian protectors, what might he do in response?

Might he decide to attempt to use his own “nuclear option,” if he feels so threatened? Might he attempt to unite the Arab Muslim world behind him by attacking Israel? Desperate men will resort to desperate measures, and President Bashar al-Assad may soon, in the light of U.S. retaliation, become an increasingly desperate man.
The world has reached an absolutely critical point in this long and ongoing Syrian civil war.

There is now a genuine danger of it spilling over the country’s borders. If cornered by the United States, a surprise attack against Israel, in a desperate attempt to distract attention away from his internal troubles, would effectively transform Assad into a hero across the Arab world, and at a stroke unite many of those Arab nations squarely behind him.

The great fear at this moment is that Assad, if he feels threatened, may try to inflame tensions between the Arab states and Israel by firing his arsenal of Scud-C missiles, each one tipped with chemical weaponry—at Israeli cities such as Haifa or Tel Aviv.

Any attack on Israel would inevitably wreak destruction across the region. Within the context of the ongoing Syrian civil war, and as the situation on the ground continues to develop, in the days and weeks ahead, it is not unrealistic to think that we could very well be on the brink of a huge lurch forward in Bible prophecy.

Though the exact timing of prophecies like Isaiah’s “burden of Damascus” (Isaiah 17:1), and Ezekiel’s war of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38 and 39), are openly and heavily speculated on by Bible prophecy watchers, it is becoming increasingly clear that events occurring right now in the Middle East are setting the scene for their ultimate fulfillment.

The Middle East is looking increasingly like a powder-keg. It looks to me like this powder-keg may soon start to go off.

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).




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