What US Officials Fail to Mention When Blaming Assad for Idlib Chemical Attack

© REUTERS / Ammar AbdullahCivil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017
Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Toxic chemicals, which claimed dozens of lives in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun, were previously used by radical armed groups against the Kurds in Aleppo, Chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council Rezan Hiddo told Sputnik Turkey. Nevertheless, Washington and its allies have blamed Assad for the attack.

"According to the data available to us, chemical weapons, which were dispersed in the settlement of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province, were used twice in Sheikh Maqsood, a neighborhood in Aleppo. Several jihadist groups, including Jaysh al-Islam and Daesh, have these armaments in their arsenal," he said.

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Jaysh al-Islam is a group that is trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and establish a caliphate in Syria. The organization has coordinated its activities with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Russia, Syria, Iran and Egypt have added the group to the list of terrorist organizations. Moscow has made every effort to convince the UN Security Council to designate Jaysh al-Islam as terrorists, but the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Ukraine pulled the plug on this initiative.

Rezan Hiddo further suggested that the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun was meant to ruin the fragile nationwide ceasefire regime, brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran. He also recalled that Daesh used this particular toxic substance in an attack on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the settlements of Ummu Hoş and Ummu Herbil located in the Shehba area eight months ago.

"At that time, a team of experts from Russia arrived at the scene to carry out an investigation. The probe showed that the chemical weapons were used by Daesh," he said.

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The Pentagon has closely cooperated with the SDF, who are Washington's primary ally on the ground in Syria in its efforts to tackle Daesh.

The attack in Khan Shaykhun took place on Tuesday, with the United States and its allies swiftly blaming President Bashar al-Assad for using banned substances against civilians although no proof was provided to support these claims. Moreover, President Donald Trump authorized a massive airstrike on the Shayrat air base located in the Homs province, saying that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) used the facility to ostensibly store chemical weapons and launch the attack in Khan Shaykhun.

Trump described what happened on April 4 as "a horrible" chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. "Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack," he said.

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US Secretary of State described the attack in Khan Shaykhun as a "heinous act" committed by Bashar al-Assad, while US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Damascus "murdered innocent men, women and children in the most gruesome way."

Syrian leadership and the SAA command denied these allegations. High-ranking Russian officials and diplomats have pointed out that Damascus could not have used chemical weapons since it destroyed its entire stockpile of these armaments following a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington in 2013. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) supervised this process, receiving the Nobel peace Prize for its efforts.

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