One of the reasons cited about why the Syrian army allegedly used Sarin in August 2013 in the eastern Ghouta area near Damascus was the baseless claim that the rebels were on the verge of victory and Sarin was the only way to stop them. This claim is not based on facts but wishful thinking with a clearly pro-rebel bias.
None of the reporters covering news of that battle front in the time of the attacks seriously claimed the rebels were close to any serious military breakthrough. On the contrary, the consensus was that the Syrian army had the upper hand.
This along with the fact that it was the Syrian government that had invited the chemical weapons instructors makes it highly unlikely that the Syrian army would resort to a single and relatively small scale chemical weapons attack in the very moment of the presence of international experts.
Now, let´s take a look at the allegations of the use of chlorine as a weapon by the Syrian army.
Even taking the claims of rebels in Idlib at face value, the question remains what military purpose single barrel bombs – allegedly filled with chlorine – are supposed to achieve. Does the Syrian army get a military edge, a clear battlefield advantage, by dropping a couple of such bombs on isolated targets? The chlorine attacks – if they really occured – have killed very few people and among those even fewer rebel fighters, so why should the Syrian army use a weapon which is media-politically a great own goal and military totally useless?
Thus there is valid reason for scepticism regarding chlorine attack accusations.
Below are some good articles focusing on such accusations and more or less refuting them:
„According to its report, in May 2014, an OPCW team tried to investigate at the site of alleged chlorine gas attacks. The Syrian government gave the OPCW team passage to the rebel controlled area but the convoy was attacked by a rebel faction. None of the team members was injured but that stopped their on-site investigation. Instead, the OPCW worked with the well-funded opposition-supporting Violations Documentation Center to arrange interviews with numerous people from three villages. The interviews were conducted outside Syria, probably in Turkey. They gathered photographs, videos and other evidence and expressed “high confidence that chlorine had been used as a weapon in Syria” in three villages. They did not ascribe responsibility…The interviews with villagers were done with OPCW “working closely” with the partisan “Violations Documentation Center.” How did OPCW verify the integrity of the witnesses?“
This is a very good question. The VDC is 100% pro-rebel and totally biased. For instance, the VDC reports on the casualties of the Syrian war. Apart from the fact that it calls all non-government casualties „martyrs“ while calling government casualties „regime fatalities“, the organization makes the doubtful claim that adult-males make up 73% of civilian casualties:
This makes no sense as there is no reason why the portion of adult men among civilian casualties should be so high.
This proves that the VDC is no neutral source and all but reliable.
This article examines (and exposes) the main sources:
“ Syria Civil Defence was funded and created by UK and USA. Initial training was provided in Turkey by former British military officer and current contractor based in Dubai. In the past year Syria Civil Defence has been rebranded as “White Helmets” by “The Syria Campaign” which itself is the creation of corporate PR firm. Syrian Civil Defence (aka White Helmets) is heavily into social media and actively campaigning for a No Fly Zone.“
Next, the article analyzes some of the „evidence“:
„Video of the three dead children is tragic but it’s questionable how they actually died. Scenes from the medical clinic indicate illness but not the cause. Scenes showing the “proof” of a “barrel bomb” containing “chlorine cylinders” is highly dubious. Some of the scenes are almost comical with one person in full hazmat gear, another with mask and another casually with hands in pocket and no mask at all. Then we have someone talking to camera with a bulldozer and some scrap metal on the ground. Then there is the figure holding what they report as a container with a “red liquid”“
Finally, it proves that the Al Nusra front has access to chlorine since 2012:
„the major chlorine gas producing factory in northern Syria was over-run and seized by Nusra rebels/terrorists in late 2012…The factory owner reported there were about 400 steel cylinders of chlorine gas, one Ton each, captured by Nusra/Al Qaeda along with the factory.“
3. The well-known bipartisan blogger „AngryArab“ cites a western middle east journalist rightfully casting doubt on the chlorine use allegations:
4. This article analyzes the „evidence“ from the only alleged chlorine gas attack that resulted in more than one death, the attack from March 16th, 2015:
The summary of the articles findings includes the following: „Clinical signs point away from chlorine, and from aerial delivery and towards a locally-administered drug overdose.“
The article is worthy of reading in full as it shakes the foundation of the accusations and refutes the so called evidence.
In conclusion I would like to quote the second of the four sources above with the most important question: cui bono?
„the Syrian government has nothing to gain and everything to lose by using chlorine gas. Especially after the UN Security Council made a specific resolution regarding use of this industrial gas, why would they arouse world ire and hostility against themselves by using this weapon? Why would they do that when they have conventional explosive weapons which are more deadly? On the other hand, the ones to benefit from such an accusation against the Assad government are the armed opposition and other proponents of a No Fly Zone in northern Syria.“
Further, with regards to Human Rights Watch´s (HRW) war mongering, I recommend these articles: