Berlin (GPA) – Pulitzer prize winner Seymour Hersh – the journalist who’s exposed US crimes from My Lai to Abu Ghraib – says Trump carried out Tomahawk strike on Syria despite US intelligence saying Assad didn’t use chemical weapons.
German newspaper Die Welt has published an explosive story today in which renowned journalist Seymour Hersh claims US President Donald Trump ordered his highly praised retaliatory cruise missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase despite US intelligence reporting that the Syrian military didn’t use chemical weapons in the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Hersh told Welt that he had been in contact with sources inside US intelligence operating in Syria that informed him that they had contacted Washington with reports that the Syrian military wasn’t behind an alleged chemical weapons attack on April 4th of this year. These reports were apparently ignored by Trump; who instead informed his decision to launch 59 cruise missiles from the Mediterranean based on reports by the US imperialist media.
Hersh claims that starting from the beginning, the Syrian government was open about their operations in Idlib that day – even broadcasting details of the bombing run on Khan Sheikhoun in English through the deconfliction channels established by the US and Russia. This seems possible since the targets of the bombing were several mid level members of Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the al-Qaeda affiliate, Jahbat al-Nusra), should have been agreeable to all sides. There is little doubt this area was controlled by Tahrir al-Sham at the time since all the evidence of the use of sarin gas came from the “humanitarians” in the White Helmets – a group with known ties to the jihadist group.
According to Hersh, his sources say the Tahrir al-Sham commanders’ meeting place that was the target of the Syrian airstrike was a small building with a basement that was used as a munitions stockpile as well as storage for industrial chemicals/weapons components such as chlorine and fertilizer. It’s also being reported that the Syrian air force shared this intelligence with their Russian allies; who supplied a precision guided bomb for the strike and claim they also informed US personnel of this decision.
The Russian-supplied 500 pound bomb used for the strike is said to have generated immense heat which caused secondary explosions of the aforementioned chemicals. This is consistent with the preliminary explanation offered by Russia that the toxic gas in the area was an unintended consequence of the operation.
Claims that the videos coming out of Khan Sheikhoun showed victims displaying symptoms of exposure to sarin gas have yet to be verified by any unbiased body. As stated above, the only evidence provided came from the White Helmets and a doctor in the area who had previously been detained on charges of terrorism.
The claim that sarin was used hasn’t been confirmed despite Hersh’s sources saying it would be “very easy” to confirm “because it penetrates paint,” and all the sources in the area would have had to do is “get a paint sample.”
The timing of the attack immediately came under scrutiny by everyone who knows better than to take the word of western media at face value. A major factor that aroused suspicion was the Trump administration’s announced that removing Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad was no longer a US priority; just a day before the incident in Khan Sheikhoun. This obviously would have caused groups like Tahrir al-Sham concern that their association with US backed rebels like the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was no longer enough to guarantee their seeming immunity to US strikes.
The Syrian government would obviously have no reason to use a weapon like sarin; knowing it would only cause international outrage similar to the last time similar accusations were leveled against Assad in 2013. On the other hand, it’s not hard to imagine notoriously brutal terror organizations like Tahrir al-Sham would resort to atrocious methods like poisoning civilians if they felt they were on borrowed time.
While it is fair to be somewhat skeptical of Seymour Hersh due to the fact that he only presented unnamed sources, he should at least be heard out based on his 50+ year history of exposing US war crimes. While we can’t currently confirm Hersh’s claims as 100% accurate, he does provide a plausible breakdown of the events in April that stay true to the explanation put forward by Syria and Russia; two countries that Hersh would have no clear reason to lie for.