Sunday, January 20, 2013

White House rejects U.S. embassy report on Syrian poison gas attack

WASHINGTON (World Tribune) — The administration of President Barack Obama has rebuffed reports by U.S. diplomats on the use of poison gas by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A cable from the U.S. consulate in Turkey asserted that chemical weapons might have been used in a Syrian military attack on Homs on Dec. 23, 2012.

“The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian chemical weapons program,” the White House said.

The Jan. 15 statement by the administration came in wake of the release of a State Department cable that reported a Syrian poison gas attack in Homs. The report, disclosed by the U.S. news outlet The Cable, was sent by the U.S. consulate in Istanbul and confirmed in an investigation.

A secret State Department cable has concluded that the Syrian military likely used chemical weapons against its own people in a deadly attack last month, The Cable has learned,” The Cable said. “United States diplomats in Turkey conducted a previously undisclosed, intensive investigation into claims that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, and made what an Obama administration official who reviewed the cable called a ‘compelling case’ that Assad’s military forces had used a deadly form of poison gas.

Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to the report of the U.S. consulate cable. Officials did not rule out the prospect of the firing some CW weapons.

In December, the administration said Assad was believed to have been preparing a CW attack. Obama warned that this could spark U.S. military intervention.

But weeks later the White House appeared to reverse its position as well as the assessment of the danger of a Syrian CW strike. The Pentagon determined that the United States could not prevent or respond militarily to such an attack.

“We’re not working on options that involve boots on the ground,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Jan. 10.

The administration’s reversal has angered the Syrian opposition, which includes lobbyists in Washington. They said the U.S. dismissal of its own diplomats regarding a CW attack would only encourage Assad to expand such methods.

“With this kind of response from Obama, Panetta, and [Secretary of State-designate John] Kerry, gas attacks in Syria will become routine,” Farid Ghadry, a leading Syrian lobbyist, said.
But then again, leave them alone so they can kill each other in peace.