Patrick Cockburn writes:
Pictures showing that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel-held eld Eastern Ghouta just east of Damascus are graphic and moving. But they are likely to be viewed sceptically because the claims so much resemble those made about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003…
…Like the Iraqi opposition to Saddam, who provided most of the evidence of WMDs, the Syrian opposition has every incentive to show the Syrian government deploying chemical weapons in order to trigger foreign intervention. Although the US has gone cold on armed involvement in Syria, President Obama did say a year ago that President Bashar al-Assad’s use of such weapons was “a red line”. The implication is that the US would respond militarily, though just how has never been spelt out.
But the obvious fact that for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons would be much against their own interests does not prove it did not happen. Governments and armies do stupid things. But it is difficult to imagine any compelling reason why they should do so.
The evidence of chemical attack seems compelling – but remember – there’s a propaganda war on (Patrick Cockburn, The Independent UK)