This Monday the Washington Post published a report, in their “national security” section, in which their “sources” claimed Israel had struck Syrian chemical weapons facilities, near the city of Homs. But instead of reading like a convincing piece of propaganda, the piece contradicts itself so many times that it leaves you wondering how it was even published.
Long has it been an open secret that the “intelligence” and “official sources” of the corporate news media have been full of false information and feeding them fake stories in order to serve a political agenda. This Monday, it seems just that has happened (once again) to the Washington Post. From the piece itself, called “Israeli airstrikes in Syria targeted chemical weapons facilities, officials say”, you get the sense that even the writers didn’t believe what they were paid to publish.
The report claims that “two Western officials” told them that a June 8th Israeli airstrike on Syria, which killed 7 Syrian soldiers, was actually carried out by the Israeli Air Force with an intent to destroy Syrian facilities seeking to produce chemical weapons.
The report states:
“According to current and former intelligence and security officials briefed on the matter, the June 8 strike was part of a campaign to stop what Israeli officials believe was a nascent attempt by Syria to restart its production of deadly nerve agents.”
It also notes, without naming any specific strikes, that Israel had also allegedly attacked sites in 2020 which it believed were being used to produce nerve agents such as Sarin Gas. Despite Syria having eliminated its chemical weapons stockpile in 2013 — as overseen by the OPCW — opposition groups managed to get their hands on the agents. The Syrian government has also been accused of using chemical weapons against its own people.
However, there has never been any concrete evidence to confirm any such Syrian government chemical weapons attacks, despite the fact that the Trump administration used that excuse to strike the country, twice.
On the claims of Israel having attacked chemical weapons facilities, Israel has refused to confirm nor deny the allegations, as is its policy when it comes to commenting on the hundreds of unprovoked strikes against Syria that it has committed since 2011. Regardless of whether there is anything solid to back up the sources of the Washington Post, the Israeli media publish stories like this simply to bolster the image of the military.
So what weight does the report have?
To begin with, we have the sources of the Washington Post. Who are the sources? Well, those cited are named as “two Western officials” and the other “intelligence officials” and so-called reputable sources quoted or referenced in the article are all unnamed. Additionally, we don’t even know what country these “Western officials” come from, which makes the story even less credible.
So on the question of sources, we just have to take their word for it. But such a report can’t be discarded on this basis alone, so let’s go further.
The claims made in the report about secret chemical weapons production sites have no evidence presented for them whatsoever. The piece argues that due to Syria allegedly purchasing the chemical known as tricalcium phosphate — most commonly used as an additive in food products — there is reason to believe that this compound is being used for producing Weapons of Mass Destruction. The source who informed them of the chemical’s purchase by the Syrian government is not named.
What’s more, the following paragraph is actually injected into the piece, after having made the case that the chemical is being used for something other than food:
“Weapons experts note that allegations about secret biological and chemical programs often turn out to be inaccurate, as U.S. intelligence agencies discovered after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Syria’s efforts to obtain the dual-use chemical TCP [tricalcium phosphate] is not, on its own, a smoking gun, observed Greg Koblentz, an associate professor and biodefense expert at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.”
The above quoted paragraph tells you a lot about what the two authors of this article clearly feel. They understand well that the information they are presenting is in no way solid evidence, and instead speculation. To give them some credit, it is a good thing that they added this into the article. However, without any solid evidence to back it up, the piece is worthless and only works to feed anti-Syrian government propaganda.
Then we have the sites which are said to be indicative of a very different type of Israeli attack on Syria, something which separates the June 8th attack from the others. The strikes were said to have targeted areas, according to the report, which were in close proximity to old Syrian chemical weapons production sites, and this was therefore an indication of what they were going after.
In reality, at the time of the strike, Syrian opposition media had claimed that a Hezbollah weapons transfer site was targeted, as well as “Iran backed forces”. The most destructive strikes hit near Homs City, close to the village of Khirbet al-Tin, where a site for Syria’s air-defense is based. This explains why Syrian soldiers were killed, especially so late at night, because Israel had again targeted Syria’s air defense systems.
If we were to believe that Israel was going after secret Syrian chemical weapons production factories, are we also supposed to be naive enough to believe that Syria would begin making those weapons in the most obvious places possible? The very locations targeted in the past? Also, since Iran and its allied militias are able to transport sophisticated weapons into Syria, why couldn’t they smuggle in such weapons and chemicals if need be and work on them in deserted locations?
The report is clearly written either in bad faith or by individuals who do not know much about Israel’s airstrikes against Syria. Much more significant strikes have been launched in the past — this year itself in fact. Yet the article presents the argument to readers that this strike was somehow special in nature. Israeli fighter jets used Lebanese airspace, which is common, to launch missiles at a number of targets in Syria, which is also common. The death toll, however, which was higher than usual, consisted of Syrian soldiers working at an air defense site.
So the story by the Washington Post offers unnamed sources, from unnamed countries, which supposedly told them that they believed one of the many Israeli strikes on Syria targeted WMD factories that no one serious will confirm exists. In fact, they add in an entire paragraph in order to protect themselves from looking stupid. The “evidence” that they have to go on consists of a common food additive, which they can’t confirm was purchased, being used in what would be the most obvious sites to relaunch a chemical weapons program. All that this story needs, as a cherry on top, is an unnamed source claiming that flying pigs are being used as the delivery mechanism for the coming sarin gas attack.
Another claim that needs to be debunked is that Syrian chemical weapons threaten Israel, as mentioned in the article. This is quite ignorant of the facts, as is the claim that the likes of Iran would use a nuclear weapon against Israel. Using chemical weapons anywhere in Israel would kill Palestinians and/or Syrians, it would instantly trigger a NATO invasion and Syria doesn’t even respond to Israeli airstrikes against it right now. The argument that the Syrian government would use such a weapon against Israel is utterly ridiculous.
Yet again, it seems that mainstream Western media has outdone itself in the realm of science-fiction, if this article was intended to impress fans of fictional doomsday writing. However, if the Washington Post was attempting to do effective propaganda, it better stick to Iran, because on Syria the quality of pro-war and pro-sanctions reporting is utterly dreadful and unconvincing.