Over the weekend, the United States led a coordinated attack—along with French and British forces—on the sovereign country of Syria. The attack consisted of hundreds of missiles which were recorded hitting civilian targets and also reportedly struck a cancer research facility. And now, we are learning that all of it was based on an alleged use of sarin gas for which they had no evidence.
According to a report from CNN today, US intelligence agencies have admitted that they were not certain the Assad regime had used the nerve agent sarin against civilians—but launched the massive attack anyway.
Officials merely claimed that they were confident Assad did use chemical weapons and that was enough for the attack.
According to CNN, the lack of complete information played a role in deciding not to strike a larger set of targets including airfields, aircraftand helicopters, one defense official said. Others factors, like Russian positioning, also played a role in the decisions.
After the strikes Friday night, the French and British governments also released the supposed evidence they had to justify the act of war carried out by allied nations in Syria. The reports admitted to not having any actual intelligence and the "evidence" was based on "open source" information widely available on the internet.
On Tuesday, it was also reported that Secretary of Defense James Mattis attempted to take the constitutional approach to war by seeking Congressional approval before the strike, but he was overruled because that would take too much time, not allow for an actual investigation, and allow for time to the US to be proven wrong about their claims.
As the NY Times reported, Mattis urged President Trump to get congressional approval before the United States launched airstrikes against Syria last week, but was overruled by Mr. Trump, who wanted a rapid and dramatic response, military and administration officials said.
Instead of investigating the alleged attack or following the constitution, the US government engaged in an act of war against a sovereign country—and they did so based entirely on a hunch.
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As CNN notes, the reality was that prior to the US strike, full confirmation could not be made of whether Syria had used sarin in its attack.
"It's a hard, long process, especially in an attack like this without physical access to victims, site. Therefore we had to work with closest allies quickly to ensure we had confidence in the intelligence picture, enabling policymakers to choose best course of action," an intelligence official told CNN.
The Trump administration determined a "standard of evidence had been met," the official said.
What's more, western journalists, who are actually on the ground investigating the attack, have reported that no such chemical strike happened and the widely circulated video was something entirely different.
As TFTP reported, critically acclaimed war reporter Robert Fisk published a stunning account of the alleged chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7, which included testimony from a doctor who works at the hospital featured in the widely circulated video purported to be the aftermath of a Syrian government chemical strike.
In an exclusive first-hand report for the Independent, Fisk, who has twice won the British Press Awards' Journalist of the Year prize and is a seven-time winner of the British Press Awards' Foreign Correspondent of the Year, reported:
This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks–and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world– despite all the doubters–is perfectly genuine.
War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.
Additionally, a report from Douma, Syria, by One America’s Pearson Sharp, confirmed Fisk’s reporting, noting that residents there deny an attack happened and instead claim it was staged by rebel forces in an effort to precipitate a response from western forces.