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30 Aug, 2013 21:15

US intel assessment based on ‘terrorist lies’ and ‘media hype’ – Syrian Foreign Ministry

US intel assessment based on ‘terrorist lies’ and ‘media hype’ – Syrian Foreign Ministry

The intelligence assessment the US administration presented as evidence that the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons on its own people is baseless and based on “terrorist lies” and “media exaggeration,” Syrian foreign ministry sources say.

A source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told Sana, Syria’s state-owned news agency, that any American military action in Syria would only serve the political interests of the United States, despite pledges from US lawmakers that the action is meant to curb the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

In a statement released in tandem with remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, the US government says they assess “with high confidence” that the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad in particular were responsible for killing hundreds of people in a chemical weapons attack last week.

The source at the Syrian ministry, in response to Kerry’s accusation said that the US intelligence assessment is based on fabrication and lies and unverified social media stories that were published by “terrorists” over a week ago.

“The Syrian government affirms that Kerry’s allegations that the Syrian Army knew about chemical weapons use three days prior to the incident are lies,” the source told Sana, “as proven by the fact that Syria requested the investigation committee to visit al-Bahaia area where Syrian Army soldiers were exposed to toxic gas, and the committee met the affected soldiers in the area.”

The ministry source accused the US of failure to provide “one piece of true and logical evidence” that the government was behind the attack, saying that instead Washington relies on “fabricated images from the internet, and the alleged call made by a Syrian officer after the alleged attack is too ridiculous to be discussed.”

Syria maintains that it never hindered the UN investigation committee from doing their work on the ground. The source emphasized that the Syrian government did not delay the expert’s access to the alleged attack site.

“The UN itself said time and again that the traces of using any form of toxic gas do not dissipate over time, and the proof of this is that the UN sent the investigation committee 5 months after the Syrian government requested an investigation of Khan al-Assal incident,”
Sana reports. 

A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons strike near the capital (AFP Photo / Ammar Al-Arbini)

The Ministry also alleged that Washington pushed for a limited mandate of the UN investigating team to be able to interpret the results of the probe as they pleased.
“Regarding Kerry's hints which he made to bypass the Security Council under the pretext that the investigation committee isn't responsible for determining who used chemical weapons and that it's task is only to verify that such weapons were used or not, the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry would like to affirm that the committee's tasks were decided upon by the Security Council, and that the US had pressured the committee to make its authority this limited, something which Kerry, being State Secretary, certainly knows.”

In the extracts of the classified US report released Friday, the American intelligence community had been aware of an impending chemical weapon attack three days before the August 21 crisis.

While US officials cannot determine for certain that Assad forces launched the assault, Kerry did say it claimed the lives of 1,429 Syrians, including no less than 426 children.  

“Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the US Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation,”
a government report read in part. “We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”

More than 100,000 people have been killed and over one million displaced since the Syrian civil war began over three years ago. United Nations investigators have spent the final days of August attempting to determine just what kind of weapons have been used on the streets of Damascus, where the Assad government has been trying to clear out opposition forces.