Phony US Claim About a Planned Syrian CW Attack
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
The June 26 White House press secretary Sean Spicer claim about an impending Syrian CW attack was a bald-faced lie.
The Trump administration appears intending to blame a likely planned false flag CW attack on Syria’s military as a pretext to escalate US aggression in the country.
Russia slammed the scheme, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, saying his government “consider(s) threats (against) the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable.”
No credible evidence showed Assad was responsible for any CW attacks throughout years of conflict. Indisputable evidence proves US-supported terrorists targeted civilians with CWs numerous times.
Russian intelligence matches America’s in Syria and elsewhere. It has no information about a planned Syrian CW attack. The Trump administration’s claim was fabricated.
On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stonewalled reporters repeatedly – refusing to comment on (nonexistent) evidence of an impending Syrian CW attack.
The lengthy exchange went as follows:
QUESTION: So the Russians put out a readout of a call yesterday between Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Lavrov. In the Russian version of the call it says that they discussed deterring the use of chemical weapons. Did the Secretary –
MS NAUERT: Their discuss – the what?
QUESTION: Deterring the use of chemical weapons –
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: – in Syria. Did the Secretary share the information that was shared with us last night, that they had – that the US. had detected preparations at the site? And did the Secretary warn Foreign Minister Lavrov about that or ask them to press the Syrians not to do that?
MS NAUERT: Well, I can confirm that Secretary Tillerson spoke yesterday with his counterpart, with Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister there. As you know, they talk about things regularly. They began their dialogue in Moscow and I believe it was March.
They met here about a month ago or so. And then, of course, they’ve had subsequent phone conversations, such as the one last evening.
Secretary Tillerson is not putting out a full play-by-play of that conversation. We know that the Russians have put out what they consider to be their version, so I’m not going to get into a tit for tat about what we think they said or what they claim they said – claim was said in that conversation. But the Secretary has made his concerns clear in the past and continues to do so with regard to Russia.
QUESTION: In light of the statement that the White House put out last night, it seems like a fair question to ask if –
MS NAUERT: Oh, I’m not – you can ask me anything you want. I’m not saying it’s not –
QUESTION: But you’re not going to say anything specifically about chemical weapons?
MS NAUERT: No.
QUESTION: There’s a sparrow carrying a one-pound coconut. Did you –
MS NAUERT: What?
QUESTION: Are you saying that you – are you saying that you dispute the Russian characterization?
MS NAUERT: No. I’m just – I’m not going to get into a tit for tat. The Russians will often put out information, and they tend to mischaracterize things sometimes, and so I’m not going to get into going back and forth with them about what was said in this conversation.
Secretary Tillerson is always clear with the Russians about how we feel about certain things, and the Secretary prefers to conduct a lot of his diplomacy in private in those conversations, because he believes that we can be most effective that way.
QUESTION: There were some reports that the White House statement about the Syria chemical weapons attack took some policy experts at the State Department by surprise. Is that true? Was the State Department fully read in on this?
MS NAUERT: So the Secretary, as you know, was at the White House yesterday. He met with the President, also a group meeting with the President’s national security team, and that’s when this conversation was all had about that statement.
So they were all informed and aware of that statement. In terms of who exactly that filtered down to at the State Department, I’m not going to get into our internal conversations. But the Secretary was aware of it. Folks here were aware of it, and that’s what’s important and that’s what matters.
QUESTION: So the sequence of time, that the Tillerson-Lavrov call came before the statement made by the White House, right?
MS NAUERT: I believe – that’s a good question. I believe the Secretary’s call with Foreign Minister Lavrov was in the morning. I can double check on that and get back with you, but yes – okay. Yeah, it was in the morning.
QUESTION: So the warning may not have come as a result of that conversation.
MS NAUERT: Again, I just don’t know, but the call was – I’m getting the nod over here – it was, in fact, in the morning.
QUESTION: There is clearly a difference of opinion or – I don’t know – strong disagreement, whatever you might want to call that, between Russia and the United States over this matter.
The Syrians themselves claim that there is no preparation underway for any chemical weapons attack. Russia seems to be agreeing with them.
MS NAUERT: Wait. Hold on. Are we supposed to buy what the Syrians are saying, that there are no chemical weapons preparations underway –
QUESTION: This is not my question.
MS NAUERT: – because in the past, we know that they have killed their own people, which include women and children. So if they say that they’re not making any preparations, I’m not certain that we’re going to buy that. But go ahead.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you if there is a follow – if there is an intent to follow up on that between Secretary –
MS NAUERT: On which? I’m sorry.
QUESTION: On the discussion on Syria and the alleged plans for chemical attack between Secretary Tillerson and Minister Lavrov.
MS NAUERT: You mean – are – do you mean that when the statement was put out last evening, that the United States is concerned about Syria and preparations that we believe are underway for a chemical weapons attack? Your question is will there be additional conversations about that?
QUESTION: Yeah, something like that.
MS NAUERT: I don’t have any additional calls or any information to read out. This is something that the United States Government remains very concerned about. I’m just not aware of any subsequent conversations that are scheduled just yet.
QUESTION: Do you guys have any evidence to share with us about this potential preparation for the use of chemical weapons? Because that wasn’t actually laid out.
MS NAUERT: Right, and nor would that be laid out, because that would be considered an intelligence matter.
So as you all are aware, there are a lot of these things that will pop up sometimes that we just can’t get into the details about this, but this has obviously gotten the attention of the United States Government at the highest level.
QUESTION: So could the activity have perhaps been for some other reason than a chemical weapons attack preparation?
MS NAUERT: Such as?
QUESTION: Something that they do at the base or – I mean, is that a possibility?
MS NAUERT: I would say that that’s a hypothetical question. We know from past experience that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people, so that obviously remains a very large concern for us in the future.
QUESTION: When you guys believe that it’s in your interests, you do put out what you say is evidence or proof of things that involve intelligence, and it happened from this podium not that long ago with the crematorium that you guys said was being built at the prison.
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: So it’s not a blanket “we never discuss intelligence,” right?
MS NAUERT: Matt Lee, I’m not going to – I’m not going to get into that one with you, but this is a very serious and grave matter, and when you have the President involved and his national security team and the Secretary involved as well, I’d say that’s a serious issue.
QUESTION: The preparation, the preparation. Is it like 24-hour preparation, maybe 48 hours, and then they stand back or something –
MS NAUERT: I don’t have the answer to that question. The White House may be able to give you more on that, or perhaps the Department of Defense or another agency, but – or department, rather – but I just can’t get into that and I don’t have the answer to that question.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, Mr. Assad was also seen photographed with the top Russian general in Syria within the last 24 hours or so. Do you know if the Russians – are we aware if the Russians were aware about these preparations as well?
MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that.
QUESTION: We don’t have any intel saying one way or another?
MS NAUERT: I just can’t get into any of the intelligence, but I’m not personally aware of that.
QUESTION: Yeah. So Ambassador Haley said today that they would blame Iran, Russia, and Syria if chemical weapons were again – what does it mean to blame these countries? How would the US hold them accountable in the event of another strike?
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Does the US intends on militarily striking Iran or Russia in the event of a chemical weapons attack?
MS NAUERT: Okay. Your third question I can’t answer. That’s a Department of Defense matter, and then that’s also a hypothetical. In terms of the first question, which is why would we – why would we look to Syria and Iran? Was that the part?
QUESTION: How – what does it mean to blame them?
MS NAUERT: Well, we’ve seen -all we have to do is look to the past, right, and we have seen as the Syrian regime back in 2015 was on the verge of collapsing – who came in to help save the Syrian regime?
Who came in? Russia came in. And that is exactly why we are today – we, meaning the world – in the place that Syria is. Russia came in, helped bolster up Syrian forces, and we have seen the death, the devastation, the destruction that has taken place ever since.
So when we say Russia would be held responsible, we believe that they play a role in this as well. They have a lot of influence with the Assad regime, and we have consistently called upon them to use their influence with the Assad regime to stop this kind of activity.
A Final Comment
The lengthy exchange went on a little longer, covering no new ground. Nauert stonewalled throughout it.
She refused to back Trump administration accusations with evidence – because none exists.
Despite some reporters pressing her hard for something substantive, she held firm offering nothing to support specious administration claims.
Whether the embarrassing exchange and Russian concern about possible planned escalated US aggression in Syria is enough to give the Trump administration second thoughts remains to be seen.
Based on endless US aggression in multiple theaters, it would be foolhardy to believe neocons infesting the Trump administration intend turning a responsible new leaf.
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