By two comments, Israel confirmed Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 21 and 22, that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on civilians in the region of Damascus — the first came from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who said “The use of chemical weapons by the regime is not a first” and the second from Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. The latter reported corroborative intelligence obtained by Israel.
They were referring to the allegations of the use of poison gas by Syrian activists causing up to 1,300 deaths. Wednesday night, Russia and China again saved Bashar Assad from UN Security Council action or even condemnation of his actions.
DEBKAfile’s military sources add: When a chemical warhead is fired at any point on the globe, it is picked up at once by US monitoring devices.
American and Israeli spy satellites passing over Damascus every few hours can also tell when chemical shells are fired. This makes nonsense of the pretense by US and Western powers that Syrian opposition claims are short on proof and Independent on-the-spot expert investigation is needed to establish the facts of the case.
Wednesday night, the phone conversation between US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Moshe Ya’alon on the situation in Syria focused on an exchange of intelligence. Israel had recordings of commanders of the Syrian gas missile batteries ordering them to be fired earlier that day. The other purpose of the conversation was to hold Israel back from responding to the chemical attack on Damascus — or even warning Assad. Hence, Steinitz’s verbal contortions to account for Israeli inaction by the overworked pretext that it only strikes when its national security is in jeopardy.
This argument is not only absurd, it is dangerous: If the Syrian ruler is capable of using poison gas against his own people in his own capital, he would have no compunctions about launching chemical missiles against Israeli and Jordanian cities, whenever he feels his regime is in danger or judges it beneficial to his interests. The US and Israel ought to have acted in good time to avert the human disaster befalling the citizens of Damascus Wednesday and taking chemical weapons out of the Syrian equation. But they didn’t.
At the UN Security Council, as in world capitals, diplomats can be counted on for language to cover up the fact that Syria has crossed the “red line” set by Washington and Jerusalem — just like Iran, with regard to the point reached by its nuclear weapons program. Clouds of diplomatic claptrap are put in circulation to take the heat off for direct action against either peril.