Questioning the veracity of the April. 4 Sarin nerve gas attack, 71-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus Theodore Postol raised questions of whether the attack was staged by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. When 70-year-old President Donald Trump ordered 59 Cruise missiles April 7 hitting the Syrian Shayrat airbase in Idlib Province, he was convinced al-Assad carried out the attack. Reviewing the government report fingering al-Assad, Postol concluded the government offered no convincing evidence. Examining an unexploded poison gas canister, Postol concluded that the chemical attack was exploded from the ground, not the air as claimed by the Trump White House. Postol examined the government’s report, concluding no concrete evidence existed that the attack came from the Syrian government, something maintained by Russia and Syria.
Postol believes that not only did the recent poison gas attack at Khan Sheikhoun not come from Syrian forces but the 2013 Ghouta chemical attack also failed to prove it came from al-Assad. “In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4,” said Postol. Postol doesn’t deny that a sarin gas attack took place, only questioning the source of the attack. Russian and Syria have called for an independent investigation to ascertain what happened April 4. Postol cites an unexploded shell with sarin gas inside a shallow crater as proof that the ordinance couldn’t have been dropped from a plane. Postol, a chemical weapons and ballistic expert, said the unexploded ordinance would not have remained intact if dropped from high altitude, disputing the Pentagon’s assessment.
In the rush to judgment, because of the forced removal by Russia of al-Assad’s chemical weapons in 2013, the U.S. and international community concludes that al-Assad must be at fault. “The conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it citied the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House,” said Postol, raising real doubts about al-Assad’s culpability. With al-Assad winning the war with Russian and Iranian help, many experts couldn’t comprehend why he would use chemical weapons at all. Syria’s al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vigorously denied using poison gas in Khan Sheikhoun. When you consider al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra front fights in the same area, Postol might be right.
Nothing would stop al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] from using poison gas to kill civilians, especially if it advanced their mission of toppling al-Assad’s regime. Pinning the poison gas attack on al-Assad, al-Qaeda or ISIS would have added to the mission of keeping the U.S. involved in the six-year-old Saudi-funded proxy war. Once al-Assad succeeded in evicting rebels from East Aleppo Dec. 23, 2016, opposition forces relocated to Idlib Province where the new battlefront would begin around Khan Sheikhoun. Desperate to get more U.S. involvement, it’s not inconceivable that terrorist groups battling al-Assad would pull any stunt to make him look bad, but, more importantly, to get the U.S. to engage militarily in the region. Postol, who worked as a scientific advisor for the Depart of Defense [DoD], lends credibility to Russia and Syria’s theory that terrorists used poison gas.
Postol went to great lengths to explain why he believed the poison gas attack happened from the ground, not the air. “The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallot,” said Postol. “It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater.” When you take Postol’s analysis into account with Russian and Syrian denials, it opens up the possibility the U.S. was duped by local terrorists looking to get the U.S. to attack al-Assad. Postol makes the point that the Trump White House report on Khan Sheikhoun and former President Barack Obama’s report on Ghouta didn’t give convincing proof of al-Assad’s involvement. Postol fears the politics supersedes science. “No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded a munition within it,” said Postol, raising doubts of al-Assad’s involvment.
Postol doubts that scientific analysis can get to the bottom of the current politics, blaming al-Assad for the gas attack. If the Trump White House admitted that they made a mistake, they’d be paying al-Assad’s government damages. Russia and Iran are pushing for an objective analysis of what happened in the morning of April 4. “I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicization of the intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times—but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it,” raising more doubts about what happened April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun. One things for sure, it make zero sense for al-Assad, who was winning the war, to resort to poison gas. Most analysts after the April 4 incident were scratching their heads asking why the Syrian president would take such risks.