U.S. Has Seen Chemical Weapons Activity in Syria, Pentagon Says

Jun 27, 2017 · 164 comments
SA (Canada)
It's OK to doubt anything coming out of the White House, now that it is led by a pathological liar, but we shouldn't gobble anything Seymour Hersh comes up with. Hersh and Chomsky should be commended for their attitude during the Vietnam War, but since then they have become addicted to that initially well-deserved fame and ended up being mainly quoted by conspiracy theorists, dictators, Iranian and Arab fanatics, Western rabid anti-Americans and last but not least... Russian propagandists. Hersh previously claimed in the London Review of Books that the devastating Aug. 21, 2013 sarin-gas attack was a false flag engineered by Turkey. I am amazed at the number of commenters who are so eager to give credence to false flag stories that they forget that the truth cannot be suppressed for long in the US and other democracies and that it is unbecoming to join the above list of worst offenders against it.
Richard T. (Canada)
Trump is not watching Syria, Trump is watching FOX. If the bombs fly, it will be to boost his approval ratings with his base and nothing more.
paul (brooklyn)
Another attempt by Putin to back up both of his stooges Assad in Syria and Trump in the US.

Putin runs Syria and he half runs the US with Trump.

When he sees his stooge Trump is in trouble with low approval rating or his bills not passing he will bolster him up by staging foreign events.

You can be sure he ordered Assad to start preparations for another gas attack. If this bolsters Trump enough with his tough talk, they will not be used.

However, if it doesn't, like before, Putin will let Assad use them, to make Trump look good with a wimpy retaliation attack against Assad.
Sofianitz (Sofia, Bulgaria)
There were no Syrian Government gas attacks in April. There were no previous such attacks. The US Intelligence Agents who lied in this article know these facts very well.

Syria Government has never been involved in any way in gas attacks in the Syrian civil war. Never.

And so, what are you reading? This article - pure lies - what is its origin?
doughboy (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Attacking Syria for alleged use of chemical agents has now become a staple. Setting aside US efforts to undermine Damascus governments since the 1940s, beginning with Bush 2, through Obama, and now Trump, Syria has become the latest battleground. Anthony DiMaggio’s Selling War, Selling Hope makes clear that a combination of official rhetoric alongside favorable news media frames our foreign policy debate. With little questioning by major news media, the American public receives only one side of the issue. Information that contradicts the accepted narrative is ignored or belittled. Only when the casualty count rises or when politics eclipses policy are other voices heard—Bush 2’s Iraq and Obama's Syria.

Questions concerning the veracity of accusations of Asad’s use of chemical weapons are dismissed out of hand. A recent article by Seymour Hersh sounds a call of caution about the Khan Sheikhoun event. Evidence from just where the explosion took place as well as who was targeted and how our own intelligence services view the incident are not part of the present debate.

When Trump ordered missile strikes against Syrian bases, he received accolades from even his harshest critics. It is abundantly clear that his aggressive military agenda will only expand as it is the one area that provides him with positive reinforcement.

The American people are poorly served by the media when only one side of the story is related. Informed public? No.
Andy Jones (Montreal)
Assad has no reason to use chemical weapons. He's winning.
Diogenes (Belmont M)
As brutal as the Syrian regime is, we are not at war, and should not provoke such a war. Syria is not a vital interest of the United States.

What we should do is open our doors to Syrian refugees to at least the extent as Canada has done.
Greg (Lyon France)
It is time for the US to either withdraw from the United Nations or conform to the UN Charter. Unilaterally attacking another sovereign nation while thumbing its nose at the UNSC should be grounds for suspension and sanction.
bobdc6 (FL)
I hope this information is more accurate than similar information from Bush/Cheney before they invaded Iraq (Saddam has chemical weapons and we know where they are). "Fool me once..."
William Wintheiser (Minnesota)
Republican playbook. Get involved in war. Reap profits. Any questions?
Moe (Scottsdale)
Its another lie to try to overthrow Bashar Assad..
You cannot trust anything this government says anymore .
And I do not think I'm alone on this.
Mark Comerford (Bradenton, Florida)
Yes, but who can believe the Pentagon anymore. It's terrible to say, but the government in general has lost any sort of credibility with the public. Congress lies, breaks the law, and write laws that benefit them without any regard for ethics, or honesty.
They are convinced that THEY are some sort of Roman nobles; and have been operating on that premise for the last two decades.
The American people, on the other hand, STILL believe in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington".

Are we, the people, naïve, or are they so dishonest that we need to throw the tea in the harbor again.
Crossing Overheads (In The Air)
Pull our troops out and go home. It's Russia's mess now, let them handle it.

Who cares what happens in the middle east anymore????
Mike Brooks (Eugene, Oregon)
Absolute garbage! US intelligence missed the Attempted coup in Turkey and every other actual critical event in recent memory. They seem pretty good at partisan political espionage, Russian conspiracy theories, and courting reporters who scribble their more paranoid and unhinged nonsense . We would do well to defund and dismantle DHS, CIA, NSA, and the FBI. All are bungling incompetent outfits that pose a far greater danger to this country than any fictional enemy. The savings could fund universal healthcare.
JDL (Malvern PA)
It's either we know or don't know, maybe is not good enough. Innocent people die on maybes.
Corbin Doty (Minneapolis)
Meanwhile the US backed forces in Syria are using white phosphorus in urban areas...
Robert Stacy (Tokyo)
Even if we give the benefit of the doubt and say it's true - then what? We bomb them, which is an Act of War? So, are we going to war with Syria? And then Russia does what? Is there a plan of any kind here that goes beyond feeling good for five minutes and loudly thumping our chests while screaming USA, USA, USA? And if we displace a bunch of people from our actions, will we have a home for them? Nope... Do you remember the campaign when Trump said he had a plan for ISIS but wouldn't tell. And then when elected, his generals would have a plan in 90 days? We're still waiting Mr. President... Trump is a sham, but instead of just being an eccentric billionaire, read crazy and rich, he now gets to kill people with his stupid ego. How gratifying that must be for him...and when you do it, they serve chocolate cake. Much more fun than real estate.
Missy Chay (Illinois)
I am so jaded when it comes to Trump and his tommyrot. I do not believe one thing the man says. I have watched him for quite some time, could it be that Trump, Putin and Assad are best buds? Trump and Putin are being investigated for collusion in the USA 2016 election. During the Republican primaries one would have to be brainless not to recognize Trump's great love and respect for Putin. Putin is involved up to his ear lobes with the Assad, defending this horrid man.
Now let's put all this together!!! It would a feather in Trump's, Putin's and Assad's hat, if all of a sudden Assad does not throw chemicals at his own people; Putin sternly warns Assad to not involve himself in chemical warfare; and low and behold Trump and Putin can praise themselves for saving the poor people in Syria.
Of course, Trump does not want one Syrian refugee to darken the US's golden shores.
Yes, I am jaded. Shame on me.
JCH (Wisconsin)
The accusation could be true or it is a diversion to make us look away from what is happening in our country. Interesting, we need to question everything that is coming out of the WH.
John Taylor (New York)
"...the likelihood that it involved information provided by an American ally..."
Not from a disinterested party like Bibi Netanyahu to Jared Kushner by any chance?
Fred Smith (Germany)
The horror of chemical weapons...what did humanity learn from the First World War?

Gordon (Canada)
The CIA wants an aggressive expansion of the American military effort in Syria. I believe Charles Krauthammer in his most recent editorial was correct in his "beginning of the end" assessment of what has become a Sunni/Shia civil war fight for power and territory. There is no separation of religion and political power in Syria. The recent declaration of chemical weapons will also warm the hearts of neoconservatives who wrongly believe the Middle East has any interest in a western styled Constitution or democracy.
TN in NC (North Carolina)
I hear the drums of Trump's war beginning to beat. We will soon see why President Obama chose largely to stay out of Syria.
Wag the Dog 1997 film.
Pen vs Sword (Los Angeles)
This has been going on since Adam raised a Cain.

It will be old men sending young people off to die and where innocent children and the elderly are referred to as collateral damage.

Same method, different war.
Jonny Boy (CT)
Several years ago John Kerry and Barack Obama went out of their way to tell America that Assad and Syria had handed over all chemical weapons.

The Syrian government has no chemical weapons. Why does this apparent fabrication keep reappearing? Was does the NYT perpetuate it? Does anyone bother to do fact checking anymore?
Me (wherever)
They can get new ones from many sources, including the Russians and from Trump. Yeah. Or, they could have lied about giving them all up. That's assuming the Trump administration is not making it up as a pretext for attacking them, a la W, though there are fewer reasons not to attack Syria than there were to not destabilize the region as W did.
Psst (overhere)
Meanwhile, in front of the curtain, the clown McConnell performs his disappearing health care act. The crowd is wowed into distraction.
Jeffrey Bozler (Brooklyn, NY)
Sure fire way to improve approval polls...drop a few bombs on another country. Even gets Brian Williams to say some nice things. The timing on this seems fishy.
Mike Brooks (Eugene, Oregon)
No one has ever over rated the intelligence of the average voter. Most are quite willing to believe that the government somehow protects them, when the reverse is true.
james smith (south carolina)
Fake news.
Keep repeating to yourself. Syria has no chemical weapons and Donald Trump does not have the authority under international law, the Constitution or the war powers act to attack the Syrian government. Period.
And by standing by and allowing your government to do this, you are complicit.
Hector (Bellflower)
Help me out here. Is Oceania at war with Eurasia or East Asia today?
Me (wherever)
Yes. ;-)
Jake (NY)
This is fake news to make it appear that Trump is being tough with Syria, Iran, and particularly Russia. This is pre-arranged to give an appearance that he's not in bed with Russia. Here's the thing, if anyone is more guilty of fake news, it's Trump, but...he uses the real news media to promote his fake news nonsense. Thus, the real news outlets are giving life to this fake news nonsense spewed by Trump and his BFF Putin. What news media like the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC should do is...not promote his fake news nonsense or be used by him to give what he says credibility. This nonsense of making his every rally as if it were newsworthy is not too smart. This is how he plays the media...hey, look at me...look at me. Stop letting him play you guys for fools.
Susan VonKersburg (Tucson)
Sean Spicer declares war ! 10:00 PM. Cent Comm knows nothing about chemical weapons in Syria.
Incredible! Trump needs a diversion from Robert Mueller so he pulls a "Wag the Dog," sending poor little Spicey to take the slings and arrows of outrage.
johnbonn (MA)
I smell another slam dunk (WMD) followed by an invasion of Syria and followed by the removal, arrest and execution of Assad.

Did the Whitehouse ask for Putin's approval?
Jay Lincoln (NYC)
Whether true or not, the accusation is an outstanding move by Trump.

If it's true that Assad was preparing to gas kids again, Trump's warning may very well have saved hundreds of lives.

If it's false and Assad wasn't making any such preparations, Assad and Russia are mightily confused at this point. (1) They are wondering if some other conventional military activity they were engaged in was mistaken for chemical weapon activity. They launch an investigation and perhaps scale back conventional activity (e.g. barrel bombs), lest it be mistake for chemical activity. This is good. (2) But Assad is also wondering if Trump just completely made up this accusation and just wants to build up a bad narrative over time to provide himself with an excuse to strike. This is obviously disconcerting to Assad, which is to our advantage.

Either way, brilliant! Trump promised never to telegraph his military moves. He's doing one better and taking a page from Putin by playing psychological games on our enemies.
Homer S (Phila PA)
Jay, maybe you are joking and I am too thick to see it.

1. Putin has a gazillion times more intel on whether or not there are chemical weapons and if there are plans to use them than you or me.

2. Putin thinks in terms of psychological warfare, so his administration can calculate the odds of each possible Trump outcome with remarkable precision.

So the only people Trump is impressing are his base, who tend to see international diplomacy on a very transactional basis. Putin is several moves ahead.
Me (wherever)
Or, it could be a diversion from home troubles for Donnie.
John Taylor (New York)
Not so "brilliant" if Trump starts a war with Russia....
I suspect that Trump has been fed false reports based on "raw intelligence" originating from parties with assets on the ground near the al-Shayrat airbase, whose agenda is to provide new rationales for the presence of the US military in Syria, now that the demise of ISIS is within sight.

And he has latched onto them because, with what happened in April under his belt, he knows the political capital to be gained.

The fact is that Assad and Syria are winning. With the help of Russia and Iran and Hezbollah, Assad is slowly taking back his country from the terrorists. Which means that the US dream of regime change and/or partitioning and weakening of Syria and Iran appears to be lost. Or that, if it is to live on, then something else is needed besides the myth that the US is only there to fight ISIS.

I believe the Syrian and Russian denials that a poison-gas attack is being planned by them. It's really quite preposterous to believe otherwise. Don't forget to read Seymour Hersh's account of what actually happened at Khan Sheikoun. You won't find it in the US media though. But be brave; it can be found at https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html.
SJM (Florida)
With an administration that is challenged by myriad issues -- as are most -- and never having demonstrated a sure grasp of the many critical factors, this portends a bad outcome. Just look at the players in this free-for-all! Armed to the max, allied with traditional enemies, financed by Oil, this has all the feel of Europe leading up to WW1.
Kathy Lollock (Santa Rosa, CA)
Again a hot potato, so to speak. On one side we have two ruthless liars, Putin and Assad; and on the other side we have another person, Trump, who lives and breathes by stating an untruth on an almost hourly basis. In fact, his "untruths" are probably the oxygen to his lungs which he needs to sustain himself.

So what and who to believe? One would hope that the White House is being honest and is consequently staying on top of this serious state of affairs in Syria. But then I must admit that I fear that this may just be another diversion to distract the American public from the Russian investigation. If it is, it is a new low of deception from this young presidency.
David (Brisbane)
That is just an attempt to protect US-supported terrorists from strikes by Syrian Air Force. The calculation is that the Syrians would stop their bombing raids out of concern about possible provocations similar to Khan Shaykhun in April. The goal is to slow down the advance by Asad's forces into the ISIS territory.
Daniel Yakoubian (San Diego)

Highly disturbing that the media repeats these and other "intelligence assessments" without regard for the fact that our nation has repeatedly been misled by false "intelligence." The cost has been no less than millions of lives, ISIS and the "migrant" wave sweeping Europe and the US for years. For those with a short memory: In a national radio address on September 28, 2002, President Bush flatly asserted: "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year."
Gino G (Palm Desert, CA)
As I scroll down the comments received in this section, I find that that most felt compelled to politicize even the most unspeakable use of a horrific method of murder. Mr. Assad must amuse himself by observing how we cannot even unite against his murderous practices without first diverting our attention to score a political point. Can't we even suspend our hatred for eachother for once to address the deliberate and intentional killing of innocent civilians. These are not accidental casualties in a just conflict; these are not peoople affected by a sincere difference of opinion who can voice their feelings and change the outcome. No, these are the innocent victims of wanton slaughter.
We cheapon their lives by dragging them into our own intolerant narratives.
Me (wherever)
You're missing the point - the supposed chemical weapons may very well not exist, in which case there will be no chemical weapons' victims, just victims of the rest.
dyeus (.)
Given this is from the Trump administration, why would we believe this or any other statement? Amazingly, just a handful of Republicans to lead in the House or the Senate would be able to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and raise the credibility of the entire country by forcing honest conversations in place of Trump's party of bluster.
FXQ (Cincinnati)
Oh please, spare me. If this isn't a public notice to prepare for another Middle east war/quagmire, I don't know what is. This is a big green light to our "rebel friends" to proceed with gassing civilians in order to force us to respond and attack Assad. The last chemical attack was fishy and never fully investigated. I would not put it past ISIS/"our rebel friends" who are fighting the Syrian government to use this statement as a prompt to gas innocent civilians, people they care nothing about.
Aussie Fester (<br/>)
Ever since the fabrication of weapons of mass destruction through which Bush Jr. managed to mislead a coalition into permanently destabilising the Middle East, the world is justifiably wary of any grandiose claim by the US. Add to that an erratic froot loop of a president, and it's little wonder everyone is trading carefully.
Aussie Fester (<br/>)
P Lock (albany,ny)
Ok, so do you think the Trump administration is threatening such muscular attacks on Syrian WMD's before they occur to distract attention from the US Senate health care melt down and continuing bad coverage of Russian contacts? This guy is getting so predictable....
Jim (California)
Haven't we and the world heard this before? More nonsense from the Trump propaganda machine to draw attention away from domestic issues that are destroying the fabric of the USA.
Ryan Alford (Thunder Bay)
This article isn't journalism, it's stenography. It follows a day after an important article on this topic from a real journalist: Seymore Hersh, who won the Pulitzer for exposing the My Lai massacre.

Hersh's article was published in Germany's leading newspaper after independent verification of his sources (CNN take note). It demonstrates that the decision to blame April's gas attack on the Syrian Government was made despite American intelligence reports that disagreed. Shades of Iraq in 2003?

Now Trump says that it will blame Syria for any future attacks without investigation, a day after Hersh's article is published (and a day after France's President bailed out of the regime change project). This is clear notice that Trump is preparing his case for unilateral war. The U.S. media's silence on Hersh's article (and Theodore Postol's findings) is despicable; it enables the real atrocities.
Elizabeth (Roslyn, New York)
The article by Mr. Hersh is very compelling in its assertion of no previous Syrian chemical weapon attack in April.
My problem with this current claim by Trump is my lingering distrust since the Bush WMD fiasco now combined with Trump's pathological lying. Trump only knows what will benefit him and he knows how to spin a fake news story.
Trump has an itchy trigger finger and remembers his 3 days of adulation after his first attack. "He's sooo Presidential" caressed his ego and he is due for a fix.
I in no way want to be callous and ignore a serious threat to innocent lives even in a war zone.
But as a rational person what am I supposed to do with a Liar-In-Chief?
Questions must be asked.
Greg (Lyon France)
The neocons have not gone away. Their Project for the New American Century is being resurrected (a recommended read). It calls for American world domination through demonstration of American military might. Their failures in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq have not deterred them. The cost in blood and treasure simply does not matter in their quest to dominate.

Now Syria beckons.
Maty (New England)
War drums in 3/4 time, same old song and dance.
Rw (canada)
Well, if the "preparations" are underway, and they know where the "preparations" are taking place, why is Trump waiting until people are suffering and dying....call up Putin, give him prior notice like last time that the tomahawks are coming and take out a few planes and maybe the chemical weapons themselves.
I don't believe the White House...and this is a major problem Lying Trump and is lying enablers have created, isn't it: watching the international coverage of this statement issued by only the White House staff: nobody believes this White House.
ArvT (VA)
US priming the public with the (false) threat of an imminent chemical attack (similar to the rush earlier in the year to proclaim a so-called "chemical" attack by Syria that has been debunked). Fingers twitching in the pentagon to let loose & deplete old ordnance inventory so new versions / stock can be ordered.
Greg (Lyon France)
The Director of National Intelligence must address the deficit in the White House.
Jeff (NYC)
Finally, a president who stands up to bloodthirsty dictators. What a welcome change from watching Obama cowering in the corner after being slapped around by Assad, Putin, the mullahs of Iran, etc.
Dashboard Melted (USA)
The US administration & Trump have lied so many times recently, it is truly a sad day when you don't know whether to believe Washington DC or Russia and Syria.
bb (berkeley)
Do we have a 'weapons of mass destruction' episode in the making? That's what got this whole mess started. Shame on the liars.
C.O. (Germany)
The intelligence agencies of the US have unfortunately lost all their credibility in the course of the last years, and the results of US foreign policy particularly in the Middle East are just catastrophic. They intervene at random in sovereign states like Iraq, Syria or Yemen, demonise other countries as arch enemies like Russia or Iran and are closest allies of the most absurd und dangerous family dictatorships like Saudi Arabia. It is such a sad development to see the US in such a decline and one can only hope that a new generation of American politicians will do a better job one day.
Student (NY)
hard not to be skeptical. sounds like we need an excuse to drop some bombs. stir up some outrage and a desire to punish. but even if it were true, so what? is dying from poison so much worse than being concussed, burned, pierced and shredded by conventional munitions and/or phosphorus? I get fighting ISIS but what else are we doing there? Our participation in this proxy war has already been responsible for untold suffering.
Richard Green (San Francisco)
Despite the pentagon affirmation that there seem to be signs of potential use of chemical weapons by Assad's forces, I can't quite shake the feeling that the late night saber rattling warning by Spicer is just another move in the tactics of distraction that Mr. Trump often engages in.

When you are in trouble at home, gin up a little military operation overseas to take the focus off of the latest disaster.

I heard an interview this AM with a member of Congress who was asking for a n actual strategy from the White House for Syria. The only apparent strategy that Trump has is for his own self-preservation and protection -- everything else he does is just tactical maneuvering in support of that over-arching purpose.

Times seem to be shifting a bit from merely "interesting" to "dangerous."
SR (Bronx, NY)
"When you are in trouble at home, gin up a little military operation overseas to take the focus off of the latest disaster."

Or in short, wag the dog and grab the...cat.

Sounds typical of Covfefe.
ShenBowen (New York)
Interesting. Two weeks ago it was Human Rights Watch accusing the US of dropping phosphorous bombs on civilians in Syria https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/06/14/world/middleeast/ap-ml-islam...
NYer (NYC)
"U.S. Says" (It’s Seen Chemical Weapons Activity in Syria)?

Well, actually, according to article, only some low-level (an army captain) Pentagon spokesman and Sean Spicer ACTUALLY said that! Other, higher-raking officials said other things, but made no such claims!

Sorry, Spicer and co. DO NOT speak for the "U.S" as a whole!

And how about a little more accuracy and a little less inflammatory click-bait in the headlines?
jeremyp (florida)
Tonkin Gulf revisited? Could Trump be trying to get some more licks in at Assad's Air-force? Is there a plan to try and hold on to Eastern Syria once IS is gone? He can't use that as a reason but he might be being encouraged by Generals to deplete Syrian forces so that Syria cannot, with Russia, reunite the country.
WeHadAllBetterPayAttentionNow (Southwest)
White House Monday: Syria had better not bomb civilians, or president Trump will hurt them.

White House Tuesday: Syria did not bomb civilians because they were afraid President Trump would hurt them. Hooray for president Trump, whose warning saved hundreds of lives!
mkm (nyc)
Is that not exactly what Obama was trying to do before he flubbed the famous red line.
Emptyk (Austin, TX)
When the President consistently lies about objective facts, we have to rely on the military and the spies to verify what is true.
Daveindiego (San Diego)
I don't believe a word from this 'so called' administration.
Joe (iowa)
That's funny, I didn't believe a word that came out of Obama's mouth.
Smitty (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Is this the current "weapons of mass destruction"? The timing of this "war theme" during the chaos of the healthcare deshabille is scurrilous. But,oh so Republican. These men have the twitchy finger syndrome. A war would certainly take our collective minds off the administration mosh pit. Jenny speaks
RH (San Diego)
The conflict in Syria illustrates the black heart in man is alive and well. That said, the Russians in particular have a part of the black heart as supporting Assad's government and war machine. The entire western world looks at Russia with great despair and contempt.

When Mueller's investigation reveal how deep the Trump people were in the Russians..that contempt will be even more deep as Trump asserts that "it wasn't him...they are all lying.." Both the American people and the world will realize we in the US have a tyrant of the "sickest" type now at the helm of one of the world's greatest democracy.

But, for the people of Syria..we hope their enduring hope for peace will soon become a reality..
Sensi (n/a)
If i had to guess: yet even more false flag propagandist lies from warmongering US officials. No wonder why the US are considered the greatest threat to peace in the world: allied with nauseous tyrants (Saudi Arabia & co), serving nefarious special interests starting with these latter and the military-industrial complex, killing tens of thousands innocent civilians every decade on the usual litany of lies and forged intel, in this case being responsible for their fair share of Syrian civilians killed directly -thru their "rebels" or coalition airstrikes- and if anything by prolonging the not-so "civil war" and its body count for years propping up "rebels", nowadays gratuitously killing Syrian army soldiers every other week while their "allies" (Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Turkey) have reportedly bankrolled and supply almost every Salafist jihadist/al Qaeda terrorist if not ISIS terrorist around those last 5+ years, the US like always feigning to look the other way while enabling them with their military support, diplomatic cover if not media blackout/omertà, from Syria to Yemen, always selling then even more weapons. Appalling.
D.A.Oh (Middle America)
When it comes to the oppressed Syrian people, Trump follows the classic "conservative" anti-choice model:

He'll preach fire and brimstone to save those "beautiful babies" still in Mother Syria, but once they're out and seeking better lives for themselves in America, he refuses to help them.

So much for being a "Christian" nation.
Kevin Peifer (Canada)
I was once proud to live north of the US and often visited my US relatives south of the border. I will not visit until some big changes occur perhaps the creation of America's second Independence Day is necessary freeing yourselves not from the British but from a Plutocracy. Since 2001 the world has watched as America spirals out of control and allowed the Death machine to take over. I feel sorry and sad for its citizens who have endured endless wars since the false flag 911 attack wow I said it and I am not even wearing my tinfoil hat. There no longer is truth to much of what is said, Bush, Obama and Trump are the puppets of the dictatorship of money.
Kami (Mclean)
For Assad to launch a chemical attack at any time in the past and now in the future is the most foolish act that he can permit. Assad may be a lot of things but he is not a fool! The past chemical attacks attributed to him have not been proven. We have seen videos of people, particularly children, afflicted by some chemical agents. But who has been behind the attack is not clear. ISIS certainly has the capability of using chemical weapons that they themselves produce or may have stolen from Syrian stockpiles before they were shipped abroad. And they certainly have the ability to kill a few civilians in cold blood if it serves their purpose. The same goes for other anti Government factions. They will all gain from such an attack if it can be pinned on Assad. The only entity that DOES NOT benefit from a chemical attack, is the Assad Regime. So, before jumping on the bandwagon of accusing Assad of premedidating a chemical attack, consider the profit/loss analysis from Assad's point of view. There is no profit but a ton of loss. As for the current hoopla about a pending chemical attack by Assad, look at other things that are happening around us that Trump & Co is trying to distract the Public attention from.
dctv (New York and elsewhere)
It seems we are at the low point in our nation's history when I tend to believe what Assad more so then our own (sham)president.
frank scott (richmond,ca.)
i tend to believe assad more than either the present or past president, though that isn't setting up much competition for him..whatever human flaws he may have, and we know absolutely nothing as to what they may be given our own tendency to put political liars and mass murderers in positions of power from which they proclaim honesty and peace, he is a brilliant world statesman who thinks in english better than our most recent corporate leaders who were born to the language..assad is disliked by many syrians but many americans despise the present clown and loathed the last one so that hardly represents reason to destroy syria though it seems to be accepted by too many members of the master race of self chosen people who vote for these creatures.
John (SF)
I won't believe a word coming out of the Trump administration.
Steve (Idaho)
Of course the defense department has seen chemical weapons activity. Trump told them they did so they just fabricated the necessary evidence to make him look less foolish. What else would they do.
CBK (San Antonio, TX)
Didn't this second round of chemical-weapons news first come from the White House? And then from the Pentagon? After all his lying (thank you for the outstanding tally, New York Times), do we seriously believe anything that this president claims? Maybe the Russia Thing was getting a little too hot and he needed another Syria diversion? How can we really KNOW what's happening?
Julioantonio (Los Angeles)
Translation: They need to launch an all out attack on the Syrian army, they need to attack Syria and facilitated the advancement of all those so called "rebels". By declaring that Syria is planning a chemical attack and no one dare say otherwise, Trump and the others have found a way to justify that which has no justification at all. Lying about it is the only way to do it. As it was done in Iraq. This, while the US has been using white phosphorus in both Iraq and Syria, according to UN reports and as published days ago in the NYT.
Pen vs Sword (Los Angeles)
"The Pentagon comments appeared to shore up the unusual statement Monday night by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, who warned that Syria was preparing for what looked like another chemical weapons attack, and said that the United States would not hesitate to act if one was launched. But that statement appeared to take defense officials off guard. An official with the United States Central Command, which oversees combat operations in the Middle East, said Monday night that he had “no idea” what the White House statement was referring to."

Does anyone understand what the White House is referring too any longer? This is what I call the Trump Suspense Doctrine, provided by a former reality TV game show host as acting (pun intended) President. That mindset is acceptable and effective if you are an entertainer attempting to retain an audience through a three minute commercial break but it take on a different meaning when it involves affairs of the State and life and death.
Tony (New York)
So much for Obama's "red line."
DrT (Columbus, Ohio)
Is this going to be another example of WMDs in Iraq that weren't there, but our soldiers went in anyway, and we got a president in a flight suit under a banner of "Mission Accomplished"? (Just imagine Trump's banner: "My war is the biggest war - ever!")

North Korea would love an excuse to bomb the US, claiming they are protecting Syria from the big, meddling, international bully (AKA DJT.)
Sensi (n/a)
Actually North Korea would love to make peace but the US have refused so for years if not decades.

"North Korea says it could stop nuclear tests in exchange for the U.S. scrapping joint military drills with South Korea, while also calling for a peace treaty with the U.S. in an echo of demands that Washington had rejected in the past." (Associated Press, "North Korea says it could halt nuke tests if US scraps drills", 15 january 2016)

"The isolated state [North Korea] has long sought a peace treaty with the United States and other parties in the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as an end to military exercises by South Korea and the United States, which has about 28,500 troops based in South Korea." (Reuters, "U.S. rejected North Korea peace talks offer before last nuclear test: State Department", Feb 22, 2016)
Tim Miltz (PA)
I just don't see Assad doing this.

I think he's being framed.

Best guess? Kushner wanted back channels with Russian intelligence so Trump administration could work with Russia, Russia makes sure chemical weapons are used, Trump gets excuse to go in, scarily US foreign policy being driven by how many tears his daughter cried on the last episodic venture.

Hey EPA - sorry - we can't cover that 160 million, just not enough to go around but LET ME launch 60 million of missiles on an air strip to create a pot hole, that we do have.

After all Kushner DID say the back channels were to work with Russia on Syria.

I would NOT be surprised if Russia AND Trump are BOTH trying to frame Assad.

Everyone I meet from Syria says they like Assad, and there never were any 'rebels' - more like CIA/Saudi/Qatari funded Al-Nusra posturing as 'rebels' worse- former Al Qaeda posturing as 'rebels' and this isn't far from what I hear from Syrians- LIFE TIME Syrians.

I don't buy any of this, they're framing Assad so they can justify going in and gaining control - Syria maintains the pipelines, plus it grants access to the West, and only one piece is missing for the Kazakhstan pipeline, USED to be Turkey, but seems Flynn and Goss made sure Turkey is on board for that- the LAST piece IS Syria. Option B was Iran, but clearly, that's not as easily reachable. Strange how Nikki is already setting Iran up for a fall here on this, even if they didn't have anything to do with it.
jeremyp (florida)
So if Syrians love Assad so much why have they left in droves? The "CIA created the Jihadis" theory has no legs. Sunni Syrians know too well what Assad has done to their people, and just because the "rebels" are a smorgasbord of jihadi lite to Caffeine plus doesn't mean they were created by us or the Saudis. They might have outside backing but they aren't worse than Assad.
Michael Hoffman (Pacific Northwest)
Israeli puppet Donald Trump is looking for an alibi to bomb the government of Syria. This unsubstantiated, anecdotal assertion of alleged Syrian chemical weapons' war crimes will do until a better one comes along, like — Assad was involved in 9/11.

The US Cryptocracy used fake WMD to justify the invasion of Iraq and will do the same to overthrow Assad.

When do we ever learn?
globalnomad (Cranky Corner, Louisiana)
The recent chemical attack was real--did you not see the results on T?
Lasse (Sweden)
Why would Assad want to gas his own people?
Sensi (n/a)
Obviously because he just can't wait to give a casus belli to the US lying warmongers & their dictatorships allies in the region trying to overthrow the Syrian government for the last 5+ years by supporting (bankrolling and supplying) most of the "rebels"/salafist jihadists/al Qaeda-linked terrorists if not ISIS.

"In an August 2014 email, leaked by WikiLeaks, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent then counselor to Barack Obama John Podesta a memo that states that both [US allies] Saudi Arabia and Qatar "are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region"." (wikipedia, Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant#Supporters)

[US allies] "Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are assisting elements of the Syrian opposition that are making headway in Syria. These include Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-linked group, which reportedly seized Idlib recently with arms supplied by Turkey." (al-monitor, "Is Turkey arming radical groups in Syria?")

"The [US allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar bankrolled and supplied] Nusra Front praised the [Daesh/IS] November 2015 Paris attacks (...)"
(wikipedia, Al-Nusra Front)
Anne (St. Louis)
You're kidding, right?
Why would Hitler and Stalin "kill their own people"?
Are you liberals really that uninformed?
This comment and so many others posted by prove only one thing....the ongoing NYT attacks on Trump have blinded and brainwashed liberals.
jeremyp (florida)
He doesn't look upon those who rebelled against him as his people. He has consistently called all of them "Terrorists."
bored critic (usa)
trump lies? trump distraction strategy? it's a conspiracy? none of these questions are relevant. the only relevant, intelligent question is "do you believe a single thing russia says?" history folks, just look at the history.
Henry (Connecticut)
Is the Trump administration or one of the US allies preparing a chemical attack to blame on the Syrian government? Just as the Times promoted the fakery around Saddam’s WMD it insistently ignores the lack of evidence of Syrian government responsibility for chemical attacks and the presence of evidence that links attacks to the various terrorist groups the US says it is fighting against. The hypocrisy is evident as ally and Wahhabist Saudi Arabia funds ISIS accoding to former Vice President Joe Biden’s own admission. Such infamy. The US itself is well known to use white phosphorus and toxic uranium weapons, not to mention its vicious Agent Orange campaign against Vietnam a half century ago. Perhaps encouraged by neocons the Times is trying to egg on the Trump administration to escalate its war efforts to carve off northern Syria and create a client state.
Julioantonio (Los Angeles)
I just hope this "warning" remains that and Trump will be able to claim a tragedy was averted because of this "warning", but I doubt it. When an accusation like this is launched, attacks will follow. I just pray that I'm wrong.
M. W. (Minnesota)
The NYTimes is ranting for a war. Just like it did in Iraq. Oh, never mind, not really, right Mr Friedman? This time they have their boy Trump at the controls, its going to be Huge.

Get ready boys and girls, Syria and Iran are next. Empire means never having to say your sorry.
Sensi (n/a)
The US nauseous hypocrisy is a complete disgrace:
[US "foe"] "Following the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) into northern Iraq in the summer of 2014, Iran began to provide military aid to counter the militant advance. Iran launched airstrikes against ISIL positions and provided combat troops and technical advisers to the Iraqi government, Shia militias, and Iraqi [mostly Sunni] Kurdistan." (wikipedia, Iranian_intervention_in_Iraq_(2014–present))


[US "ally"] "Saudi Arabia is said to be the world's largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism, which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and others. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide (...). According to a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state, "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups."" (wikipedia, State-sponsored_terrorism)

Then, of course:
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." (Nuremberg Trials chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson)

The US warmongers will have to be pacified.
Jesse Marioneaux (Port Neches, TX)
The US Regime is obviously in panic mode.

The SAA is rapidly advancing on three fronts:

1. Raqqa - The SAA is quickly moving around the hapless Kurds and moving to the area south of Raqqa. Ensuring IS is unable to execute their agreement with the US Regime to evacuate towards Deir ez-Zur.

2. Deir ez-Zur - Huge numbers of SAA are quickly approaching the defenders in Deir ez-Zur. Once Deir ez-Zur is secure, the SAA will move north to link up with the SAA forces in al Hasakah.

3. al Bukamal - The SAA and Iraq PMU are working as a unified force on both sides of the border and are preparing to surround the border city.

What this means is:

1. The US Regime partion dreams are dead. There is no viable Kurdish 'state' other than a bunch of clowns pretending to be a new 'government' in Raqqa.

2. The Iraq PMU are increasingly working side by side with the SAA. Any attack by the US Regime puts their bases in Iraq open to attack.

3. The absurd threats from Saudi Arabia towards Qatar now have the various terror groups still alive in Syria attacking each other.

4. Syria is close to a decisive military victory against the foregin terrorists. Once the SAA secures the bulk of the Eurphrates only Idlib and Daraa remain as security problems.

5. Every day the SAA advances and IS or terrorist pockets are cleared, more and more troops are freed up and being moved to the major fronts in either Daraa or the Eurphrates.
Sensi (n/a)
JFYI, in regard to your #1:
"Like the KCK umbrella in general, and even more so, the PYD [political party of the YPG, major part of the SDF] is critical of any form of nationalism, including Kurdish nationalism. This policy stands in stark contrast to the Kurdish nationalist visions of the Kurdish National Council." (wikipedia, Democratic_Union_Party_(Syria))

They don't want any new "state".
jeremyp (florida)
My dear boy stop drinking the Assad Kool Aid! Hapless Kurds? They run rings around you, and were they armed with Tanks and rockets Assad might be taking up residence in Moscow.
B. Honest (Puyallup WA)
Were that a real nerve gas casualty the attendants should be wearing full containment suits lest they breath the same nerve gas remmnants in the clothing, skin, hair and lungs of the child. Nerve gasses are rather persistent and nasty in their effect. Much more fear should be evidenced in those medical assistants.

Also, one hears stories that some of the bombing runs hit modern sanitation facilities, releasing clouds of chlorine gas, very comonly used, when high pressure tanks were burst due to the bombing. Then it is a matter of unintentional damage wrought by the stupidities of war and both sides may as well be at fault.

Not that the use of chemical weapons is not real, but come on, Assad is anything but stupid, he has watched the US and money coalition destroy Libya and Iraq, constant turmoil and death in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Military Industrial Complex, along with regional forces, running horrendous false flag ops desighed around taking down Syria as well? US trying to fight the 'terrorists' that they armed and supplied?

It sure looks like any use of chemical weapons is actually coming from the 'terrorist rebels' as a false flag op to place the blame on Assad's Syria so that the West can all be outraged at the atrocity of nerve gas deaths of children and thus wage yet another 'Holy War' against Syria benefitting Israel.

Their soverignty is no less than Israel's, yet the Israeli's repeatedly bomb Syria and violate their airspace seemingly nearly constantly.
Mac (Oregon)
Civilized people kill each other with guns, bombs, and explosions. Woe to the one who uses unauthorized methods of murder.
Greg (Lyon France)
If the US can unilaterally send cruise missiles into Syrian air bases based on CLAIMS that the Assad regime dropped, or will drop, chemical bombs on Syrian civilian areas, then logic would tell us that the US should have sent cruise missiles into Israeli air bases when the Netanyahu regime UNQUESTIONABLY dropped white phosphorus bombs on the civilian areas of Gaza.
Visitor (Tau Ceti)
Oh good, another false flag brought to you by the creators of the Gulf of Tonkin.
a (vile)
America needs to spend another $60+ million on bombing a bunker with 60 tomahawks, because they failed at it the first time after warning the syrians to move their assets!
magicisnotreal (earth)
While I agree with many conservatives that Obama really messed up in failing to enforce the red line by destroying the Syrian air force we should all take a step back for a moment and see that the timing here is convenient for Trump whose main job it seems is to function as a distraction for the GOP Congress so they can get on with screwing us all.
fastfurious (the new world)
Trumpcare moves closer to defeat.

Trump needs a 'win' desperately. A 'successful' military operation which purports to have stopped a chemical attack on 'innocent children' fits the bill. Remember now disgraced NSA adviser Mike Flynn popping out on the press briefing to say "we're putting Iran on notice"? The White House has been casting about since assuming office for a large scale military action that will make Trump more 'popular' with GOP voters.

This trolling for trouble was like W. deciding we'd go to war with Iraq. The GOP is still eager to fight with Iran, Syria and plenty of other potential quagmires.

Make noise against this. Don't give Trump the opportunity to create a military distraction from the horrendous health care fiasco and the ongoing Russia investigations. Trump's corrupt and totally heartless. Of course he'll bomb people for no other reason than trying to raise his approval ratings.

I feel very sorry for the people of Syria. But we had nothing to do with causing this mess and the stupid people in this White House are not even remotely equipped to make the mess in Syria better. Their involvement will in all probability make it worse and a swamp the U.S. will get stuck in.
Melanie (Dallas)
All's fair in love and war. lets wage war fairly... hahahaha
Oliver Grayson (Manitoba)
This might be where that secret internet back channel Jarek Kushner set up cane in handy, getting intelligence from Moscow that even our own intelligence agencies could not know of?
Don (Napa Valley)
More propaganda to justify US attack on Syria. With a fool like Trump running the US, he probably believes the lies he is being told. We could stumble into WW3 very easily with such ignorant and aggressive leadership in the US.
Visitor (Tau Ceti)
NYT, why did you delete the original comments? Why did you replace the picture with one of a child victim?
Luc (Switzerland)
Hasn't the world heard and seen this all before with the last republican president! Where's Trump's cry of Fake news? This is the bigly distraction he's been hoping for.
ck (chicago)
More utter nonsense from Trump. His fan base is still obsessed with hating our black, non-American previous president, Obama. Therefore he stokes those fires (no doubt at Steve Bannon's direction) by attempting to again point out what Obama did was bad -- what Trump does is good. Sadly it has to be just that simple or Breitbart readers get lost. Donald Trump must be the most cynical human being on this earth. Even worse than Bannon because at least Bannon has some cockamamie rationale with his Clash of Civilizations insanity. Trump just wants votes. That is all. The entire world be damned.
Oliver Grayson (Manitoba)
This might be where that secret back door internet connection that Jared Kushner set up with Moscow comes in handy. The WH seems to has intelligence sources our dozens of security agencies does not have!
Ugly and Fat git (Boulder,CO)
I agree with Pentagon as we also saw WMD activity in Iraq.
b (Michigan)
So let me get this straight - the people in this comment section want to accept refugee populations and keep them safe, but don't want to oppose the regimes that caused said crisis? How does that work?

I understand that the false pretense for invading Iraq left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, including my own, but that doesn't mean you should immediately oppose foreign intervention on principle, especially during a humanitarian crisis. Don't be a reactionary like the right; I'd blame the current administration for putting people off, but I heard the exact same things I'm reading here during the Obama years, as well.
scott (California)
When has our military intervention prevented a humanitarian crisis? Sure it's our excuse going in. But never have we prevented a humanitarian crisis by murdering untold thousands of soldiers and citizen of 'said' country. The question I have for you is, will you ever stop being fooled?
John Taylor (New York)
You mean like in Libya?
Greg (Lyon France)
In 2003 the Bush administration went to war in Iraq based upon information provided by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi opposition leader wanting to depose Saddam Hussein. The information was later proven to be false information.

Now in 2017 the Trump administration wants to attack Syria based upon information provided by Rami Abdulrahman, a Syrian (SUNNI), head of a one-man operation in the UK that opposes the Assad regime, and relying on information from anti-government activists within Syria.

...... shades of the Iraq deception?
Greg (Lyon France)
"a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that what looked like active preparations for a chemical attack"

This bring back memories of Colin Powell's slide show at the UN that showed diagrams of Iraqi mobile chemical weapons labs that simply did not exist.
Llewis (N Cal)
What activity was seen? How do we know the weapons are chemical. Is this like the evidence for nukes in Iraq during the Bush administration? If there are weapons why isn't another player in that area France or Turkey backing up the claim? I need more information and not just a statement from Pinocchio.
Slann (CA)
You've been warned again, Syria and russia. Now clear out of that airfield while we use up some more of our very expensive missiles, but not cause enough damage to harm your air operations. We'll give you the "all clear".
schmigital (nyc)
I think we are going to see more and more about this until Trump declares war on Syria to save his approval ratings.
Greg (Lyon France)
We are in very dangerous territory when one nation thinks it can unilaterally attack another sovereign nation at will, regardless of the reason. The US needs to decide whether they will remain committed to the United Nations or will go-it-alone. If they decide on the latter we can expect other nations to follow their example and we'll be into total chaos on this planet.
Dylan C. (Boston)
Having just read Seymour Hersh's piece in Die Welt on the strikes in Khan Sheikhoun and Shayrat air Base, I find these developments very concerning.

More concerning, however, is the lack of any pieces by the NYT, or anyone else, responding to the assertions in Hersh's report. Hersh is a journalist with an impeccable record, and the narrative in his piece is consistent (arguably more consistent with the incentives for the Assad regime), yet there has been no sign of effort in the broader media to engage with it. Therefore I'm deeply concerned reading in this piece such clauses as: "the Syrian government dropped bombs loaded with toxic chemicals in northern Syria."

I have a great deal of trust in the honesty of the NYT, and I think there's a good chance they have a team of reporters looking into Hersh's claims (most of which are based on anonymous sources), which may take some time.

I look forward to that response.
Sarah B. (Seattle, WA)
Dylan C., Thank you for referencing Seymour Hersh's very significant piece of critical analysis published last Sunday in Die Welt, which has been virtually erased from the mainstream media and most of the alternative cohort, and more's the pity.

As you are no doubt aware, the current piece in many ways dovetails with Hersh's earlier piece, 'The Red Line and the Rat Line', published in the London Review of Books in April 2014, in which he challenges the official government narratives regarding the alleged Sarin gas attack carried out by Assad on Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, in August 2013. That piece also went down the memory hole with dispatch and was totally ignored by the major Western media outlets of record.

Both pieces are worthy of consideration, but Hersh's most recent effort is particularly relevant given the way in which the Trump administration seems poised now to use such false flag fabrications as the casus belli to launch more missile strikes on Syria in what can only be regarded as a dangerous escalation of an already dangerous, violent, provocative, and chaotic conflict with Russia, Turkey, and Iran now actively engaged on the battlefield.

Like you, I would love to see a a response to Hersh's piece and a vigorous discussion of the questions he raises, but, alas, I am not holding my breath given the lack of a cogent response to the 2014 piece in the LRB.
Charles (USA)
I would like to see the NYT address Hersch's claims too, however, I suspect they don't want to give credence his colorful claims given his recent track record. For example, Hersch also doesn't believe Syria used chemical weapons in 2013 afterwhich Obama got Assad to agree to destroy some of their chemical weapons stockpile. In 2015 Hersch questioned the Obama administration's account of the death of Bin Laden saying that the US and Pakistan staged the raid and denying that Bin Laden was active until his death. In another 2015 article Hersch says that the Pentagon sent intelligence to the Syrian government to prop up Assad and to undermine Obama.
chris (boulder)
And herein lies the dangers of an administration that distorts the truth to such a degree that nothing can be believed. As other commentors have pointed out Seymour Hersh published an article citing an anonymous source contradicting the current narrative.

Unfortunately, it is equally believable that either Assad did use, and is preparing to use chemical weapons, and that trump, in an effort to distract from his...everything, is preparing to show what a tough guy he is by bombing someone on specious intelligence.
Luigi K (NYC)
Be wary of any media repeating governments sources as fact, especially when it is a justification for going to war. This esteemed institution is not immune, remember the parade of articles about WMDs in Iraq:

c harris (Candler, NC)
Since it is well known that Syria didn't use chemical weapons in April it is wholly outrageous that the NYTs continues to pursue their blunder filled neo con agenda pushing this lie. The relentless pushing of the US into some sort of confrontation with Russia in Syria is stupid. They continue to make Putin look like the reasonable party in Syria. And with the blithering uninformed Trump the US is certainly going to get into a unholy mess.
Bfrank4fr (Morristown Nj)
Distraction! distraction! Distraction! But this time he'll kill people!
Finklefaye (Houston, Texas)
Perhaps Trump is warning of a nonexistent threat so when no attack occurs, he can claim credit for having stopped it. Just as calling the health care bill "mean" allows him to claim he won whichever way the vote goes. If it passes, he will say he forced them to fix the meanness. If it fails, well, he always knew it was too mean. The man may be ignorant but he is the consummate con artist.
chet380 (west coast)
Setting the groundwork for another "false flag operation".

For a comprehensive analysis of the utter fraudulence of the "chemical attack" at Khan Shaytun, please see the Seymour Hersh article at Die Welt.
David (Brisbane)
Not necessarily. Could be just trying to deter Syrian Airforce from bombing ISIS in fear of such possible false-flag operation when the victory is near. It is the race for ISIS territory now between Assad and US-supported "rebels". So every little bit helps.
Frank Brodhead (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY)
Chaks (Fl)
One would expect that the Times would give voice to people with different opinions like Mr Hersh. But when it comes to the Middle East, the Times only quotes people who want to take us to war. Afrer reading Mr Hersh article, I'm surprised that a paper like the Times won't publish an article like that. Actiually no mainstream US media has. It has to be done by foreign medias.
Readers expect more for the Times.
C. Whiting (Madison, WI)
The little child in the photograph looks like my own son.
This toddler knows nothing of a rationale that would lead a nation to gas its own people. But his lungs are not immune.
He knows nothing of a rationale that would lead outside interests to pit one community against another, although this is the long history of countries like the U.S. and Russia. And his lungs are not immune from such calculations.
And he would wrinkle his small brow in incomprehension at the idea of corporations making weapons for profit. But his lungs are not immune from the cost of that profit, and I don't even know if he is still breathing.
He looks like my own son.
ck (chicago)
He doesn't look anything like my own son but I still care.
marynificent (Terminus)
The day that Sean Spicer knows more about impending chemical attacks on civilians in an active war zone than CentCom is the day I'll eat my hat. I thought they were going to fire him. It's like Weekend at Bernie's every time Trump trots him out with a fresh pack of lies.
harleycreel (Earth)
Seymour Hersch's piece on the April strike says it all.
Charles (USA)
Hersch's piece completely contradicts what the Russians told the UN when the Russians vetoed the UN resolution against the attacks in April.
David (Brisbane)
Here is the piece. It claims that Trump knew that Assad did not use chemical weapons, even as he ordered strikes on Syria. https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html
David (Brisbane)
Right. Forget that the Hersch's piece shows US President to be a liar and a war criminal, it is more important that it is not in full agreement with what the Russians said.
Popsiq (Canada)
So when is Nicky Haley presenting the intel at the UNSC? Afterward?
lapazjim (usa)
The real question is -Who is supplying the chemical weapons to Assad?Or are these ones he did not turn over? Whichever it is their use is unacceptable and there should be a very high price paid for their use.
Assad has been very bold since Russia saved him from defeat.He has used chemical weapons,bombed civilians and hospitals among other atrocities.
Russia and the U.S. and even the world will be seeing how far they can push each other without starting an all out war.Possibly even a world war.Neither the U.S. or Russia wants a world war or even a war between themselves.It could be just a verbal war that escalates into actual actions by one side or the other.Iran in the meantime will sit back and join Assad and Russia.The U.S. can not go it alone so many of the European and other Middle Eastern will have to be picking which side they will join.Monetary or weapons will do no good.This will be a conflict based on all aspects of war and will require large numbers of manpower on all sides.
Is the world truly ready for an all out war?Is Russia willing to risk an all out war to protect Assad?Is the U.S. willing to get into yet another large scale conflict that would possibly end up being larger than WWIII ??
Unfortunate that many of the people in these countries will have no say and if war becomes inevitable they are the ones who will pay the price not the ones actually wanting the war !!!
RoseMai (Boston, MA)
Between the WMDs, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Iran-Contra affair, etc. etc., I do not trust any US "intelligence" to tell United States citizens the truth. I would not be a single bit surprised if our government used false information to drag us into another foreign conflict.

And why Syria? There have been whole genocides that we've turned a blind eye to. This country does nothing on conscience alone.

No more! Focus on fixing what's wrong at home before even entertaining the idea of venturing abroad. We certainly have enough problems to keep us busy for a long time.
David (Brisbane)
That info is so incredible, it is almost ridiculous. Firstly, why would Assad need to use chemical weapons now, when his victory is all but assured? But even leaving that aside, secondly, does such a chemical strike really need to be prepared days in advance, so that US intelligence could see it better? Do they load the chemical bombs on a plane and then let it sit on the tarmac for days? Complete nonsense. They are just trying to deter Syrian Air Force from bombing ISIS by threatening Assad with another provocation. That's all there is to it.
Could this be a distraction to call attention away from health care bill's negative coverage or Russian gate investigation expanding to Trump's son in law. Using the military power of the USA for political gains is despicable and would confirm the growing opinion that Trump is a self dealing con artist. His over seas popularity of 22% is even less than his 37% in the USA. Trump's record of issuing falsehoods frequently precludes trust in his statements and more worrisome when they involve national security issues. The Intel and Justice depts are not political arms of his 2020 campaign he seems to have no idea how our democracy works we are not a dictatorship like the many ones he admires.
VK (São Paulo)
The red line strategy in Syria is flawed by design for a simple reason: when a chief of State draws one publicly, it is an invitation for the anti-Assad terrorist forces to do false flag operations in order to trigger a favorable military intervention from an imperialist power.

Red line then becomes a coded message for terrorists whenever they want to attack the govern through the air or sea.
Julioantonio (Los Angeles)
Exactly. It's almost like telling those terrorist forces Assad will be blamed for it, so go ahead and do what you have to do. And those forces do have chemical weapons and have used them before. They were never required by any UN agreement to get rid of those, nor to stop manufacturing them. Of course, they never admitted to having any and no one has been interested in finding out.
Sarah B. (Seattle, WA)
Indeed, the U.S. and its 'coalition partners' in the Syrian conflict, now in its 6th gruesome year (and counting), are happy to turn a blind eye to the crude but deadly chemical weapons capability of the so-called rebels -- actually terrorists affiliated with the al Nusra Front and other known al-Qaeda affiliates -- because they're 'our' rebels.

If the situation in Syria weren't so profoundly tragic, it could pass quite convincingly as farce.
james ginn (timbucktu)
More lies to justify the murder of tens of thousands more innocents in the ME. What goes around comes around. Our day is coming.
whitelight (Kailua Kona Hawaii)
Spoken like a true prophet. Nobody gets away with anything and we certainly have it coming. When out Karma comes around it will be horrific and justified by it's perpetrators. It will be akin to the justification used to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Popsiq (Canada)
Our day? Self-inflicted no doubt.
Trevor Wells (South Africa)
There are conflicting opinions about the veracity of the intelligence. For example https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/26/hershs-big-scoop-bad-intel-behin...
Mford (ATL)
OF course chemical weapons are among the most ghastly horrors of human invention. Of course Assad and anyone else who uses them must be hunted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of human law. But why use of these weapons alone should justify risking total war is beyond me. Stopping a widespread campaign of ethnic cleansing is (in my mind) among the very few justifications for war, but that's not what we're seeing here. What we see in Syria is a situation where escalation will only lead to more slaughter in a place where chemical weapons have played a minor role, perhaps accounting for 0.5% of the deaths over the past 5 years. Why go to war now?
Jerry (Portland, Or)
We worry about Assad killing his own people with gas. Here we do it by taking away health care.