As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel departed Israel, Israeli Brigadier-General Itai Brun has came forth to claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on several occasions. He was “nearly 100 percent certain,” the Washington Post added.
However, the only evidence he provided for his red line-violating claim was that he had seen some photos of people in Syria with constricted pupils and foam coming out of their mouths. As the Moon of Alabama blog puts it, “Israeli General Watches Youtube Video – Finds WMD.”
“Shrunken pupils, foaming at the mouth and other signs” in videos could have come from a variety of causes. These symptoms could be a sign for heroin and other drug use. Medical issues like seizure could also explain these symptoms. Sarin exposure though leads to lots of additional symptoms and would likely also effect those giving first aid to, or is making a video of, anyone who was seriously exposed to that stuff.
In the “famous incident of March 19″ there were no chemical weapons but chlorine that, according to a Reuters reporter, was used against a government held barrier. Several Syrian army soldiers died. The attack came after insurgents had captured a factory east of Aleppo that produced chlorine for disinfecting drinking water.
It should also be noted that these photos and videos have been provided by the insurgents in Syria, who most definitely have an incentive to falsify the evidence to secure the US/NATO invasion they have long sought.
Hagel, in remarks delivered before his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said of the US-Israeli relationship, “This is a difficult and dangerous time, this is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever.”
These comments put the Israeli general’s claims rather in a more specific light.
As if on cue, Secretary of State John Kerry told NATO’s North Atlantic Council today:
“Planning regarding Syria, such as what (NATO) has already done, is an appropriate undertaking for the alliance,” Kerry told NATO foreign ministers. “We should also carefully and collectively consider how NATO is prepared to respond to protect its members from a Syrian threat, including any potential chemical weapons threat.”
Israel is understandably concerned over any use of chemical weapons in its neighbor’s territory, whether by the government, the insurgents, or other groups in the region. It is seemingly inexplicable in this case why the Israelis continue to push for intervention to overthrow the secular Syrian government. Whatever the case, Hagel’s trip was billed as an opportunity for him to correct the impression that he is not sufficiently dedicated to Israeli interests. It seems his recent hosts may have taken advantage of this awkward necessity to make a few demands of their own…
UPDATE: Even Netanyahu refuses to wade in the troubled waters of his Intel general’s dubious claims, backtracking to Secretary of State Kerry that he could not confirm General Brun’s report. OK, is he lying or not? If so, what to do about it, Mr. Prime Minister?
On Twitter @DanielLMcAdams11:10 am on April 23, 2013 Email Daniel McAdams