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Claims of Foreign Involvement at Ghouta Countered by Propaganda - Ex-CIA Officer

Western propaganda operations have tried to obfuscate well-documented claims of foreign intelligence involvement in chemical attacks in Syria to boost the opposition and undermine President Bashar Assad’s government, former CIA officer Larry Johnson told Sputnik on Thursday.

UN vehicles escorting a Red Crescent convoy carrying humanitarian aid arrive in Kafr Batna, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on February 23, 2016 during an operation in cooperation with the UN to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians - Sputnik International
Efforts to Blame Syria for Ghouta Attack Failed Given Lack of Evidence
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Syria’s representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafery told Sputnik earlier this week there was evidence French intelligence was involved in the 2013 Ghouta sarin attack, prompting the UK’s Independent to respond with an article outlining the case against the Syrian government.

"The sarin used then [2013] was by rebel groups and likely involved the support of outside intelligence organizations… It is old information," Johnson pointed out. "This latest news burst appears to be part of a continuing propaganda operation to try to isolate Syria and bolster support for the rebels."

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh documented external involvement in the Syrian chemical attack in an article published in the London Review of Books back in December 2013, Johnson explained, adding that Hersh’s account was "absolutely correct."

Syria’s chemical weapons capability, Johnson continued, was carefully monitored by both US and Israeli intelligence on a daily basis.

"In other words, the use of chemical weapons by Syria would first require advance preparation by a Syrian military chemical unit," Johnson argued. "US and Israeli intelligence would have detected such activity. They did not find anything of the sort."

On Tuesday, Jaafari claimed that the sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people in the Syrian town of Ghouta in August 2013 was a plot organized by French intelligence services to prevent UN weapons inspectors from going to Aleppo to probe into another chemical attack and put the blame for it on the Syrian army.

United Nations (UN) arms experts arrive to inspect a site suspected of being hit by a deadly chemical weapons attack last week in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus. (File - Sputnik International
France One of Many Possible Suspects Behind Ghouta Chemical Attack - Ex-UN Envoy
On Wednesday, the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released the results of a joint probe into chemical weapons attacks in Syria in 2014 and 2015 that said the Syrian government was allegedly involved in two attacks and the Islamic State terrorist group, which is outlawed in Russia, in one.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a briefing on Thursday that Moscow welcomes the release of the report, which confirms that the Islamic State militants have chemical weapons. She reminded that Moscow had warned about the Islamic State being in possession of chemical weapons numerous times.

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