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    US Senator of the Virginia State Richard Black attends a news conference in Damascus, Syria April 28, 2016.

    Staged Gas Attacks & US Shortcomings: US Senator Tells Sputnik About Syria Trip

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    US Senator Richard Black in an exclusive interview with Sputnik, revealed how the Syrian people see their president, what went wrong with the US policy in the Mideast and also expressed his admiration for the state of human rights in the country, as "Syria has the greatest women’s rights and the greatest religious freedoms of any Arab country."

    Black, a Republican member of the Virginia State Senate, has recently returned from Syria, where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and discussed recent developments in the country.

    Sputnik: You recently met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. What was your general opinion of the man and how accurately is he represented in Western media?

    Richard Black: This is the second time that I've met with President Assad. We had a 45-minute schedule and we ended up talking for three hours. The last time he was optimistic, he was determined. This time there was almost a spring in his step. He was quite joyous and happy.

    I think, like all Syrians, he realizes that unless the West gets involved in a very malign fashion, the War will end rather soon. I think all Syrians are ready for that, but he seemed very upbeat and very happy.

    You asked about how he is portrayed in the media. People in Syria know that he is a very humble individual. There is almost a touch of shyness about him. Incredibly intelligent and very devoted to his people.

    READ MORE: UK Submarine Reportedly Enters Mediterranean Amid Expected Provocations in Syria

    He doesn't have an imperial presidency like we have and many Western countries have. When he suddenly goes to a religious ceremony, whether it's for the Muslims or the Christians, he drives himself, in his own SUV. He doesn't have an escort and people love him for this.

    There has never been one attempt on President Assad. And he says: if the Syrian people wanted me out, soldiers would march in one day, they would say: Mr. President, it's time for you to leave, pack up your things, we are going to escort you out; you are no longer the president. And he would say: I accept that, it's the will of the people.

    I do not know any other politician in any country who enjoys the level of popularity of President Assad. I ran into this in the countryside when I talked to shepherds. They would say: "We love our president; you need to let people in the West know how much we are devoted to President Assad."

    Sputnik: What kind of issues did you discuss with Assad? Are you going to pass over any information from the meeting, perhaps, to US officials and lawmakers?

    Richard Black: The lawmakers — they tend to listen to the deep state, to the intelligence agencies whose principle purpose in the Syrian war is to create propaganda to deceive the American people about what's going on.

    Of course, we discussed [with Assad] the upcoming battle in Idlib. You know that the Syrian army has recaptured almost all Syria and there is a pocket of ultra-extreme radicals in Idlib. The people in Idlib live under a domination of these very vicious jihadists. They are headed by an individual named Abjullani. Abjullani was a major figure in Daesh [ISIS]*. He is the top figure for al-Qaeda* in Syria.

    READ MORE: US Sends Troops to its Syria Base Amid Moscow's Alleged Attack Warnings — Report

    If the US were to intervene on the side of the rebels in Idlib, we would be fighting shoulder to shoulder, alongside al-Qaeda, the same group that attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11. So we did talk about Idlib, we talked about the prospects for the fighting and of course the president's desire to limit the bloodshed as much as he possibly can.

    This has always been his policy throughout the war, unlike when we attacked Mosul and Raqqa and just carpet bombed and indiscriminately killed everyone who was in those cities. They don't do that in Syria because they are liberating the people.

    We talked about the sanctions, the American sanctions and how they prevented people from receiving food, medicines for cancer, for other things.

    If we get rid of the sanctions, it would make it so much easier for the refugees to return. We did talk about the refugees and President Assad made it quite clear: he wants all of the Syrians to return to Syria. The main power is the power of a nation. The Syrians are very intelligent, very hard-working. He wants them back.

    Sputnik: What about the issue of chemical weapons? Because, of course, it's been in the media. Western media has been saying that Assad will likely use chemical weapons. Did this issue also come up?

    Richard Black: I have studied the Syrian war for seven years. I started studying it because I studied Libya. What were we attacking Libya for? They never attacked anyone. And that led to the fact that we were capturing Libyan weapons so that we could ship them to Turkey and use them to stage an invasion of Syria. I've studied each of these gas attack provocations and with the exception of Douma, every one of them has been carried out by the terrorists, often in conjunction with Turkey or with other foreign intelligence agencies.

    READ MORE: Chemical Weapons Provocation in Syria to Start September 8 — Russian MoD

    In Douma, there is a very strange situation that has never been disclosed in the media. British intelligence began warning several weeks earlier that there was going to be a gas attack in Douma, that the Syrians were going to carry it out. And the Tiger Forces of the Syrian army launched an attack from an unexpected direction and they captured the chemical laboratory that the rebels intended to use to stage the gas attack that they would blame on the Syrian government.

    The terrorists gave up and the battle progressed; finally the rebels had to surrender. And they staged a false gas attack. There never was a gas attack in Douma.

    I know that because a very dear friend of mine, Pearson Short, who works for One America News, which is a fine broadcast system. He happened to be in Damascus at the time and he dashed down with nothing but a taxi driver and interpreter and he went to the place [where] the gas attack was supposedly held.

    He questioned many, many ordinary people who had no connection with the government and he said: "What's happening with the gas attack? Where are the casualties?" And everybody said: "What gas attack? We haven't heard anything about a gas attack."

    It was all staged and fake. There is sort of a pattern on these things. I began to pick up in the British media about four weeks ago these panic announcements that Syria was going to use gas. To me it's always a signal that they are about to stage one of these staged gas attacks. I think there's a very real danger.

    No American journalist has ever asked if Syria had gas in the first place. If they were so desperate to use gas, why don't they use it against the terrorists? There are 50,000 terrorists in the province of Idlib. Why do they always use them against women with baby strollers and old men? There is no answer to it. It's irrational. No rational person would believe that this was possible.

    READ MORE: Terrorists in Syria's Idlib Active in Aggressive Way, Stage Attacks — Envoy

    Journalists understand there are certain questions that you'd better not ask if you want to have a career in journalism in the US.

    I worry very much that there will be a poison gas attack, there's been actual intelligence released on it. It appears as though British Intelligence MI6 will carry out a staged gas attack; they have already chosen a location that has been disclosed. They have trained people to fake as if they were victims of gas. Now it's been disclosed and they may change their plans. We may see a different scenario.

    But I think it is very likely that there will be air attacks on the Syrian army; then we will be in a close total alliance with al Qaeda that attacked the US and murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

    Sputnik: Did you receive actual assurances from Assad that the Syrian army isn't using chemical weapons? Because that's what some people want to hear.

    Richard Black: President Assad finds it to be ludicrous the idea that he would ever use it. You recall that the US declared unequivocally, along with the UN, that there were no poison weapons remaining in Syria.

    They know if they used poison gas, if they really did it, it would probably provoke an invasion by the West. Syria understands it. They have absolutely nothing to gain, everything to lose. Each one of these so-called poison gas attacks has been debunked by very credible investigative journalists, people like Seymour Hersh. He has done excellent work on Syria and he has disclosed the fact that these were faked gas attacks.

    READ MORE: Putin: Most Important Now is To Kick Terrorists Out of Syria's Idlib

    President Assad has made it clear in both of my discussions with him that there's no incentive, there's no earthly reason that Syria would use poison gas.

    Sputnik: You have been a vocal critic of US policy towards Syria. Which part of the policy do you disagree with the most and why?

    Richard Black: Going all the way back to the time when the US opposed the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, we have begun to use terror as a weapon. We should have learned in Afghanistan that this is a very dangerous weapon. It is like Pandora's Box: once you open and release the creatures that are in Pandora s box, you can never get them back in.

    The CIA, working together with British Intelligence, have repeatedly used the terror weapon to overthrow nations. Our goal is to install a puppet regime. If we had succeeded in Syria today, Al Qaeda or Daesh [ISIS] would be running Syria from Damascus and the dreaded black and white flag of al Qaeda would fly over the capital. I don't think this is what the American people want.

    I would say that the worst thing about American foreign policy is that it is deeply entrenched in our foreign policy to use terror as a weapon. The people in the CIA and the State Department have no limits, there is no moral constraint on what they will allow the terrorists to do or encourage them to do. They've [terrorists] been engaged in mass raping of Syrian women, beheadings, crucifixions, amputations, burning of people — all of these things.

    And I think in each case, as long as it serves the purpose of regime change and overthrowing the government, installing a puppet government that is satisfactory to Saudi Arabia and some of the other powers in the Middle East — then we're quite comfortable to do that.

    READ MORE: Most of Syria's Idlib De-Escalation Zone Still Controlled by Militants — Moscow

    We talk about the war on terror, but we are not waging a war on terror. We are waging a war in which terror is our principal weapon. That is my principal concern with what we are doing in the Middle East.

    Sputnik: Senator, you've said that you hold consecutive US administrations responsible for the chaos in the Mideast: the destruction in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think that some changes will likely be introduced under the Trump administration?

    Richard Black: I had very much hoped that this would be the case when President Trump appointed Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. I knew Michael Flynn, I knew his advisors; they were people who have an interest in peace. They genuinely opposed terror, they wanted to improve relations with Russia; they saw no reasons for the tensions with Russia.

    The Deep State were terrified Michael Flynn might remain the national security adviser. For this reason they ousted him and successively put in bellicose people like John Bolton and they probably couldn't find a greater advocate of war than John Bolton. So at this point I think it is quite questionable if the president will be capable of changing and shifting American policy.

    The problem is that he is surrounded by the deep state. We use the term to refer to the elements of the CIA, the State Department, to a smaller extent to the Defense Department, some members of Congress, the Senate. Not all Senators, of course, but certain key people. John McCain was a good example. And then we had those think tanks which were typically funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, places like that. They may have a dozen people and their job is to write articles that undermine secular governments and lead to their overthrow.

    READ MORE: US Representative for Syria Says Possible Idlib Offensive Would Be 'Reckless'

    They encourage wars against different places, so I'm doubtful at this point that President Trump will be able by the force of will to control the deep state. They have immense power; they have limitless money, whether it comes from the US Treasury, Saudi Arabia or other places. I wish that President Trump would carry out some of his campaign promises that I like very much. He said "I'm going to work with Syria, with President Assad.

    I'm going to diminish tensions with Russia, which isn't necessary. I'm, going to downgrade NATO." I agree with all these things and I wish he's carried them out. I think it would be better for him to do so.

    Sputnik: Going back to the immediate issue of the situation in Idlib, Syria. In your view, what could be done to resolve the situation there with minimum casualties among the civilian population and to avoid some malign intervention by forces that do not want to see a settlement in Syria?

    Richard Black: Yes, it's important for people to recognize that the Syrian government needs to liberate the people of Idlib province, even the families of the jihadists who have been moved there. Many of them are slaves — sex slaves who are simply traded around. A poor Syrian woman is often told by her owner that she will sleep with 10 different men in the next week as a reward for their combat.

    These people need to be rescued. The idea that that somehow we would leave the most hideous jihadists, the worst terrorists on earth untouched to prevent the accidental death of some civilians is like if at the end of WWII, we would say: "Well, this final battle for Berlin will result in civilian casualties, so we can't go after Adolf Hitler because there will be collateral damage and some people will be injured."

    Here we have the Adolf Hitler of terrorism; his name is [Abu Mohammad] Al-Julani. We have a $10 million bounty on al-Julani, so the idea that we would stop and leave all the people of Idlib at the mercy of these Wahhabi jihadists, men who believe that it is their duty to rape women, behead Christians, crucify those who disagree is unacceptable.

    READ MORE: Ex-General Complains That Israel Hits Syria 'Every Time' Army Strikes Terrorists

    No country on earth would simply allow that festering sore. Idlib must be liberated not only for the future of Syria, but for the future of civilized mankind. If [the jihadists] are allowed to survive, if they are not taken out in Idlib, they're going to travel to Berlin, to London, to Paris, to Brussels, to New York, to Washington D.C. Their mission is to kill, slaughter those who disagree with their philosophy.

    For all of the civilized world, it is central that the battle for Idlib take place. I just pray that somewhere within the British government and the US government we will find some vestige of morality and decency. I served in the US Marine Corps, I was wounded; my radioman was killed beside me.

    As Marines, we were told to sing the Marine Corps hymn and part of it said: "We will fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean. We are proud to claim the title of the United States Marine."

    I don't know how we can keep our honor clean if we fight on the side of terrorists who keep women as slaves and compel them to have sex with strangers, filthy, disgusting and hateful people. This is not keeping our honor clean. I think it is essential to rescue the people of Idlib and exterminate the terrorists.  

    Sputnik: Senator, if you could perhaps briefly share with us what engagements and meetings you have had in Syria. Obviously you had an opportunity to speak with the local population.

    Richard Black: Yes, I went to the battlefront, I went to the scene of one of the greatest battles of modern history, when the terrorists tried to break out of the pocket where they were trapped in Aleppo, the Aleppo pocket. That was a tremendous battle waged for about a month. Thousands of men died on both sides. Ultimately, the terrorists were defeated. I went to the frontlines, was in a building overlooking the battlefield. There were soldiers with sandbags in small holes with their weapons ready to fire.

    READ MORE: France Ready to Strike Syria if Chemical Weapons Used — Army Chief

    I told them to be careful because there are snipers. That was not the first [time] I was fired at by snipers — they have tried to kill me a thousand times and maybe someday they will. At least I will know I was killed fighting on the right side and defending what is right. I visited the Syrian parliament and I'd like to mention that contrary to what is presented to the American people, many members of parliament are women, very prominent members and a top adviser to the president, Bhoutaina Shaaban, is a very brave woman and a closes adviser to the president.

    Syria has the greatest women's rights and the greatest religious freedoms of any Arab country. It is truly a model of for any Arab country. If we compare it with our ally, Saudi Arabia, which has virtually no freedoms for women — who are treated more like property. I also visited with the governor of Aleppo province and I visited the governor of Homs province. This is the second time I've been in Homs. I ran around with the governor to places I've seen before and it is amazing the progress with rebuilding and cleaning up.

    Syrians are very industrious people; they don't sit around waiting for someone to fix the problem for them. They get out and work. The piles of rubble that were there the last time are completely gone. It is almost a tunnel with shops, the soot is painted over and shops are opening up. I just walked into one shop at random and it turned out to be a women's shop and the styles are very impressive, like something you would see in a very fine [shop] in Paris, elegant women's styles. I met with religious authorities in the Church of Mary's Belt that was built 59 years after the death of Jesus.

    It has relics — pieces of the belt worn by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the invasion by terrorists, they sent a special operations team to find and destroy fragments of Mary's Belt. They ripped up the altar but couldn't find it. They ripped up the walls and they still couldn't find it. So they ordered the priest to reveal its location and when he refused to do it, they beheaded him. But the church managed to move the fragments to safety. I was actually able to hold the fragments myself, which was an honor.

    Everywhere these terrorists go, they destroy Christian relics and images. In one of the convents that I went to, they had burned it out, they had looted it and they had burned ancient icons that had been there for a thousand years. Some of the icons were built into the ceiling and the walls with piles and because they couldn't' remove those, they went up to the ceiling and they plucked the eyes out of Jesus. They went over where there was an icon of the Virgin Mary and they plucked the eyes out of the Virgin Mary.

    READ MORE: Four Russian Warplanes Hit Nusra Front Positions in Syria's Idlib Province — MoD

    This is the nature of the people that we support. The US pays these people, we arm them and train them, and they go and pluck the eyes of Jesus. These are hideous people. We saw many things; we met many members of the parliament. I also met with President [Michel] Aoun of Lebanon and his Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. They are very concerned about the refugee situation because right now, half of Lebanon's population are refugees.

    The reason for the problem and President Assad has made it clear: he wants all the refugees back. He needs them to rebuild Syria. The UN is under pressure from the US, Saudi Arabia, from all the sources of funding and so what they do is that for refugees who have left Syria, they provide financial incentives, money, food, medical attention. But if they return to Syria, they get nothing. There is a tremendous financial incentive for refugees to stay away. I think this is intentional. It's an embarrassment to the West to see Syrian refugees pouring back into the country they love.

    Nonetheless, despite the fact that we have done this with the United Nations, 150,000 have returned to Aleppo City already, 350,000 have returned to Homs City and some are returning from Lebanon and both Syria and Lebanon are very anxious for all of the refugees to return. One of the crucial things is that the United States must drop sanctions on Syria because we are blocking them from receiving food and medicine.

    International law makes it a war crime to prevent food and medicine from getting into a country, but in a very common fashion we have skirted the law of war by imposing currency controls, so [we say] "You can bring in medicine, you just can't pay for it."

    I still think it is a violation of the law of land warfare because there is a principle of law that says that you can't do indirectly what you are prohibited to do directly. We are blocking medicine for cancer, medicine for the old people. I had a woman come up to me with her little girl in her arms.

    She said: "Can you help me?" She said, "My child, my daughter and my son need special treatment that's only available from the United States and they have a disease that affects their legs."

    The mother sat her daughter on the ground and I saw that the little girl's legs were shaking because she could barely stand up. The woman said it was breaking her heart to know that it is American policy that would probably cause her little girl and her brother to die. This is because the deep state is insistent on regime change. It is wrong, under the Christian faith, under the Muslim faith, it is sinful and it should be stopped. We should end the sanctions and allow peace to return. The United States is doing nothing.

    READ MORE: Israel Admits to Giving Guns to Anti-Government Extremists in Syria

    One-third of our entire national debt was incurred fighting in the Middle East and there is not one single thing that has benefited the American people or American foreign policy from what we have done in the Middle East. Everything has been destruction, we have left governments in ruins, we have left anarchy in places like Libya, where they have no government at all after seven years and so it is time that we refocus our foreign policy and restore the image of the United States as a good, decent and moral country.

    Sputnik: Senator, it's been a privilege having you with us here at Radio Sputnik. Thank you very much for your insightful input.

    Richard Black: Thank you. I enjoyed being with you and I appreciate all of the things that you do and your interest in world peace.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups banned in Russia

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    militants, army, intelligence, policy, Richard Black, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, United States
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