01:23 GMT +319 February 2018
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    Smoke billows after air strikes by regime forces on the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus, on December 13, 2015

    Foreign Intelligence 'Might Have Been Involved' in Ghouta Gas Attack in Syria

    © AFP 2018/ AMER ALMOHIBANY
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    Evidence suggests that the 2013 chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta was not carried out by the Syrian Army. London-based political analyst, commentator and legal expert Alexander Mercouris told Radio Sputnik that a foreign intelligence agency and radical groups could have been behind the attack.

    Earlier, Bashar Jaafari, Syria's envoy to the UN, told Sputnik in an exclusive interview that the French intelligence service was involved in the attack that left more than 1,300 civilians killed. The incident, he explained, was orchestrated to prevent a UN inspector from going to Aleppo and investigating another chemical assault blamed on rebels.

    "These are Syrian allegations and obviously there is no independent corroboration of them. But such things are known to have happened in the past. And if one looks at the actual facts of what happened in August 2013, many people suspected that something like that had been happening for a very long time," Mercouris said.

    The analyst further noted that "it does look like the operation may have been carried out by the Syrian rebels and it is possible of course that a foreign intelligence agency was involved. There certainly have been precedents for such things."

    The sarin gas attack took place in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on August 21, 2013. Western leaders and radical groups trying to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the attack on government forces, without providing evidence. Damascus has always denied these allegations.

    Mercouris pointed out the device used in the attack appears to tacitly prove the Syrian Army did not gas civilians.

    "It is largely accepted by those who know about these things that this was an improvised device, probably not intended for use in sarin attacks. The evidence such as it is suggests that it could not have been launched from the Syrian military base," he said. "This seems to redirect the evidence towards the rebels."

    If true, then the question is how the rebels acquired the gas. Mercouris offered two possible options:

    "It might have been a foreign intelligence agency. The Syrians say it was the French. Others have suggested Turkish intelligence. And of course it's always possible that it was the rebels themselves who do have industrial facilities under their control which might have produced this material."

    Smoke rises during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and the Army of Islam fighters, on the eastern mountains of Qalamoun overlooking the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus September 14, 2015.
    © REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh
    Smoke rises during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and the Army of Islam fighters

    The analyst also mentioned that the UN investigation into the Ghouta chemical attack that nearly prompted the United States and the United Kingdom to launch a military operation against Syria seems to have avoided focusing on findings that could implicate another party in the attack, not Assad. 

    "I think this has been one of the major problems of the whole investigation," he said, adding that US reports show that their inspectors "make certain findings and then refuse to follow those findings through to their conclusion."

    The primary reason, he suggested, might be the following: they are obviously concerned that these findings "would lead in a certain direction where they don't want to go."

    This file photo taken on February 23, 2016 shows a Red Crescent convoy carrying humanitarian aid arriveing in Kafr Batna, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus during an operation in cooperation with the UN to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians
    © AFP 2018/ AMER ALMOHIBANY
    This file photo taken on February 23, 2016 shows a Red Crescent convoy carrying humanitarian aid arriveing in Kafr Batna, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus during an operation in cooperation with the UN to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians

    "The UN is very much at the present time influenced by the Western powers. The Western powers blame the Syrian government for the attack. They never retracted that allegation even as evidence has mounted up that it wasn't the Syrian government. So they did not really want the UN to look at the evidence that might point in another direction. In other words, away from the Syrian government," he said.

    Mercouris further said that we might learn the truth about the Ghouta chemical attack in the future when historians study the archives or someone familiar with the situation comes forward.

    Related:

    Syrian Opposition May Be Behind 2013 Ghouta Chemical Attack - French General
    Claims of Foreign Involvement at Ghouta Countered by Propaganda - Ex-CIA Officer
    Efforts to Blame Syria for Ghouta Attack Failed Given Lack of Evidence
    Syrian Army 'Unlikely to Be Behind 2013 Ghouta Attack'
    Tags:
    chemical attack, sarin, intelligence agencies, rebels, chemical weapons, investigation, Syrian conflict, Alexander Mercouris, Bashar Jaafari, Syria, Ghouta
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