By Yossef Bodansky: Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?
There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the August 21, 2013, chemical strike in the suburbs was indeed a pre-meditated provocation by the Syrian opposition. The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the horror of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light. On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence Mukhagarat Amriki took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Instanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to a war-changing development which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria. The opposition forces had to quickly prepare their forces for exploiting the US-led bombing in order to march on Damascus and topple the Bashar al-Assad Government, the senior commanders explained. The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. Indeed, unprecedented weapons distribution started in all opposition camps in Hatay Province on August 21-23, 2013. In the Reyhanli area alone, opposition forces received well excess of 400 tons of weapons, mainly anti-aircraft weaponry from shoulder-fired missiles to ammunition for light-guns and machineguns. The weapons were distributed from store-houses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of US intelligence. These weapons were loaded on more than 20 trailer-trucks which crossed into northern Syria and distributed the weapons to several despots. Follow-up weapon shipments, also several hundred tons, took place over the weekend of August 24-25, 2013, and included mainly sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles and rockets. Opposition officials in Hatay said that these weapon shipments were the biggest they had received since the beginning of the turmoil more than two years ago. The deliveries from Hatay went to all the rebel forces operating in the Idlib-to-Aleppo area, including the al-Qaida affiliated jihadists who constitute the largest rebel forces in the area. Several senior officials from both the Syrian opposition and sponsoring Arab states stressed that these weapon deliveries were specifically in anticipation for exploiting the impact of imminent bombing of Syria by the US and the Western allies. The latest strategy formulation and coordination meetings took place on August 26, 2013. The political coordination meeting took place in Istanbul and was attended by US Ambassador Robert Ford.