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1 researchok  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 9:02:38am

Sorry- didn't mean to step on you.

2 Destro  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 10:50:38am

The USA said it would get involved in the Syrian war if chemical weapons were used and not for any other reason short of genocide if I recall State Dept comments.

And now rebels claim the Syrian regime did use chemical weapons.

And we should trust these rebels who want the US to fight their war for them?

3 EiMitch  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 10:56:01am

Was everyone else in Homs wearing hazmat suits or something? Only seven died? Yeah, I'm hesitant to believe this too.

4 celticdragon  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 11:34:14am

I cannot tell what sort of agent might have been used, although I may tend to go with a choking agent (like chlorine) which is (usually) far less deadly than sarin or tabun and is not persistent. (Note, some other choking agents like phosgene are really, really nasty)

5 TDG2112  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 3:41:07pm

re: #3 EiMitch

Actually, the question is how was it delivered and against what kind of target?

Chemical weapons are not easy to use effectively. Everyone thinks of WWI where it was deployed by artillery in massive barrages. Here, it was supposedly a single plane spraying over an area. The 7 dead does not tell the whole story. All chemicals disperse very quickly. If you spray an area where you think a platoon of soldiers are (30-50 soldiers) and you achieve a "direct hit" you might kill 7 of them and put another 10-15 out of action. If you miss, you might make a few people sick that pass through the area in the next 30-60 minutes. So, the casualty count is not a good measure of whether or not chemical weapons were deployed

That all said, the updates on the article raise some good points on how accurate this claim is. The casualty count is not a good way to determine the truthfulness of the claim. The inconsistencies pointed out by US officials may simply be exaggerations by Syrian rebels trying hard to get Western help, which means the whole story may be fabricated. But then again, the exaggerations/inconsistencies may simply be a breakdown in how this is all communicated, and Assad really did use Chemicals. There are people smarter and with more access/information than me that will have to determine this


I have a lot more I can talk about on this being an old armchair general, but it doesn't really add to the question of whether Assad used WMD or not.

6 Destro  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 3:49:33pm

re: #5 TDG2112

I have a lot more I can talk about on this being an old armchair general, but it doesn't really add to the question of whether Assad used WMD or not.

I call bullshit on the rebels. 7 dead? Weapons of MASS destruction, indeed.

If WMD can kill about as many as an old fashion mortar strike than what's the big deal?

7 Political Atheist  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 4:02:49pm

re: #6 Destro
re: #4 celticdragon


It could be bull. Dunno. What is also possible is a screw up. Might be a single shot where the wrong shell got loaded. Or maybe a scud fuel tank/oxidiser crash into town. Some serious toxic possibilities there, maybe played up as a warhead. ? Not at all sure "from a plane" means a spray like a crop duster or a dropped bomb.

8 TDG2112  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 4:04:14pm

re: #6 Destro

Destro,
I'm disappointed that you appear disappointed by the deadly results of a chemical weapon attack. I suppose after newton, anything less than 20 dead 6 year olds just isn't worth mentioning? But the fact remains, if it was a single air strike this is about what I'd expect to happen at the most. What I did not see in the report was how many non-lethal casualties were involved.

But on the battlefield you do not count victory or effectiveness by body count. If the rebels had been advancing and the Syrian army stopped 1000 of them from advancing by killing 7 with chemicals and scaring the rest into taking cover, the weapon was effective.

Chemicals may be listed as WMD, but they do no where the same kind of damage a nuke does. Modern armies (and rebels) do not concentrate all their forces in nice neat squares like they did back in the US Civil war. If you read the literature the thinking is that Assad will NOT use chemicals because they just are not very effective in the terrain and enemy he is facing.

Again, body count is NOT an effective way to determine if this was a real chemical attack.

9 Destro  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 4:27:05pm

re: #8 TDG2112

I'm disappointed that you appear disappointed by the deadly results of a chemical weapon attack.

Cut the bullshit. Using WMD aka chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is one of those trip wires that would mean American direct involvement in the Syrian civil war. You want to fight a war in the middle east again over bullshit intel?

10 TDG2112  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 4:52:16pm

Destro,
Dude, I think you betray a bias against the truth if it goes against what you want the West to do. I'm personally not convinced this was an actual chemical weapon use (read my initial post, especially the bold section)

The fact is I don't think we are going to get fully committed. If the West had wanted to, it would have already. So you can quit sweating it already.

The fact is, I'm more interested in the truth. Saying that 7 dead is not a big enough number to prove Chemical weapon use is a load of nonsense. Pointing to the problems with the report is a far more effective way to call BS on the claim.

So, don't tell me to cut the BS when you are the one that is full of it just to push your own ideology.

11 lawhawk  Mon, Dec 24, 2012 5:24:44pm

Is it possible that there was indeed a chemical weapon attack against civilians in Homs? Yes. Is it possible that it was something less than a chemical weapons agent? Again. Yes.

Is it possible that the Syrian rebels are exaggerating details? Another yes.

Do we know for certain what happened? Not unless we could track down those who were injured/killed in the attack and check for chemical weapons agents.

More current reports indicate that some kind of irritant agent was used - tear gas or the like. In confined spaces, it could potentially kill.

This is a situation worth following and verifying. Don't doubt for a moment that US, Russian, and other intel services will be looking through all this to see if there's anything to the claims. If it does pan out, it makes Assad's regime all the more shortlived.

12 Shiplord Kirel  Tue, Dec 25, 2012 4:56:51am

I'm not buying it. A large scale release could in fact miss a platoon of troops out in the boonies somewhere, but it would not miss practically everyone in a city the size of Homs. This either didn't happen or it was a very small scale release. There is no reason at all for Assad to risk global condemnation and possible intervention for a small scale pinprick use of this stuff. It is possible the victims died from inhaling some kind of poisonous combustion product, that is, smoke. There are all kinds of stuff in a city that will produce toxic smoke if they burn.
We certainly cannot take drastic action on the basis of a report like this. Our best response would be to try to get some samples of the agent involved, and some reliable toxicology on the victims. We can go from there.

13 TDG2112  Tue, Dec 25, 2012 6:44:15am

re: #12 Shiplord Kirel

I guess I'm not really sure where this alleged attack took place. The headlines lead me to think it was a military unit/target. But re-reading it the claim was that it was in the city of Homs.

But I think you nailed it when you pointed to all the toxic things there are in a city that could cause this sort of thing. Add to it bombs and fighting, plus poor maintenance and you're going to get a lot of nasty stuff all over the place without anyone actually spraying gas.

I wouldn't be surprised that the locals really believe they're victims of chemical weapons though.

14 lawhawk  Tue, Dec 25, 2012 9:23:51am

re: #13 TDG2112

Israeli military sources indicate that they have no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad's forces.

"We have seen reports from the opposition. It is not the first time. The opposition has an interest in drawing in international military intervention," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Army Radio.

"As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or proof that (chemical weapons) have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern," he said.

Syria activists: Several die after Assad's forces use 'poisonous gases'

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gathered activist accounts on Sunday of what they said was a poison gas attack in the city of Homs. The reports are difficult to verify, as the government restricts media access in Syria.

The Observatory, a British-based group with a network of activists across Syria, said those accounts spoke of six rebel fighters who died after inhaling smoke on the front line of Homs's urban battleground. It said it could not confirm that poison gas had been used and called for an investigation.

Syria has said it would never use chemical weapons against its citizens.

Asked about images purported to show patients being treated for possible gas poisoning, Yaalon said: "I'm not sure that what we're seeing in the photos is the result of the use of chemical weapons.

"It could be other things," he said, without elaborating.

On Sunday, senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad said Syria's chemical weapons were still secure despite the fact that Assad had lost control of parts of the country.


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