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Syrian rebels “say Saudis gave them chemical weapons.”

An article published by Mint Press News, written by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, reports that Syrians on the ground in Gouta and Damascus report chemical weapons were used by the rebels.

31 August 2013

The Mint Press website has apparently crashed under strain on its server but the article has been mirrored on anti-war.com.

According to the article, numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, reveal that many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via Saudi intelligence and were responsible for carrying out the gas attack.

The father of a rebel fighter who reportedly died during the attack said “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” and described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

A female rebel fighter reportedly complained, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them, we didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta reportedly said “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material. We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”

Mint Press warn that some of the information in their article cannot be independently verified – but the reported evidence of locals may cast more doubt on the case for the US to play a more direct role in supporting Al Qaeda-sympathising rebels and adding to the casualty figures in the country.

AS HRI has reported before, we are sceptical about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, and the recent release by the US State Department of a four page intelligence summary and a series of unsupported allegations by John Kerry have done nothing to dispel our doubts on the matter.

We applaud the decision of the UK Parliament not to intervene militarily in the Syrian conflict, a decision which raises the UK’s moral standing in the world. The issue of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria should be investigated impartially and thoroughly. It is quite clear that the United States government and their intelligence services are not the people to do this work as they have been supplying the rebels, have a track record of bending intelligence to their own ends, have reportedly tried to stop the UN inspectors from doing their work and, as Kerry’s statements and today’s intelligence assessment make clear, are incapable of putting together an objective report on the matter, being primarily concerned with propaganda and apparently believing that a series of unsupported statements of belief add up to cogent proof.

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August 31, 2013