Chris Trotter goes to the defence of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and claims that it was the rebels who released sarin gas in Khan Sheikhoun, killing dozens of innocent men, women and children. His 'proof' is a discredited article published three years ago.

CHRIS TROTTER has committed various journalistic and political travesties in his time, like his continuing defence of the politically bankrupt Labour Party for instance, but he has really excelled himself with his defence of the barbaric Assad regime in Syria. In order to do so though, Trotter has played fast and loose with the facts - not particularly surprising for someone who once characterised a legitimate protest group as a police front engaged in a 'false flag' operation (more on 'false flags' later) and has managed to defend Hillary Clinton as being politically progressive while, at the same time, attacking her for being a 'conservative technocrat'.

While even Chris Trotter can't deny that someone dropped sarin gas in the rebel stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun, killing dozens of innocent men, women and children, he certainly can deny that the dictator Bashar al-Assad had anything to do with it.

Instead Trotter has chosen to rehash a story doing the rounds of some pro-Assad websites that it was the rebels themselves who released the sarin gas. Why would they do that? This apparent 'fake flag' operation was supposedly  designed to implicate Assad and prevent him having any meaningful role in any peace making process. It would also ensure that weapons would continue to be funnelled to the rebels and, at the same, put pressure on Russia to break with the Assad regime. The rebels would also win because the Trump administration would have to retreat from its 'Assad can stay' position.

Writes Trotter: "So many birds with just one, Sarin-smeared stone."

It all sounds so neat and precise, even logical, but the problem is Trotter can't actually prove that the rebels released the lethal gas. His entire argument is entirely evidence-free. Ironically though, he slams the western media for its readiness to accept that Assad was responsible for the atrocity, without providing any tangible evidence.

Indeed the only 'proof' Trotter has to offer is a story he has dredged up from an independent US news website called Mint Press - which has run a number of stories sympathetic to the Assad regime. Trotter doesn't mention this.

Trotter references a story that Mint Press published in 2013 that claimed that a sarin gas attack in East Ghouta had been carried out by rebel forces using chemical weapons supplied by Saudi Intelligence. That article was subsequently cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin as possible evidence that the Syrian government was not behind the attacks.

Chris Trotter: Defending the murderous Assad regime.
What Trotter neglects to mention is that the accuracy and reliability of this story is questionable. Indeed one of its so-called authors, Dale Gavlak, an American freelancer whose work has been published frequently by The Associated Press, complained that her name should never had appeared on the article. Her full statement reads:

Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece. To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based. The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.

As a result of Gavlek's disclosure, many progressive organisations dissociated themselves from the article.

In fact the validity of this article was further weakened by the United Nations inspectors who commented that they had found of "clear and convincing evidence" of the use of sarin delivered by surface-to-surface rockets. Said the UN report:

"The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used ..indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents."

Nevertheless Trotter has used this article to imply that the rebels were responsible for the latest outrage. Trotter's fantastic story doesn't even tally with the line being pushed by the Russian government. It claims that Syrian Air Force destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq.

An excellent article outlining the absurdity of this argument can be found here.

Right now there is the assault on the Syrian people from the reactionary forces of the religious fundamentalists of ISIS, and from the counter-revolutionary Assad regime tolerated by Western imperialism and blatantly supported by Russia.

The only appropriate response is to side with the people of Syria and the progressive and democratic forces, however feeble they may be, in their fight for peace, democracy, and social and economic justice. That will necessarily involve the departure of Assad, so as to allow the people of Syria to determine their own future - free of all foreign intervention.

The Syrian people certainly don't need people like Chris Trotter promoting the cause of the murderous dictator Bashar al- Assad.


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