On the Internet? Mr. Kerry, if your staff avoided calling your attention to Internet reports about Turkish complicity in the sarin attack of Aug. 21, 2013, because they lacked confirmation, we believe you can now consider them largely confirmed.
Addressing fellow members of parliament on Dec. 10, 2015, Turkish MP Eren Erdem from the Republican People's Party (a reasonably responsible opposition group) confronted the Turkish government on this key issue. Waving a copy of "Criminal Case Number 2013/120," Erdem referred to official reports and electronic evidence documenting a smuggling operation with Turkish government complicity.
In an interview with RT four days later, Erdem said Turkish authorities had acquired evidence of sarin gas shipments to anti-government rebels in Syria, and did nothing to stop them.
The General Prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana opened a criminal case, and an indictment stated "chemical weapons components" from Europe "were to be seamlessly shipped via a designated route through Turkey to militant labs in Syria." Erdem cited evidence implicating the Turkish Minister of Justice and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation in the smuggling of sarin.
According to Erdem, the 13 suspects arrested in raids carried out against the plotters were released just a week after they were indicted, and the case was closed -- shut down by higher authority. Erdem told RT that the sarin attack at Ghouta took place shortly after the criminal case was closed and that the attack probably was carried out by jihadists with sarin gas smuggled through Turkey.
Small wonder President Erdogan has accused Erdem of "treason." It was not Erdem's first "offense." Earlier, he exposed corruption by Erdogan family members, for which a government newspaper branded him an "American puppet, Israeli agent, a supporter of the terrorist PKK and the instigator of a coup."
In our Sept. 6, 2013 Memorandum for the President, we reported that coordination meetings had taken place just weeks before the sarin attack at a Turkish military garrison in Antakya -- just 15 miles from the Syrian border with Syria and 55 miles from its largest city, Aleppo.
In Antakya, senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials were said to be coordinating plans with Western-sponsored rebels, who were told to expect an imminent escalation in the fighting due to "a war-changing development." This, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria, and rebel commanders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Assad government.
A year before, the New York Times reported that the Antakya area had become a "magnet for foreign jihadis, who are flocking into Turkey to fight holy war in Syria." The Times quoted a Syrian opposition member based in Antakya, saying the Turkish police were patrolling this border area "with their eyes closed."
And, Mr. Lavrov, while the account given by Eren Erdem before the Turkish Parliament puts his charges on the official record, a simple Google search including "Antakya" shows that you were correct in stating the Internet contains a wealth of contemporaneous detail supporting Erdem's disclosures.
Mr. Kerry, while in Moscow on Dec. 15, you said to a Russian interviewer that Syrian President Assad "has gassed his people -- I mean, gas hasn't been used in warfare formally for years -- for -- and gas is outlawed, but Assad used it."
Three days later The Washington Post dutifully repeated the charge about Assad's supposed killing "his own people with chemical weapons." U.S. media have made this the conventional wisdom. The American people are not fully informed. There has been no mainstream media reporting on Turkish MP Erdem's disclosures.
We ask you again, Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov, to set the record straight on this important issue. The two of you have demonstrated an ability to work together on important matters -- the Iran nuclear deal, for example -- and have acknowledged a shared interest in defeating ISIS, which clearly is not Turkish President Erdogan's highest priority. Indeed, his aims are at cross-purposes to those wishing to tamp down the violence in Syria.