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Experts Doubt Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 8/24/13

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Original published at Washington's Blog



Preliminary Evidence Indicates that the Syrian Government Did NOT Launch a Chemical Weapon Attack Against Its People
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CBS News reports that the U.S. is finalizing plans for war against Syria -- and positioning ships to launch cruise missiles against the Syrian government -- based on the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people.

The last time the U.S. blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack, that claim was was debunked.

But is the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people true this time?

It's not surprising that Syria's close ally -- Russia -- is expressing doubt. Agence France-Presse (AFP) notes:

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"Russia, which has previously said it has proof of chemical weapons use by the rebels, expressed deep scepticism about the opposition's claims.

"The foreign ministry said the timing of the allegations as UN inspectors began their work 'makes us think that we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation.'"

But Russia isn't the only doubter.

AFP reports:

"'At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,' said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"'In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.'

"John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.

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"'Of the videos that I've seen for the last few hours, none of them show pinpoint pupils' this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus nerve agents,' he said.

"Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses in its stockpiles.

"'We're not seeing reports that doctors and nurses are becoming fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn't what we would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,' Winfield told AFP."

Haaretz reports:

"Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.

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