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Thread: Did Russia take part in chem weapons attack?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Did Russia take part in chem weapons attack?

    Did Russia take part in chem weapons attack?

    U.S. military officials say a drone belonging to Russia or Syria was spotted at the site of the chemical weapons attack after the assault.Russia calls U.S. strike an 'aggression' »

    US strikes win global praise _ but ratchet up Russia tension

    Associated Press April 7, 2017

    United States' Ambassador United Nations and current Security Council President Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, Friday, April 7, 2017 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

    PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The United States vowed Friday to keep the pressure on Syria after the intense nighttime wave of missile strikes from U.S. ships, despite the prospect of escalating Russian ill will that could further inflame one of the world's most vexing conflicts.

    Standing firm, the Trump administration signaled new sanctions would soon follow the missile attack, and the Pentagon was even probing whether Russia itself was involved in the chemical weapons assault that compelled President Donald Trump to action. The attack against a Syrian air base was the first U.S. assault against the government of President Bashar Assad.

    Much of the international community rallied behind Trump's decision to fire the cruise missiles in reaction to this week's chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of men, women and children in Syria. But a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the strikes dealt "a significant blow" to relations between Moscow and Washington.

    At the United Nations, Russia's deputy ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, strongly criticized what he called the U.S. "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression" whose "consequences for regional and international security could be extremely serious." He called the Assad government a main force against terrorism and said it deserved the presumption of innocence in the chemical weapons attack.

    U.S. officials blame Moscow for propping up Assad.

    "The world is waiting for the Russian government to act responsibly in Syria," Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said during an emergency Security Council session. "The world is waiting for Russia to reconsider its misplaced alliance with Bashar Assad."

    Haley said the U.S. was prepared to take further action in Syria but hoped it wouldn't be necessary.

    In Florida with the president, meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, "We will be announcing additional sanctions on Syria as part of our ongoing effort to stop this type of activity and emphasize how significant we view this. We expect that those will continue to have an important effect on preventing people from doing business with them."

    Thursday night's strikes — some 60 cruise missiles fired from two ships in the Mediterranean — were the culmination of a rapid, three-day transformation for Trump, who has long opposed deeper U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war. Advisers said he was outraged by heartbreaking images of young children who were among the dozens killed in the chemical attack and ordered his national security team to swiftly prepare military options.

    The decision undercut another campaign promise for Trump: his pledge to try to warm relations with Moscow. After months of allegations of ties between his election campaign and the Kremlin — the subject of current congressional and FBI investigations — Trump has found himself clashing with Putin.

    On Friday, senior U.S. military officials were looking more closely at possible Russian involvement in the poison attack. Officials said a drone belonging to either Russia or Syria was seen hovering over the site after the assault earlier this week. The drone returned late in the day as citizens were going to a nearby hospital for treatment. Shortly afterward, officials say the hospital was targeted.

    The officials, who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive matter, said they believe the hospital attack may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the earlier assault.

    White House officials caution that Trump is not preparing to plunge the U.S. deeper into Syria.

    Spokesman Sean Spicer said the missile attack sent a clear message to Assad, but he avoided explicitly calling for the Syrian to leave office.

    "The president believes that the Syrian government, the Assad regime, should at the minimum agree to abide by the agreements they made to not use chemical weapons," Spicer said when asked if Assad should step down.

    The impact of the strikes was also unclear. Despite intense international pressure, Assad has clung to power since a civil war broke out in his country six years ago, helped by financial and military support from both Russia and Iran. Russian military personnel and aircraft are embedded with Syria's, and Iranian troops and paramilitary forces are also on the ground helping Assad fight the array of opposition groups hoping to topple him.

    Trump spent Friday in Florida, in private meetings with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. officials noted that the timing of the strike had the possible added benefit of signaling to China that Trump is willing to make good on his threat to act alone to stop North Korea's nuclear pursuits if Beijing doesn't exert more pressure on Pyongyang.

    The missile strikes hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The missiles targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.

    Trump's decision to strike Syria won widespread praise from other nations, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which support the Syrian opposition. British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said the action was "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks."

    France, Italy and Israel also welcomed the strikes.

    Not everyone was cheering in Washington, where the president's decision to act without congressional authority angered a mix of libertarian Republicans, Democrats and the far right.

    "The Constitution is very clear that war originates in the legislature," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a leader of the party's non-interventionist wing who challenged Trump for the GOP nomination. "You vote before you go to war, not after you go to war."

    Still, most Republican leaders applauded the president, and some Democrats backed him, too.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said the strikes were "a limited but necessary response" and called on Trump to "develop a comprehensive strategy to end Syria's civil war."

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Did Russia try to destroy evidence?

    US investigates possible Russia role in Syria chemical attack

    By Laura Smith-Spark and Barbara Starr, CNN
    Updated 4:36 PM ET, Fri April 7, 2017

    (CNN)The US is investigating whether Russia was involved in the chemical attack in Syria that prompted President Donald Trump to launch the first direct military assault against the Assad regime.

    The Pentagon is looking for any evidence that the Russian government knew about or was complicit in the attack in Idlib province that killed at least 80 people and injured dozens more, a senior US defense official said.

    World leaders were sharply divided on the the missile bombardment of the Shayrat airfield, believed by the US to be the base for warplanes that carried out the chemical attack on a rebel-held town on Tuesday.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the strike as "act of aggression" and said it violated international law. Western leaders backed the US action, saying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had brought it on himself.

    Key developments

    • Pentagon probing possible Russia involvement in attack
    • Syrian airbase suffers "extensive damage" in strike.
    • The UN Security Council is meeting Friday on Syria.
    • Trump acted after dozens killed in chemical attack on Tuesday.
    • Western allies offer strong backing, saying the gas attack cannot go unpunished.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin said US strike violated international law.

    The US military official said the Pentagon was examining specifically whether a Russian warplane had bombed a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun five hours after the initial chemical attack, with the aim of destroying evidence.

    A US defense official says intelligence shows a Russian drone flew over the hospital in Idlib that was treating victims of the chemical attack, prior to the site being later bombed by an unknown aircraft.

    The Russians operate drones in the area routinely so the Pentagon cannot be certain the drone operator even knew what was happening, but the drone was a Russian asset. The US military has a variety of classified technical means to determine who is operating aircraft in the region.

    Russia said the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun were caused by a Syrian regime airstrike on a rebel-controlled chemcial weapons factory on the ground, but experts have dismissed the claim as fanciful.

    Images of the horrific aftermath of the attack prompted Trump to act. Early Friday morning, Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from US warships in the eastern Mediterranean towards the Shayrat airfield, which is also an important base for Russian forces supporting the Syrian regime. Fifty-nine of 60 missiles launched hit their intended targets, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said, with one missile landing in the water.

    Nine people, including four children, in two villages were killed in the strike, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. It was not clear whether the figure included the six deaths announced earlier by the Syrian military or was in addition to those.

    Approximately 20 Syrian regime planes were destroyed in the US strike, according to two US senior military officials.

    Dozens of people died in Tuesday's chemical attack.

    Putin denounced the US action as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law under a far-fetched pretext." He said the strikes "dealt a serious blow to Russian-US relations" and that their aim was to distract from the civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq, a statement from his press office said.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of seeking a pretext for regime change. "I am particularly disappointed by the way this damages US-Russia relations," he said, but added that he didn't think it would "lead to an irreversible situation."

    What is Bashar al-Assad's goal? 01:17

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the United States had carried out an "unjust and unabashed assault" against Syria which "shows nothing but short-sightedness, a narrowness of vision and a blindness to political and military realities."

    He also said the attack had increased the regime's resolve to "crush" terrorists in Syria -- the term it uses for all opposition forces.

    A statement from Syria's general military command said the strikes caused "extensive material damage" and undermined counterterror operations by the Syrian army.

    The operation "makes the United States of America a partner of ISIS, Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations who -- since the first day of this unjust war on Syria -- have been attacking Syrian army positions and Syrian military bases."

    Syrian TV aired footage of the aftermath of the strike that showed smoke still rising up from the base.

    Maj. Issam al-Reis, spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army's Southern Front, welcomed the US action and called for "the destruction of all tools of murder that Bashar al Assad's regime uses."

    The strike was the first direct military action taken by the US against the Assad regime since the start of the country's six-year civil war. It represents a substantial escalation of the US military campaign in the region.

    US attack on Syria -- five vital questions for Trump administration

    Pentagon: 'Severe damage'

    A picture taken Friday shows the damaged Shayrat airfield.

    The Pentagon said the strike, which began at 8:40 p.m. ET Thursday (3:40 a.m. local time Friday), targeted aircraft, storage facilities and other logistical materials.

    An initial battle damage assessment from the strikes was that 58 of the 59 missiles "severely degraded or destroyed" their intended targets, according to a US defense official.

    The US military gave the Russian military one hour's notice of the strikes, according to a senior US official. US military operations in Syria have been temporarily "adjusted" to ensure the protection of US forces on the ground, the official said. On any given day there could be up to 1,250 US troops inside Syria fighting ISIS, according to US officials.

    Support from US allies

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who said he was following the situation in Syria "with grave concern," urged restraint and called for the Security Council to unite and exercise its "responsibility for international peace and security."

    The council's 15 members failed Thursday night to reach agreement on a a new draft resolution against the Syrian government circulated by US, UK and French diplomats following Tuesday's chemical attack. Russia has repeatedly vetoed past UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

    Trump: Assad choked out the helpless 02:48

    There were repeated calls for a political solution at a Security Council meeting Friday.

    UK Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said his country backs the airstrikes "because war crimes have consequences and the greatest war criminal of all, Bashar al-Assad, has now been put on notice."

    He said Russia "has given Assad everything he could dream of" -- such as vetoes in the Security Council -- but Assad has ignored and defied Russian requests to "obey a ceasefire and not to gas his people.

    "Russia sits here today humiliated, by its failure to bring to heel a puppet dictator, entirely propped up by Russia itself and Hezbollah and Iran."

    Who's with the US on Syria airstrike and who isn't

    Vladimir Safronkov, Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, defended his country's position on the strike, as a "flagrant violation of peace." He also slammed Rycroft's criticisms of Russia's government as "not diplomatic" and "lies."

    "We strongly condemn the illegitimate action by the US. The consequences of this for regional and international stability could be extremely serious."

    US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley defended the strikes as proportionate. "The United States took a very measured step last night," she said. "We are prepared to do more. But we hope that will not be necessary. It is time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors that are taking place in Syria and demand a political solution."

    'Dangerous episode'

    Matthew Chance, CNN's senior international correspondent based in Moscow, said the latest strikes "are an immensely dangerous episode in the relationship between Russia and the United States, not least because they potentially bring into contact Russian forces who are on the ground in Syria and the US forces."

    The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean.

    Russia was warned of the attack before it took place. Nevertheless, Chance pointed out, Russia did not choose to use surface-to-air missiles systems in place in Syria that are "fully capable of intercepting cruise missiles if they so choose to" which, he said, "implies a degree of tacit Russian consent to the strikes."

    In the wake of the strike, Russia said it was suspending use of a communications channel aimed at minimizing risks of in-flight incidents between the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Russian aircraft. US military spokesman Col. John Dorrian said the "deconfliction channel" had been effective and urged its continued use.

    The Russian Defense Ministry also announced plans to bolster the effectiveness of its air defense system in Syria.

    CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Ryan Browne, Tamara Qiblawi, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Maud Le Reste, Bijan Hosseini, Isil Sariyuce, Steven Jiang, Richard Roth, Carolyn Sung, Joe Sterling and Radina Gigova contributed to this report.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Pentagon lays out evidence that led to Syria strike

    Apr. 07, 2017 - 1:32 - Chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports from Washington

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  4. #4
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    I want my dear Donald J Trump from the campaign back.

    Jared if you were behind this, you were dead wrong, kid.
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Heart of Dixie
    Lots of stuff flying around....
    Pentagon To Investigate Potential Russian Involvement In Syria Gas Attack

    Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
    4:38 PM 04/07/2017

    The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to investigate whether or not Russia was involved in Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria.

    Defense officials are not currently aware of any Russian involvement in the attack, which killed 72 and injured potentially hundreds more. However, a Russian-made drone was spotted hovering over the hospital where victims were taken.

    “We have no knowledge of Russian involvement in this attack, but we will investigate any information that might lead us in that direction,” said a senior defense official during a background briefing with reporters at the Pentagon Friday. “We’re not done.”

    The Russian-made drone returned to the hospital five hours later, the hospital was struck shortly thereafter. It is unclear who was operating the drone, as Syrian government forces are known to operate Russian drones.

    “We don’t know why somebody or who struck that. We don’t have positive accountability yet, but the fact that somebody would strike the hospital potentially to hide the evidence of a chemical attack, about five hours after, is a question that we’re very interested in,” said the official.

    Approximately 72 people died in the chemical attack, while potentially hundreds more were injured.

    It is unclear whether Syrian or Russian forces are responsible for the follow-up attack on the hospital, according to the officials.

    Russia helped broker an agreement with its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2013 that was supposed to lead to the destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile. The agreement came in response to a chemical attack the previous month. According to the terms of the agreement, Assad was required to surrender his stockpile by mid-2014. Russia was tasked with aiding in the stockpile’s destruction.

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  6. #6
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    Were they Rebels trying to overthrow the government? Were they ISIS? Why was Assad bombing them to begin with?

  7. #7
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    Lindsey Graham is on Tucker Carlson right now and Lindsey is so happy with the strikes he can hardly contain himself. Lindsey wants to send in 7,000 American Troops into Syria to fight ISIS on the ground. John McCain said earlier today that he is so happy with the airstrike on Syria and wants Americans to remove Assad, the Brutal Dictator from power and rebuild Syria at our expense because it's our humanitarian obligation to do so.

    Sigh. Here we go again. Trump won't do this, I truly believe he won't go further, I sure hope not, but it raises the expectations of the crazies like McCain and Graham.
    Last edited by Judy; 04-07-2017 at 09:14 PM.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Were they Rebels trying to overthrow the government? Were they ISIS? Why was Assad bombing them to begin with?
    "So why would Mr. Assad risk it all, outraging the world by attacking civilians with what Turkey now says was the nerve agent sarin, killing scores of people, many of them children?"

    The Grim Logic Behind Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attack


    BEIRUT, Lebanon — The diplomatic situation had been looking bright for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. With the help of Russia, he had consolidated his power, the rebels were on their heels and the United States had just declared that ousting him was not a priority.

    So why would Mr. Assad risk it all, outraging the world by attacking civilians with what Turkey now says was the nerve agent sarin, killing scores of people, many of them children?

    Why would he inflict the deadliest chemical strike since the 2013 attacks outside Damascus? Those attacks came close to bringing American military retaliation then. And in a stunningly swift reversal, Tuesday’s attack drew a response from President Trump: dozens of cruise missiles launched at a Syrian air base.

    One of the main defenses offered by Mr. Assad’s allies and supporters, in disputing that his forces carried out the strike on Tuesday, is that such an attack would be “a crazy move,” as one Iranian analyst, Mosib Na’imi, told the Russian state-run news site Sputnik. Yet, rather than an inexplicable act, analysts say, it is part of a carefully calculated strategy of escalating attacks against civilians.

    For years, at least since it began shelling neighborhoods with artillery in 2012, then bombing them from helicopters and later from jets, the Syrian government has adopted a policy of seeking total victory by making life as miserable as possible for anyone living in areas outside its control.

    Government forces have been herding defeated opponents from across the country into Idlib Province, where the chemical attack occurred. Starved and bombed out of their enclaves, they are bused under lopsided surrender deals to the province, where Qaeda-linked groups maintain a presence the Syrian military uses as an excuse to bomb without regard for the safety of civilians.

    Dr. Monzer Khalil, Idlib Province’s health director, said such extreme tactics aimed to demonstrate the government’s impunity and to demoralize its foes.

    “It makes us feel that we are defeated,” said Dr. Khalil, whose gums bled after he was exposed to scores of chemical victims on Tuesday. “The international community will stay gazing at what’s happening — and observing the explosive barrels falling and rockets bombing the civilians and the hospitals and the civil defense and killing children and medical staff — without doing anything.”

    “Militarily, there is no need,” said Bente Scheller, the Middle East director of the Berlin-based Heinrich Böll Foundation. “But it spreads the message: You are at our mercy. Don’t ask for international law. You see, it doesn’t protect even a child.”

    On Thursday, Syria’s foreign minister challenged accounts by witnesses, experts and world leaders that his government was involved. “I stress to you once again: The Syrian Army has not, did not and will not use this kind of weapons — not just against our own people, but even against the terrorists that attack our civilians with their mortar rounds,” the minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in Damascus.

    But the denial, as well as a Russian assertion that a bomb hit a chemical weapons depot controlled by the rebels, seemed perfunctory, almost without regard to the facts, which Western governments said pointed to a Syrian government hand.

    Critics of President Barack Obama, including President Trump, say that his decision not to enforce his “red line” on chemical attacks in 2013 convinced the Assad government it could get away with anything, and that it has been escalating its harsh tactics against civilians ever since.

    Since that “green light,” wrote Jihad Yazigi, an opposition-leaning Syrian economist, “Assad knows that a large-scale attack against its civilians is a short-term public relations liability but a long-term political asset.”

    That was only reinforced, critics say, by recent statements by American officials that it was time to accept the “political reality” of Mr. Assad’s grip on power.

    By showing it puts no limits on the tactics it uses, Mr. Yazigi wrote, “the regime shows to the world the West’s impotence and weakness.”

    Dr. Khalil, 35, fled his job at a state-run hospital in 2011. The Syrian uprising was in its early days, with largely peaceful protests that faced crackdowns from security forces. He said he was threatened with arrest for treating wounded protesters.

    In 2015, a mix of Qaeda-linked and other rebels, some supported by the United States and its allies, drove government forces from Idlib, the capital of Idlib Province. Dr. Khalil became the health director. The city then became a bombing target, and the Syrian government accused the Americans of backing the Qaeda-linked group, then called the Nusra Front.

    “We are aware that we are in this Qaeda trap,” Dr. Khalil said.

    “But in Idlib we have 2.2 million people, and how many Qaeda fighters? You cannot kill the two million for their sake.”

    The fall of Idlib led to another turning point: Russia’s full-on entry into the conflict, adding its firepower to the Syrian government’s. Russia said it entered to fight the Islamic State, but directed most of its strikes at places farther west, like Idlib, where rival insurgents more urgently threatened government forces.

    Chlorine attacks continued — investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations concluded the government had carried out at least three in 2014 and 2015 — with little international reaction.

    Idlib’s population grew as rebels and civilians moved there from areas recaptured by Assad forces and allies.

    After Mr. Trump came into office, proclaiming a wish to work with Russia and maybe even Mr. Assad against the Islamic State, expectations grew that the international community would accept relegitimizing Mr. Assad. And last week came the statements from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and the ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, indicating effectively that Washington could accept Mr. Assad remaining in power.

    On Monday, Western officials were gathering in Brussels to weigh billions of dollars in reconstruction aid to the Assad government, amid opposition fears that they would drop their demand for a political transition first.

    By Thursday, however, American military officials were discussing a possible military strike on Syria, and Mr. Tillerson was saying there was “no role” for Mr. Assad in Syria’s future. And then Thursday — before dawn on Friday in Syria — Mr. Trump ordered the attack on the Shayrat air base, from which, he said, the chemical attack was launched.

    Witnesses described how Tuesday’s attack unfolded. That morning, a network of observers was, as usual, tracking the skies to warn residents and rescuers of possible airstrikes.

    They spotted Syrian aircraft and sent out warnings on walkie-talkies.

    Syrian Su-22 aircraft were then seen circling above Khan Sheikhoun at 6:47 a.m. and again at 6:51 a.m. One of the observers — based on long experience — believed that the planes might be carrying a chemical payload.

    “Guys, tell people to wear masks,” he warned.

    Witnesses put the attack itself at just before 7 a.m. A video of the area at that time shows three towering puffs of smoke and one smaller cloud.

    Dr. Khalil said he and his wife were drinking coffee at home at 8 a.m. when he got a call and rushed to Idlib’s central hospital. He found 60 patients already packing the wards. His nose began to itch, from the toxic substances, he believes.

    Back in Khan Sheikhoun, new airstrikes hit a hospital and a civil defense headquarters.

    Across the province, doctors were noticing symptoms similar to those from sarin. Some of the displaced people who wound up in Idlib in recent years come from the Damascus suburbs that were attacked with sarin in 2013.

    One, a media activist from near Damascus, Moaz al-Shami, was sickened for two months by the 2013 attacks. Now living in Idlib, he was struck with the same vomiting and respiratory distress he remembered from that day.

    His voice remained hoarse on the telephone two days later.


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  9. #9
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    Aug 2005
    Told by an anti-government anti-Assad Rebel, someone who wants to over-throw the government of Assad. Rebels who have allied with ISIS and Al Nusra Front.

    Did she talk with him on his cell phone? Did he call in to the New York Times in Beirut? Or was the article all pre-written and delivered for publication. This is the same stuff we saw in the Arab Spring in Libya ad Egypt.

    This is the same Doctor who prepared the videos that came out 3 days ago.

    He's quite the PR guy. Videos sent to Yahoo and ABC, stories delivered to the New York Times.

    Busy Bee.

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