Syria’s clandestine chemical weapons programme

Syria’s clandestine chemical weapons programme

Page Count: 7 pages
Date: April 14, 2018
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Originating Organization: France
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Following the Syrian regime’s resumption of its military offensive, as well as high levels of air force activity over the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, two new cases of toxic agents employment were spontaneously reported by civil society and local and international media from the late afternoon of 7 April. Non-governmental medical organizations active in Ghouta (the Syrian American Medical Society and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations), whose information is generally reliable, publicly stated that strikes had targeted in particular local medical infrastructure on 6 and 7 April.

A massive influx of patients in health centres in Eastern Ghouta (at the very least 100 people) presenting symptoms consistent with exposure to a chemical agent was observed and documented during the early evening. In total, several dozens of people, more than forty according to several sources, are thought to have died from exposure to a chemical substance.

The information collected by France forms a body of evidence that is sufficient to attribute responsibility for the chemical attacks of 7 April to the Syrian regime.

1. — Several chemical attacks took place at Douma on 7 April 2018.

The French services analysed the testimonies, photos and videos that spontaneously appeared on specialized websites, in the press and on social media in the hours and days following the attack. Testimonies obtained by the French services were also analysed. After examining the videos and images of victims published online, they were able to conclude with a high degree of confidence that the vast majority are recent and not fabricated. The spontaneous circulation of these images across all social networks confirms that they were not video montages or recycled images. Lastly, some of the entities that published this information are generally considered reliable.

French experts analysed the symptoms identifiable in the images and videos that were made public. These images and videos were taken either in enclosed areas in a building where around 15 people died, or in local hospitals that received contaminated patients. These symptoms can be described as follows (cf. annexed images):

Suffocation, asphyxia or breathing difficulties,
Mentions of a strong chlorine odour and presence of green smoke in affected areas,
Hypersalivation and hypersecretions (particularly oral and nasal),
Cyanosis,
Skin burns and corneal burns.

No deaths from mechanical injuries were visible. All of these symptoms are characteristic of a chemical weapons attack, particularly choking agents and organophosphorus agents or hydrocyanic acid. Furthermore, the apparent use of bronchodilators by the medical services observed in videos reinforces the hypothesis of intoxication by choking agents.

On the basis of this overall assessment and on the intelligence collected by our services, and in the absence to date of chemical samples analysed by our own laboratories, France therefore considers (i) that, beyond possible doubt, a chemical attack was carried out against civilians at Douma on 7 April 2018; and (ii) that there is no plausible scenario other than that of an attack by Syrian armed forces as part of a wider offensive in the Eastern Ghouta enclave. The Syrian armed and security forces are also considered to be responsible for other actions in the region as part of this same offensive in 2017 and 2018. Russia has undeniably provided active military support to the operations to seize back Ghouta. It has, moreover, provided constant political cover to the Syrian regime over the employment of chemical weapons, both at the UN Security Council and at the OPCW, despite conclusions to the contrary by the JIM.

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RUMORS OF WAR: Russia massing troops on North Korea border | End Time Headlines

RUMORS OF WAR: Russia massing troops on North Korea border | End Time Headlines

 

Russia appears to be preparing for war as troops have lined up on the North Korea border just one day after Vladimir Putin’s nation fired a ballistic missile. A large number of soldiers were seen arriving near the Khasan crossing point between the two nations on Tuesday. Photos captured some of the troops patrolling the top of Zaozyonara Hill, a meeting point between Russia, North Korea and China. Russia is thought to be concerned at the build-up of US troops in South Korea as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un continue their war of words. Moscow has previously denied moved more troops to the border area as tensions between the US and Kim’s regime reach boiling point. Earlier this year, the movement of heavy weaponry towards the border was also caught on camera. Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Russian upper house’s Committee on Defence and Security, has warned that any US action against North Korea would also be seen as a hostility towards Russia due to their shared border.

World War 3 threat: Hawaii ‘prepares for North Korea nuclear attack’ |

World War 3 threat: Hawaii ‘prepares for North Korea nuclear attack’ |

Authorities held a secret meeting last week to discuss contingency plans in the event of Pyongyang launching a deadly missile at the US islands.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has threatened to drop a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean amid fears Pyongyang has developed a nuclear missile capable of reaching Hawaii.

A document shared at the private talks, and obtained by local paper Honolulu Civil Beat, featured chapter headings such as “Enhance missile launch notification process between U.S. Pacific Command and the State Warning Point.”

The US state, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, will also begin testing a warning siren system in November, giving residents between 12 and 15 minutes to take refuge.

Resident wil then be advised to stay indoors for 72 hours after an attack.

State representative Gene Ward told the Washington Post: “Now it’s time to take it seriously.”

He said the plan was “not to be an alarmist but to be informing people.”

Mr Ward said the meeting last week was held in private because officials did not want to worry residents.

He also said talk of bunkers and fallout shelters was “probably more surreal for younger generations” with no experience of a realistic nuclear threat.

But Hawaiians are apparently taking the news in their stride, and carrying on with their daily lives.

Residents are used to disaster warnings, living in an area prone to hurricanes and tsunamis.

Survival guidelines for those scenarios are similar to the ones being issued for a nuclear attack – instead of seven days worth of food, water and medical supplies, residents are advised to double it.

The document distrubted at last week’s meeting suggested that around 90 per cent of the Hawaiian population would survive a nuclear attack by North Korea, based on the estimated yield of North Korea’s missile capability, which suggests an explosion less than eight miles in diameter.

It comes as America’s top military officer said despite an escalation in rhetoric between the US and North Korea, he had not seen Pyongyang change it’s military posture.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing for his reappointment: “While the political space is clearly very charged right now, we haven’t seen a change in the posture of North Korean forces and we watch that very closely.

“What we haven’t seen is military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment.”

North Korea has boosted defences on its east coast, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, after Pyongyang said US President Donald Trump had declared war and that it would shoot down US bombers flying near the peninsula.

Tensions have escalated since reclusive North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3. Bellicose rhetoric has reached a new level in recent days with leaders on both sides exchanging threats and insults.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Monday that Mr Trump’s Twitter comments that leader Kim Jong Un and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats amounted to a declaration of war and that Pyongyang had the right to take countermeasures.

Unveiled – Venezuela prepares for war with U.S. with ‘rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready’

Unveiled – Venezuela prepares for war with U.S. with ‘rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready’

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro called on his nation’s military leaders Tuesday to prepare for war against the U.S. days after the Trump administration banned Venezuelan officials from entering the nation.

“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. “We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be,” he added.

The Trump administration has taken a hard stance against Maduro’s regime by banning money lending to Venezuela’s government or its state oil company PDVSA, and passing sanctions against Maduro and his top officials.

Maduro referenced the sanctions during his speech at the military base. As he spoke, Russian military plans flew in the sky as part of the training exercise, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution,” Maduro said.

It’s unlikely Maduro has the manpower to stand up to the U.S., which has a much larger military. Maduro has maintained power in Venezuela despite mounting political and economic crises that has seen months of violent, anti-government demonstrations across the South American nation. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has backed Maduro during the upheaval, but some critics have begun a whisper campaign suggesting that the military could break away and support a coup against the president, Herbert Garcia, a former senior army general and minister, told Reuters in August. There have been three attempted military coups in Venezuela since 1992.

Russia has defended Maduro in recent months, going so far as to accuse Trump of preparing for an invasion of Caracas. “We are strongly against unilateral sanctions against sovereign states,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in August. “We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses. We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people.”

President Donald Trump directed his penchant for insulting world leaders toward Venezuela during a United Nations speech earlier this month. He said Washington could intervene in Venezuela to help its citizens “recover their country”

“We cannot stand by and watch,” he said.

Maduro oversaw a disputed election earlier this year to muzzle the elected national assembly by creating “constituent assembly” in its place.