Posted by Curt on 11 April, 2017 at 10:55 am. 3 comments already!


Eli Lake:

President Donald Trump’s Russian reset is in big trouble.

That’s one message of a four-page dossier on the Syrian government’s April 4 chemical weapons attack that killed up to 100 people and injured many more. The document, prepared by the National Security Council and scheduled for release later Tuesday, provides details on the U.S. assessment that the Syrian regime was responsible for the atrocity. But it also amounts to a public change of heart for a Trump administration that had, like its predecessor, hoped for improved relations with Russia.

The dossier is short on specific intelligence. It is also silent on whether the Russians had foreknowledge of the attack, as some U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded. But it is pointed in its refutation of Russian disinformation, which has made a variety of specious claims. They range from saying the gas was released after a strike on a chemical weapons depot belonging to opposition forces to asserting the incident itself was entirely fabricated.

“The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks,” the dossier says. Another passage says Moscow’s response to the April 4 incident “follows a familiar pattern of Russia’s response to egregious actions; it spins out multiple, conflicting accounts in order to create confusion and sow doubt within the international community.” The dossier also derided a “drumbeat of nonsensical claims” from Syria and its allies, a clear reference to Russia.

The dossier refutes the Russian claim that the attack was on an opposition-held chemical weapons depot. It notes that commercial satellite video showed a crater in the road and no attack on a chemical weapons depot. It also notes that Russia said the attack occurred between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm on April 4, but that allegations about the attack surfaced on social media at 7:00 am local time.

As for proving Syrian culpability on the attack itself, the document, provided to Bloomberg View, says the U.S. government has collected “signals intelligence,” or communications intercepts, and “geospatial intelligence,” an analysis of imagery and other data that pin the attack at Khan Shaykun on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The dossier says the U.S. government obtained evidence from “physiological samples collected from multiple victims” of the Sarin attack. And it noted there is also a preponderance of open source data ranging from witnesses on the scene to many videos uploaded to the internet in real time that contradict the Russian account.

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