News Roundup (18 Sept. 2007)

The following story has yet to be picked up by the MSP and perhaps that is for good reason. Nevertheless, what do we know?

Iranians and Syrians Killed in Chemical Warhead Experiment in Syria

(Thanks to Israeliguy)
Margot Dudkevitch
Infolive.tv, 09/18/07

Dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in an explosion while attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile in Syria on July 23. The blast spread lethal chemicals including the sarin nerve gas as well as VX gas. The Syrians and Iranian kept the incident under wraps, in an attempt to hide from the world their increasing cooperation to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

Details of the incident that appeared in the Jane's Magazine were reported by Channel 10 on Tuesday night. According to the report, the facility where the explosion occurred had been created specifically to facilitate the altering of ballistic missiles to carry chemical payloads. While reports of the accident were mentioned in Syria, the authorities prevented details from being released.

A new military alliance between Iran and Syria is in the making, such an alliance can be perceived as the first signs that a regional war is in the making….

Regime Change Arab Style
Stephen Glain
24 September 2007
Newsweek International

No Bush policy has been more unpopular with Arab leaders than “regime change”—at least till now. Local potentates may have feared Saddam Hussein, but they feared his fate even more. At an Arab summit last March, Saudi King Abdullah warned fellow despots to “never allow … banners to be raised in Arab lands other than those of Arabism, brothers.”

Appeals for solidarity have been a pillar of Arab relations for many years. So it was striking when a subsequent war of words climaxed in what Arab analysts see as a stealthy Saudi call for regime change in Syria. After Syrian Foreign Minister Farooq Al Shaara suggested last month that they were U.S. lackies, the Saudis blasted Shaara for “discarding the traditions … governing relations between the brotherly Arab nations.” A few days later, Jamal Khashoggi, a newspaper editor and former top Saudi adviser, hinted in a TV interview that the Saudis might be working to depose Syrian President Bashar. “I think we’re moving in the direction of regime change,” said Khashoggi.

Such talk is the latest sign of the growing split between two rival Middle East factions—one allied with Washington, the other with Tehran. …

Syria accuses U.S. of spreading false reports of nuclear activity, bias toward Israel
By ALBERT AJI. AP
18 September 2007

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria and North Korea denied Tuesday they are cooperating on a Syrian nuclear program, and they accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons — either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang.

A front-page editorial in the government newspaper Tishrin also was critical of the United States for failing to condemn a Sept. 6 Israeli incursion, which it called a violation of international law.

Details of the incursion remain unclear. U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target. A senior U.S. nonproliferation official said last week that North Korean personnel were in Syria helping its nuclear program, raising speculation that the Israelis were targeting a nuclear installation.

Syria has said only that warplanes entered its airspace, came under fire from anti-aircraft defenses, and dropped munitions and fuel tanks to lighten their loads while they fled….

Israel has clamped a news blackout on the raid.
North Korea strongly denied it secretly helped Syria develop a nuclear program, maintaining the charge was fabricated by U.S. hard-liners to block progress in the North's relations with the United States.

A Syrian Cabinet minister ridiculed the speculation about any cooperation with North Korea. "All this rubbish is not true. I don't know how their imagination has reached such creativity," Bouthaina Shaaban said.

"Regretfully, the international press is busy justifying an aggression on a sovereign state and the world should be busy condemning it instead of inventing reasons and aims of this aggression," he told Lebanon's Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar.

Syria's nuclear program has long been considered minimal, and the country is known to have only a small research reactor. In Vienna, officials for the International Atomic Energy Agency declined comment. But a diplomat associated with the agency said the IAEA "didn't know anything about any nuclear facility in Syria, and if there is something there, we should know."

Syria was the subject of IAEA investigation in 2004 on suspicions it could have been a customer of the nuclear black market run by the Khan network — the same operation that supplied Iran and Libya with materials for their clandestine atomic projects. But the diplomat, who demanded anonymity for discussing confidential information, said the IAEA found no concrete evidence of such activity.

The issue also was raised Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters he was awaiting clarification on the "intrusion of Israeli air force into Syrian airspace." Ban said he read North Korea's report denying involvement but did not have any independent information.

The editorial in Tishrin, which reflects Syrian government thinking in a country where the media is tightly controlled, said the U.S. accusations show Washington's pro-Israel bias and have no credibility.

It said Washington was "busy on behalf of Israel circulating claims" that the incursion involved "possible nuclear facilities supplied by (North) Korea."

"The strange thing is that the Americans are talking on behalf of Israel and are providing excuses and concocting new false spins such as talking about presumed Syrian nuclear activity and completely turning a blind eye about the Israeli nuclear danger," the Syrian editorial said…..

Despite mystery, neocons are quick to tie North Korea, Syria 

by Khody Akhavi, IPS, Via Leftlink

"The focus on North Korea comes as the U.S. prepares to implement a deal to end the country's nuclear weapons programme, a diplomatic approach that has drawn the ire of policy hawks like Bolton." …

Neoconservatives appear to be re-igniting a political narrative that fits neatly with the infamous cast of the "axis of evil"…. "They want to torpedo the North Korea deal, they have clung doggedly to making sure that there is no cooperation in Syria, and they're the same people who got us into this mess in the Middle East in the first place," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and senior fellow at the Washington-based New America Foundation.

The focus on North Korea comes as the U.S. prepares to implement a deal to end the country's nuclear weapons programme, a diplomatic approach that has drawn the ire of policy hawks like Bolton.

"Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the U.S. has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement," wrote Syria expert Josh Landis, on his widely-read blog, www.syriacomment.com.

"While doing it, anything they can dredge up to boost the notion of weapons transfers between Korea and Syria and Iran will be icing on the cake. Israeli planes were trying to get the goods," he wrote.

Some U.S. analysts have been very dubious of an actual Syrian nuclear threat, describing the speculation surrounding the incident as a manufactured stunt aimed at advancing a neoconservative agenda.

"This story is nonsense. The Washington Post story should have been headlined 'White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection.' This is a political story, not a threat story," said Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Washington-based Centre for American Progress, according to an interview with Foreign Policy….

We can rely on friends like the United States: Our faithful ally has once again come to our assistance. Were it not for the American media, we would know nothing whatsoever about that mysterious night….

There are serious doubts here. At the helm of the decision-making process in Israel today stand the prime minister, who has a proven military failure chalked up to him, and the defense minister, who has an innate tendency toward military adventurism. There is no one we can rely on with our eyes closed – certainly not on Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak. One wants to wipe away the stains of his failure in Lebanon and the other wants to prove he is better than his predecessor. To this must be added a battered army, which is likewise trying to get people to forget its failure. And what about us? We are expected to support them and their actions with our eyes shut…

Iran's state-run news agency made an angry attack on the French government today after the French foreign minister said the world should brace for war against Iran over its nuclear program, although he did not believe war was imminent.

This interesting JP story, The secretive Syrian-N. Korean alliance, gives a good overview of Syria's efforts to purchase and develop scud missile technology. It brings Russia into the picture as well.

ABC News has a good roundup of the Israeli strike:

"Speculation Centers on Fears of Missiles and Nuclear Weapons."

Olmert’s ratings rise after Syrian raid: poll .

And don't miss: Olmert: “We respect Assad and Syria’s policies”

 

Comments (36)


1. Frank al Irlandi said:

Joshua

We should be careful of these claims of Syrian Chemical Weapons

There was a piece of disinformation disseminated in Germany in about 2004 that stated that Syria had tested nerve agent in Sudan.

The bodies of the victims were stated to have been transported back to Syria for analysis.

The story died after about 3 days but did look like the beginning of a campaign for a move into Damascus by the Armoured Divisions who had recently arrived in Baghdad.

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September 19th, 2007, 5:47 am

 

2. antika said:

i talked earlier about that. syria has a wmd plant in safira which is being targeted…there is a severe warning among the syrian military personnel to keep the story…the blast near aleppo was part of the operation…as the your story suggests…this is the only reason that can make the israelis worry..nothing like new G-A defences…

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September 19th, 2007, 7:28 am

 

3. MSK said:

Josh-

(1) Accidents happen. Everywhere.

(2) Rumors are flying around. Everywhere.

Does that story sound plausible? Sure. Does that mean it’s true? Not necessarily.

–MSK*

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September 19th, 2007, 7:31 am

 

4. t_desco said:

Official: U.S. tracking North Korea shipments bound for Syria

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military and intelligence community have been tracking several shipments of material they believe have left North Korea and are destined for Syria or may have already landed there, a Pentagon official confirmed.

The monitoring has been taking place for the past several weeks, he said.

The official could not confirm several recent news reports that nuclear material from North Korea has arrived in Syria and was the potential target of a recent Israeli airstrike there.

In fact, he said none of the information he had reviewed as part of his job indicated any nuclear material was involved.

Some of the material is believed to have been high-grade metals that could be used in weapons such as missiles or solid-fuel rocket technology.

But “there is concern with shipments going into the region and with their eventual arrival in Syria,” the official said.

The United States is also looking into the possibility material had been shipped from North Korea to Iran and traveled overland into Syria, he said, adding there were indications a ship had docked in Syria recently.

“Shipments have landed we are concerned about,” he said.

The Syrians have been talking to the North Koreans about buying solid-fuel rocket technology for their missiles and those shipped to Hezbollah, other analysts said. That development would pose an increased risk to Israel.

But it’s not clear these shipments are in fact tied to the recent Israeli airstrike in northern Syria against a facility that was believed to be holding weapons.

Another U.S. official said he has seen satellite imagery of that attack that shows a hole in the center of a building’s roof with the walls still largely intact.

That would strongly indicate a laser guided bomb was used with a fused warhead that exploded after the bomb entered the building roof. The photo is highly classified and not expected to be publicly released. …
CNN

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September 19th, 2007, 9:09 am

 

5. t_desco said:

‘Terror leader escaped notice for over two years’
Glass business reportedly hid bomb factory
By Hani M. Bathish

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The mastermind of the terror cell uncovered by the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Mohammed Rashid Ammar, was known as a glass merchant who hid the true nature of his activities for more than two years in the village of Anout in the predominantly Sunni Iqlim al-Kharroub area, a source close to the investigation said Tuesday.

The ISF said it recovered weapons and explosives after raiding a house, a shop and a warehouse belonging to Ammar, including nine assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and canisters of liquid hydrogen used in manufacturing explosives.

A well informed source told The Daily Star Tuesday that trucks had been seen unloading shipments “every other day” at Ammar’s property, what people assumed to be glass shipments. The ISF is testing the confiscated explosives to check if the type and batch match those used in other terrorist attacks and assassinations that have taken place over the last three years in Lebanon, including the June assassination of Future Movement MP Walid Eido.

Security sources have not released the exact quantity of explosives recovered.

An unidentified Libyan man, netted in the raids over the weekend, is believed to be the technical expert who calibrated Katyusha rockets fired at northern Israel three months ago, the source added.

Two Katyushas fell near the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on June 17 this year, the first such breach of the cessation of hostilities since the summer 2006 war ended. No casualties were reported as one of the rockets hit a factory and the other struck a car.

The source said investigations are proceeding with the seven suspects detained in the raids, including four men arrested in Yareen, Ammar and the Libyan man. Security sources had released two names, Saeed M., from Mina in Tripoli, and Mohammad H. H., from the village of Katr Maya in Iqlim al-Kharroub.

Judicial sources said army intelligence would continue interrogating the seven suspects for the next week to 10 days, especially since Investigating Magistrate Ghassan Oweidat will be traveling for the next week.

Local media reported that the cell had been active in carrying out attacks and planning for attacks in parts of South Lebanon patrolled by UNIFIL.

Following the conclusion of operations in Nahr al-Bared, authorities have clamped down hard on suspected terror cells throughout Lebanon, mostly using information gleaned from detained militants. The hunt continues for terror suspects and weapons caches.
The Daily Star

(my emphasis)

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September 19th, 2007, 10:42 am

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

The incident Jane’s is reporting was admited to by the “hard-hitting” Syrian media and was caused by a “heat-wave”. Apparently, it gets very hot in Syria during the summer…

Without Israel, where would Josh and Alex get their news?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3451012,00.html

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September 19th, 2007, 12:44 pm

 

7. SimoHurtta said:

Without Israel, where would Josh and Alex get their news?

Indeed, from Israel Akbar.

The Janes’s report has been reported after Google News (using “Syria Jane’s” in search) sofar by

Infolive.tv, Israel 16 hours ago
Israel Insider, Israel 14 hours ago
Ynetnews, Israel 13 hours ago
DEBKA file, Israel 6 Hours ago
FrontPageMag Articles RSS 5 hours ago
New York Post, NY 4 hours ago
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, NY 4 hours ago
Jerusalem Post, Israel 4 hours ago
Arutz Sheva, Israel 3 hours ago
The Media Line, NY 1 hour ago
AFP 1 hour ago

After AFP now reported about the Jane’s report the news will spread outside Israel and the US “client media”. It would be interesting to know is AFP’s writer using the Jane’s report or bases the text on the Israeli news. Strange that Jane’s doesn’t advertise this interesting report on their site’s public area / free content.

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September 19th, 2007, 1:17 pm

 

8. IsraeliGuy said:

**********
“Strange that Jane’s doesn’t advertise this interesting report on their site’s public area / free content.”
**********

Maybe they don’t want the Mukhabarat to see it 😉

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September 19th, 2007, 1:27 pm

 

9. dan said:

I’d just note that from a technical standpoint the top story seems utterly absurd – one might conceive of a scud warhead carrying either sarin OR VX gas, but not both.

Obviously it would be nice if someone with the necessary expertise could confirm whether chemical warheads are mounted on scuds prior to being filled with the CW agent and then filled, mounted on scuds with the agent already having been introduced into the warhead, and what the fuelling protocols are.

For there to have been an explosion it implies that the missile was already fuelled or in the process of being fuelled – which seems unlikely. The explosive charge in a chemical warhead is small as it’s a dispersion device and I would imagine that any people present at such an operation would be kitted out in the requisite protective gear, which makes it difficult to generate dozens of fatalities.

Generally, I doubt that one marries a warhead, chemical payload and fuelled missile unless one is actually going to launch the package. I also doubt that one does this indoors.

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September 19th, 2007, 1:57 pm

 

10. SimoHurtta said:

Maybe they don’t want the Mukhabarat to see it 😉

Maybe they are ashamed of it or / and the report is available only for Jewish customers (Israeli and US like we have seen in the reporting). 😉

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September 19th, 2007, 2:11 pm

 

11. IsraeliGuy said:

*************
“I’d just note that from a technical standpoint the top story seems utterly absurd – one might conceive of a scud warhead carrying either sarin OR VX gas, but not both.”
*************

Dan, you’re right – but read the Ynet story:

“According to the report by the British magazine, the explosion occurred early in the morning on July 26, in a factory in the city of Halab, as the officers were attempting to mount a chemical warhead with mustard gas on a Scud-C missile.

A fire which started in the missile’s engine led to an explosion near a storage location of chemical substances. The blast spread lethal chemical agents, including mustard gas, VX gas and sarin nerve gas, which are considered extremely toxic and are banned for use according to international treaties.”

SIMOHURTTA, you’re wrong.
The report is available for everybody.
They only blocked Syrian and Finnish IPs 😉

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September 19th, 2007, 2:31 pm

 

12. IsraeliGuy said:

Breaking news on CNN

Another car bomb assassination in Junia/Beirut.
5 people are dead 20+ wounded.

Initial reports say that the car which carried the victims had a Lebanese parliament license plate.

In your opinion, who could be behind it?

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September 19th, 2007, 3:03 pm

 

13. dan said:

Israeliguy

For a fire to start in the engine, the engine needs to be both turned on and there needs to be fuel or vapour present to ignite an explosion – the Ynet story excerpt makes no sense either. Again, you don’t do this indoors, and you don’t fuel up a scud unless you’re intending to launch it. If you’re doing it outdoors, you do it well away from a populated area – such as in the expanses of desert that Syria has in abundance.

As I said, it also makes no sense to try to mount a gas-filled warhead onto a scud unless you’re intending to launch it. You can easily test the marriage procedure without introducing the chemical component or without fuelling the missile. Frankly, the story is bollix….and I suspect that you already know this.

Storage and production protocols for VX, Sarin and Mustard gas are, naturally, very different, and it would be surprising to find them so conveniently co-located – and there has never been any substantive evidence whatsoever that Syria has the capacity to produce VX gas in the first place.

If you’re releasing either Sarin or VX in a city, and Halab ain’t exactly a backwater, you’re going to have major public health repercussions – and it’s going to be very tough to keep this hidden, especially when you have the US and Israel constantly trying to use nefarious WMD capabilities as part of their basic propaganda and political operational toolkit.

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September 19th, 2007, 3:16 pm

 

14. IsraeliGuy said:

Dan, I’m not a missile expert, so I can’t comment on any technical issues.

Jane’s is known to be a very credible source, however, naturally you may believe whatever you want.

If someone disbelieves something, you can bring 10,000 sources to base your argument and it will still be treated as evil Zionist propaganda.

No fuss – believe whatever you wish 🙂

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September 19th, 2007, 3:34 pm

 

15. Nur al-Cubicle said:

IMHO, that story is a howler, Joshua.

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September 19th, 2007, 3:37 pm

 

16. Murphy said:

“If someone disbelieves something, you can bring 10,000 sources to base your argument and it will still be treated as evil Zionist propaganda.”

Please don’t get carried away. You brought precisely ONE source for this ridiculous story and nobody said that it was ‘evil Zionist propaganda’ but rather a foolish cock and bull tale designed to smear Syria.

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September 19th, 2007, 3:43 pm

 

17. IsraeliGuy said:

Well, Murphy, it looks like the int’l media is quoting Jane’s – probably because like me, they think it’s a credible source.

But hey, I’m not gonna fight it.
Feel free to believe whatever you want.

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September 19th, 2007, 3:50 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

Yes, and while we’re waiting for Syria to admit to playing with leaky Scuds with Iranian technicians, it looks like we will also have to continue waiting for Syria to admit to terrorizing another anti-Syrian parlimentarian. Only 5 dead this time. I’m sure Alex will be adding these statistics carefully in his ledger of Lebanese civilians killed…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070919/ts_nm/lebanon_explosion_dc_7;_ylt=AuFNpbBJ5gGJncxnw_X_En0E1vAI

Update: Syrian Minister of Parliment killed.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3451367,00.html

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September 19th, 2007, 3:59 pm

 

19. offended said:

News Flash: Antwan Ghanem (14th of march mp) killed in a huge blast in eastern beirout…

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September 19th, 2007, 4:02 pm

 

20. annie said:

You tell me, why would Syria be involved in Ghanem’s death ?
What would be in it for Syria ?

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September 19th, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

21. why-discuss said:

Israel seems to be under intense pressure. After bombing Syria, Olmert claiming that he admires Bashar al Assad is totally ridiculous or maybe it was irony?. Obviously Israel is confused on their short and long term strategies
– Gaza is a real trouble: Israel doesn’t know what to do, they even want to resort to cutting electricity, that would certainly attract worldwide sympathy for the palestinians and show the ugly face of Israel who are punishing the civilians.
– the Iranians have been very blunt. They will have no difficulties in responding by a missile on any location ( whether the Gulf, Iraq, Afganistan and of course Israel) that will hit Iran, they are ready!

That brought the response from the White House that Israel does not want war with its neighbors.. ( really?)
Iran’s language of force seems to impress the US.
– Baradei is becoming bolder in defending the role of the inspection prior to warmongering. In addition there are renewed arab pressures on Israel to a ‘nuclear’ free zone
– If all goes well, Iran may be off the hook for its nuclear activity :A nightmare scenario for Israel
– In a year, Bush and his pro israeli neo-cons are hopefully out. Israel looses their support
– Iraq governemnt is starting to oppose the US, first by Malaki attacking the politicians in Washington asking for his withdrawal, and now by banning the Blackwater US mercenaries. A united pro-iranian Iraq is Israel’s worst nightmare..
– Olmert and his governement are weak and can’t make any real decisions.
The period until the US elections looks very interesting.

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September 19th, 2007, 4:06 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Breaking News: Olmert is calling Hamas government in Gaza “Hostile”.

(Yes, as unbelievable as that sounds)

http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/

In a year, Bush and his pro israeli neo-cons are hopefully out. Israel looses their support

Why-Discuss,

Don’t bet on it.

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September 19th, 2007, 4:10 pm

 

23. Murphy said:

“Well, Murphy, it looks like the int’l media is quoting Jane’s – probably because like me, they think it’s a credible source.”

Actually, if the list above is correct, few media outlets outside of Israel are carrying the story. Even if they were, it would not change the fact that it is a single-sourced story, which was my point.

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September 19th, 2007, 4:41 pm

 

24. SimoHurtta said:

SIMOHURTTA, you’re wrong.
The report is available for everybody.
They only blocked Syrian and Finnish IPs 😉

Can be. Though I must wonder why it is so difficult for the propaganda machine to make this “news” reality in the international press. Maybe the European and Asian press has learned from the pre Iraq war’s propaganda phase and check the sources better. And do not believe every story fed to them from the only “(Jewish) democracy” in Middle East.

Israeliguy have you already a theory why the small rusted North Korean flag ship stopped in Tripoli? Everything printed is not necessarily true and using brains is allowed. The guys like Bolton and the other US sources use to often the term “may have” and “may be” in their latest to make any open minded reader suspicious.

By the way are you Israeliguy sure that the ship didn’t deliver nuclear material to Egypt when it stopped in Port Said? Very few Israelis and Bolton have noticed this possibility. Hmmmm….

Actually, if the list above is correct, few media outlets outside of Israel are carrying the story. Even if they were, it would not change the fact that it is a single-sourced story, which was my point.

Try http://news.google.com/ and write in the search field “Syria Jane’s” you can verify yourself. Naturally the results differ depending what time you make the search.

New sources to the list
AOL News Newsbloggers, VA – 4 hours ago
New York Post, NY – 9 hours ago
Ha’aretz, Israel – 20 minutes ago
Reuters AlertNet

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September 19th, 2007, 5:29 pm

 

25. Murphy said:

“Try http://news.google.com/ and write in the search field “Syria Jane’s” you can verify yourself. Naturally the results differ depending what time you make the search.”

This does not change my point. The story has only one source – Janes. Plus “AOL Newsbloggers” and the NYP are hardly reputable news outlets. Anyway, it’s a silly discussion, though not half as silly as the story itself.

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September 19th, 2007, 6:05 pm

 

26. SimoHurtta said:

This does not change my point. The story has only one source – Janes. Plus “AOL Newsbloggers” and the NYP are hardly reputable news outlets. Anyway, it’s a silly discussion, though not half as silly as the story itself.

Actually you said before:

Actually, if the list above is correct, few media outlets outside of Israel are carrying the story.

So the I showed how I collected the list to show its “correctness”. Of course I know that the only source is Jane’s report. With the list my intention was to show that only Israeli media and some US “client” have made news of that Jane’s report. The interesting thing is that how many of those relative few news are really made on the basis of the report and not from the first “news”.

I agree that the story itself is silly. Though I think it is not silly at all to show how media is used to create “news” and how these “news” spread in the worlds media.

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September 19th, 2007, 7:20 pm

 

27. IsraeliGuy said:

First Israeli comment about the attack?

Half an hour ago, Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, has been interviewed on Israel’s channel 1.

The anchor asked him various questions, mainly about today’s development on the Palestinian track, but then tried to ask him about the Israeli attack in Syria.

Netanyahu, didn’t want to comment, but then the anchor asked him: did you congratulate Olmert on the mission? (implying, if the opposition leader has the decency to congratulate the PM when he succeeds – although the political differences).

Netanyahu replied: personally?

Anchor: (mumbles something)

Netanyahu: Yes I did. I did congratulate PM Olmert on the mission.

The anchor tried his luck again with some follow up question, but that was it.
He was not willing to provide further comments on the issue.

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September 19th, 2007, 7:45 pm

 

28. idaf said:

OK.. I can assure you that this story is pure nonsense from first hand experience.. read on:
On the morning of July 26 people in parts of Aleppo heard a very loud explosion. I was in Halab (Aleppo) that day when the alleged “chemical explosion” took place near the city. Syria at that week witnessed a heat wave unseen since 40 years. Temperatures reached close to 50 degrees centigrade.I remember that the AC of the brand new car I was renting that week became absolutely useless and electricity in the city was not cooping with demand and failures happened every couple of hours during mornings. The state run media announced the explosion took place in a military depot near Aleppo (in Meselmieh) was caused by the heat wave and showed footage of top military generals visiting the location and the injured. for anyone familiar with the city killing 15 soldiers and injuring score others. The rumor in Aleppo was blaming the explosion on soldiers smoking “argileh” in the building!

So why is this “chemical explosion” story a bunch of rubbish? Because just adjacent to that military depot, Syrian university students had their 2 weeks optional military summer camp at the time. All those students were given a day off that day and Aleppo was filled that morning with university students wearing their military uniform coming back home. The day after all those thousands of students went back to the exact place where the supposed “chemical explosion” took place and returned to Aleppo a week later after finishing their summer camp.

Those familiar with the city would know that there are tens of grand restaurants, clubs and fancy swimming pools in Meselmieh near the place of the explosion. During that week of heat wave people were filling these summer spots days and nights (I was one of them). So if a chemical explosion took place (that involved Sarin and VX mind you) then you would expect that the University students would be asked not to come back or half of Aleppo would be suffering from chemical gas related symptoms (yours truly included)! Nothing of sort took was ever reported!

The moral of the story is that you SHOULD NOT believe 80 percent of the “sources” and “media” reports related to Syria. As Alex advised before you should read tens of different sources on the same story (yes including SANA and Syria News) and try to be rational and reach the real story (Arabic source are a must).

Btw, Jane (and its blind media the followers) is sounding more like Mhd Zuhair Al-Siddiq and Mehlis than an actual source of security information..

People please, would you just drop this baseless propaganda..it’s not worth the bandwidth you’re spending on it.

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September 19th, 2007, 8:00 pm

 

29. Friend in America said:

Very interesting comments. I agree with Murphy that there had been only one source (and good reporting requires 2, preferably 3 sources), but it is reasonable to start tracking this story because Jane’s happens to be the world’s most respected compiler of military information. It is a highly respected source. Only very rarely has Jane’s been in error.
But now we have three sources. First, Jane’s; Second – the published report in Syrian press of the explosion killing Syrian officers at this site last July. Third – IDAF’s testimony just above.
I do not dispute any of his commentary but do have several questions:
– is is possible that the explosion and subsequent leakage of gas was principally contained in the building?
– Dan asks very good questions on procedure, but no one can rule out carelessness, and note IDAF’s statement that people in town think there was careless smoking in the building.
– Is it possible the Syrian miitary decided to load the projectile and mate it to the rocket inside this building so as not to be spotted by satilite observation?
– The government said the explosion was caused by the heat wave, but wasn’t the explosion at night?
What seems clear at present is (1) there was an explosion on July 26; (2) the explosion took place inside a building where chemical weapons located; (3) a number of Syrian military were killed in the explosion; (4) there is no information that any of the gases traveled to the nearby town.
What we do not have confirmation on includes: (1) were any Iranian technicians killed and if so, how many?; (2) were any injured in this incident and taken to the hospital? (3) is any one being treated for the effects of these gases? (4) where did the chemical weapns come from? (5) what are Syria’s present intensions regarding use of chemical weapons?

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September 19th, 2007, 11:07 pm

 

30. idaf said:

Friend in America,

Do you really believe that any sane government would locate a high security chemical weapon top secret project near one of the most heavily populated areas in the country (we’re talking about the suburbs of a city with 3+ million citizens)!

Plus, the area is filled with industrial plants, clubs and summer resorts and the location of the supposed “chemical rockets” (including “Sarin” and “VX”) is few hundred meters away from a camp where thousands of university students were.

Please.. Jane is not the Bible.. they’re a bunch of human beings that can be wrong, mislead or have their own agenda! Jane’s only source on this is apparently Israeli intelligence. This was just another politically motivated propaganda attempt.

You can blindly believe Jane’s sources all you want.. Personally, I’ll only give this piece of rubbish any thought only when I start suffering from symptoms of Sarin and VX (as I was clubbing in an open-air club in the area the next night)!

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September 20th, 2007, 9:40 am

 

31. dan said:

Israeli Guy

At the risk of needlessly prolonging a rather sterile debate, the story, whatever the source, simply doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny and the application of basic common sense, especially when there are “objective referents” that can be invoked to assess the likelihood of a CW incident in a major urban area.

I would have thought that after the Iraq WMD “reporting” fiascoes that erstwhile intelligent people would have learned a few basic lessons about the use of “threat propaganda” to advance political agendas.

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September 20th, 2007, 11:06 am

 

32. Friend in America said:

For our consideration.

AP) North Korea and Syria held high-level talks Friday in Pyongyang, the North’s state media reported, amid suspicions that the two countries might be cooperating on a nuclear weapons program.

The talks took place between Choe Tae Bok, secretary of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, and Saaeed Eleia Dawood, director of the organizational department of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The two sides discussed ways of improving friendship and cooperation and other issues of bilateral interest, KCNA said, without elaborating.

Their meeting came amid suspicions that North Korea may be providing nuclear assistance to Syria, a charge both Pyongyang and Damascus deny.

The allegations arose after an alleged Israeli air raid earlier this month on unknown Syrian targets possibly connected to a weapons program.

Andrew Semmel, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, said last week that North Koreans were in Syria, and that Syria may have had contacts with “secret suppliers” to obtain nuclear equipment.

Semmel did not identify the suppliers. However, he said that North Koreans were in Syria and that he could not exclude the possibility that the network run by the disgraced Pakistan nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan may have been involved.

U.S. President George W. Bush, when asked at a news conference Thursday about the suspicions that North Korea is giving nuclear assistance to Syria, said, “We expect them not to.”

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September 21st, 2007, 3:38 pm

 

33. Friend in America said:

IDAF –
I do belive governments can make bad decisions. The world suffers from them.
Would a government place highly dangerous weapons in a populated area? Unfortunately some have done so and some do now. I agree it would be wildly reckless to place CW’s near an army training camp adjacent to a thickly populated city. But indications are that is what happened. Let’s watch for further developments. The government admitted to the explosion and deaths of Syrian army personnel. The government has not admitted the casualties included technicians from Iran nor what everyone was doing in that building. So we will have to wait for disclosures. Your comments are well taken and appropriately question the accuracy of CW reports. If there were no cw’s and no Iranian technicians involved, the government in Bagdad could clear this up in one press release at the site. But I don’t think that will happen and this incident will remain murkey.

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September 21st, 2007, 4:05 pm

 

34. Murphy said:

“indications are that is what happened”

No they are not. Rumours from a single source, which do not at all appear to be backed up by the known facts, are all you have to go on.

“technicians from Iran ”

Are they related to the “soldiers from Iran” the Israelis said they found during their failed war in South Lebanon? Those Iranians must be pretty smart, seeing as their military and technological expertise is in demand all over the Middle East.

“If there were no cw’s and no Iranian technicians involved, the government in Bagdad could clear this up in one press release at the site.”

Say what?

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September 21st, 2007, 4:24 pm

 

35. Friend in America said:

In trying to make certainty of an event it is good to have three sources at least two of which are considered reliable. Until then the story is only tentative. Because the governments in many middle eastern countries control the press, many stories remain tentative and some what murkey.
– It is easy to disqualify any news source but Jane’s happens to be the world’s authority, so I give it a higher rating on reliability than other sources. But janes is not the only source for my conclusions. The news release from the government’s news agency is a second. A third is IDAF’s personal witness in hearing the explosion and passing on the comments from the citizens in the street about careless smoking (but we should also respect IDAF’s view that this event is not significant and not worthy of the attention it is getting). For me there is a certainty that an explosion took place causing deaths to military personnel inside (or around) the building. There is a probability (1) that CW’s were present, (2) that a rocket was inside that building; (3) that the explosion was caused by igniting rocket fuel; (4) that if there were CW’s in the building, they did not leak out into the ambient air in sufficient quantity to endanger the nearby army billets or adjacent the city; (5) that a less probability is there were no CW’s in the building and other than to the families of those who died, the explosion “is no big deal.”
– The original news releases included iranian technicians among the casualties. What is the probability? Cann’t measure that yet. So my comment admitted.
– A news release would be simple. The core would be ‘here is the building, inspect it for yourself; here is a responsible officer who will describe the activities in the building and give you a list of all those killed or injured; the explosion took place because of (“what activity”) and here’s the evidence for that conclusion. We also will go to the hospital to be informed as to casualties and you may ask about causes of death and nature of injuries to any that survived. ‘

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September 21st, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

36. Murphy said:

I’m still wondering what all of this has to do with the government in “Bagdad” though, as mentioned in your previous post.

In any case, it’s not the duty of a government to provide evidence disproving every ridiculous rumour which happens to appear in some newspaper or other. That would be to give the stories more respect than they perhaps deserve, quite apart from the fact that most governments do not welcome foreign journalists in their military installations.

BTW you do not have ‘three sources’ for the Iranian technicians/chemical weapons story. You have only one – Janes. Idaf specifically said that his personal experience actually refuted the Janes’ story, and the government statement refers only to an explosion, not one of the nature described by Janes. I suspect you believe this story, simply because you badly want to believe it.

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September 21st, 2007, 5:46 pm

 

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