by Willy B
The Pentagon, on at least two occasions, has rejected going along with the chemical weapons hype against the Syrian government in Damascus, despite its dubious policies, such as the military occupation of eastern Syriam otherwise. Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted to reporters on Feb. 2 that the U.S. doesn't actually have any evidence that the Syrian government has been using sarin gas. The framework underlying Mattis' remarks remains the assumption that if chemical weapons are being used in Syria it must be Assad's responsibility. Therefore, all we need to do then is find that evidence.
"We are more -- even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, the likelihood of sarin use, and we're looking for the evidence," Mattis said when asked about the latest accusations against Assad on Feb 2. His assumptions emerged when he was asked to clarify later in the press conference. "We think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it," he said, referring to the August 2013 attack in East Ghouta which Obama wanted to use to attack Syrian government forces. "And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used," Mattis went on. "We do not have evidence of it. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it." Later on, he said again that he didn't have evidence of government use of sarin gas. "What I'm saying is that other -- that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that sarin has been used. So we are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence, credible or uncredible."
The U.S. military has vast intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the region to develop a pretty extensive picture of what's going on on the ground in Syria, but the Pentagon is still reporting no evidence of such chemical weapons use. On Monday of this week, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon that "We don't have any evidence right now that chemical weapons are being used," when he was asked to comment on a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that that Russia expects new disinformation campaigns regarding alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria to derail existing ceasefire agreements. "We've seen the reports," Manning said. "We'll closely watch that, and condemn any use of chemical weapons on the Syrian people."
It would seem, therefore, that the U.S. military doesn't trust the claims of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the so-called White Helmets, who remain the go-to sources for the MSM, for "reports" of Syrian and Russian use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta. There's probably no reason for me to cite any particular of those reports, as you can find them everywhere from Reuters to the New York Times to Al Jazeera. They all cite those two sources uncritically without ever doing any investigation on their own, to paint a picture of the Syrian government and its Russian backers waging a war against civilians in Eastern Ghouta, as they did in Aleppo in 2016.