The U.S. has adopted claims of the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), accusing the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) of carrying out a “chemical attack” on the town of Kabani in northern Lattakia on May 19.
In an official statement by the Department of State, Washington said that it is monitoring “signs” that the SAA may be “renewing its use of chemical weapons.”
Washington based its accusations on the claims of HTS, which said that SAA targeted positions of its “Mujahedeen” near Kabani with three munitions loaded with “chlorine gas.” The terrorist group itself acknowledged that nobody was killed or even injured in the supposed attack.
“We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately,” the Department of State said in its statement that was released on May 21.
The Department of State didn’t only adopt al-Qaeda narrative, but went on to claim the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had proved that chemical weapons were used by the SAA in previous cases. This is false. The state department even accused the SAA and Russian forces of “fabricating” the November 24 chemical attack on the government-controlled city of Aleppo.
These accusations provoked response from both pro-government and pro-opposition sources. Even the widely known pro-opposition outlet, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) deounced the US claims.
In a press release posted on its official Facebook page, the UK-based monitoring group slammed the U.S. accusations, saying that no “chemical attack was documented in northern Lattakia”. The group also confirmed that there are no civilians in the region, which is occupied by HTS and other “Jihadi” groups.
“I don’t know how the U.S. is adopting the information of the al-Nusra Front [HTS’ original name] in a region, where only al-Nusra’s members are present … I don’t know why the U.S. is adopting something that we found no evidence for on the ground,” director of the SOHR, Rami Abd al-Rahman, said in a phone call with the BBC on May 21.
The Department of State’s statement is the clearest evidence of how the U.S. uses the “chemical weapons” pretext to pressure Damascus, even if this means empowering terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.