US Officials Can’t Explain Reason for Syria ‘Chemical Attack’

'Senior Official' Claims Attack Targeted Rebel 'Support Areas'

While it wouldn’t be unusual for Syria to bomb targets belonging to al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in the Idlib Province with airstrikes, a big hole in the US-backed allegations of a “chemical weapons attack” by the Syrian military is that there was no reason for such a strike.

Administration officials are trying to manufacture one, with an unnamed “senior official” today delivering a briefing to the media claiming that the Syrian military was afraid of a rebel offensive in the Hama Province, and launched the attack against the rebels’ rear support areas for operational purposes.

This new narrative, that the strike was done for operational reasons,, seemingly contradicts previous claims that Syria attacked civilians with chemical weapons for no reason at all, and when pressed by reporters, the US official was clearly shaken, insisting the attacks were for operational purposes, but not against militarily significant targets, which of course wouldn’t make sense.

On top of this, the US narrative’s initial premise is faulty, as the Hama offensive had already ground to a halt two weeks prior to the putative Syrian attack, and Syrian forces appeared well on their way to recovering lost territory from the rebels.

Small tit-for-tat offensives and counteroffensives on the frontier between government and rebel forces are common enough at any rate, that the losing a handful of villages in northern Hama would not have sparked such an act of desperation, meaning the US claim is not credible.

If anything, the underlying assumptions make Russia’s own narrative of conventional attacks against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front make even more sense, since the US apparently assessed the area targeted as having operational significance to the jihadist rebels.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.