Image Source: TUBS – CC BY-SA 3.0
By any reckoning, the claim made this week by al-Qaeda-linked fighters that they were targeted with chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Idlib province — their final holdout in Syria — should have been treated by the western media with a high degree of scepticism.
That the US and other western governments enthusiastically picked up those claims should not have made them any more credible.
Scepticism was all the more warranted from the media given that no physical evidence has yet been produced to corroborate the jihadists’ claims. And the media should have been warier still given that the Syrian government was already poised to defeat these al-Qaeda groups without resort to chemical weapons — and without provoking the predictable ire (yet again) of the west.
But most of all scepticism was required because these latest claims arrive just as we have learnt that the last supposed major chemical attack — which took place in April 2018 and was, as ever, blamed by all western sources on Syria’s president, Bashar Assad — was very possibly staged, a false-flag operation by those very al-Qaeda groups now claiming the Syrian government has attacked them once again.
Addicted to incompetence
Most astounding in this week’s coverage of the claims made by al-Qaeda groups is the fact that the western media continues to refuse to learn any lessons, develop any critical distance from the sources it relies on, even as those sources are shown to have repeatedly deceived it.
This was true after the failure to find WMD in Iraq, and it has been confirmed after the the international community’s monitoring body on chemical weapons, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was exposed this month as deeply dishonest.
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