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State Department Denied Syrian Requests for Gas Masks

Jen Rubin at the Washington Post highlights another inexplicable bungle to add to the list of our semi-involvement in Syria. As reported by Josh Rogin, Syrian rebels wanted gas masks and were told no:

despite more than a year of requests to the U.S. government, the Obama administration did not send any gas masks or chemical-weapons protection gear to opposition-controlled areas.

“Almost three months ago, we received intelligence information that the regime forces may use chemical weapons in Homs,” said Abo Saleem, the directing commission secretary of the Council of Homs Province and a member of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Council of Homs, in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I forward the information to the State Department telling them we are afraid of the use of chemical weapons by the regime and we need gas masks and some training to prepare for such an attack. I got no response. Two weeks after that, the regime used chemical weapons in the old city of Homs, as we were expecting. We sent the State Department reports, but nothing happened.”

This incident happened three months ago but the article makes clear that requests for masks began at least a year ago, during the tenure of Secretary of State Clinton. Why would we choose not to give protection to the side we're backing in the fight? Here's the excuse offered by an unnamed administration official:

“The provision of protective gear for the opposition sounds like an easy idea, but we need consider the potential for misuse as well,” the official said. “Such equipment requires proper training to be effective, and we need to be careful about how and to whom we provide it.

What exactly is the potential for the misuse of a gas mask?

When the State Dept. refused to send additional security to Libya the excuse was that they had no "actionable intelligence" warning of an attack of the magnitude that took place on 9/11. It's hard to see how that excuse could hold up in the midst of a war which has already claimed 100,000 lives.


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