U.S. rejects claim that Turkey planned Syria atrocity

The White House and State Department rejects allegations regarding Turkey's involvement in Syria war.

The White House and State Department rejects allegations regarding Turkey's involvement in Syria war.

WASHINGTON D.C. - The White House and State Department have refuted a media report that Turkey planned a deadly chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus that nearly brought the U.S. into open conflict with Syria, in a statement issued to Anadolu Agency.

Seymour Hersh, a freelance journalist, published an article in the London Review of Books (LRB) in which he claimed that Ankara had supplied the al Nusra Front with chemical weapons that they used to carry out the August 2013 attack. The Washington Post and the New Yorker declined the story prior to its publication in the LRB.

“The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21,” said Shawn Turner and Caitlyn Hayden in a statement initially issued to fact checkers working on the report and later sent to AA. “The suggestion that there was an effort to suppress or alter intelligence is simply false.”

State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, in her daily press briefing said there is no doubt that the chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian regime.

Psaki said, "In light of our reports and intelligence we had recieved, we believe beyond any doubt that the attack on 21 August had been carried out by the Syrian regime and we are still behind the same view shared by the international community."

Hersh cited unidentified American officials and a classified intelligence analysis on the opposition's chemical weapons capabilities to back up his claim. “No such paper was ever requested or produced by Intelligence Community analysts,” said Turner and Hayden.    

Hersh wrote that U.S. President Barack Obama had established September 2, 2013 as a fixed deadline for the U.S. military to undertake action in Syria following the chemical attack. Turner and Hayden rejected the claim as “completely fabricated”. 

The journalist also wrote that the Obama administration had channeled weapons from Libya to the Syrian opposition through southern Turkey, a claim described by Turner and Hayden as “false”.

Turkey also reacted to the claim when Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was asked a question about Hersh's claim that Turkey had provided Sarin gas to the people who had conducted chemical attack in Ghouta region. He said "A note sent by the Turkish Foreign Ministry in this regard says that it is absolutely not true. The White House official has also qualified these claims as definitely false and speculative in response to a question regarding the matter."

Arinc said, "The claims based on anonymous sources have been conclusively rejected by the White House officials and it has been reconfirmed that the Assad regime is solely responsible for the chemical attack."

Noting that they are well aware of previous articles written by Hersh, Arinc said, "Everyone knows very well that the individual's views and claims heard from some unnamed persons are certainly not any verified information and knowledge. In fact, the U.S. officials have quite fairly explained the matter and strictly rejected the claim."

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