US-Vetted “Moderates” Use Chemical Weapons in Aleppo

By Ollie Richardson

Oops! They did it again! Nour al-Din al-Zenki (US trained “moderates”) just can’t keep their nose clean! This time, instead of beheading a 12 year old child, they used mustard gas in South Aleppo.

It’s okay though, the State Department have their back. Watch Mark Toner refuse to flat-out say that the US will not support the group since they used chemical weapons. All he can offer is many “ifs, buts, and maybes”. This is of course because he is lying through his teeth, as ALL groups under the Free Syrian Army umbrella are in bed with Al-Nusra and ISIS. 

Transcript of State Department excuses:

QUESTION: On Syria. The Russian ministry of defense says that in Aleppo there was recently a chemical weapons attack and that it was conducted by the Harakat Nour al-Zenki organization, which is an opposition group that has received support from the United States. Is the United States still supporting this organization?

MR TONER: So – unaware of that allegation. The only thing I’m aware of is the alleged chemical weapons attack on the town of Saraqeb. I don’t – I think we’re talking about separate incidents if I’m correct. I don’t know.

QUESTION: I’m referring to something in Aleppo.

MR TONER: This was – you’re talking about something in Aleppo. So haven’t seen those reports. Obviously, as we said with the incident that took place I think two days ago, allegedly, there were reports of chemical weapons being used in another town. But the same would hold true with this, is obviously we condemn strongly the use of any chemical weapons, and any credible allegations of their use in Syria we’ll investigate. And I believe it’s the purview of the OPCW that would carry out such an investigation.

As to your follow-up question about this group, I don’t have in front of me that we actually fund them. I mean, we – you’re saying we provide them with assistance?

QUESTION: Yes, as part of the so-called moderate opposition.

MR TONER: Yeah. I don’t know what —

QUESTION: Now, the group also —

MR TONER: Again, I haven’t seen the allegations yet, so I think it’s too early for me to (a) make that assessment and (b) make that connection.

QUESTION: It’s been said that the State Department is also investigating allegations – I mean, there’s a video of this group beheading a 10-year-old Palestinian boy.

MR TONER: Yes. Yeah, I’m aware of that.

QUESTION: How are those investigations going? Has there been any result?

MR TONER: Yeah. So we did talk about that. We were looking into those – that incident. Obviously, we condemned – if it were true. I know that the group itself said that they had also made some arrests and then set up a commission of inquiry into the incident. I don’t have any updates at this point in time, but I can certainly check and get back to you.

QUESTION: So what does a rebel group in Syria have to do to not receive U.S. funds any longer? What is the line that they must cross? What kind of controversial incident must take place for a group to stop receiving U.S. funds?

MR TONER: Well, first of all, there’s a lot of vetting of the Syrian moderate opposition that has already taken place, and it’s not just by the U.S., but it’s by all the members of the ISSG and, frankly, the UN. And it was established that al-Nusrah as well as Daesh or ISIL were considered to be by all members and by the UN to be terrorist organizations. I think, again, these are not easy processes, and one incident here and there would not necessarily make you a terrorist group.

Now, let me be very clear that we don’t condone any of the activities that you just cited. Possible use of chemical weapons, possible beheading of a young child, any human rights abuses – any of those things would give us serious cause for concern. That said, where we are in the broader geopolitical or political situation in Syria is – and one of the ongoing discussions that we’ve been having with Russia is how do we clearly delineate between these known terrorist groups – Nusrah and Daesh – and the moderate opposition, and how do we have a clear understanding of who is where so that we can, longer game here, get back in place a cessation of hostilities that is credible, that can also then jumpstart the political process.

QUESTION: So it sounds to me like what you’re saying is that even if these allegations are true, there’s still a chance that the United States would continue supporting these groups. Is that what you’re saying?

MR TONER: I’m not making any – I’m not, frankly, answering any hypotheticals. We just don’t know at this point. As I said, we would regard any of the acts that you mentioned or cited – and again, they are just allegations at this point – we’d take them very seriously and look into them and investigate them.

QUESTION: They’re not a red line. They’re not a red line to end U.S. support.

MR TONER: Again, I – so for a terrorist organization, there are fundamental actions, one of which is an intention to carry out terrorist attacks both within Syria but as well as on the West. Some of these groups – as I said, Nusrah and al-Qaida – or – well, al-Qaida is al-Nusrah; they’re one and the same – and Daesh – have expressed and indeed acted on these intentions. But as to the other members of the moderate Syrian opposition, look, we’re constantly evaluating their behavior. And frankly, for them to be a member of the moderate Syrian opposition and to be part of the cessation of hostilities and the Syrian Democratic Forces, it requires that they meet the standards. And those standards are respect for human rights and adherence to a cessation of hostilities.

QUESTION: And does that include not using chemical weapons?

MR TONER: Of course.

QUESTION: Is that part of the standard?

MR TONER: Of course.

QUESTION: So you – you’re just – you’re still looking into the chemical weapons charges?

MR TONER: Yes. Yeah, I don’t have any updates on that.

QUESTION: There’s no —


QUESTION: Just to be clear, if a group was using chemical weapons, their funding would be cut off?

MR TONER: Again, I will not make any statements of one or the other until we know all the facts and have determined who is to blame for any – I mean, honestly, this is the first time I’m hearing about a report for use of chemical weapons. But again, we have also seen reports of the use of chemical weapons on another town, and we’re looking into that. So I mean, again, we just don’t have —

QUESTION: Does the State Department have a policy not to support groups that use chemical weapons?

MR TONER: We condemn the use of chemical weapons.

QUESTION: Yes, but do you have a policy of not supporting groups that do such things?

MR TONER: Again, we would evaluate any support for any groups that are engaged in any kind of activity that, frankly, go against international norms.

QUESTION: The other thing you said about —

QUESTION: A related question on ISIS?

QUESTION: The other thing you said was the possible beheading. Are you not convinced that the video is accurate?

MR TONER: No, I apologize. I’m just not aware that we’ve determined —

QUESTION: Who exactly is behind it?

MR TONER: — who is actually behind it.

QUESTION: All right.

MR TONER: Thank you.

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