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Al Jazeera lies again: U.S. Government unable to confirm use of naval forces on Latakia

16 August 2011 7,540 views One Comment

By the Editor.
Updated August 16 (click here). Updated again August 17 (click here)

Two days ago Al Jazeera reported that Syrian naval forces had opened fire on the port city of Latakia, killing civilians. As usual, absolutely nothing to corroborate these grand claims was offered, except the customary “activists said” disclaimer:

Activists say 25 people killed as warships and tanks reportedly shell the northern port in an ongoing assault … At least 25 people have been killed and many others injured after Syrian warships and tanks opened fire on the port city of Latakia, activists said.

This is reminiscent of the almost identical lies told about Libya; we were told that Gaddafi’s forces had strafed and shelled protesters from the air. As it transpired, these claims were utterly demolished when the Department of Defense admitted to only having seen press reports of this, and having no confirmation whatsoever:

Q: Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?

SEC. GATES: We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that.

ADM. MULLEN: That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.

Even the Russian Military came out to say that it simply did not happen.

It should come as no surprise then, to learn that the ‘naval forces’ claim is an outright lie too. Victoria Nuland – U.S. State Department Spokesperson – went on record yesterday to unequivocally state that the U.S. Government has not been able to confirm this apparent use of naval forces. Again, all they have seen is press reports – fabricated by the same outlet:

MS. NULAND: First, I think you’re referring to Latakia, which is the latest city to be a victim of the Asad regime’s carnage. I can’t – we have been unable to confirm, actually, the use of naval assets … We’ve seen reporting of this. We have not seen this firing ourselves.

QUESTION: You haven’t seen any firing from the sea onto land?

MS. NULAND: That is my understanding.

QUESTION: Not that it’s happening, but you’re not sure who’s doing it?

MS. NULAND: The point is that at the moment, my information is that we have –

QUESTION: Okay, well –

MS. NULAND: — not been able to confirm that naval assets have been used.

Update I – August 16

Yesterday – the same day that the US State Department stated that they have no confirmation of the use of gunboats – the UN’s Chris Gunness spoke to Al Jazeera claiming that Syrian boats had attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia. The Al Jazeera interviewer is told that over 5,000 Palestinian refugees fled the Latakia camp after being told to leave by Syrian government forces. The Syrian government vehemently denied these reports.

In a veiled call for intervention, Gunness goes on to state that he hopes this will provide “some kind of restraining hand” on the Syrian government.

On the face of it, this event seems to be a cynical attempt to rally Palestinians and the wider Arab world behind a war on Syria. The US government has not been able to confirm this use of gunboats, while Gunness claims to have it from “a broad range of sources“. Keeping this in mind, I’m going to take this with a pinch of the white stuff.

Update II – August 17

Yesterday (August 16), after ‘pushing again’, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland is still unable to confirm that Syrian gunboats have fired or are even in a position able to fire on Latakia:

QUESTION: On Syria, have you been able to get any clarification on this whole issue of gunships and naval bombardments of –

MS. NULAND: Here’s what we have: I mean, obviously there is Syrian naval patrolling along the coast. We’ve seen the pictures of the boats. We have not been able to confirm, and I pushed again today, that those ships are able or actually firing into the city.

One Comment »

  • Adam said:

    “Speaking from West Jerusalem”


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