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Wednesday, May 17

SPIEGEL reaching its gag limit on anti-Assad smear campaigns?

May 17 Moon of Alabama:
... The U. S. State Department claim that Syria built a crematorium inside a prison to burn executed prisoners saw no follow-up. But it had consequences. The presented "evidence" was too thin to make it believable. Even the staunchly anti-Syrian [German newsmagazine] SPIEGEL doubted it: USA bleiben Beweise für Assads Leichenöfen schuldig. Translated: "U.S. fails to give evidence for Assad crematorium claims."
The State Department claim was presented in a special news conference by Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. A day later Jones announced that he would retire:
Jones, 57, told colleagues the decision was his own and that he had not been pushed out or asked to leave the department.
Ahem. Sure. Maybe. Or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disliked the lame propaganda shows Jones presented under the official State Department seal.
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B at Moon of Alabama speculated on May 16 that the State Department's insinuation about the crematorium "may be propaganda preparation for a wider war on Syria."

That could be, but I think the immediate goal of the accusation is to pressure Russia to end support for Assad. The idea is that the crematorium is another horrifying reason Putin has to stop helping such a monster before Russia's reputation on the world stage is destroyed.  

Such an argument would studiously overlook that Putin himself has been portrayed as a monster by the same kind of smear campaigns used against Assad. And it would depend on the Kremlin ignoring the fact that the neither the U.S. nor any of its European allies have been inclined to scale back their cold war against Russia, no matter how much cooperation the Kremlin has offered them.

As to the veracity of the crematorium story:  

May 16 Moon of Alabama:

... Back in February Amnesty International (which promotes NATO interventions) issued a sensational report about alleged killings in Syrian prisons. As we wrote at that time:
A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction-style writing from its title "Human Slaughterhouse" down to the last paragraph.
The U.S. State Department has now reused that fake report and adds wrongly-interpreted satellite pictures to further slander the Syrian government:

US: Syria is burning bodies to hide proof of mass killings
In its latest accusations of Syrian abuses, the State Department said it believed about 50 detainees each day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies are then burned in the crematorium "to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place," said Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, accusing Assad's government of sinking "to a new level of depravity."
The department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The photographs, taken over the course of several years, beginning in 2013, do not prove the building is a crematorium, but show construction consistent with such use.
If there was a crematorium being built in the Saydnaya prison how is it that none of the Amnesty witnesses said so in the recent Amnesty report? These witnesses, Amnesty claims, have been in that prison and observed all kind of details. They claim that any dead were buried in mass graves.

A Dutch military expert looks at the commercial satellite pictures and the interpretation State provided and asks:
Ian Grant‏ @Gjoene - 6:02 PM - 15 May 2017
Is this a joke @StateDept? Even before 27 Aug '13 these "vents" were present. See included Terraserver footage (03 april '13) #Sednaya
Another reconnaissance specialist expands on that:
Aldin Abazović @CT_operative - 5:33 PM - 15 May 2017
Pictures that allegedly show crematorium of Saidnaya prison, #Damascus #Syria. As much as I hate to get involved into this matter, these #1 [and] #2 images prove nothing at all. This building could be simple boiler/heating room for the prison compound. Unless you visit there is no
#3 way to prove anything. It's easy to manipulate with satellite imagery. You just put the right label on [a] thing and there you have it
#4 I can't confirm what the particular part of prison is nor for what it's used.
The State Department has no evidence for its "crematorium claim" but the Amnesty report, which says nothing about a crematorium at the prison, and some satellite pictures that do not show what the State Department claims. It is throwing dirt at the Syrian government in the hope that some of it will stick. 

This release of nothing will create some headlines in "western" outrage publications. It may be propaganda preparation for a wider war on Syria.

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