Assuming it was Assad's forces that used the nerve gas. Which it probably was. People in Khan Sheikhoun told the Guardian and other papers that the nerve gas was dropped from a plane and the rebels don't have planes. Pictures show a crater in the road where the missile apparently landed.
Steve Bryen is a former senior Pentagon official and fighter pilot with a lot of working knowledge of the Syrian forces. His theory, set out in the Asia Times, is that Assad used chemical weapons deliberately in order to make Trump and Putin fall out and thus prevent them making a deal that involved regime change.
It sounds far-fetched, I know, but it makes as much sense as any other explanation. It's no odder than Assad releasing large numbers of Islamist fighters from prison in order to strengthen the jihadis, as he did a few years ago.
According to the mainstream media – that has been wrong about almost everything for a solid 18 months in a row – the Syrian government allegedly bombed its own people with a nerve agent. The reason the Assad government would bomb its own people with a nerve agent right now is obvious. Syrian President Assad – who has been fighting for his life for several years, and is only lately feeling safer – suddenly decided to commit suicide-by-Trump.Scott Adams thinks Trump gains from the risk-free military action, whether the war crime happened or was fake, and doubts it will lead to a US decision to achieve regime change. I hope he's right but that's not what the American administration has been saying today.
Peter Hitchens thinks the jury is still out.
Scott Ritter thinks it is a put up job by the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra which he thinks made and used the sarin used in the 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta which almost led Obama to intervene. He prefers the Russian story that a Syrian bomb exploding on the store of sarin could have led to chemical event. But he does not explain how. We saw a picture of a bomb crater in the road. And sarin is destroyed if a bomb explodes. So this does not make sense.
He does point out that the White Helmets and the rebels have a lot of experience in successfully manipulating and lying to the Western media. This is true.
Many of the fighters affiliated with Tahrir al-Sham are veterans of the battle for Aleppo, and as such are intimately familiar with the tools and trade of the extensive propaganda battle that was waged simultaneously with the actual fighting in an effort to sway western public opinion toward adopting a more aggressive stance in opposition to the Syrian government of Assad. These tools were brought to bear in promoting a counter-narrative about the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident (ironically, many of the activists in question, including the “White Helmets,” were trained and equipped in social media manipulation tactics using money provided by the United States; that these techniques would end up being used to manipulate an American President into carrying out an act of war most likely never factored into the thinking of the State Department personnel who conceived and implemented the program).
I am not convinced. I am sure that James Matthis believes that the Syrian forces are to blame and I think he ought to know. What the Syrian government using chemical weapons against Syrian rebels has to do with American interests is another matter. But the last president having drawn a red line, I suppose American prestige is at stake.