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Of course the syncretic parts of the left are again joining with the right in saying (or implying) that the chemical attack in Douma was a "false flag" designed to draw Trump back into the Syrian conflict. Funny that many of the same people were saying only five days ago that Trump wasn't actually going to leave Syria (per the Patrick Cockburn article below). The entire conspiracy-theory narrative of this being "convenient timing" is in contradiction with what was being said less than a week ago.

Some truly believe it is highly likely that rebels (or Israelis, or both?) flew a helicopter through Russia-controlled airspace over a heavily monitored and shelled suburb of Damascus in order to drop a barrel bomb with a chemical weapon approximate to the one used a year ago in what the UN's independent inquiry concluded was an Assad-regime attack.

Since 2013, the Assad regime has carried out dozens of chemical weapons attacks, according to Human Rights Watch, many of which have been confirmed by the UN. These attacks have all been adamantly denied, against strong evidence and witnesses and international expert conclusions, by the informed twitter audiences of RT, Sputnik, and Infowars.

That the impulse to affirm conspiracy theories and place the burden of doubt on the victims that they did not, in fact, bomb themselves, indicates the heartlessness of a tendency to cast doubt even on their suffering. The Kremlin, for instance, is denying that a chemical weapons attack even took place (apparently the dead simply suffocated themselves with carbon monoxide or something).

The story that I've heard—that Russia was pushing a peace treaty that enabled rebels to stay as police, which Assad refused, leading him to gas the rebels into submission—seems far less far fetched than a "false flag" conspiracy theory. Indeed, why would the rebels gas their own population and then surrender immediately thereafter?

Lastly, we have seen cascading conspiracy theories regarding Syria dissipate into thin air over the years, so why should we continue to cut this tendency slack? First it was that Assad didn't even have any chemical weapons; then he supposedly handed in or destroyed them all; then he never used any chemical weapons at all, it was the rebels against themselves; then the rebels poured gasoline in the Damascus water supply (it was really the regime's bombing of the area); then the claims of the regime barrel bombing a UN humanitarian convoy were fabrications (nope, all true)... Most recently, the presence of Iranians on the recently struck airbase was denied before being confirmed by the Iranian government, itself.

The conspiracy theorists will conveniently find Israel at the center of everything, because they hate Israelis. And now everything will return to "Israel did it, because they are bad," and we won't really need evidence; we won't really care about all the UN and HRW investigations that have found human rights violations by the Assad government. We found the deus ex machina, and its name is Israel.

Stop believing these reflexive denials from 9/11 Truthers and those who carry water for the Kremlin's propaganda machine. Stop turning the plight of a civilian population facing rampant warcrimes into a playground for the reveries of conspiracy theorists. Enough giving the benefit of the doubt to authoritarian regimes over humanitarian observers and victims. Find your heart and follow it!
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