Ex SAS chief: As­sad doesn’t need gas. He’s win­ning

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - ATTACK ON SYRIA - By Mark Ni­col

A FORMER head of Bri­tain’s spe­cial forces has chal­lenged Theresa May’s claim that Pres­i­dent As­sad was be­hind the chem­i­cal attack in Douma.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Jonathan Shaw said: ‘Why would As­sad use chem­i­cal weapons at this time? He’s won the war. That’s not just my opin­ion, it is shared by se­nior com­man­ders in the US mil­i­tary. There is no ra­tio­nale be­hind As­sad’s in­volve­ment what­so­ever.

‘He’s con­vinced the rebels to leave oc­cu­pied areas in buses. He’s gained their ter­ri­tory. So why would he be both­er­ing gassing them?’

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Mail on Sun­day, the exSAS and parachute reg­i­ment com­man­der added: ‘The ji­hadists and the var­i­ous op­po­si­tion groups who’ve been fight­ing against As­sad have much greater mo­ti­va­tion to launch a chem­i­cal weapons attack and make it look like As­sad was re­spon­si­ble. Their mo­ti­va­tion be­ing that they want to keep the Amer­i­cans in­volved in the war – fol­low­ing Trump say­ing the US was go­ing to leave Syria for other peo­ple to sort out.’

His views were echoed by ad­mi­ral West, former head of the royal navy, who said: ‘If I was ad­vis­ing Pres­i­dent As­sad, why would I say use chem­i­cal weapons at this point? It doesn’t make any sense. But for the ji­hadist op­po­si­tion groups, I can see why they would. But one must give Theresa May the ben­e­fit of the doubt and trust she has seen some un­equiv­o­cal ev­i­dence which leaves no doubt that As­sad was be­hind the atroc­ity.’

But the ex-com­man­der of the Bri­tish army’s chem­i­cal weapons reg­i­ment, Colonel Hamish de Bret­ton-Gor­don, said: ‘A so­phis­ti­cated nerve agent was used at Douma, not just chlo­rine. Only As­sad has the ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­duce these sub­stances in­side Syria. Us­ing chem­i­cal weapons is his stan­dard modus operandi.’

SCEP­TI­CAL: Ma­jor Gen­eral Jonathan Shaw has doubts

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