Members of the Syrian rebel movement admitted to Associated Press reporters that they were behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus, the Mint Press News reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the chemicals were provided by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who “has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.”
The group Doctors Without Borders went to the town of Ghouta, where more than 350 people were killed as a result of the chemical attack. After interviewing “numerous...doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families,” the group obtained testimony that the attack was a result of mismanagement and ignorance on the part of the rebels, who didn't realize that they had chemical weapons.
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” the Mint Press quotes Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel who was killed in a tunnel during the chemical attack.
Some of the weapons had a "tube-like structure," and others resembled a "huge glass bottle," Abdel-Moneim said.
“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” said a female rebel, referred to as "K" to protect her identity. “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.
“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” K continued.
“Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground," another rebel called J added. "They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material.
“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”
Jabhat al-Nusra is a branch of al Qaeda from Iraq comprised of members who fought and killed American troops during the U.S. occupation of that country.
Despite the admission from these rebels, the Obama administration continues to claim that the Bashar al-Assad regime was behind the attack.
In an address from the State Department on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry accused Assad of committing a “crime against humanity” and claimed that the U.S. government knows that Assad was behind the attack.
“We know that for three days before the attack, the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area, making preparations,” Kerry said.
“And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions.
“We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time. We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.”
Members of the U.S. intelligence community, however, have stated that they don't know for sure who was behind the attack.
Intelligence sources told the Associated Press that the evidence against Assad is “not a slam dunk,” and the New York Times reported on Thursday that U.S. officials have no “smoking gun” to indicate it was Assad behind the attack.