Did the Obama Administration Know that Syria Still Had Chemical Weapons?

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Sean Keeley of The American Interest noticed a curious statement from National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster when he briefed reporters on the Syrian strike.

And the one thing that I will tell you though, there was an effort to minimize – to minimize risk to third-country nationals at that airport – I think you read Russians from that – but that – and we took great pains to try to avoid that. […] And then there were also measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas, so that that would not be ignited and cause a hazard to civilians or anyone else.


The conclusion is obvious. If the new Trump administration knew that there were storage containers of sarin gas, it stands to reason that the Obama administration knew it as well.

But…but…but…didn’t the administration brag about removing “100%” of Syria’s chemical weapons?

If this strike was arranged to avoid hitting sarin storage facilities, the question arises: did the Obama Administration know that such depots still existed after its “historic” deal that supposedly removed all Syria’s chemical weapons?

The signs point to yes. In Congressional testimony last February, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged “gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration,” validating reports that Syria was still hiding banned chemicals at undisclosed locations. And on its way out the door in January of this year, the Obama Treasury quietly introduced new sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Buried in the language sanctioning a particular official was a telling admission: “As of 2016, Abbas has continued operating at locations in Syria associated with chemical warfare-related missions.”

Whether or not the Obama Administration knew of this particular sarin facility, then, they clearly knew that Syrians were still clinging to their stockpiles at several locations. They knew what Adam Garfinkle has been saying all along: that Obama’s deal to remove chemical weapons was not a historic diplomatic triumph but an unenforcable sham that the Syrians and Russians never intended to comply with.


The Daily Caller has some reminders of what the Obama administration was saying about the deal that supposedly removed Syria’s chemical weapons:

In the wake of the recent chemical weapons that killed innocent civilians, including women and children, observers immediately recalled former President Barack Obama’s 2013 deal, which allowed the president to back down from his red line on chemical weapons, and the administration’s comments in the aftermath.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry stated in 2014 that the Obama administration “got 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria.” Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice commented in January that the president and his team were “able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

At the time, fact-checking site Poltifact reported that the administration’s comments were “mostly true;” however, the site has since re-evaluated its assessment. “Either Syria never fulling [sic] complied with its 2013 promise to reveal all of its chemical weapons; or it did, but then converted otherwise non-lethal chemicals to military uses.”

“One way or another, subsequent events have proved Kerry wrong,” the site explained.

Politifact refers to “non-lethal chemicals” being “converted” to military uses. They are talking about chlorine gas which, in liquid form, has many commercial and industrial uses. However, it is easily converted into gas which, when dropped on people, can be one of the deadliest gasses on the planet.


There have been several attacks by Syria using chlorine gas since 2013 that the Obama administration dismissed because they said that chlorine was not a “banned” substance and so was not a chemical weapon.

Many soldiers from World War I would vehemently disagree. Chlorine gas was one of the most widely used weapons during that war and it killed and maimed tens of thousands.

It has now been confirmed that sarin gas — a weapon banned under the chemical weapons treaty — was used in the attack on civilians last week. Apparently, the Obama administration hid their failure from the American people because if Obama had acknowledged the presence of sarin gas in Assad’s arsenal, he would have had to do something about it.

Parting shot: Here are Democrats celebrating Obama’s great “triumph” in getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons.


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