idlib deathsIn terms of raw casualty numbers, Tuesday’s apparent nerve gas attack near the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun – believed to have killed at least 70 – should hardly be significant against the backdrop of a war that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead. But that was never the point of chemical weapons. Since European powers first used them over a century ago at the height of World War One, they have held a psychological and political shock value in many ways out of proportion to their physical or military effect. Alongside the threat of biological warfare, they hold a very distinct horror.

idlib kidsSurvivors of a suspected chemical attack in Syria's Idlib province and aid workers on the scene say they are still in shock and struggling to recover from the distressing event of the attack."It's just indescribable," Othman al-Khani, local activist and witness said. "We saw people suffocating while their lungs were collapsing. The hardest was watching the children as we stood there unable to provide any sort of assistance, and medics sprayed them with water" to disperse the chemical substance, Khani told Al Jazeera.

mosul womanWhen U.S. rivals committed atrocities in Aleppo, Western talking heads were appalled. But when the U.S. supports them in Mosul? Silence. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the last major Islamic State stronghold in the country, is nearly under Iraqi government control. 

idlib1At least 58 people were killed in a horrific gas attack in the Idlib Governorate this morning. However, even before investigations could be conducted and for evidence to emerge, Federica Mogherini, the Italian politician High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, condemned the Syrian government stating that the “Assad regime bears responsibility for ‘awful’ Syria ‘chemical’ attack.”

isis usaJames Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.