The real issue here is not so much the denial of chemical attacks as the way it serves as a vehicle for normalizing conspiracy theories under the guise of critical thinking. Admirable though it is to view news reports and government statements with caution and scrutinize the evidence, the denial campaign was something else, encouraging people to reject information at will simply because it didn't fit their view of how the world works.
The regime’s barbarity was known to us, but it had now crossed President Barack Obama’s red line and U.S. retaliation seemed imminent following the chemical attacks of 2013. What followed, however, was silence and inaction. And the consequences were catastrophic. I know because I was there to witness it.
On August 21, 2013 the Syrian regime launched the biggest chemical attack of the 21st century. It was a seismic event whose repercussions are still being felt. This is an account of what happened that day and how the decisions made in its aftermath sealed Syria’s fate.
I reported from the Syrian capital when a peaceful protest movement became an armed insurgency. Here's what I saw.