There exists evidence to suggest the Obama administration knew the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria still had a stockpile of chemical weapons despite continued claims they made a deal with the regime to give them up.
Indeed, top Obama administration officials routinely boasted during Obama's second term that they secured a deal with Assad's regime that removed "100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria," according to then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014.
The administration celebrated the deal because it took pressure off them after Obama failed to uphold his "red line" policy. The policy, implemented in 2012, promised to take military action in Syria if Assad used chemical weapons against his people. And once he did later in 2013, Obama didn't respond, weakening the U.S. in the Middle East. The "deal" to allegedly get chemical weapons of out Syria was Obama's out.
At the time in 2014, fact-checking website PolitiFact ruled Kerry's claim "mostly true."
"Kerry said all of Syria’s chemical weapons had been removed. The UN body in charge said that the last of Syria’s declared chemical weapons left the country in late June. There remain, however, some discrepancies in the details of the weapons the Syrians had acknowledged possessing, and some additional work is needed," they said at the time. "With that qualification, we rate the claim Mostly True."
However, according to the American Interest, comments from former top Obama administration officials prove they knew the Assad regime still had chemical weapon stockpiles.
Dots were connected after comments from national security adviser National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster last week, who said that during targeted U.S. military airstrikes last week in Syria following another chemical weapons attack, "measures" had to be put in place to avoid hitting sarin gas stockpiles.
From the American Interest:
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.
In fact, many in the Obama administration knew the "deal" with the Assad regime was merely a sham. That's why they celebrated Thursday night when President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Navy to hit an Assad-controlled airbase with 59 tomahawk missiles.
"This shows the moral depravity of the last administration," one former Obama official told Defense One.
"Many of us are pretty darned happy about this," added another. "This is the action that many of us were hoping for years ago. Our hope though is that this was not an act in isolation, but a clear signal of the limits of our tolerance, and the restart of meaningful, actionable diplomacy to end Assad’s tenure in Syria and bring about a peaceful political transition."
Meanwhile, PolitiFact has been forced to change their ruling on Kerry's 2014 statement.
"We don’t know key details about the reported chemical attack in Syria on April 4, 2017, but it raises two clear possibilities: Either Syria never fully 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," PolitiFact wrote last week.
"One way or another, subsequent events have proved Kerry wrong," they conceded.