Moon of Alabama – Nov 16, 2019
On April 7 2018 Syrian ‘rebels’ claimed that the Syrian government had used chlorine gas and Sarin in an attack on the besieged Douma suburb near the Syrian capital Damascus. They published a series of videos which showed the dead bodies of mainly women and children.
Before the incident Jaish al-Islam, the main ‘rebel’ group in Douma, had already agreed to leave towards Idleb governorate. Under those circumstances the claims made no sense. The various details in the produced videos and pictures were inconsistent with a chemical incident.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigated the incident and in July 2018 produced an interim report (pdf) that showed that no Sarin was used in Douma. The OPCW inspectors had only found various chlorinated organic chemicals (COCs) which are common in every household. Media falsely claimed that those finds were proof of a chlorine gas attack.
The interim report did not show any use chemical weapons but it had, as we noted, some curious anomalies:
The preliminary OPCW report says nothing about the concentrations in which these substances were found. Without knowing the concentrations, which may may be extremely low, one can not come to further conclusion. The report includes none of the witness statements the fact finding mission took. In various TV reports the medical personal of the one hospital involved in the stunt said that none of their patients were affected by chlorine or chemical weapons.
The final report (pdf), published in March 2019, changed the tone. It specifically claimed that gas cylinders found at two places of the incident must have been dropped from the air. As only the Syrian government, not the ‘rebels’, has used helicopters the report was an indictment of the Syrian government.
In May 2019 one OPCW inspector came forward and said that the OPCW management had suppressed an internal engineering assessment that contradicted the claim that the gas cylinder fell from the air. OPCW management had used external expertise of unknown provenance that had come to the wrong conclusion. The cylinders must have been positioned by hand. The incident was staged.
Now a second OPCW whistleblower came forward with additional claims that the OPCW management manipulated the findings of its own inspectors after it had come under pressure from U.S. officials.
Jonathan Steele, a former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian, writes: