Disinfo: Douma chemical attack never took place

Summary

It is now clear that the April 2018 chemical attack in Douma never happened. The management of OPCW has suppressed the findings of its own inspectors and is simply covering up for the criminal elements who staged the Douma incident. A group of witnesses to the alleged attack, who were invited by the Russian delegation to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, said on 28 April 2018 that they did not notice any signs of a poison gas attack. Then, in May 2019, a leaked OPCW document concluded that the two chlorine cylinders which were allegedly dropped onto the Douma site from aircraft had actually been manually placed on the ground. The OPCW noted in its interim report that “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” The inspectors furthermore noted that the dead people in the photos and videos didn’t look like victims from “chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride”. How, then, did the 35 victims of the Douma incident die? Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, told Reuters he pinpointed their burial place to OPCW. Nevertheless, the chemical watchdog chose not to conduct exhumations.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attacking the independence and integrity of the OPCW; lending credence to the claim that the 2018 Douma attack was staged; and absolving the Syrian regime of responsibility for chemical attacks in general. The OPCW's supposed complicity in "suppressing" the truth about the Douma incident is a standard talking point in pro-Kremlin reporting on Syria. See e.g. here, here, here, and here for our previous debunking of this narrative. The alleged witnesses whom the Russian delegation paraded in The Hague in April 2018 gave their testimony in the informal conditions of a press briefing, whereas requests by OPCW inspectors to interview them first were rejected. For this reason, the chemical watchdog's final report on the Douma attack treats their appearance at the Moscow-organised press briefing as open source material (p. 34) which may be used only "for comparative purposes" (p. 9) but not to formulate conclusions, in line with OPCW verification procedures (p. 24). Regarding the leaked engineering assessment, its conclusion that the cylinders could not have been dropped by air was addressed in the final Douma report (Annex 6, pp. 55-6) and comprehensively refuted by Bellingcat. The observation that "no organophosphorus nerve agents" were detected at the site features in the final Douma report as well (p. 3), and it does not contradict the OPCW's conclusions. The final report's main finding is that the toxic chemical used at the site was likely molecular chlorine (p. 4), which is a non-phosphorus compound. Moreover, the first draft of the interim report merely states that "some signs and symptoms [...] are not consistent with exposure to chlorine-containing choking or blood agents" (p. 3, emphasis added), and that "the investigation remains on-going" (ibid.). The article falsely claims that the OPCW "chose" not to exhume the bodies. In fact, the final report states that the Technical Secretariat communicated its intention to examine the bodies in a note verbale to Damascus (p. 10), but "the possibility was eventually not explored any further" given the delays in the Syrian government's response and the amount of "time elapsed since the alleged incident." The importance of timely collection and analysis of human samples is emhpasised in Annex 4 (pp. 42-3).

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Syria
  • Keywords: false flag, Douma, OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
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150 tons of medical cargo disappeared from the Ukrainian superplane

If it is true that Ukrainian plane “Antonov” brought only 90 tons of cargo, it means that with a lifting capacity of 250 tons the plane used less than 1/3 (sic) of its transport capabilities. Kombinat Górniczo-Hutniczy Miedzi is the Polish state corporation responsible for the transaction. It paid 12 million zlotys. This is a gigantic mismanagement, for which someone should answer criminally. Thus, Internet users conclude that the fate of at least 150 tons of medical equipment is unknown.

Disproof

The conclusion in this article that "Poles wonder where the 150 tons of cargo go" is based on one Facebook post. Ukraine's An-225 Mriya plane (the world's largest transport aircraft) has delivered a record medical cargo from China to Poland - 100 tonnes, the press service of the Antonov Company has reported on Facebook. It notes that in China, about 100 tonnes of medicines, laboratory tests, medical masks and other remedies were loaded into the aircraft. As mentioned in Ukrainian media, the aircraft will deliver the rest of the cargo to Poland on the second flight. According to the Polish Ministry of State Assets, the Ukrainian giant will bring the country nearly 400 tons of medical cargo purchased from China. However, due to the fact that the aircraft is only capable of carrying up to 250 tons of cargo at a time, it will likely have to make at least two round trips to fulfill the Polish contract. See more cases trying to cast doubt on exchange and procurement of medical supplies in light of the coronavirus pandemic here.

The West needs to accept the status of Crimea as Russian and remove the sanctions

Nobody expects the Great and the Good of the West to openly admit they were wrong about Crimea, and that the region and its citizens are in fact immeasurably better-off than they would be had they been subjected to rule by Kiev. But there is usually a way out of such a dilemma, and one that can be gently implemented without embarrassment. All that the West needs to do is quietly accept the status of Crimea and remove anti-Russia sanctions without fanfare.

Disproof

This is recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation on the illegal annexation of Crimea. The illegal annexation of Crimea was a violation of the UN Charter, of the OSCE Charter and of Russia's obligations as a signatory of the Budapest agreement. No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on the 27th of February 2014, and held on 16th of March 2014. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum. On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. On 17 December 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. The EU's policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol includes a set of restrictive measures against entities and individuals responsible for actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity. In March 2019, on the fifth anniversary of Crimea's illegal annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. The EU continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Read similar cases claiming that Crimean people have expressed their desire to rejoin Russia in a democratic process and that Crimea never belonged to Ukraine.

Ultimate anti-coronavirus recipe: determination+honey+orange juice

A person with diabetes managed to defeat the deadly coronavirus with determination, optimism, the usage of honey, orange juice and some herbs.

The person looked for a solution to strengthen the immune system on the Internet and found many things like thyme, rosemary, honey, eucalyptus leaves, orange juice and herbal tea.

Disproof

There is no medical evidence to support the claim that thyme, rosemary, honey, eucalyptus leaves, orange juice and herbal tea can prevent against catching the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

While common colds can be a result of a coronavirus, they're usually caused by a rhinovirus. Rhinoviruses are a family of viruses that are associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Thus, the mentioned "medicines" can be helpful in warding off symptoms of illnesses usually caused by rhinoviruses. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are effective against COVID-19.