DISINFO: Internal OPCW e-mail proves that OPCW's Douma investigation is biased
  • Outlet: RT France - YouTube (archived)*
  • Date of publication: December 01, 2019
  • Outlet language(s): French
  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • Countries / regions discussed: Syria
Douma OPCW West White Helmets Chemical weapons/attack

DISINFO: Internal OPCW e-mail proves that OPCW's Douma investigation is biased


What really happened on April 7, 2018, in Douma, Syria? The Western version, according to which a chemical attack has been perpetrated by the Syrian army, has become more and more fragile in recent days. It is an email sent by a member of the OPCW mission to Syria, unveiled by WikiLeaks, which is causing the trouble. According to it, the conclusions would have been distorted in the official report of the OPCW. There were already the reservations of some journalists in Syria and even that of a producer of the BBC. Now critics are coming from people directly involved in the investigation. An e-mail from one who introduces himself as one of the members of this mission in Syria has been unveiled by Wikileaks. The sender of this email regrets a misleading rewrite of his observations: “By the unintentional omission of certain facts and observations an inadvertent bias has been introduced into the report, undermining its credibility. In fact, some crucial facts that have been maintained in the corrected version have turned into something quite different from what was originally drafted.” The core of the problem observed by the author of the e-mail is, in particular, the conclusions about the presence of bottles of chlorine on the scene of the alleged attack.”The initial report underscored the fact that, although the cylinders may have been the source of the suspected release of chemicals, the evidence was insufficient to assert this and it is a major difference with from the redacted report…”


WikiLeaks indeed released an email from an employee within the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) indicating that the OPCW "misrepresents the facts he and his colleagues discovered on the ground". This email has been used to call into question the impartiality and effectiveness of the OPCW’s conclusion about the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria. But the comparison of the date when it was written and of the points raised in the letter with the OPCW's final report makes it clear that the OPCW addressed these concerns of said employee. Unusually, OPCW issued two reports on Douma, the preliminary and the final ones. The concerns of the said employee have been taken into account in the final report, points out Belingcat. The e-mail is dated 22 June 2018. Thus, the interim report, published on 6 July 2018, stated that the found cylinders were the likely source of the chlorine or reactive chlorine-containing chemical. The final report published on 1 March 2019 states, however, in paragraph 2.16 that it was “possible that the cylinders were the source of the substances containing reactive chlorine”. See the analysis by Bellingcat of how the concerns of the said employee raised in June 2018, were taken into account in the final OPCW's report released on 6 July 2018. The narrative of the insufficient proofs of using chemical weapons in Syria and of the "staged chemical attacks" is recurrent. Read previous debunk claiming that a BBC producer admits the chemical attacks were staged. See more cases here. It is to note that RT France received a reprimand from French regulator CSA, which was recently maintained by State Council after the appeal, for its biased coverage of the chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. In the reprimanded report RT France did false voice-overs of two interviews of Syrian citizens, distorting their messages. In addition, the French regulator noticed that the whole 18 minutes of Douma's incident coverage by RT France broke the Convention signed with the regulator. The convention obliges the channel to check the credibility of its information. "Because of a confusion between the presentation of the facts and their commentary and the choice of banners as 'simulated attacks', the channel gave the impression that the fictitious nature of the chemical attacks occurring in the city of Douma on 7 April 2018 was an established fact, although it was an uncertain and controversial fact, which justified the sending of a mission of the OPCW. The only intervention on the board of an 'international strategy advisor' stating that the Syrian Army did not use chemical weapons, that the jihadists had manufacturing laboratories of such and that public opinion in Western countries was manipulated, without any other element of the program counterbalancing its words, led to a univocal presentation of a controversial issue," states the French State Council's decision. RT France called the false voice overs "a simple technical mistake and in no way a failure to respect honest information coverage". The channel recognized that only one expert was invited to the panel to discuss the attack but called it an honest coverage.


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