Disinfo: OPCW hid evidence proving that government in Damascus was not behind Douma incident

Summary

The Mail on Sunday newspaper revealed that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) hid evidence that conflicted with the narrative that the Syrian government was behind the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma in April 2018.

In a report by journalist Peter Hitchens, the newspaper confirmed that it had received a copy of an original internal report prepared by the organization’s experts regarding the Douma incident.

Although the organisation’s final report insisted that the alleged attack was most likely carried out using chlorine gas, the original report indicated that chlorine was found at the accident site in small quantities, not exceeding what could be found in any home.

The original report also expresses serious doubts about the source of the two gas cylinders found at the site, acknowledging that the fact-finding mission of the organisation cannot provide any explanations regarding the disproportionality of the damage caused to these two cylinders with the damage of the roofs of the buildings in which they were found.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative seeking to absolve the Assad regime of responsibility for chemical attacks perpetrated in the course of the Syrian civil war, as well as to undermine the credibility and independence of the OPCW.

The internal OPCW e-mail message published by Wikileaks and sent on June 22, 2018, by an unidentified member of OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), does not accuse the OPCW management of deliberately manipulating and suppressing evidence gathered by the FFM in order to blame the Assad government for the Douma attack and to justify Western military intervention against Syria.

For example, the management's draft said that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was "likely" to have been released from two cylinders found at the scene. The email argues, instead, that while the cylinders might have been the sources of the suspected chemical there was "insufficient evidence to affirm this".

The e-mail message actually refers to a draft OPCW  interim report, not to the final report published in March 2019. The interim report published in July 2018 was basically a progress report which described the FFM’s activities until that date. The final OPCW report actually accepts the points made by the FFM member in the internal e-mail.

For a related case about an alleged OPCW "never-before-seen-report" that sought to deflect blame for chemical attacks from the Assad regime, read here and here.

For further background on chemical weapons attacks in Syria see the Syrian Archive’s Chemical Weapons Database.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 180
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia, Syria
  • Keywords: Douma, OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Conspiracy

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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