OPCW report on Idlib chemical attack does not make sense

Summary

The 2015 OPCW report on the Idlib chemical attack contains a diagram of an alleged chemical bomb consisting of plastic bottles (containing potassium permanganate) and disposable canisters marked R22. It does not mention, however, that using such a device as a bomb would not make sense: the R22 canisters contained not chlorine, but a benign chemical which would have had to be combined with another to become toxic.

This inconsistency casts doubt on the report’s findings.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative denying the Assad regime's responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, and questioning the integrity of the OPCW.

The segment focuses on a minute detail in the OPCW report and exaggerates its importance by manipulating facts and statements.

It follows neither from the R22 diagram nor from the UN statement that using the device as a weapon "does not make sense." The report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Idlib states that the barrel bombs used in the attack consisted of commercially available R22 cylinders and plastic bottles containing potassium permanganate, connected with a detonation cord (p. 68). The UN report (or, more precisely, the report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Team [JIT]) does not contradict the FFM's findings, but actually concurs with its assessment of the device, stating that "[m]ixing with the content of the refrigerant containers upon explosion, the potassium permanganate would have generated the chlorine" (p. 81, para 38), which was detected at abnormally high levels in and around the affected areas.

 

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 164
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/08/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: OPCW, Idlib, Chemical weapons/attack, Propaganda, Syrian War
  • Outlet: RT News @RT, time: 15:12-16:48
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OPCW report on Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack ignores data ruling out Assad’s involvement

The 2017 OPCW report on the Khan Shaykhoun chemical attack provides an extensive analysis of the incident, but somehow overlooks the fact that the closest any government aircraft came to the settlement that day was 5 km. This effectively rules out the possibility of an airstrike and casts doubt on the version holding Damascus responsible for the attack.

Secondly, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission’s (FFM) analysis does not explain how some victims of the attack could have been transported to a hospital 125km away from Khan Shaykhoun just 30 minutes after the incident.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative denying the Assad regime's responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, and questioning the integrity of the OPCW.

Both observations pertaining to the 2017 Khan Shaykhoun attack are taken grossly out of context. The joint OPCW-UN report on the incident does state that "the closest to Khan Shaykhoun that the aircraft had flown has been approximately 5km away" (p. 24, para 28), but immediately goes on to cite a weapons expert as saying that "it would be possible for such an aerial bomb to be dropped on the town from the aforementioned distances" (ibid., para 30).

Under pressure, OPCW fails to assign blame for Ghouta chemical attack

Although many were quick to blame the Assad government for the 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta, questions remain as to who launched the sarin projectiles which killed hundreds of civilians. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has been tasked to do precisely that, but it has been unsuccessful.

The big question is to what extent the OPCW and the UN have been subjected to external pressure to generate particular findings. It seems that the mission which was established to find out who bears the blame for chemical attacks is quite selective as to which facts to look for.

Disproof

The report advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attempting to acquit the Assad regime of all responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, and casting doubt on the integrity and independence of the OPCW.

It is true that responsibility for the August 2013 Ghouta attack is yet to be assigned. However, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission was never meant to either gather evidence pertaining to the attack or apportion blame for it, in large part because the FFM would not exist for another eight months. It was set up on 29 April 2014, was granted a field mandate covering the period between 3 and 31 May 2014, and produced its first summary report on 16 June 2014. Even if the OPCW had been in charge of the probe, it would not have been able to identify the culprits - the organization was only granted the authority to do so in June 2018.

The EU is built on anti-European values, Russia is real Europe

Following the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron published a post in Facebook calling Russia “a deeply European country” and hoping to see Europe “extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” However Macron’s acceptance of Russia into Europe is not a reason for joy. In fact, present-time Russia is more European than France. It is Moscow who defends European traditions and a high level of European culture, not Paris.

The EU replaced ancient European fundamental traditions with a cocktail of liberalism, feminism, LGBT-activism and anti-European leftist rhetoric.The present-time EU values are not European values but their negation.

The doctrines of tolerance and multiculturalism are also an attack against European heritage. The less valuable aspects of Western culture such as scientific achievements, comfort, and liberalism are triumphing, whereas its core values, that is Christianity, European individualism, the rule of law, intellectual freedom, and high culture are undermined.

Traditionalists and Eurosceptics look at Russia with hope and take Vladimir Putin as Messiah. Therefore, who has to accept whom into Europe is an open question.

Disproof

This message is in line with a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the West's moral decay aimed at portraying Russia as superior to the West in terms of values and morals. 'Threatened values' is one of the most common narratives used by pro-Kremlin outlets.

See earlier cases alleging that in contrast to Russia, western Europe is abandoning Christian roots and that unlike Russia, the West is not about fairness or solidarity and it degrades traditional values and endangers societies. Furthermore, all-Russian history is highly moral as opposed to the Western one, which is full of violence and evil, and all high-ranking politicians in the Baltic states are likely implicated in paedophilia.