Disinfo: OPCW report on Ltamenah chemical attacks is misinformation

Summary

The OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) has released its initial report into three chemical incidents which allegedly took place in the Syrian village of Ltamenah in March 2017. The report says “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that all three attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian Air Force.

The relevant Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires the mandatory dispatch of experts directly to the sites of alleged incidents. However, the information gathered by the IIT mostly came from anti-government armed groups and pseudo-humanitarian NGOs affiliated with them, including the notorious White Helmets.

The report contains references to certain secret services data – apparently from the same states obsessed with a change of power in Damascus; there is no other word for it but misinformation.

The OPCW previously falsified the results of its investigation into the April 2018 chemical incident in Douma, which turned out to be a staged provocation by the White Helmets.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attacking the independence and integrity of the OPCW; painting the White Helmets as terrorists; and absolving the Syrian regime of responsibility for chemical attacks.

The term “reasonable grounds to believe” denotes a standard of proof which has been routinely applied in several areas of international law since 2002 (see e.g. Rome Statute, Art. 58(1). The same standards is followed by the IIT (Ltamenah report pp. 14-5; notes 30-2), the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (see e.g. the Douma report, p. 4) and a number of UN bodies. See e.g. here (pp. 37-40) and here (pp. 62-3) for the UN definition of the "reasonable grounds" standard and an overview of the requirements for achieving it.

The IIT report makes clear (p. 3) that the investigation team was unable to access the site of the incidents owing to the non-cooperation of the Syrian government, despite "various requests" by the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the obligation on Damascus to cooperate with the OPCW under the Chemical Weapons Convention (Art. VII, para 7).

The report makes zero "references to certain secret services data [sic]". The ITT gathered information and evidence from "individuals, local entities, States Parties, and other international, regional, and local actors"; "interviews with alleged victims"; and "experts in the various subjects relevant to the investigation" (p. 61).

The notion that the 2018 chemical attack in Douma was staged by the White Helmets is a recurring conspiracy narrative. See here for our debunking of this disinformation claim.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Syria
  • Keywords: false flag, Douma, OPCW, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Bashar al-Assad

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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Disproof

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Disproof

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Disproof

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