Disinfo: OPCW falsified and manipulated Douma evidence to blame the Assad government

Summary

An internal OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) e-mail message sent by an OPCW inspector reveals that the organisation’s management falsified and manipulated the evidence gathered by the organisation’s inspectors sent to Douma in order to blame the Assad government for the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and to justify the military raids on Syria launched afterwards by the US, France and the UK.

The email message confirms that the final OPCW report, issued in March 2019, was based on the manipulation of evidence gathered by the FFM, falsely accused the Assad government for the Douma attack, and provided the indispensable justification for the US, UK and French bombings and missile attacks against Syria.

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. Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the Douma chemical attacks were staged by Western actors in order to justify military action against the Assad regime.

The internal OPCW e-mail message published by Wikileaks, 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 175
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 02/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: Douma, OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
  • Outlet: Sputnik Italia
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Disproof

This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism – Russia keeps denying the fact of military and political occupation of Poland by the USSR at the end of WWII (switching the responsibility for this situation on Roosevelt and Churchill).

The claim that the Soviet authorities did not plan to occupy Poland in the moment of the Red Army’s entering into this country goes against historical facts. First of all, immediately after the entering of the Red Army on the present-day territory of Poland (July 1944), the Soviet authorities established the so-called Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN), which was formed of Polish communists and appeared under full control of the USSR. In December 1944, this Committee was turned into the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland, which started to be perceived by the USSR as legitimate Polish authorities since January 1945. In this way, at the very beginning of Red Army’s entrance to Poland, the USSR established its own “puppet” authorities, which became the Government of Communist Poland.

Russian athletes face sanctions because of Western Russophobia and Russia’s compliance

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Disproof

This is an illustrative example of the recurring pro-Kremlin propagandistic narrative about ubiquitous Russophobia in the Western countries and international organisations, targeting WADA in this particular instance. For background, read our analysis: The “Russophobia” Myth: Appealing to the Lowest Feelings and look at earlier disinformation cases alleging that there is no evidence that Russian athletes used doping and that banning Russia from the Olympics is a modern form of racism.

On 25 November 2019 one of WADA's key committees has recommended that Russia face a four-year ban from global sports and new restrictions on its athletes and teams at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, subject to WADA's board review in December. WADA reinstated Russia’s antidoping agency in 2018 but reserved the right to issue stronger punishments if Russia did not provide athletes’ testing data from the Moscow laboratory. Earlier the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in 2018 due to the systemic manipulation of anti-doping rules during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Individual athletes from Russia competed under the Olympic flag. "Three years ago, Russia was caught running one of the most sophisticated doping programs in sports history," New York Times writes.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Western-sponsored terrorism and Nazi Ukraine.

The disinformation message is consistent with broader conspiracy theory alleging that the United States and its NATO partners have established many terrorist organisations and control global terrorism.