Disinfo: The “White Helmets” are preparing new provocations in Syria

Summary

The “White Helmets”, together with the terrorists Dzhebhat an-Nusra, are preparing another provocation using chemical weapons in the province of Idlib. The main goal, as in previous cases, is to blame the Syrian army to discredit officials in Damascus.

Disproof

No evidence given. This is also a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative of crimes and hoaxes perpetrated by the White Helmets.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation has claimed that both the 2017 attack in Khan Sheikhoun and 2018 in Douma were faked. A UN-OPCW Joint Investigation found Syria’s Government responsible for last year’s attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

On 10th of April 2018, Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution that would have created a new inquiry to ascertain responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.  In June 2018, the OPCW members granted it power to assign blame for chemical attacks.

Similar disinformation cases here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue148
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 30/04/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: International, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War

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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White Helmets admit staging chemical attacks in Syria

At least 40 members of the White Helmets, the notorious Western group posing as volunteer rescue workers, admitted that they had taken part in the staging of chemical attacks in Syria, according to a new study conducted by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy and unveiled at the UN. The fake attacks were designed to lay the blame on — and provoke armed retaliation against — the Syrian government.

The study also casts considerable doubt on the accuracy of OPCW reports concerning the alleged chemical attack in Douma, noting that the fact-finding mission based its conclusions on “falsified facts and untrustworthy or unidentified sources”.

Disproof

This report advances recurring pro-Kremlin narratives which, respectively, paint the White Helmets as terrorists and/or war criminals; give the lie to OPCW findings which challenge the rhetoric of Moscow or its allies; deny the occurrence of the April 2018 chemical attack in Douma.

The "study" in question is a PowerPoint presentation created by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, which the report presents as an independent organization. The Foundation is in fact a Russia-based GONGO (government-organized NGO) (p.28) led by Maksim Grigoriev and forms part of the so-called Civic Chamber, established in 2005 to simulate state engagement with civil society.

US is shifting the burden of Ukraine’s economic problems on to the EU

As a result of developments in Ukraine, the US expanded its political and military presence in Europe. One of the main US priorities is to ensure that key EU member states keep anti-Russian sanctions and to shift the burden of Ukraine’s social and economic problems on to the EU.

Disproof

This message is consistent with pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about abandoned Ukraine and the EU under the control of the US.

EU Member States make sovereign decisions about their own security and policies. The US is an important ally to the EU but its policy is independent. For more information, see the speech by Federica Mogherini, EU's High Representative for Foreig Affairs and Security Policy.

US did not allow Petro Poroshenko to win as he began leading the US into a war with Russia

All Ukrainian politicians are dependent on Washington because they save their money in Western bank accounts that Washington has influence on. Petro Poroshenko was an ideal Ukrainian presidential candidate for the US until his military provocation in the Kerch Strait. He was a guarantee for the US that Ukraine could not make any agreements with Vladimir Putin because the latter was not in position to negotiate with Poroshenko. However, on his anti-Russia path, Poroshenko tried so hard that he began leading the US to direct military confrontation with Russia. American politicians cannot afford to cross this red line and they will kill anyone who attempts to push them into war with Russia. Poroshenko’s arranged military provocation in the Kerch Strait shaped his political future.

Disproof

Conspiracy and recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about US meddling in Ukraine's elections, western control over Ukraine, and concerning the conflict in Kerch Strait.

Ukraine is a sovereign state. The EU and US do not control Ukraine. A  bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004, governs the use of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the treaty are considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine.