Disinfo: White Helmets faked the 2017 Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack

Summary

RT was granted exclusive access to an underground fortress in Khan Sheikhoun, a former terrorist stronghold. According to the Syrian Army, the underground complex doubled as a film set which the White Helmets used to record footage of a fake chemical attack in 2017. Back then, blame for the incident, which has never been definitively settled, was pinned on Damascus, and the White Helmet videos became a pretext for a missile strike on Syria by the US and its allies.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narratives aiming to discredit the White Helmets and claiming that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack was staged by Western actors in order to justify military action against the Assad regime. The OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission confirmed that people in Khan Shaykhun were exposed to sarin, a chemical weapon, on 4 April 2017. “The OPCW FFM has confirmed the use of sarin, a nerve agent, during the 4 April incident in Khan Shaykhun in Syria,” mentioned its Director-General in a report published on June 30, 2017. The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism found Syria’s Government responsible for the attack in Khan Shaykhun. On April 10 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, the OPCW members granted it power to assign blame for chemical attacks. The United Nations Human Rights Council blamed the Syrian government forces for the attack. “Government forces continued to deliberately target civilians, including through the use of chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. As part of an aerial campaign in northern Hama and southern Idlib, on 4 April the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Shaykhun, killing over 80 people, most of whom were women and children,” says the report. Read more about chemical attacks in Syria here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 168
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/10/2019
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Syria
  • Keywords: White Helmets, Propaganda, Chemical weapons/attack, Terrorism, Syrian War
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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about missile defence systems. The US did not lie to Russia, therefore Russia was not deceived. The Aegis missile defence system (Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defence System) was not, and is not, in violation of the INF Treaty. The US State Department issued a detailed rebuttal of Russian allegations of US noncompliance with the INF Treaty in 2018. According to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (2016): the Aegis Ashore Missile Defence System is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach, designed to protect European NATO allies, and U.S. deployed forces in the region, against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East. U.S. Naval Forces ruled out the possibility of targeting the Russian Federation with the "Aegis Ashore" system. The Romanian Defence Minister Teodor Melescanu also reiterated on 7 February 2019 that "Aegis Ashore" is a strictly defensive system. The missile defence stations, also known as "Aegis Ashore", are technically based on the Mk41 launchers (in accordance with the INF Treaty) used on ships, which can also launch cruise missiles. According to the US government they are modified that they can only launch defence missiles and not offensive ground-to-ground missiles, concludes the Research Services of the German Bundestag in 2018 (P.2, in German).

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine. The international community, including the European Union recognizes and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. The law on regional languages was repealed by the parliament of Ukraine on February 23, 2014. However the decree was not signed. The law officially expired only on February 28, 2018, when the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared the law unconstitutional. For similar disinformation cases about Donbas, see here. For more disinformation cases about the status of the Russian language in Ukraine see here.

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Disproof

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