Disinfo: White Helmets preparing false flag chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib

Summary

The White Helmets have finished filming a staged provocation implicating the Syrian army in the use of chemical agents, according to the Russian Centre for Syria reconciliation. The group’s video, which is ready to be disseminated on social media, will show fake casualties allegedly caused by a “chemical attack” by the Syrian government, the centre reported.

In March 2019, the OPCW issued a report on its investigation into the alleged 2018 chemical attack in Douma, saying that chlorine was “most likely” the chemical agent used in the incident but stopped short of apportioning blame.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory painting the White Helmets as terrorists and shifting blame for chemical attacks in Syria away from Damascus.

The claim is made without evidence and follows the pattern of unsubstantiated accusations regarding the White Helmets' complicity in chemical attacks in Syria. Available evidence on such attacks has yet to link a single incident to any other party than the Assad regime.

The photo accompanying the Sputnik report is not a still image from the "video" in question. It was taken by the White Helmets in July 2019 and shows the aftermath of a Syrian government airstrike on the city of Ariha, Idlib province. The organisation posted no videos or any other information pertaining to chemical attacks in Syria since the emergence of this disinformation narrative, either on Twitter or on Facebook.

The claim that the OPCW "stopped short of apportioning blame" for the Douma attack is manipulative. The chemical watchdog refrained from doing so not for lack evidence, but in the absence of formal powers at the time to blame any specific party for chemical attacks. In a November 2018 vote on the issue, Russia vehemently opposed the granting of such powers to the OPCW.

For more information about the importance of the White Helmets in pro-Kremlin disinformation regarding the Syrian war, see herehere, and here. See here for more pro-Kremlin disinformation claims about the OPCW.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 183
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/02/2020
  • Language/target audience: English, Russian
  • Country: Russia, Syria
  • Keywords: false flag, Idlib, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War, Terrorism, Bashar al-Assad
  • Outlet: Sputnik News, RT (rt.com), RT Russian, RT en español, Sputnik Mundo, Sputnik France, Sputnik Polska, Sputnik Latvia, TASS, Tsargrad, Riafan.ru, Gazeta.ru, RIA Novosti, Pervyy Kanal
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Disproof

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