Disinfo: White Helmets produce another fake chemical attack video

Summary

The Russian Reconciliation Centre for Syria stated on Wednesday that a group of up to 15 terrorists had attempted to carry out a chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province. Earlier in the day, the Reconciliation Centre stated that the White Helmets had finished filming a staged provocation after delivering 400 litres of a chemical agent to the site.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory painting the White Helmets as terrorists and shifting blame for chemical attacks in Syria away from Damascus. Shortly after the April 2018 chemical attack in Douma, the Russian military staff in Syria began publishing regular "updates" regarding the provocations, false-flag attacks, and video hoaxes which the White Helmets supposedly perpetrate across rebel-held Syrian territory. These updates are often accompanied by detailed production notes concerning the actors' salaries, the number of videos shot (e.g. "at least nine"), image quality, target audience (e.g. the United Nations, mainstream outlets, social media), and so forth. Despite their apparently limitless insight into the workings of the White Helmets, Russian army officials have yet to provide a single piece of evidence in support of their predictions, or evidence confirming the existence of any fake chemical attack videos at all. See this fact-check explaining why the production of a convincing fabrication of this sort would be a virtually impossible feat.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/03/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Syria, Russia
  • Keywords: false flag, White Helmets, Propaganda, Chemical weapons/attack, Terrorism, Syrian War
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White Helmets cooperate with terrorists to discredit Damascus

The White Helmets organization is accused of cooperating with terrorists and carrying out propaganda activities against the Syrian government.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narratives portraying the White Helmets as a Western-backed terrorist proxy and, implicitly, denying the responsibility of the Assad regime for chemical attacks perpetrated during the Syrian civil war.

The "White Helmets" movement originated in Syria in 2012. Volunteers save people from the rubble after bombings, despite the danger of dying themselves as a result of repeated airstrikes. Activists have documented the use of chemical weapons in Syria, later confirmed by OPCW. Because of this, they have become the target of an extensive Russian disinformation campaign.

In Sweden you get ten years prison for demonstrating without permission

In almost all countries, including European, demonstration without permission is punished with prison. Usually short terms, form six months to one year. But in some countries, like Sweden, if 12 or more a gathered for a non-sanctioned meeting, this is considered a mass riot and will give you five or ten years in prison. Russia does not have such strict laws.

Disproof

An unfounded claim to depict Russia as more democratic than other countries. The right to organise manifestations is protected by the Swedish constitution. Permission to stage a demonstration is needed only within city limits and in areas of industry, ports etc. For organising a demonstration without permission, punishment is, according to Swedish law on public order, up to six months prison. The right to participate is still protected by the consitution. According to Swedish criminal code, staging violent riots is punished with up to four years prison.

US bureaucrats yearn for World War III

The US Department of State plans to initiate a global war by pressing the Department of Defense to place Patriot missiles in Turkey in order to repel the Syrian government-led offensive in Idlib. However, the Pentagon has engaged in a bitter confrontation with the Department of State over this proposal, calling it the provocation of World War III, given that Russia will respond in kind.

Disproof

Recurring narrative of warmongering as a result of the West’s meddling in the Syrian crisis. The article misquotes and misrepresents a report by Politico. The nuance of the translations from English into Bulgarian is exaggerated: Politico’s characterisation of the clash between the Department of State and the Department of Defense as an ‘internal disagreement’ and as being ‘at odds’ is rendered as a ‘bitter confrontation’ in the Bulgarian language. Also, the News Front article creates a fake statement ostensibly made by the Pentagon (i.e. that the Department of State strives to provoke World War III), which however does not appear in Politico. Moreover, the wider context of the Politico report – particularly concerning the Syrian government-led offensive in Idlib, the Turkish soldier death toll it took and Turkey’s subsequent call on its NATO allies for support, is left out.