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Russia Conducting Its Own Investigation Into Alleged Chemical Attacks in Syria – Ambassador to UN

Sputnik – 12.05.2020

UNITED NATIONS – Russia is conducting its own investigation into alleged chemical attacks in Syria and will share its conclusions with the world, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are conducting our own expert investigation and we will share its results with you and international community”, Nebenzia said during a video briefing.

In late April, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had sacrificed its reputation to serve the West’s geopolitical ambition in Syria, after the body published the first report of its newly created investigation and identification team two weeks ago, blaming the alleged chemical attacks in the Syrian town of Al Lataminah in Hama province in March 2017 on the country’s government.

Russia argued that the investigative body had been set up in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Only the UN Security Council has the right to apportion blame for chemical attacks.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the OPCW document as fabricated, adding that it is based on materials provided by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda).

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

OPCW head FALSELY described Syria whistleblower inspectors to discredit them, new documents show

RT | May 6, 2020

New documents leaked from the global chemical watchdog show that two inspectors blowing the whistle about the 2018 Douma incident in Syria were right, and the director seeking to discredit them was wrong.

Two inspectors with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have challenged the organization’s final report on the April 2018 incident, which they say was altered to dismiss their findings and validate after the fact the US, UK and French missile strikes against the government in Damascus.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias responded earlier this year by describing them as “rogue” inspectors who weren’t even members of the mission. Documents obtained by investigative journalist Aaron Mate at Greyzone, however, show that Arias’ statements were false or misleading.

Arias claimed that South African inspector Ian Henderson was “not a member” of the fact-finding mission (FFM) dispatched to Douma, and that he had played a “minor supporting role.” However, the documents from April 2018 obtained by the Grayzone show that OPCW directors were “happy” to have Henderson lead the visits to the most important locations in Douma: the hospital and the sites of alleged chlorine cylinder impact, for instance.

Another document, described as a sensitive security-planning memorandum known as CONOPS, lists Henderson as part of the FFM under the section “Mission Personnel.”

Last, but not least, the “F038” memorandum to the Syrian government lists Henderson as “part of the team conducting the technical secretariat visits,” notifying Damascus of his role. Henderson has previously explained publicly that he was on a mission in Nepal, and was assigned to Douma immediately upon his return.

Moreover, another OPCW document shows that Henderson took over the OPCW Damascus command post on May 3, 2018 – two days after returning from Douma. This goes directly against Arias’ version of events, according to which Henderson was already in Damascus, happened to play a minor role in the Douma mission, and then went “rogue” to sabotage the organization for reasons unknown.

Henderson and another whistleblower inspector – who remains anonymous – have said for months that they had not gone rogue, but were sidelined by OPCW because they produced evidence suggesting the Douma incident had been staged by the Army of Islam militants who controlled the area at the time. The final OPCW report, they contend, was doctored to retroactively justify the US, UK and French missile strikes and enable them to blame Damascus.

The OPCW responded to their revelations by painting them as disgruntled employees who breached confidentiality and lacked expertise and access to all the evidence. Their own documents now clearly show those statements to be false.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | Leave a comment

OPCW insiders dispute SECOND chemical weapons probe on Syria, blast ‘glaring technical weaknesses’

RT | April 28, 2020

A group of current and former OPCW employees have explosively slammed the organization for producing what they say is yet another “procedurally and scientifically flawed” report into alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Writing at the Grayzone, the insiders denounced the “compromised” investigation into chemical incidents in the town of Ltamenah in March 2017. The probe was conducted by the watchdog’s newly formed Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which claimed there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the Syrian government was responsible.

The IIT concluded that sarin and chlorine bombs were dropped by Syrian forces on Ltamenah in a series of attacks in March 2017, saying it was “unable to identify any other plausible explanation.” The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the alleged evidence gathered by the team came mostly from anti-government groups eager to see a regime change and could only be described as “misinformation.”

The IIT report on Ltamenah was instantly amplified by Western media as fact, despite claims by high-level OPCW whistleblowers that the organization’s leadership had suppressed evidence during a previous probe into an alleged chemical attack in Douma in 2018. The suppressed evidence, in that instance, had strongly suggested the incident may have been staged by jihadist rebel groups in order to frame the Syrian government and trigger a Western intervention. The OPCW, however, publicly offered a narrative which backed up Western claims of Syrian guilt, legitimizing US, British and French air strikes conducted in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

The fact that insiders are now also disputing the credibility of the Ltamenah report proves that “dissension within the OPCW ranks extends well beyond the Douma investigation,” the Grayzone said in its editor’s note.

The reports are so flawed and “politically motivated” that many OPCW professionals “no longer wish to be associated” with them, the group wrote, and many feel they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.

The Ltamenah report highlights the fact that “influential state parties” are misusing the OPCW to further their foreign policy objectives, and that the IIT was formed not to investigate the incidents but “simply to find the Syrian government guilty,” they said.

Indeed, the ITT merely “glossed over” some “glaring technical weaknesses” in reports from fact-finding missions to Ltamenah. Further damaging the report’s credibility is the fact that not one single member of the IIT conducted a field investigation, and “literally everything” in the case was provided by enemies of the Syrian government – some of whom are reportedly “well-known British military figureheads” who stood to gain by implicating the Syrian government, they said.

The OPCW insiders also took issue with the composition of the IIT, which surprisingly is made up of investigators “without any background or expertise in chemistry.” These so-called investigators are reliant on an “approved” list of “nameless, faceless” experts who represent Western intelligence agencies — a situation which suggests “devious and sinister” motives. This “one-sided array of experts” may be enough by itself to invalidate the conclusions of the IIT, they said.

While the IIT did lend some credence to the possibility of the attacks being staged, it quickly became clear that they did so only “with the express purpose of dismissing it,” they added.

In the article, the staff also briefly examined the question of motive, saying it “figures squarely within the realm of criminal investigation.” It is fair to question why the Syrian government would seemingly only use chemical weapons when they were “in control” of the conflict and not at their most desperate moments, they said.

Referring to a claim that chemical weapons, including sarin gas, were being stored at Shayrat Airbase in 2017, the group says the evidence ranks alongside intelligence reports leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq in terms of its level of credibility.

The combination of the political bias, the compromised and flawed evidence, the lack of transparency and the singular reliance upon only one side of the story, leads to “serious doubts” about the IIT’s conclusions, the staff wrote.

What the IIT produced was simply the “desired Western opinion” about what “could have” happened. The “weak language” stating there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the Syrian government was responsible arguably implies a 50/50 scenario in which there are also reasonable grounds “not to believe” it, they said.

“At the end of the day, we must be clear that this is little more than an expression of a one-sided opinion,” they wrote.

Finally, the OPCW insiders took aim at the “complicit” mainstream media for interpreting the shaky conclusions of the investigation as hard fact, ensuring the flawed report “is met with no scientific challenge whatsoever.”

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

All Smoke and No Gun at the OPCW

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | April 16, 2020

Over the past decade, the London Guardian has never reported the war on Syria in any way commensurate with the principles of true journalism. It is had been running a line, consistently slanted to do as much damage to the Syrian government as possible. As such, it has been a central conduit in the propaganda war. It closed down ‘comment is free’ on its Syria articles long ago because well-informed readers could see what it was up to and were writing embarrassing correctives.

Throughout, its language has been the language of propaganda – ‘the regime,’ ‘Assad loyalists,’ ‘the dictator,’ ‘the rebels’, ‘the armed opposition,’ ‘the uprising,’ ‘the civil war,’ so on and on, endlessly. Its ‘coverage’ has always been calibrated to the damage it thinks it can do to the Syrian government. In fact, by supporting its ‘rebels’ and by implication the  governments arming and financing them, it has only aggravated the damage being done to Syria and its people who, all the evidence suggests, overwhelmingly support their president and their army, not these ‘rebels.’

Silent when its ‘rebels’ are taking a beating, the Guardian springs to life the moment there’s a fresh opportunity to abuse Syria’s president. Accordingly, when the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) issued its latest report on chemical weapon usage in Syria, its sibling Sunday paper, the Observer, was quick off the mark, running a headline on April 12 reading “The Observer view on the smoking gun that should force Assad to face justice.” It went on: “For the first time the world’s chemical weapons watchdog has directly accused Syria’s leadership of ordering illegal attacks on its own people.” Stating accusations from concealed sources as fact, it concludes that “the tyrant in Damascus has not yet won.”

As it turns out, the OPCW report is all smoke but no gun. Unsurprisingly, given their Syria coverage, the Guardian and the Observer are not even interested in distinguishing between the two. For their purposes, the smoke is as good as the gun. What they call “the world’s chemical weapons watchdog” is actually a watchdog protecting the interests of the governments attacking Syria through armed proxies. The Guardian and the Observer are watchdogs protecting the same interests, which in this case means protecting a tainted report coming from a tainted source.

Last year whistleblowers revealed that the OPCW executive had suppressed the interim report by the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma in April 2018, and had issued a doctored final report, reversing the on-the-spot findings of its own experts.

The final report concluded that the cylinder said to have crashed through a roof had probably been dropped from the air when its own engineers had arrived at the “higher probability” that it had been placed there manually. As for the heavy amounts of chlorine it suggested had been released from this cylinder, killing 43 people, according to anonymous “witnesses”, what its own chemists said they found in the air were microparticles no different from what would have been in the air normally. On January 20 this year, the OPCW’s inspection team leader at Douma, Ian Henderson, told a specially convened session of the UN Security Council that the evidence indicated there had been no chemical weapons attack at all at Douma.

Its fraudulent behavior exposed, the OPCW secretariat tried to dismiss the evidence of its whistleblower engineers and scientists as “subjective” but the damage to its credibility was terminal, and in seeking to uphold a tainted report from a tainted organization, the Guardian and the Observer only underscore the tainted nature of their own ‘reporting’ and editorials on Syria.

Wisely, in this latest report, dated April 8, “The First Report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team” (IIT), a body established in 2018, the OPCW does not return to what happened at Douma in 2018.  The subject matter this time is chlorine and sarin attacks said to have been carried out in and around the “village” of Ltameneh on March 24, 25 and 30, 2017.

In fact, Al Lataminah (“Llatameneh”) is not a “village” as described in the IIT report but a town with a population of more than 16,000, according to the census of 2004. This has probably shifted upwards or downwards since then. Close to Hama and only a few kilometers from the strategically important M5 highway, the town is located within territory in the Hama governorate that was under the control of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and other terrorist factions when the chemical weapons attacks were said to have taken place in 2017. Al Lataminah itself was the headquarters of Jaysh al ‘Izza (Army of Glory).

According to the IIT, there were three attacks, one of chlorine and two of sarin, on March 24, 25 and 30, each in cylinders or bombs dropped from the air by Syrian air force SU (Sukhoi) 22 fighter aircraft or helicopters. The format of the report is identical to the format of all its reports, and indeed all the reports put out by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Lots of acronyms, weighty officious language implying authority, lots of imputations but virtually nothing in the form of evidence that would stand up in a court.

The sources, individual, institutional and governmental (“state parties”) are all concealed. The OPCW says it sought entry into Syria, but was ignored by the Syrian government, which is hardly surprising given the fakery of its report on Douma. It talks of witnesses, who, as its investigators were not on the spot inside Syria, have to be regarded as alleged witnesses. It does not say who they were or where they were when interviewed, but Turkey would be most likely. Neither is there any mention of possible affiliations, perhaps to the White Helmets or one of the armed groups.

The report ties the alleged attacks to the close proximity of Syrian airbases and the daily activity of Syrian aircraft as they take off and return.  Syria is fighting a war against terrorist groups that have infiltrated and taken over large parts of the Hama and Idlib governorates, so of course military planes and helicopters are frequently in the air. The ITT imputations that they might have been or could have been involved in chemical weapons attacks are devoid of substance.

The IIT report talks confidently of its chain of custody, including shell remnants said to have been taken from craters to one of its (unidentified) designated laboratories.  It does not say who allegedly carried this material out of Syria but as Jaysh al ‘Izza was then in control of the town, one of its members or its sympathizers, committed to the destruction of the Syrian government and out to blacken its name whenever possible,  is the most likely.

Included in the IIT evidential chain is information “obtained” during interviews, information “previously” provided by “witnesses,” interviews with “persons of interest” along with the evidence of other unidentified “witnesses” to the attacks and people affected by them. Again, these are alleged witnesses to an alleged attack and people allegedly affected by these alleged attacks. They were NOT interviewed in Syria and the IIT report provides no proof of their authenticity.

The IIT’s further sources include unidentified videos and  “documents,” as well as “relevant material” from “various sources,” briefings and advice from unidentified “experts” and “specialists,” information from unidentified “open sources” and “forensic institutes,” and unspecified input from unidentified “state parties.”

Noting the use of tunnels at Al Lataminah by Jaish al ‘Izza, a “military expert” advising the IIT “noted [that] the use of chemical weapons in this area would not be inconsistent [my italics] with a strategy aimed at inflicting terror on both civilians and combatants.” Neither, of course, on the basis of past compelling evidence, would it be inconsistent with the proven attempts by terrorist groups to lure outside governments into launching an air war on Syria by staging faked chemical weapons attacks. The IIT refers to the possibility of a staged attack, but does not take it seriously.

It claims to have received information “from multiple sources”, unidentified of course, that senior Syrian Republican Guard officers (names redacted) sent orders to “former members” of the “previously-designated branch 450, a component of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme responsible for the storage, mixing and filling of chemical weapons, including sarin, to prepare items for use in the defense of Hama.”  By imputation, these “items” were chemical weapons. The IIT also claimed to have “obtained information” that in March 2017, sarin precursors were being stored at a facility at Him Shinshar, in the Homs governorate.

The ITT notes that branch 450 was “officially” dissolved in 2013, insinuating, again, that it wasn’t really, while providing no evidence at all to back up the “information” received from some unnamed source that the Syrian government still had a stock of sarin precursors. It does not say where the “former members” are now, or what they are doing, and provides no hard evidence at all to back up the claim by hidden “multiple sources” that in 2017 they were still involved in the preparation of chemical weapons

The report refers to satellite imaging of the Shayrat airbase (provided by whom?) showing, “according to a specialist” (in what?) “structures” that “could have been used [my italics] to store chemical weapons.”  Perhaps they also could have been used to store engine parts, garden tools, food for the base canteen or cleaning material for the toilet blocks but the unknown contents of these “structures” are all part of the buildup to the IIT report’s conclusion that it was “very likely” Syrian air force planes did drop chemical weapons on Al Lataminah.

The same imagery indicated that part of the Hama airbase was a “possible barrel bomb storage depot” with a number of items visible as “possible barrel bombs.” No doubt there is a vast range of other possibilities for what these “items” might have been, so why pick just this one? The ITT also claimed to have “obtained information” that chlorine barrel bombs had been prepared at nearby Masyaf, the 12th century center of the Ismaili fidais (sacrificers) who have passed into history as the Order of the Assassins. According to the IIT’s source, they were taken to Hama, but without there being any inkling of who provided this “information,” such a claim cannot possibly be taken at face value.

The IIT claimed to have “received information” that 176 people were admitted to hospital after the (alleged) sarin attack on March 24 but admitted that it had been unable to locate the medical records. Clearly they would have been of paramount importance in confirming what had taken place, and medical staff in a hospital in a town controlled by Jaysh al ‘Izza could surely have been easily persuaded to provide them. There is no attempt by the ITT, however, to explain why its sources could not come up with photocopies of at least one or two of these records, if indeed there was an attack, if there were indeed casualties and if there were indeed medical records to photocopy.

The IIT further claims to have interviewed casualties and medical staff who described symptoms toxicologists found “plausible” as being consistent with the effects of nerve gas. In fact, sarin is so deadly that it can kill within one to ten minutes, with those who survive often suffering permanent brain damage, raising further questions about its alleged use at Al Lataminah. There is no indication in the IIT report that any of these alleged victims were subjected to a medical examination either in Syria or wherever it was that they were later interviewed. For a team of investigators determined to get to the truth, one would have thought this also should have been a priority.

The IIT claimed to have interviewed individuals “with direct knowledge” of the attacks. It does not say where they were interviewed and how it knew they had “direct knowledge” of the alleged attacks.  It further claims that munitions remnants (allegedly) taken from a crater “could be linked” to “potential chemical weapons use.” “Could be” and “potential” are hardly persuasive.

Samples were (allegedly) taken from one crater on March 26, 2017, but not delivered to the FFM until August 12. There is no indication of who in this Jaysh al ‘Izza-controlled town dug up the samples and gave them to the FFM nearly five months later. One would have to conclude that it was most likely someone from Jaysh al ‘Izza, if in fact there was a crater and the samples were taken from it and not somewhere else.  Speculating further, the report says that 2000 bombs designed to carry chemical weapons had been converted into conventional bombs after 2013 and supposedly used but the secretariat had been unable to confirm that this had actually happened, conveniently leaving an avenue open to support the IIT’s claims.

The report claims that helicopters dropped four “barrel bombs” on March 25, one falling through the roof of a building, just as a cylinder full of chlorine was said to have done in the discredited report the OPCW issued on Douma. Three “witnesses” were said to have seen the event and reported that three people died as a result and 32 were injured. There is not a scintilla of confirmation for any of this. There is no indication of how the IIT was able to confirm that the individuals it interviewed in another country, apparently long after the event, really were witnesses.

Completely sweeping away the creaking foundations of all of this is the OPCW’s own earlier findings on the destruction of all the Syrian government’s stocks of chemical weapons material, following the staged attack in the Ghouta disrict, near Damascus, in August 2013, designed to draw Barack Obama over his self-declared “red line” so that he would launch an air attack.

Warned by his own intelligence agencies that the attack could be a setup, Obama pulled back at the last minute, but subsequently, the Syrian government offered to have all its stocks of chemical weapons destroyed under international supervision anyway. The process began in September 2013, the Syrian government simultaneously signing on to the International Convention on the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1997).

By June 2014, the OPCW, the supervising body, reported that all production capacity had been destroyed. The remaining chemicals were removed from Syria and by August 2014,  all had been destroyed. In January 2016, the OPCW affirmed that the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons material in the previous three years had been completed. Now, however, the ITT is reproducing an unsubstantiated claim that they weren’t, in order to lend spurious plausibility to its accusations that the Syrian air force dropped chemical weapons and nerve gas on and around Al Lataminah.

The appropriate resting place for this report is not the filing cabinet but the wastepaper basket. With these reports, the OPCW has completely destroyed its credibility. It needs cleaning out, beginning with the sacking of the director-general and the entire secretariat. Otherwise, it should be replaced with a new body, if the world is to have a credible independent chemical weapons watchdog and not one that appears to dance to the foreign policy interests of the US and its global satraps.

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

All Smoke and No Gun at the OPCW

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald tribune | April 16, 2020

Over the past decade, the London Guardian has never reported the war on Syria in any way commensurate with the principles of true journalism. It is had been running a line, consistently slanted to do as much damage to the Syrian government as possible. As such, it has been a central conduit in the propaganda war. It closed down ‘comment is free’ on its Syria articles long ago because well-informed readers could see what it was up to and were writing embarrassing correctives.

Throughout, its language has been the language of propaganda – ‘the regime,’ ‘Assad loyalists,’ ‘the dictator,’ ‘the rebels’, ‘the armed opposition,’ ‘the uprising,’ ‘the çivil war,’ so on and on, endlessly.  Its ‘coverage’ has always been calibrated to the damage it thinks it can do to the Syrian government. In fact, by supporting its ‘rebels’ and by implication the  governments arming and financing them, it has only aggravated the damage being done to Syria and its people who, all the evidence suggests, overwhelmingly support their president and their army, not these ‘rebels.’

Silent when its ‘rebels’ are taking a beating, the Guardian springs to life the moment there’s a fresh opportunity to abuse Syria’s president. Accordingly, when the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) issued its latest report on chemical weapon usage in Syria, its sibling Sunday paper, the Observer, was quick off the mark, running  a headline on April 12 reading “Assad to face justice.” It went on: “For the first time the world’s chemical weapons watchdog has directly accused Syria’s leadership of ordering illegal attacks on its own people.” Stating accusations from concealed sources as fact, it concludes that “the tyrant in Damascus has not yet won.”

As it turns out, the OPCW report is all smoke but no gun. Unsurprisingly, given their Syria coverage, the Guardian and the Observer are not even interested in distinguishing between the two. For their purposes, the smoke is as good as the gun. What they call “the world’s chemical weapons watchdog” is actually a watchdog protecting the interests of the governments attacking Syria through armed proxies. The Guardian and the Observer are watchdogs protecting the same interests, which in this case means protecting a tainted report coming from a tainted source.

Last year whistleblowers revealed that the OPCW executive had suppressed the interim report by the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma in April 2018, and had issued a doctored final report, reversing the on-the-spot findings of its own experts.

The final report concluded that the cylinder said to have crashed through a roof had probably been dropped from the air when its own engineers had arrived at the “higher probability” that it had been placed there manually. As for the heavy amounts of chlorine it suggested had been released from this cylinder, killing 43 people, according to anonymous “witnesses”, what its own chemists said they found in the air were microparticles no different from what would have been in the air normally. On January 20 this year, the OPCW’s inspection team leader at Douma, Ian Henderson, told a specially convened session of the UN Security Council that the evidence indicated there had been no chemical weapons attack at all at Douma.

Its fraudulent behavior exposed, the OPCW secretariat tried to dismiss the evidence of its whistleblower engineers and scientists as “subjective” but the damage to its credibility was terminal, and in seeking to uphold a tainted report from a tainted organization,  the Guardian and the Observer only underscore the tainted nature of their own ‘reporting’ and editorials on Syria.

Wisely, in this latest report, dated April 8, “The First Report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team” (IIT), a body established in 2018, the OPCW does not return to what happened at Douma in 2018. The subject matter this time is chlorine and sarin attacks said to have been carried out in and around the “village” of Ltameneh on March 24, 25 and 30, 2017.

In fact, Al Lataminah (“Llatameneh”) is not a “village” as described in the IIT report but a town with a population of more than 16,000, according to the census of 2004.  This has probably shifted upwards or downwards since then. Close to Hama and only a few kilometers from the strategically important M5 highway, the town is located within territory in the Hama governorate that was under the control of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and other terrorist factions when the chemical weapons attacks were said to have taken place in 2017. Al Lataminah itself was the headquarters of Jaysh al ‘Izza (Army of Glory).

According to the IIT, there were three attacks, one of chlorine and two of sarin, on March 24, 25 and 30, each in cylinders or bombs dropped from the air by Syrian air force SU (Sukhoi) 22 fighter aircraft or helicopters. The format of the report is identical to the format of all its reports, and indeed all the reports put out by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Lots of acronyms, weighty officious language implying authority, lots of imputations but virtually nothing in the form of evidence that would stand up in a court.

The sources, individual, institutional and governmental (“state parties”) are all concealed. The OPCW says it sought entry into Syria, but was ignored by the Syrian government, which is hardly surprising given the fakery of its report on Douma. It talks of witnesses, who, as its investigators were not on the spot inside Syria, have to be regarded as alleged witnesses. It does not say who they were or where they were when interviewed, but Turkey would be most likely. Neither is there any mention of possible affiliations, perhaps to the White Helmets or one of the armed groups.

The report ties the alleged attacks to the close proximity of Syrian airbases and the daily activity of Syrian aircraft as they take off and return. Syria is fighting a war against terrorist groups that have infiltrated and taken over large parts of the Hama and Idlib governorates, so of course military planes and helicopters are frequently in the air. The ITT imputations that they might have been or could have been involved in chemical weapons attacks are devoid of substance.

The IIT report talks confidently of its chain of custody, including shell remnants said to have been taken from craters to one of its (unidentified) designated laboratories. It does not say who allegedly carried this material out of Syria but as Jaysh al ‘Izza was then in control of the town, one of its members or its sympathizers, committed to the destruction of the Syrian government and out to blacken its name whenever possible, is the most likely.

Included in the IIT evidential chain is information “obtained” during interviews, information “previously” provided by “witnesses,” interviews with “persons of interest” along with the evidence of other unidentified “witnesses” to the attacks and people affected by them. Again, these are alleged witnesses to an alleged attack and people allegedly affected by these alleged attacks. They were NOT interviewed in Syria and the IIT report provides no proof of their authenticity.

The IIT’s further sources include unidentified videos and “documents,” as well as “relevant material” from “various sources,” briefings and advice from unidentified “experts” and “specialists,” information from unidentified “open sources” and “forensic institutes,” and unspecified input from unidentified “state parties.”

Noting the use of tunnels at Al Lataminah by Jaish al ‘Izza, a “military expert” advising the IIT “noted [that] the use of chemical weapons in this area would not be inconsistent [my italics] with a strategy aimed at inflicting terror on both civilians and combatants.” Neither, of course, on the basis of past compelling evidence, would it be inconsistent with the proven attempts by terrorist groups to lure outside governments into launching an air war on Syria by staging faked chemical weapons attacks. The IIT refers to the possibility of a staged attack, but does not take it seriously.

It claims to have received information “from multiple sources”, unidentified of course, that senior Syrian Republican Guard officers (names redacted) sent orders to “former members” of the “previously-designated branch 450, a component of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme responsible for the storage, mixing and filling of chemical weapons, including sarin, to prepare items for use in the defense of Hama.” By imputation, these “items” were chemical weapons. The IIT also claimed to have “obtained information” that in March 2017, sarin precursors were being stored at a facility at Him Shinshar, in the Homs governorate.

The ITT notes that branch 450 was “officially” dissolved in 2013, insinuating, again, that it wasn’t really, while providing no evidence at all to back up the “information” received from some unnamed source that the Syrian government still had a stock of sarin precursors. It does not say where the “former members” are now, or what they are doing, and provides no hard evidence at all to back up the claim by hidden “multiple sources” that in 2017 they were still involved in the preparation of chemical weapons

The report refers to satellite imaging of the Shayrat airbase (provided by whom?) showing, “according to a specialist” (in what?) “structures” that “could have been used [my italics] to store chemical weapons.”  Perhaps they also could have been used to store engine parts, garden tools, food for the base canteen or cleaning material for the toilet blocks but the unknown contents of these “structures” are all part of the buildup to the IIT report’s conclusion that it was “very likely” Syrian air force planes did drop chemical weapons on Al Lataminah.

The same imagery indicated that part of the Hama airbase was a “possible barrel bomb storage depot” with a number of items visible as “possible barrel bombs.” No doubt there is a vast range of other possibilities for what these “items” might have been, so why pick just this one? The ITT also claimed to have “obtained information” that chlorine barrel bombs had been prepared at nearby Masyaf, the 12th century center of the Ismaili fidais (sacrificers) who have passed into history as the Order of the Assassins. According to the IIT’s source, they were taken to Hama, but without there being any inkling of who provided this “information,” such a claim cannot possibly be taken at face value.

The IIT claimed to have “received information” that 176 people were admitted to hospital after the (alleged) sarin attack on March 24 but admitted that it had been unable to locate the medical records. Clearly they would have been of paramount importance in confirming what had taken place, and medical staff in a hospital in a town controlled by Jaysh al ‘Izza could surely have been easily persuaded to provide them. There is no attempt by the ITT, however, to explain why its sources could not come up with photocopies of at least one or two of these records, if indeed there was an attack, if there were indeed casualties and if there were indeed medical records to photocopy.

The IIT further claims to have interviewed casualties and medical staff who described symptoms toxicologists found “plausible” as being consistent with the effects of nerve gas. In fact, sarin is so deadly that it can kill within one to ten minutes, with those who survive often suffering permanent brain damage, raising further questions about its alleged use at Al Lataminah. There is no indication in the IIT report that any of these alleged victims were subjected to a medical examination either in Syria or wherever it was that they were later interviewed.  For a team of investigators determined to get to the truth, one would have thought this also should have been a priority.

The IIT claimed to have interviewed individuals “with direct knowledge” of the attacks. It does not say where they were interviewed and how it knew they had “direct knowledge” of the alleged attacks. It further claims that munitions remnants (allegedly) taken from a crater “could be linked” to “potential chemical weapons use.” “Could be” and “potential” are hardly persuasive.

Samples were (allegedly) taken from one crater on March 26, 2017, but not delivered to the FFM until August 12. There is no indication of who in this Jaysh al ‘Izza-controlled town dug up the samples and gave them to the FFM nearly five months later. One would have to conclude that it was most likely someone from Jaysh al ‘Izza, if in fact there was a crater and the samples were taken from it and not somewhere else. Speculating further, the report says that 2000 bombs designed to carry chemical weapons had been converted into conventional bombs after 2013 and supposedly used but the secretariat had been unable to confirm that this had actually happened, conveniently leaving an avenue open to support the IIT’s claims.

The report claims that helicopters dropped four “barrel bombs” on March 25, one falling through the roof of a building, just as a cylinder full of chlorine was said to have done in the discredited report the OPCW issued on Douma. Three “witnesses” were said to have seen the event and reported that three people died as a result and 32 were injured. There is not a scintilla of confirmation for any of this. There is no indication of how the IIT was able to confirm that the individuals it interviewed in another country, apparently long after the event, really were witnesses.

Completely sweeping away the creaking foundations of all of this is the OPCW’s own earlier findings on the destruction of all the Syrian government’s stocks of chemical weapons material, following the staged attack in the Ghouta disrict, near Damascus, in August 2013, designed to draw Barack Obama over his self-declared “red line” so that he would launch an air attack.

Warned by his own intelligence agencies that the attack could be a setup, Obama pulled back at the last minute, but subsequently, the Syrian government offered to have all its stocks of chemical weapons destroyed under international supervision anyway. The process began in September 2013, the Syrian government simultaneously signing on to the International Convention on the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1997).

By June 2014, the OPCW, the supervising body, reported that all production capacity had been destroyed. The remaining chemicals were removed from Syria and by August 2014,  all had been destroyed. In January 2016, the OPCW affirmed that the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons material in the previous three years had been completed. Now, however, the ITT is reproducing an unsubstantiated claim that they weren’t, in order to lend spurious plausibility to its accusations that the Syrian air force dropped chemical weapons and nerve gas on and around Al Lataminah.

The appropriate resting place for this report is not the filing cabinet but the wastepaper basket. With these reports, the OPCW has completely destroyed its credibility. It needs cleaning out, beginning with the sacking of the director-general and the entire secretariat. Otherwise, it should be replaced with a new body, if the world is to have a credible independent chemical weapons watchdog and not one that appears to dance to the foreign policy interests of the US and its global satraps.

April 17, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Syria: Fake Attack, Real Deaths

By Eric van de Beek – Sputnik – April 15, 2020

Two years ago the Syrian government was accused of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburb Douma. It has become clear now there never was such an attack. But still, people were found dead. Who were they? And how did they die?

On April 14th 2018, the US, France, and Great Britain launched missile strikes on Syria, in retribution for an alleged poison gas attack on the terrorist stronghold Douma for which they held the Syrian government responsible. Just before the attack, the Russian ambassador in Lebanon and the chief of Russia’s general staff warned Russia would respond to strikes on Syria if the lives of Russian servicemen were threatened, targeting any missiles and launchers involved. As Russian envoy to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Alexander Shulgin, later put it: “There was a smell of gunpowder in the air“.

What could have led to World War III eventually ended with a hiss. No Russian targets were hit and for Syria, the damage from the attacks was limited, partly because Syria’s Soviet-era air defence systems intercepted many incoming missiles.

Rumours about a chemical attack had started with videos and photos disseminated on social media by Syrian Civil Defence, better known as The White Helmets, among others, of children being treated in a hospital with respiratory problems; of dead bodies in an apartment building; and of chlorine cylinders that looked as if they had been dropped from the sky, one laying on a roof terrace and the other on a bed under a hole in the roof.

On 16th April 2018, two days after the tripartite strike, British Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk interviewed a doctor from the Douma hospital. He stated that although the video of the children being treated in the hospital was real, and that the portrayed patients had been struggling with breathing problems, this was not the result of a poison gas attack, but of dust clouds caused by bombardments that had occurred earlier in the day.

While the patients were being brought in, there was a member of the White Helmets calling out “gas!” – which caused people to throw water over each other in panic.

Other witnesses, who told their story in The Hague on April 28th 2018, at a press conference organised by the Russian delegation to OPCW, roughly confirmed the statement of the doctor interviewed by Fisk. None of them, including several people who were seen in the video, said they hadn’t noticed anything of a poison gas attack.

In May 2019 a revealing document was leaked from OPCW about the two cylinders. The author, Ian Henderson, who in April 2018 had been sent to Douma to investigate the cylinders on behalf of the chemical watchdog, concluded that there was a “higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft”. This seemed to be an understatement since the hole in the roof turned out to be smaller than the cylinder on the bed below.

Also “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties”, the OPCW interim report on the Douma incident reads.  The OPCW inspectors furthermore noted that the dead people in the photos and videos didn’t look like victims from “chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride”.

And so, one important question remains unanswered: Who were the around 35 dead deceased, mostly women and children, that were filmed and photographed in the four-storey building in Douma, where one of the two cylinders was found on the roof? And how did they die?

Jaish al-Islam, the terrorist group that at that time occupied Douma, reportedly buried the bodies in an unmarked mass grave, before the OPCW inspectors had arrived at the scene. Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, told Reuters he pinpointed the burial place to OPCW. Nevertheless, the chemical watchdog chose not to conduct exhumations.

And so I asked Al Saleh if he could tell me anything about the background of the victims and the location of their burial. Unfortunately, he left my questions unanswered. I also asked Dr. Ghassan Obeid of the mission of Syria to the OPCW if the Syrian authorities had made an effort to identify the deceased, but I received no reply from him either.

At a press conference of the Russian embassy in The Hague on July 12th 2019, that I attended, Maxim Grigoriev, director of the Russia-based Foundation for the Study of Democracy, showed interviews of people living in the apartment building and in its vicinity.

None of them recognised the deaths from the videos and photos, apart from one man who identified his brother, who had died, he said, from artillery shelling elsewhere. Some interviewees declared they had seen fighters bringing dead bodies into the building.

I invited the open-source and social media investigators of Bellingcat to debunk Grigoriev’s findings and to identify the ‘Douma victims’. I received no reply. Nevertheless, Bellingcat proved to be very quick in finding who was to blame: four days after the alleged chemical attack they concluded it was “highly likely the 34+ victims of the 19:30 attack on the apartment building near al-Shuhada Square were killed as a result of a gas cylinder filled with what is most likely chlorine gas being dropped from a Hip helicopter originating from Dumayr Airbase”.

And so here we are, two years after an attack that never happened, with around 35 dead people, still unidentified, and still buried in an unmarked grave.

Even more terrible: the management of OPCW, based in The Hague, The Netherlands, has suppressed the findings of its own inspectors who had conducted an investigation at the alleged crime scene in Douma, Syria.

The OPCW management is simply covering up for the criminal elements that have staged the Douma incident, and that could have triggered an all-out world war. For full information about this alarming fact, I recommend reading the presentation given by members of the Working Group on Syria, Media, and Propaganda among others in the House of Commons on January 22th 2020.

April 15, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

The OPCW is used as a political tool against Syria

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast Discourse | April 10, 2020

OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has determined that chemical weapons have been used or likely used in Syria. The first report of the OPCW was released April 8 and points a finger at the Syrian Arab Air Force concerning 3 attacks which occurred in Ltamenah, on March 24, 25, and 30, in 2017.

The report claims the investigation team conducts its activities in an impartial and objective manner. The only reason to believe the conclusion of such a report would be the belief that the team is honest, unbiased, and has no political agenda.

There is no proof presented and the 82-page report clearly states that they are not a legal body with the authority to assign criminal responsibility. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) Coordinator, Mr. Santiago Oñate-Laborde remarked that the investigative team has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe a chemical was used in the attacks. He further added, “In the end, the IIT was unable to identify any other plausible explanation.”

In the report, other plausible explanations were identified, but the report sticks with the personal opinion of one person who has some military experience, though is not identified. The report stated: “a military expert advising the IIT noted the use of chemical weapons in this area would not be inconsistent with a strategy aimed at inflicting terror on both civilians and combatants, at eliminating infrastructure such as the medical facilities required to continue fighting, and at ensuring that no one felt safe even behind the front lines proper. The IIT however also took into account that armed groups opposing the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, on the other hand, might have had an incentive in “staging” a chemical attack against civilians and their own fighters, to blame the Syrian Arab Republic’s authorities.”

The report continued, that the alleged incidents in Ltamenah could potentially be explained through similar scenarios, including the ‘staging’ of an attack with sarin brought from elsewhere. Also notable in the report, is the fact that the team never visited the site, and only spoke with 20 witnesses.

The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry released a statement on April 9. “The Syrian Arab Republic condemns, in the strongest terms, what has come in the report of the illegitimate so-called Investigation and Identification Team, and rejects what has been included in it, in form and content,” the statement said, and added that Syria, at the same time, categorically denies using toxic gases in Ltamenah town or in any city or village, and affirms that the Syrian army has never used such weapons in the most difficult battles carried out against armed terrorist organizations.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation released a statement on April 9. “The authors of the report, and consequently the leaders of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, have thus become accomplices in the consistent violation of the basic principles and procedures of objective and unbiased investigations stipulated in the CWC, which requires the mandatory dispatch of experts directly to the sites of alleged incidents. The information gathered by the IIT mostly came from anti-government armed groups and pseudo-humanitarian NGOs affiliated with them, including the notorious White Helmets.” The statement further adds, “We have also noted that the report contains references to certain secret services data – apparently from the same states obsessed with a change of power in Damascus. There is no other word for it but misinformation.”

In March 2011, the US-NATO attack on Syria began with the goal of ‘regime change’. The plan has cost billions, which was to remove the President Assad administration, which is part of the ‘axis-of-resistance, and to replace it with a pro-US regime headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, such as was accomplished in Egypt. However, Syria proved to be stronger than the CIA backed terrorists, and finally, in 2017 President Trump cut off the funding, but the US-NATO plan has not died a natural death.  It is being kept alive by artificial means: such as dubious reports of chemical use, which may illicit US-NATO military intervention, under the ruse of ‘humanitarian intervention’, such as was accomplished in Libya in 2011.

It was President Obama who handed the terrorists following Radical Islam with the scheme of using chemical use in Syria as the reason for a US military intervention.  Obama delivered his famous “Red-Line” speech and the terrorists took the bait. In East Ghouta they staged a chemical attack and filmed a video which was shown around the globe. An un-verified video almost caused the US military to attack Syria in a massive planned intervention. Obama stopped short of ordering the attack when the UK military lab at Porton Down informed him the sarin used was not from Syrian military sources.  There are still many Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress who are united in their blame of Obama’s inaction. They blame him for being weak, although his actions were based on facts, not opinions.

The OPCW sent a team of experts to investigate allegations that a chemical attack took place in Douma on April 7, 2018. However, the report was discredited after an email was leaked to the well-known journalist Peter Hitchens, who confirmed the email was sent by a member of the team to his superiors, in which he exposes the report was ‘tweaked’ to intentionally misrepresent the facts.

A shocking video purported to show victims being treated in the hospital after the attack went viral, with major western media still showing the video whenever Syrian chemical attacks are mentioned. However, the symptoms shown in the video are not consistent with what witnesses reported having seen and experienced that day. This glaring inconsistency was intentionally stricken from the OPCW report. Seemingly, once again, an unconfirmed video is believable. If a picture tells a thousand words, a video tells a million.

Ian Henderson, a veteran OPCW inspector and specialist chemical engineer with military experience, visited the Douma site. His investigation concluded there was a ‘higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed … rather than being delivered from aircraft’. Mr. Henderson stored a copy of his research findings in the ‘Documents Registry Archive (DRA) when it became apparent his work would be excluded from the final report. After a senior OPCW official became aware of Mr. Henderson’s actions, the official sent an email to his staff saying: ‘Please get this document out of DRA … And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA’.

The OPCW has become a political tool for the US-NATO goal of ‘regime change’ in Syria. Instead of being an independent investigative body operating on a basis of integrity, it has delivered reports which could have been written before the investigation.

Steven Sahiounie is a Syrian-American award-winning journalist.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

OPCW report on Syria chemical attack unreliable: Russia

Press TV – April 9, 2020

Russia has censured as “untrustworthy” a recent report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — tasked with probing a series of suspected “chemical attacks” on a Syrian town in 2017, saying the watchdog has violated the basic principle of its work by conducting a remote investigation without visiting the sites.

In its Wednesday’s 82-page report, the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) claimed Syrian government forces had been responsible for the alleged chemical attacks on the militant-held town of Lataminah in the northern Syrian province of Hama during the last week of March 2017.

It alleged that in the span of one week, Syrian fighter jets had twice dropped bombs containing sarin nerve agent on the village and a helicopter had targeted its hospital with a cylinder containing chlorine, affecting scores of people.

According to the report, the team had based its investigation on a range of evidence, including witness testimonies, videos, forensic reports on recovered munitions scraps, medical records and satellite imagery.

“The experts, who accused Syria of incidents that took place in 2017, have depended on judgments released by the Fact-Finding committee which included rough violations of the basic principle of the OPCW work that stipulates the need for a logic succession of events while collecting and keeping material evidence,” the press office of Russia’s permanent mission at the OPCW said on Wednesday..

It described the IIT’s report as unreliable, saying it depends on investigations that were conducted remotely without visiting the places of incidents based on statements of terrorist groups and the so-called civil defense group White Helmets

The Lataminah strikes came days before another alleged sarin assault in nearby town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province, which killed more than 80 people on April 4.

The Western countries rushed to blame the incident on Damascus — an allegation rejected by the Syrian government — with the US launching several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, taking the lives of about 20 people including both Syrian soldiers and civilians.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. However, Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

OPCW Investigators Say Syrian Air Force Responsible for March 2017 Attacks on Ltamenah

Sputnik -April 8, 2020

The OPCW’s newly-formed body in charge of identifying the perpetrators of chemical attacks said in its first report on Wednesday that the Syrian Arab Air Force’s aircraft had dropped bombs containing sarin and chlorine on the town of Ltamenah in Hama province in March 2017.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) was established in 2018. Russia opposed the move, warning against expanding the OPCW’s competence from conducting probes to attributing blame and saying that only the UN Security Council is eligible to make such judgments.

“[T]he IIT has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the perpetrators of the use of sarin as a chemical weapon in Ltamenah on 24 and 30 March 2017, and the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon on 25 March 2017 were individuals belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force”, IIT Coordinator Santiago Onate-Laborde said in a statement.

According to him, “attacks of such a strategic nature would have only taken place on the basis of orders from the higher authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic military command”.

“In the end, the IIT was unable to identify any other plausible explanation”, he added.

Commenting on the report, OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said that the IIT is “not a judicial or quasi-judicial body with the authority to assign individual criminal responsibility, nor does the IIT have the authority to make final findings on non-compliance with the Convention.”

“It is now up to the Executive Council and the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations Secretary-General, and the international community as a whole to take any further action they deem appropriate and necessary”, he stated.

The IIT explains its mission as identifying and reporting “on all information potentially relevant to the origin of those chemical weapons in those instances in which the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) determines or has determined that use or likely use occurred”.

The FFM concluded back in June 2018 that sarin and chlorine were “very likely used as a chemical weapon” in Ltamenah on 24 March 2017, and 25 March 2017, respectively.

Damascus has repeatedly refuted the allegations of the chemical weapons use, saying that the full destruction of its arsenal was confirmed by the OPCW in 2016.

April 8, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

OPCW Scandal Reaches New Height of Farce With Latest Whistleblower Allegations Over Smeared Douma Officers

By Martin Jay | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 15, 2020

How much longer can the troubled OPCW organisation continue to operate with any credibility after the doctoring of its investigations to suit a western narrative in Syria continues to be exposed and shows it is far from an independent chemical weapons watchdog?

Readers may remember that previously, towards the end of 2019, leaked emails from two key OPCW investigators who were dispatched to Douma in Syria in 2018, revealed that their original remarks – which indicated that the Assad regime could not have orchestrated the chemical attack – were removed from the final edited report. This act alone was the starter’s pistol on a rebellion which is threatening to severely damage the organisation’s credibility in the field and confirms to many that the role of it is purely as an apparatus for the West’s agenda in the field of conflict around the world, against those who stand up to the giants of NATO.

A fourth whistleblower has now emerged from the farcical debacle which will surely reach a tipping point soon either threatening to remove OPCW’s Spanish chief – the main culprit who tarnished the two officers who kicked off the scandal in the first place – or for the organisation itself to have a world-wide identity problem which will manifest itself in many countries simply refusing to allow it entry into hotspots. It’s hard to see how Syria’s Assad would continue to allow OPCW inspectors into Syria following another chemical attack after the organisation has been “hijacked” by western interests who appear to go to extraordinary levels to falsify evidence to serve a narrative.

The latest OPCW official to step forward and support the findings of the two initial inspectors, whose scandal was revealed in a series of leaked emails in May 2019, has spoken of the culture of intimidation within the organisation and how the two inspectors have been dealt a grave injustice in their work and in their determination to salvage credibility for their employer.

“The mistreatment of two highly regarded and accomplished professionals can only be described as abhorrent,” the OPCW official wrote in an email to The Grayzone website. “I fully support their endeavours, in that it is for the greater good and not for personal gain or in the name of any political agenda. They are in fact trying to protect the integrity of the organisation which has been hijacked and brought into shameful disrepute.”

Central to the dispute surrounding the two officers who have had their conclusions dismissed by OPCW’s chief, is the discovery by one of the investigators that the gas canisters on the ground appeared not to have been dropped from an aircraft but rather placed there. This finding is important as it destroys the West’s assertion that the attack at Douma was made by the Assad regime which it alleges dropped the chemicals from a plane or a helicopter.

This incendiary finding was removed from the final redacted report which leans more on the Assad theory and keeps a safe distance from the distinct possibility that the entire attack was staged by western-backed extremist groups in the area.

One of the two whistleblowers and former inspectors is believed to be Ian Henderson, a 12-year veteran of the organization and weapons expert. According to the Grayzone, “Henderson led on-the-ground inspections in Douma and conducted a detailed engineering study of gas cylinders found at the scene” and concluded that the cylinders were likely “manually placed” rather than being dropped by air. The second officer is not named but is believed to be of higher rank who wrote one version of a final report, which was ultimately rejected for a redacted version which failed to acknowledge the findings of the two investigators – ultimately that it could not have been an attack by Assad’s forces.

Their work continues to draw wrath from the OPCW’s boss General Fernando Arias who remarkably seems to be conducting a smear campaign against them slamming their work as “erroneous, uninformed, and wrong,” believed to be what has sparked a new whistleblower – believed to be British – to come forward with startling new allegations which cast a shadow over the integrity of the organisation.

“It is quite unbelievable that valid scientific concerns are being brazenly ignored in favour of a predetermined narrative,” the email reads. “The lack of transparency in an investigative process with such enormous ramifications is frightful.”

Yet the culture of arbitrary vengeance against those who question the biased narrative or working practices of its chief, is deeply worrying, as the latest whistleblower reveals in the email.

“I am one of many who were stunned and frightened into silence by the reality how the organisation operates,” the official wrote. “The threat of personal harm is not an illusion, or else many others would have spoken out by now.”

It’s unclear what “personal harm” means. But even if it is punitive measures which mean blocked promotion or even constructive dismissal, it raises a number of questions as to the integrity of the OPCW itself which will reverberate around the world’s so-called democratic centres of debate and will spark a new debate among those corridors. Does the OPCW have any credibility left?

March 15, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Update on the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident

Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Piers Robinson
Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

1 Summary

  • As we noted in April 2019, there were defects in the published interim and final Reports of the Fact-Finding Mechanism on the Douma incident that indicated that evidence had been withheld or distorted.
  • From comparing the original Interim Report drafted in June 2018, the modified report that was intended to be substituted for it, and the published Final Report, it is clear that this was not simply a divergence of opinions between experts. The misrepresentation of evidence in the published Final Report can reasonably be described as fraudulent. Specifically, the following points can be identified:
    • Quantitative results on the levels of chlorinated organic compounds were suppressed. A false assertion about “high levels” of these compounds had been added to the modified report.
    • An assessment based on the epidemiology of chlorine release incidents was omitted from the modified report and the Final Report.
    • On-site assessments that the observations were incompatible with aerial delivery of the cylinders were omitted from the modified report and the Final Report.
    • The testimony of opposition-linked witnesses interviewed in Turkey was rewritten in the Final Report so as to obscure inconsistencies about the distribution of bodies at Location 2 that would have cast doubt on the reliability of their testimony.
    • The result of the consultation with medical experts in June 2018, indicating that the victims had not been killed by chlorine, was suppressed and omitted from the timeline of the investigation published in the Final Report.
    • The internal engineering assessment was excluded from the published Final Report.
    • In violation of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Chief of Cabinet allowed US officials to attempt to influence the inspectors in July 2018.
  • The evidence of fraud in the published report of the Douma investigation means that all other published reports from FFM Team Alpha, including the FFM reports on the alleged chlorine attacks in 2015 and the alleged sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, must also be disregarded as unreliable and possibly fraudulent.
  • The OPCW’s report on 6 February 2020 of what was purported to be an investigation into the leak of the engineering assessment to the Working Group was used instead to smear two of the organization’s most experienced and highly-rated inspectors with false and misleading statements.
  • It is now clear that the Director-General’s statements on 28 May and 6 June 2019 that the FFM had “examined, weighed and deliberated”, “considered” and “analysed” the engineering assessment were unequivocally false: the Team Leader and Head of the FFM had refused to accept the document in February 2019.
  • The Douma investigation has been passed to the Identification and Inspection Team (IIT). A brief examination of the careers of the investigators and analysts appointed to the IIT shows that all four of them have serious conflicts of interest. This calls into question their ability to resist pressure to come up with the answers that the influential delegations of the US, UK and France want.

2 Irregularities in the published reports of the Fact-Finding Mechanism

In a briefing note posted on 11 April 2019, we drew attention to defects in the published FFM reports that indicated, to anyone who examined these reports closely, that evidence had been withheld or distorted. We review this material briefly before examining what new information has been provided by documents and briefings released from May 2019 onwards.

2.1 No comparison with epidemiology or toxicology of chlorine release incidents

The reports did not assess whether the alleged chemical attack was consistent with the epidemiology of chlorine release incidents, which typically have low case fatality rate.

The analysis of the images of victims stated that “this type of rapid collapse is indicative of an agent capable of quickly killing or immobilising” but did not explain how this opinion was compatible with release of chlorine from an intact gas cylinder on the balcony, or with the presence of foamy pulmonary edema that would take time to develop.

2.2 Withholding of quantitative results of chemical analyses

Quantitative results of lab analyses were withheld. The lack of concordance between labs suggested that chlorinated organic compounds were present only at trace levels, close to the lower limit of detection.

The reports did not make clear that trace levels of these compounds are ubiquitous in environments where industrial or household products are present.

The Final Report emphasized correctly that testing for exposure to chlorine depends on comparison with control samples, but inexplicably did not report results for the control samples that were taken.

Although molecular chlorine is not naturally present in the environment, chloride ions and many chlorinated organic derivatives exist in the natural background. For that reason it was important to gather control samples, wherever feasible, at locations not expected to have been exposed to chlorine gas.

In Table A9.3 two specimens are described as control samples:

  1. Control sample: debris 20 meters west of the building entry (level 0): 2018.04.21_1909_04
  1. Concrete dust scraping at pillar 51: 2018.05.01_1779_05

From the Evidence Reference Numbers listed in Table A5.1 we can deduce that these two control samples relate to Location 2 (numbers prefixed 2018.04.21_1909) and the hospital (numbers prefixed 2018.05.01 1779).

Results for these samples are not given.

This should have raised questions about the conduct of the investigation. If rigorous procedures had been followed, with control samples included in the same batches as putatively exposed samples and laboratory staff blinded to exposure status, the omission of control samples from analysis or reporting could only have been deliberate.

We emphasize that the issue here is not whether chlorine was released, but that the withholding of quantitative results and failure to report results on control samples is strong evidence of scientific misconduct.

2.3 Delay in initiating engineering / ballistics studies, inadequate reporting

Three engineering/ballistics consultations are mentioned in the final report: but the figures show screenshots from what appears to be only a single study using a software package for finite-element analysis, These are barely legible screenshots, not of the professional standard one would expect from experts preparing a report for an international agency. Figures 10 and A7.6 show a simulation of the impact at Location 4 with a cylinder without harness or valve, though the cylinder found on the bed had a harness and an intact valve. The barely legible graphs based on the simulation assume improbably low drop heights for a helicopter flying over defended territory. Figure 12 shows the cylinder at Location 4 bouncing off the floor at 2 m/s, which would not have allowed it to reach the bed more than 3 metres away.

There was no explanation for why, if the FFM had considered it necessary to obtain expert opinions on the possible trajectories of the cylinders found at Locations 2 and 4, they did not request on-site examinations while the FFM was deployed in Damascus in April/May, rather than six months later when inspection of the sites and cylinders was no longer possible.

2.4 Ignoring evidence of staging in images uploaded by opposition-linked media

An analysis of images uploaded on the night of 7 April showed that bodies had been rearranged between photo sessions: infants first shown separated from adults were subsequently placed on the bodies of adult women. The opposition cameramen attempted for the first few days to represent the cylinder at Location 4 as the cause of the deaths at Location 2.

2.5 Blending of witness interviews and exclusion of testimony that the hospital scene had been staged

Information obtained from interviews was summarized in the Final Report without any distinction between information obtained from witnesses in Damascus and those interviewed in Turkey (who would have been opposition supporters who had relocated to Idlib under the evacuation agreement), and without any effort to establish whether the presence of each witness at the scene was corroborated by other evidence. The report was written to make it appear as if the witnesses who reported that the hospital dousing scene had been staged were never formally interviewed by the FFM, downgrading their testimony to “other open-source video material”.

2.6 Conduct of the investigation

The Team Leader had left Damascus for unexplained “information gathering activities” in Turkey three days after arriving, before on-site inspections had begun. All evidence other than the lab results was withheld from the Interim Report released in July 2018, even though most of the evidence – witness interviews, one-site assessment of the cylinder and craters, analysis of uploaded images of victims – had already been collected. There was an unexplained delay in the investigation between June and September 2018. Both the interim and final reports were unsigned, though previous FFM reports had been signed by the Team Leader.

In summary, it was possible by April 2019 for anyone with a scientific grounding who read the published reports closely to infer, as we did, that something was wrong with the published reports of the FFM on the Douma incident. We listed most of the points above in our briefing note posted in April 2018, but missed one of the most interesting clues: that results on control samples were not reported even though these samples had been collected. From [reports] that a Russian proposal for all members of the FFM team to give a briefing on the Final Report had been voted down by the OPCW Executive Council on 14 March 2019, it was evident that there was dissent among members of the FFM team.

3 What we now know about misconduct in the Douma investigation

During 2019 more information about the Douma investigation reached the public domain. This began with the release of the engineering assessment in May 2019, continued with the briefing of a panel convened by the Courage Foundation in October 2019 and the release of more internal documents including the original draft of the interim report in December 2019, and finally the release of a written statement provided to the UN Security Council.

3.1 Attempt to substitute a modified report for the original interim report

We now know that the published Interim Report, which reported only lab results, was the result of a stand-off between the Team Leader Sami Barrek and the other inspectors. In June 2019 a secretly-prepared modified report had been substituted for the original interim report.

This original interim report had stated that “Although the cylinders might have been the sources of the suspected chemical release, there is insufficient evidence to affirm this”. The modified report asserted instead that there was “sufficient evidence at this time to determine that chlorine, or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical, was likely released from cylinders.” The section on the epidemiology of chlorine release incidents in the original interim report, which had noted that in such incidents most of those exposed manage to escape, was omitted from the modified report.

The original interim report had noted that preliminary observations on the cylinders and the impact sites raised doubts about the story that the cylinders had been dropped from the air:

The FFM team is unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the relatively moderate damage to the cylinders allegedly dropped from an unknown height, compared to the destruction caused to the rebar-reinforced concrete roofs. In the case of Location 4, how the cylinder ended up on the bed, given the point at which it allegedly penetrated the room, remains unclear. The team considers that further studies by specialists in metallurgy and structural engineering or mechanics are required to provide an authoritative assessment of the team’s observations.

In the modified report this passage was removed, and the question of “how the cylinder ended up on the bed” at Location 4 was replaced by assessing “the trajectory of the cylinder”, implicitly excluding the possibility of manual placement.

The team considers that further analysis would need to be conducted by suitable experts, possibly in metallurgy and structural or mechanical engineering, to provide an assessment of the trajectory of the cylinder, in addition to the damage caused to the bed, the roof and the cylinder itself.

3.2 Suppression of quantitative lab results

The modified report asserted that “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives” were present in organic samples. These chlorinated organic compounds were present mostly at levels of only a few parts per billion, not above the background levels that would be expected in an environment where industrial products were present. The quantitative results were withheld from the inspectors who had deployed to Damascus. The inspectors protested about the withholding of quantitative results, and were assured that they would be included in the interim report, only to find that they were withheld from the published version.

3.3 Suppression of inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimony

The original interim report clearly separated the eyewitness accounts obtained in Damascus from those obtained in Turkey (referred to as “Country X”). It also noted inconsistencies between the statements of witnesses that raised questions about their credibility:

There were variations (see table and footnotes below) in the numbers of bodies and their distribution throughout Location 2 as observed in video footage and photos, compared to the numbers provided by various witnesses who were interviewed. According to statements from witnesses, “many people they presumed dead, were lying on the floor of the basement”. The FFM did not obtain any video footage or photos of dead casualties lying in the basement of Location 2 or being removed from there.

The table showed that of seven witnesses who reported the distribution of bodies at Location 2, two reported bodies in basement only, one reported bodies at ground level and above only, and four reported bodies both in basement and above ground level. The videos had not shown any bodies in the basement.

3.4 Suppression of the consultation with medical experts in June 2018

It is now clear that the vague and contradictory account of expert opinions about the cause of death of the victims in the Final Report is explained by suppression of the consultation with medical experts that took place on 6 June 2018 at the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Protective Technologies and NBC Protection (WIS) in Munster. The “chief expert” can be identified as Colonel Dr Franz Worek, the leading medical expert on chemical defence in the Bundeswehr.

His argument, reconstructed from the original interim report written in June 2018 and the minutes written two months later, was as follows:

  1. Pulmonary edema is a delayed effect of “choking agents” such as chlorine which cause acute inhalation injury. If the victims of exposure to such an agent had had lived long enough for their airways to be filled with foamy edema fluid, they would have been able to escape and would not have collapsed “gathered in piles” on the spot.
  2. Massive exposure to chlorine can cause laryngospasm leading to immediate asphyxiation, but in this situation there would not be time for foamy pulmonary edema to develop
  3. Cholinesterase inhibitors (nerve agents) [or opiates, we would add] could have caused instant collapse and also rapid onset of pulmonary edema, but known agents were ruled out by the negative lab tests.

The OPCW participants agreed that the conclusions were clear: whatever killed the victims, it was not chlorine. This consultation does not appear in the timeline of the final Report of the Fact-Finding Mission: the first toxicology consultations are dated to September 2018.

3.5 Concealing the date and rationale for the decision not to proceed with exhumations

The original interim report recorded that plans for exhumations were halted when the first lab results were received on 22 May 2018:

When the analytical results of the first round of environmental and biological samples were received and no nerve agents or their degradation products were identified in either environmental or biological samples, the plans for exhumations were halted as the risk of not finding substantive evidence of the alleged attack was now considered high and proceeding with the exhumations presented a risk to benefit ratio that was no longer acceptable.

The Interim Report released on 6 July 2018 stated that the intention to exhume bodies from mass graves was “communicated to the Syrian Arab Republic in Note Verbale NV/ODG/214827/18” without indicating that plans for exhumation had been halted two months earlier. The Final Report omits the date and the rationale for the decision not to proceed with exhumations, and insinuates that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for delaying exhumations until they would no longer be informative:

The Syrian Arab Republic replied in Note Verbale No. 45 on 4 May 2018 and enumerated the conditions to be met in order to conduct the exhumation. With due consideration of the time elapsed since the alleged incident, the possibility was eventually not explored any further.

3.6 Attempt by US officials to influence the inspectors

In the first week of July 2018 all FFM team members were summoned by the Chief of Cabinet, Robert Fairweather, to a meeting with three US officials who asserted that their findings proved that there had been a chlorine attack. This attempt to influence the inspectors violated Article VIII Part D of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which stipulates that:

In the performance of their duties, the Director-General, the inspectors and the other members of the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any other source external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action that might reflect on their positions as international officers responsible only to the Conference and the Executive Council.

Each State Party shall respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Director-General, the inspectors and the other members of the staff and not seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.

3.7 Unreviewed report prepared by unknown authors presented as “the Report of the Fact-Finding Mechanism”

FFM team members who had deployed to Douma were excluded from preparation of the final report, and were not even kept informed of its status or expected date of publication. No technical peer review of the final report was conducted. In particular the only organic chemist and the only chemical engineer on the team were excluded from drafting and reviewing the report. A briefing to States Parties was given on 5 March 2019 by Boban Cekovic, a former inspector who could not have contributed to the investigation before December 2018 when he rejoined the OPCW.

3.8 Suppression of the engineering assessment

It is now clear that the absence of an on-site engineering opinion in the Final Report is explained by deliberate suppression. Ian Henderson had been tasked with the Location and Munition (cylinder) study in the work plan issued by the Team Leader on 26 June 2018. He was excluded from external consultations held later that year. The Team Leader and the FFM Leader refused to accept Henderson’s engineering report on 26 February 2019. The Chief of Cabinet, Sebastien Braha, attempted to have all copies of the Engineering Assessment destroyed and also ordered that the log of the Document Registration Archive be altered to erase “all traces, if any, of [the document’s] delivery/storage/whatever in DRA”.

We have noted previously that the OPCW has come up with three contradictory explanations of why Ian Henderson’s Engineering Assessment was excluded from the Final Report of the FFM:

  • 1E1: the document was “not part of any of the material produced by the FFM”.
  • 2E2: the document was “analysed, it was part of the investigation” but rebutted by the reports of “three external experts commissioned by the FFM”.
  • 3E3: the document “pointed at possible attribution which is outside of the mandate of the FFM” and Henderson was therefore advised to submit his assessment to the IIT.

Arias has on two occasions asserted that the Engineering Assessment was considered by the FFM. In a briefing on 28 May 2019 he stated that:

The document produced by this staff member pointed at possible attribution, which is outside of the mandate of the FFM with regard to the formulation of its findings. Therefore, I instructed that, beyond the copy that would exclusively be kept by the FFM, the staff member be advised to submit his assessment to the IIT, which he did, so that this document could later be used by the IIT. As is the case with all FFM investigations, the Secretariat encourages serious and professional debates within, so all views, analysis, information and opinions are considered. This is what the FFM did with the information included in the publicly disclosed document [the Engineering Assessment]; all available information was examined, weighed and deliberated.

In a panel discussion on 6 June 2019 Arias stated that

This information [the Engineering Assessment] was considered and it was analysed, it was part of the investigation and this information has already been given to the Investigation and Identification Team in charge of attributing responsibilities because this information you referred to is more focussing, is more targeted to to establish responsibility than to focus to the facts.

These statements by Arias are unequivocally false. Henderson’s statement to the UN Security Council makes clear that his Engineering Assessment was never considered by the FFM: the Team Leader and the head of the FFM had refused to accept it.

In Arias’s latest briefing, his widely ridiculed explanation 3E3 that the Engineering Assessment had been excluded from the FFM report because it “pointed at possible attribution” which was “outside the mandate of the FFM” was abandoned. Instead he reverted to explanation 1E1:

Inspector A’s assessment purports to be an official OPCW FFM report on the Douma incident. Instead it is a personal document created with incomplete information and without authorisation.

He conceded that “In the interest of transparency and completeness, Inspector A’s assessment has been transmitted to the IIT and will be examined by it in due course.”

3.9 The three external engineering/ballistics consultancies supposedly obtained by the FFM

The Final Report, without mentioning that an internal engineering assessment had been excluded, stated that engineering/ballistics assessments had been obtained from three external experts, and described the results of the assessments of the cylinder at Location 4 as follows:

The results of these assessments indicated that the shape of the aperture produced in the modulation matched the shape and damage observed by the team. The assessments further indicated that, after passing through the ceiling and impacting the floor at lower speed, the cylinder continued altered trajectory, until reaching the position in which it was found.

In the light of other irregularities in the Final Report, we may reasonably be suspicious of the Final Report’s assertion that reports from three independent experts supported the explanation that the cylinders at Locations 2 and 4 reached their positions as a result of being dropped from the air.

If these three assessments exist, and their conclusions were as described in the Final Report, it should have been straightforward to document this. We have been informed that one report was obtained from a European institute with expertise in impact engineering, and that this group assessed that it was “very unlikely” that the cylinder at Location 4 had reached its position as a result of being dropped from the sky.

At a press conference in The Hague on 12 July 2019, Alexander Shulgin, the Russian envoy to the OPCW, stated that:

We would like to review the reports of the three independent experts that made a conclusion that these canisters were dropped from high altitude. You are free not to name them. We already know the name of one of the experts and we highly doubt that they are indeed unbiased.

In an interview in November 2019, Shulgin expressed doubts about the existence of three reports: “The refusal of the Technical Secretariat to unveil the reports of these anonymous outside experts makes us question whether these reports ever existed.” He added that the expert whose name he knows “has a rather dubious reputation in terms of his impartiality, and he is anything but a specialist in ballistics”.

4 The OPCW’s investigation into “Possible Breaches of Confidentiality”

This investigation was originally set up to investigate the leak of the Engineering Assessment to the Working Group in May 2019. However the report of the investigation, the briefing from the Director-General, Fernando Arias, and the accompanying press release were used instead to smear two of the organization’s most experienced and highly-rated inspectors.

The smears include unequivocally false statements – for instance that Inspector A “was not a member of the FFM” – and misleading statements whose only purpose is to denigrate: for instance that Inspectors A and B were “rehired at a lower grade” without explaining that the P-5 grade had been merged with the P-4 grade.

One notably false assertion is that “The majority of the FFM’s work occurred after Inspector B’s separation, and during the last seven months of the FFM’s investigation (August 2018 through February 2019).”

The timeline in the published report shows that the additional information gathered during this period consisted only of interviews with an additional five witnesses in Turkey (October 2018), toxicology consultations (September-October 2018), engineering/ballistics reports purportedly obtained from three external experts (October-December 2018), and lab analyses of a second batch of samples (received February 2019).

Comparison of the original interim report with the Final Report shows that most of the text and figures in the Final Report had already been prepared by June 2018. The only substantive new material that appears in the Final Report consists of figures generated from one of these engineering consultations.

The delay from June 2018 to September 2018 in resuming the investigation is explicable by the necessity to wait until Inspector B had left the organization at the end of his contract.

The OPCW management’s denunciation of Inspectors A and B for “unauthorised disclosure of highly protected information to individuals who did not have a need to know such information.” is unintentionally revealing.

This makes clear that the preparation of the report of the FFM was organized like a covert operation, with information shared on the basis of “need to know”, rather than as a scientific investigation in which material is shared for internal review before submission for external peer review.

There was no basis for the engineering analysis of the Douma cylinders to be classified as “highly protected information”: it did not contain personal data, nor did it include confidential information provided by a State Party.

Syrian officials had told the inspectors who deployed to investigate the Douma incident that the information they gathered was not confidential as far as the Syrian Arab Republic was concerned.

The Verification Annex Part II of the Chemical Weapons Convention specifies in the section on reports that “Differing observations made by inspectors may be attached to the report” and that “The provisions of this Part shall apply to all inspections conducted pursuant to this Convention”. In accordance with this provision, the template for reporting “Other Chemical Production Facility” inspections includes a section for “Differing observations made by inspectors”, implying that the report is not complete unless this section is filled in.

This clause can thus be read as guaranteeing a right to attach “differing observations” that has been denied to inspectors in the Fact-Finding Mission.

5 The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT)

The remit “to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic”, adopted by the Conference of the States Parties on 27 June 2018 was assigned to an Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). On 28 June 2019 the IIT published a list of nine incidents, including the Douma incident, on which it would focus its investigative work:

  • Three alleged chlorine attacks in 2014: Al-Tamanah 12 April, Kafr-Zita 18 April, Al-Tamanah 18 April examined in the Third Report of the FFM then led by Malik Ellahi.
  • An alleged attack in Marea on 1 September 2015, examined in an FFM report that confirmed that victims had been exposed to sulfur mustard. This incident has been widely attributed to ISIS .
  • Two alleged chemical attacks in Ltamenah on 24 and 25 March 2017, examined in the Report on Alleged incidents in Ltamenah, released 13 June 2018. This unsigned report concluded that sarin on 24 March and chlorine on 25 March were “very likely used”.
  • An alleged chemical attack in Ltamenah on 30 March 2017, examined in a separate report
  • An alleged chemcial attack in Saraqib on 4 February 2018. An unsigned report concluded chlorine was “likely used”, but was unable to explain the presence of sarin breakdown products in the environment and in wipes from the chlorine cylinder.
  • The Douma incident of 7 April 2018.

In the light of the evidence of fraud in FFM Team Alpha’s report on the Douma incident, all earlier reports from this team, including their reports on the incidents above, should now be considered unreliable. In an earlier briefing note we noted irregularities in the Fact-Finding Mission’s investigations of these earlier incidents.

5.1 Alleged chlorine attacks in 2014

We noted that information for the FFM’s investigation of the alleged chlorine attacks in April to May 2014 was provided by the CBRN Task Force set up by Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, who revealed also that during 2013 he had been undertaking covert activities for an agency that can only have been MI6.

Videos of an alleged impact site in Talmenes, provided by de Bretton-Gordon to the FFM, were later examined for the Joint Investigative Mechanism by a forensic expert, who identified “inconsistencies” that were unmistakable evidence of staging. This calls into question all other evidence from the CBRN Task Force.

5.2 Alleged chemical attacks in Ltamenah in 2017 and Saraqib in 2018

We discussed the anomalous findings of the FFM report on the alleged incident in Ltamenah on 24 March 2017, from which there were no contemporaneous reports but samples purportedly recovered from the alleged impact site after a long delay were reported to contain intact sarin.

Another commentator has noted anomalies in the published report of the FFM on the alleged incident in Ltamenah on 30 March 2017: no explanation was given for the detection of sarin in samples of gravel provided by the White Helmets that were purportedly recovered from a “crater” containing no munition fragments some 200 metres south of the alleged impact point.

In the report on the alleged incident in Saraqib on 4 February 2018, where the alleged munition was a chlorine cylinder and the FFM determined that “chlorine, released from cylinders through mechanical impact, was likely used as a chemical weapon”, no explanation was given for the positive tests for sarin breakdown products in environmental samples from this cylinder.

5.3 Management and staffing of the IIT

As we have noted previously, the director, Santiago Oñate, is employed as a consultant and cannot be a line manager. This implies that the staff of the IIT report to the Chief of Cabinet.

For reports of investigations to be credible, a requirement in science and in legal proceedings is that the names of the investigators are disclosed so that possible conflicts of interest can be examined and so that these investigators have to put their reputations on the line as guarantors of the report that bears their names.

The names of the two investigators and two analysts hired for the IIT have not been publicly disclosed. A brief examination of their careers shows that all four of them have serious conflicts of interest.

Of the two investigators, one is an employee of the Canadian security service and foreign ministry, and the other is an employee of the Netherlands Ministry of Justice. Of the two analysts, one is a former NATO intelligence officer and the other is the spouse of a consultant to the Netherlands Ministry of the Interior.

In noting these conflicts of interest we are not casting doubt on the personal integrity of these individuals, but we are calling into question whether the IIT can produce an impartial report if – as is to be expected – its team is under pressure to come up with a result that will vindicate the governments of France, UK and the US.

It has been reported to us that other individuals, whose independence is even more doubtful, have been brought in to help prepare the report.

OPCW staff members who have information about misconduct or fraud in investigations of alleged chemical attacks are welcome to contact us. For those who are under pressure to collude with or cover up such misconduct, we can arrange expert legal advice. As always, we guarantee to protect the identities of our sources. Emails from a ProtonMail address to wgspm@protonmail.com are secure.

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | Leave a comment

Fourth OPCW whistleblower: Staff ‘frightened into silence’, watchdog brought into ‘shameful disrepute’ over Douma probe

RT | March 13, 2020

A fourth whistleblower has come forward to defend two senior OPCW inspectors who revealed the watchdog tried to cover up evidence in the Douma chemical weapons probe, saying that other employees were “frightened into silence.”

In a statement to the Grayzone, the latest whistleblower said they were “horrified” but “unsurprised” by recent events within the organization, describing the “mistreatment” of “two highly regarded and accomplished professionals” as “abhorrent.”

The employee wrote that he is “one of many who were stunned and frightened into silence by the reality how the organization operates,” and that the “threat of personal harm” to those who speak out is “not an illusion.”

The fourth whistleblower emerged after the OPCW leadership attempted to smear and discredit veteran inspector Ian Henderson and an individual known as ‘Alex’ who challenged the organization’s narrative on the alleged Syrian government attack on Douma in 2018. A third whistleblower has also previously defended the integrity of the first two who spoke out and expressed concern for the safety and security of those who dissent from the official narrative.

The Grayzone said it had independently verified the identity of the fourth whistleblower and their position at the OPCW, but granted them anonymity “to protect them from potential retaliation.”

Last week, Henderson and ‘Alex’ both wrote to OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias, accusing the organization of trying to “smear” their reputations and questioning why two top inspectors with “impeccable records” would suddenly “go rogue.” The letters followed an effort by the chemical weapons watchdog to discredit them, rubbish their serious concerns, and frame them merely as two disgruntled former employees.

“I fully support their endeavors, in that it is for the greater good and not for personal gain or in the name of any political agenda,” the fourth whistleblower wrote, adding that the inspectors are “trying to protect the integrity of the organization which has been hijacked and brought into shameful disrepute.”

After a detailed study, Henderson, who led the probe on the ground in Douma, concluded that gas cylinders found at the scene had likely been manually placed, which suggests the attack may have been a false flag staged by anti-government militants. The incident, however, was swiftly used to justify US, UK and French airstrikes on Syria before OPCW investigators had even arrived at the scene.

Yet, the OPCW disregarded Henderson’s evidence without explanation and in its official report implied that the gas cylinders were dropped by Syrian military planes – allegedly after “unacceptable pressure” was applied by the US government.

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment