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CORRECTION AND APOLOGY: OPCW has NOT confirmed absence of chemical weapons at bombed Damascus facility

Russian MoD was referring to an OPCW inspection of the facility in November

On 25th April 2018 The Duran published an article with the title “BREAKING: OPCW finds NO Chemical Weapons at Damascus research center”.

The article derived from a presentation given by the Russian Ministry of Defence which discussed the effect of the recent US led missile strike on Syria.

The title and body of the article said that the Russian Ministry of Defence had claimed that the OPCW as part of its ongoing investigation in Syria had inspected the building of the Barzeh facility in Damascus – the primary target of the US led missile strike – but had found no chemical weapons there.

This was wrong.

In reality the OPCW inspection of the Barzeh facility which the Russian Ministry of Defence had referred to in its presentation had taken place in November of last year.  Our article however gave the entirely wrong impression that it had taken place as part of the current OPCW investigation of the Douma incident.

Our article with this wrong information was written in complete good faith and appeared to have been corroborated by more than one source.

However – as we realised after the fact was pointed out to us by Holmes Lybrand, a fact checker with The Weekly Standard – it was wrong, having derived from a misleading article by Sputnik with the factually wrong headline “OPCW Finds No Chemical Weapons at Syrian Facilities Bombed by US – Russian MoD”.

This Sputnik article followed up this factually wrong headline with these two further paragraphs

Last week, the fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited a site in the Damascus suburb of Douma to collect samples in connection with the alleged April 7 chemical attack.

Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy has announced that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed that there were no chemical weapons found at the Barzeh research center in Damascus despite the US officials’ claims.

The clear impression from these two paragraphs and from the headline was that the OPCW had confirmed the absence of chemical weapons at the Barzeh facility over the course of its current ongoing investigation in Syria of the Douma incident.

This is entirely wrong – as I have said, it is clear that the Russian Ministry of Defence was referring to an inspection of the Barzeh facility carried out by the OPCW in November – but unfortunately this factually wrong account of what had happened was picked up and was reproduced almost word for word by other sites including for example Teletrader, giving the wrong impression that the story had been corroborated.

I must apologise to the readers of The Duran for the fact that we reported this wrong information.  All I can say by way of excuse is that we acted at all times in good faith reporting what we believed to be an important story which we believed had been corroborated.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of The Duran to thank The Weekly Standard and Holmes Lybrand personally for pointing out our error to us so that we could inform our readers of it.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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