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Last Ditch Effort and Cover-ups: The Douma Chemical Attack in Syria

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Fast forward to early 2018 and President Trump was already half way through his first term. The unelected positions within his war cabinet certainly explain why his foreign policy decisions turned out no more hawkish and influenced by Zionists than his predecessors. Even during the 2016 Presidential Election, the former deputy chairman of the Trump Campaign was allegedly in contact with an Israeli intelligence firm during a social media disinformation campaign. Predictably so, American foreign policy in the Middle East was eventually co-opted in spite of Trump’s promises to end America’s forever wars.

From Eisenhower onward, regime change operations functioned as the go-to option for when direction of a sovereign nation had no fitting for U.S. interest. This defined the Cold War era in avoiding nuclear war while simultaneously providing a protective cover for plausible deniability. Today, the pretexts have changed but tactics of false flag attacks, proxy wars, and covert operations continue. Thanks to social media and alternative news, these tactics are increasingly challenged.

Besides bringing the hammer down on Iran with crippling sanctions and a failed coup to oust the Venezuelan president, the Trump administration used the old humanitarian cover to justify military action against Syria. Just as the Bush administration insisted Iraqis would welcome American forces as liberators against Saddam Hussein or Obama’s declaration that a “dark tyranny” over Libya had been lifted after the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, Trump’s hawkish approach to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria stemmed from hasty claims of chemical attacks.

Situated about 6 miles northeast of Damascus is the town of Douma which was under rebel control since October 2012. Starting in 2013, the main rebel faction based in the city was the Saudi Arabian-backed Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) numbering at 10-15,000 fighters in this region alone. This terrorist organization had been caught over the years routinely torturing and imprisoning residents in the name of Sharia law and “liberation.” In 2015, the group was caught using captured Alawite military officers and their families as human shields against government raids by locking them in cages throughout Eastern Ghouta. The following year, they were also accused of deploying chemical weapons against Kurdish militia and civilians within Aleppo.

On April 7, 2018, exactly one year after Khan Shaykhun, a chemical attack in Douma was reported. Casualties varied with 49 reported dead and up to 650 injured. The Syrian American Medical Society informed the press that over 500 injured people at Douma “were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent.” Initially, it was unclear which chemicals were deployed but a 2019 OPCW FFM (Fact-Finding Mission) report concluded that a toxic chemical containing the reactive chlorine was likely used based on biomedical samples and witnesses’ testimonies.

The accusations of the attack however, stemmed from anti-government opposition groups in the area controlled by Jaysh al-Islam. Immediately, allegations ignited before an international investigation was underway. Before investigators were scheduled to arrive in Douma, the US, UK, and France all commenced their illegal crimes of aggression through retaliatory strikes. According to the Pentagon, the strikes specifically targeted a research center within Damascus and a chemical weapons storage facility and command located west of Homs. They claimed not to be aware of any civilian casualties but maintained the strikes were successful in delivering a warning to Assad in deterring future use of chemical weapons despite the fact the Syrian government surrendered its chemical weapons stockpile in 2013 to the UN.

While these belligerent acts took place against the Syrian government, Israeli soldiers fired on peaceful protestors in Gaza, killing 17 and injuring over 1,000 in an unlawful and calculated slaughter of civilians. At the same time, Saudi Arabia continued its unfettered butchering of Yemen through bombings and blockades resulting in tens of thousands killed through starvation and disease in the worst humanitarian crisis the world witnessed. In both instances, the United States turned a blind eye, going as far as to assist in the onslaught. This was done when the Trump administration blocked a UN resolution calling for an investigation and maintaining Palestinians’ “right to peaceful protest.”

Just five months after the alleged assault on Douma, the United States was also implicated in an attack that killed 54 people in Yemen; most of them children after Saudi aircraft struck a summer camp bus. The Saudi weapons possessed components bearing labels of U.S. weapons manufacturers. This is in addition to intelligence, precision munitions, and midair refueling of Saudi coalition war planes supplied by the United States. On what grounds can the United States therefore take the moral stand to bypass authorization from the UN Security Council in projecting a “might is right” militaristic confrontation with Syria? Not to mention, there was no justification for American presence in Syria to begin with.

The swiftness of the retaliation strikes certainly calls into question not only the legitimacy of the Douma chemical attack claims but the true intentions behind western response against Assad. Chemical inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were on standby two weeks after the incident, awaiting permission to enter the town. Britain and France were quick to blame Russia for “obstructing” access to the site with the United States accusing Syria of “stalling” the OPCW investigation. It turns out the inspectors were not allowed into Douma until the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) team cleared the inspectors for visitation which the UNDSS  refused to do so, citing concerns over crowding and safety in the aftermath of a shooting. Meanwhile, the Syrian government allowed for CBS News correspondent Seth Doane and his team to report on the attack from the Syrian capital of Damascus without incident.

Independent Middle East Correspondent Robert Fisk was the first western journalist to reach the Douma area and interview people there. One interviewee was a senior doctor who treated the victims visible on the same video used by the US, UK, and France to justify their airstrikes. While the video in question was real the doctor explained it did not show effects of a chemical weapons attack. He detailed what really happened:

“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night — but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet’, shouted ‘Gas!’ and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”

The alleged event happened the first Saturday of April with US-led strikes occurring the next Friday, April 13 prior to inspections. More doubts over chemical attacks by Assad stemmed not only from Douma residents, but former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford who in a BBC Radio Scotland interview stated his belief that the Douma chemical attack was staged.

The central argument for blaming the chemical attack on Assad’s government was the cylinders in question reportedly dropped from an aircraft. This claim was strongly endorsed by adversaries of the Ba’athist government since they argue it cannot possibly be committed by rebel groups with any aircraft access. In March 2019, the OPCW released its official and final fact finding report regarding the Douma attacks. The report concluded the metal cylinders supposedly coated in chlorinated chemical residue were dropped from an aircraft and that no evidence was found to support the Syrian government’s claim of a local facility occupied by rebel forces to produce chemical weapons.

Two months later, whistleblowers from the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and Media released an unpublished report contradicting these findings: “Taken together, these findings establish beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged.”

New leaks published in December 2019 put OPCW’s conclusions into further serious question when allegations emerged of proof that the organization suppressed evidence and altered the reports of their investigators in Douma. Twenty inspectors claimed their findings were not only omitted from the report but the report itself was re-written with conclusions opposite to theirs.

Ian Henderson was an OPCW employee and author of the second report leaked in May 2019. He was assigned to the Damascus port of the OPCW while the FFM was stationed in Douma for investigation. Henderson’s assignment was to conduct an inventory of Highly Protected information collected from the cylinders and information necessary to carry out further studies in the Damascus port of the OPCW.

In his February 2019 engineering assessment days before the final OPCW report was released, he affirmed, “In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft.” This assessment was entirely ignored by the final OPCW report. In fact, the OPCW attempted to counter Henderson’s disclosures by telling the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and Media that Henderson “has never been a member of the FFM.” An anonymous email released by WikiLeaks addressed to the director of strategy and policy for OPCW, Veronika Stromsikova, disputed this claim against Henderson.

The OPCW’s redacted report concluded regarding the cylinders, “The team has sufficient evidence at this time to determine that chlorine, or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical, was likely released from cylinders.” A member of this international watchdog accused his superiors of “misrepresenting the facts” in this redacted report in a WikiLeaks document adding:

“Many of the facts and observations outlined in the full version are inextricably interconnected and, by selectively omitting certain ones, an unintended bias has been introduced in the report, undermining its credibility…In other cases, some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted.” The author pointed out the only evidence the OPCW possessed at that moment was that the few samples collected were in contact with one or more chemicals containing a reactive chlorine atom.

An FFM interim report published in June 2018 by the OPCW which was excluded from both the final and redacted reports of the OPCW were the symptoms of the alleged victims not consistent with a chlorine chemical attack, “Some of the signs and symptoms described by witnesses and noted in photos and video recordings taken by witnesses, of the alleged victims are not consistent with exposure to chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride.” As far as the issue regarding the cylinders ‘dropped from an aircraft,’ the interim report stated, “The FFM team is unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the relatively moderate damage to the cylinders allegedly dropped from an unknown height … The view of the team is 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 December 2019, WikiLeaks released more internal documents from the OPCW Douma investigation. One of these documents was an email exchange in the same month as Henderson’s engineering assessment between members of the fact finding mission (FFM) deployed to Douma and the senior officials of the OPCW. In this exchange, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW Sebastien Braha instructed for that same engineering report by Henderson to be removed from the secure registry of the organization:

“Please get this document out of DRA [Documents Registry Archive]… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA”.

Just one week ago, The Gray Zone reported on a new open-source study which concluded that members of the insurgent group Liwa Al Islam had in fact carried out the Ghouta sarin chemical attack in August 2013. This combined with the contumely display of US-UK-France’s and OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias’ evasion of Douma cover-up questions and refusal to meet with dissenting inspectors demonstrates an ever-increasing dismantling of war propaganda tactics in spite of media compliance over the years, beginning with the first major chemical attack allegation against Assad.

On March 13, 2018, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense told CNBC that Moscow was ‘complicit’ in Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s crimes, “By enabling the Assad regime’s brutality, Russia is morally complicit and responsible for Assad’s atrocities. It is impossible to ignore the growing body of evidence that Syria is continuing to use chemical weapons on its own people — a clear violation of international law.”

Enabling brutality absolutely implicates a guilty party to war crimes which must be brought before the International Criminal Court. In the weeks after the alleged Douma chemical attack, reports emerged of German and UK-manufactured chemical weapons left behind by terrorists in Douma which were subsequently discovered by Syrian government forces. Specifically, the weapons were containers consisting of chlorine and smoke bombs. This news originated from Syria’s Deputy Ambassador to the OPCW Ghassan Obaid following a briefing in The Hague. Obaid further noted that Syria sent more than 100 letters to the organization warning of plans by terrorist groups to use chemical weapons for the purpose of blaming the Syrian army. This was reinforced by Russia’s repeated and tireless warnings of an imminent attack by rebels.

Prior to the chemical incident, negotiations resumed for Jaysh al-Islam’s departure from the last rebel-held city of Douma. The new deal saw to it the rebels were destined for Jarabulus controlled by the Turkish army in exchange for the rebel group to free a number of hostages. This along with a ceasefire was enforced by the Russian military police. When the last desperate attempt of a false flag operation failed, the United States too gave up their regime change endeavors in Syria and accepted that Iran “will play a diplomatic role in the process aimed at achieving a political solution to end the nearly eight-year conflict.”

This of course would come with a price. United States special representative for Syria James Jeffrey emphasized American desires for Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies to create a “fundamentally different” atmosphere in Syria. Otherwise and despite the years of devastation and destabilization the U.S. government and other western forces inflicted on the country through its proxy forces, Jeffrey warned that Western powers would not commit to the estimated $300-400 billion to rebuild the war-torn nation unless certain demands were met.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli interests occupied some of these demands; Jeffrey repeated Israel’s strong position for all Iranian military forces to evacuate Syria, citing a potential military foothold in Syria where Iranian proxies can carry out their attacks against the Jewish state. Noted by Dr. Christopher Phillips, a Syrian specialist at the London-based Chatham House think-tank, the Trump administration’s goal of remaining in Syria to block Iranian expansionism was a new approach. Given the Biden administration’s continuation of this aggressive policy in a mire of broken promises, is it not clear cut by now the American political party system is an illusionary and false dichotomy with its foreign policy in the Middle East firmly in the hands of Zionists?

For all its faults, social media has proved a powerful tool of political dissent and activism, exposing lies put forth by the American government and dismantling public support for its empirical schemes. For decades, governments unabatedly carried on with clandestine operations against autonomous nations. It is up to the unrepresented masses of the west to shift the political paradigm our elitist and foreign-influenced class have set in place for our own exploitation.

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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 this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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Simple Truths
Simple Truths
August 4, 2021

Might as well throw the OPCW in the trash heap, as it’s now effectively lost any credibility it ever may have had as a neutral arbiter. Too much has been exposed for it to ever recover. Its own post-report behavior and treatment of its whistleblowers and pre-report American machinations, all in the public record, have been its downfall.

Last edited 1 month ago by Simple Truths
Cont.
Cont.
Reply to  Simple Truths
August 4, 2021

Can you even imagine the very idea of an OPCW official agreeing with a whistleblower, then ordering his paper/electronic trail be expunged, just because it ‘might give credence to Russian complaints’? And Russia is even a member!

Just let that sink in for a moment, give it a reset then let it sink in again. Absolutely incredible!

Joke of the Day
Joke of the Day
August 4, 2021

“Jeffrey warned that Western powers would not commit to the estimated $300-400 billion to rebuild the war-torn nation unless certain demands were met.”??

LOL. What would the US contribute? And whatever it contributes (laughing out loud), will it subtract the amount it spent on the foreign jihadis that war-tore the nation in the first place?

Just leave it to the Chinese. America’s nose is too long, too broke and too weighted down with brown stuff to be anything but an impediment.

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