OPCW Final Report on Douma Chemical Attack

Media organization coverage of the report varies, of course.

‘Chlorine ‘likely’ used in alleged Douma chemical attack, no nerve agent – OPCW‘s final report’, RT.com, March 1, 2019

“The chemical arms watchdog refrained from identifying the party responsible for the incident, despite earlier being granted such powers.

There are “reasonable grounds” to believe that “the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon [took] place on 7 April 2018,” the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.

“This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine,” according to the report.” [March 1 OPCW Final Report: (pdf, 106 pages)]

“The FMM also stated that it “did not observe any major key precursors for the synthesis of chemical weapons agents, particularly for nerve agents such as sarin, or vesicants such as sulphur or nitrogen mustard.”

The OPCW experts came to these conclusions after on-site visits to collect environmental samples, interviews with the witnesses, and analysis of other data.”

On April 19, 2018 RT.com had reported:

Containers with chlorine from Germany and smoke grenades produced in Salisbury, UK were found in the liberated territories of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has stated.

“In the liberated areas of Eastern Ghouta, Syrian government troops have found containers with chlorine – the most horrible kind of chemical weapons – from Germany, and also smoke grenades produced – please pay attention [to this] – in the city of Salisbury, the UK,” Zakharova told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday.

The findings undermine “the faith in humaneness” of some states’ leadership, who “give such orders and make such decisions,” Zakharova added.”

“Western leaders’ allegations that the Syrian government was behind the Douma attack were based on “open sources” and information on social media, including the reports of so-called civil defense group, the White Helmets. The group is believed to be linked to militants and operates in the areas under their control. 

The airstrike occurred just ahead of the arrival of an OPCW fact-finding mission tasked with establishing whether any chemical attack had taken place. The team of chemical-watchdog experts still can’t reach the site of the purported attack, as militants have hampered their work, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.”

Most versions are like this:

‘Chlorine was used in attack on Syrian rebel town of Douma, watchdog says;  Chemical weapons inspectors confirm gas cylinders were fired at a housing block in the deadly assault in April 2018, the Guardian, March. 1, 2019

WaPO.com: ‘Chemical weapons watchdog says chlorine was used in Douma’ Mike Corder, AP, March 1, 2019

…but then, belying the headline:

“THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The global chemical weapons watchdog said Friday it found “reasonable grounds” that chlorine was used as a weapon in a deadly attack on the Syrian town of Douma last year.”

Some outliers:

Moscow Bashes OPCW Report on Alleged Douma Attack as Justification of Aggression’, sputniknews.com, March 5, 2019

“We are concerned that the mission prefers to completely ignore the substantial information provided by the Russian and Syrian parties confirming that this chemical incident had been staged by the pseudo-humanitarian organisation White Helmets“, the ministry said.”

The ministry also expressed concern that the information provided by a number of Western journalists on the staged nature of the incident had been ignored. The vague conclusions of the report suggest that the document was seeking to justify the airstrikes by the US-led coalition shortly after the reports on the Douma attack, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the evasive conclusions made by the OPCW experts about the fact that there are “reasonable grounds” that chlorine had been used as a chemical weapon in the city of Douma, unfortunately suggest that the only purpose of the report was to justify an act of aggression, held on 14 April 2018 by the United States, the UK and France in violation of the UN Charter against a sovereign state.

The OPCW investigation was launched after the White Helmets group published a video of the reported attack in Douma, which is located in the Damascus neighbourhood of Eastern Ghouta. The video allegedly showed local residents, both adults and children, being treated in the hospital after what they claimed was a chemical attack.”

‘The OPCW FFM’s Report on the April 7th 2018 Douma Chemical Attack Versus The Open Source Evidence’, March 1, 2019, by Eliot Higgins, bellingcat.com (the home of online investigations)

[If you choose to read it, your eyes might cross…and get stuck that way forever…]

“Bellingcat’s research for this publication was supported by PAX for Peace.

Li’l bit redundant there, but Pax for Peace’s partners and alliances tab is here

But oh ho; Tony C. dug into those 106 pages:

‘OPCW Syria Report Cripples Western “Chemical Weapons” Narrative ‘, March 4, 2019, Tony Cartalucci, jounal-NEO.org

“Despite attempts by the Western media to hail it [the Final Reprt] as “proof” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Douma – the report says nothing of the sort.

In fact, the report fails to link any of the alleged 43 deaths to apparent chlorine found at the scene of the alleged attack.

Claims of the attack were made by US-backed militants on the eve of their defeat – with the Syrian military retaking Douma the following day. Initial reports claimed sarin or chlorine chemical weapons were deployed through the use of two yellow gas canisters modified as bombs.

No sarin of any kind was found by OPCW inspectors.

While the report suggests two modified yellow gas canisters were used in the attack and that they appeared to have been dropped onto two buildings (locations 2 and 4), the report also mentions that OPCW inspectors found a nearly identical canister in a workshop used by militants to construct weapons.”

Cartalucci quotes the report extensively, first:

‘Many of the signs and symptoms reported by the medical personnel, witnesses and casualties (as well as those seen in multiple videos provided by witnesses), their rapid onset, and the large number of those reportedly affected, indicate exposure to an inhalational irritant or toxic substance. However, based on the information reviewed and with the absence of biomedical samples from the dead bodies or any autopsy records, it is not currently possible to precisely link the cause of the signs and symptoms to a specific chemical.’
“In other instances, the OPCW report would cite witnesses – including medical staff who allegedly treated victims of the supposed attack – who expressed doubts of the presence of any chemicals at all.

“The report would state (emphasis added):

A number of the interviewed medical staff who were purportedly present in the emergency department on 7 April emphasised that the presentation of the casualties was not consistent with that expected from a chemical attack. They also reported not having experience in the treatment of casualties of chemical weapons. Some interviewees stated that no odour emanated from the patients, while otheTr witnesses declared that they perceived a smell of smoke on the patients’ clothes. 

Some witnesses stated that many people died in the hospital on 7 April as result of the heavy shelling and/or suffocation due to inhalation of smoke and dust. As many as 50 bodies were lying on the floor of the emergency department awaiting burial. Others stated that there were no fatalities in Douma Hospital on 7 April and that no bodies were brought to the hospital that day.
“The conflicting witness reports, the lack of any evidence linking chlorine to even a single death on April 7, and other inconsistencies and contradictions make it impossible to use the report’s conclusions as “proof” that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical attack on the eve of its victory in Douma.”

In his lengthy Similar Canisters Found in Militant Workshop section, he provides ample evidence that the OPCW investigators glossing over evidence calls into question both their diligence and agenda, and that Western media organizations have dismissed the canister along with ‘“a number of 20-litre metallic drums, some fitted with crude cord-type fuses, which appeared to have been filled with plastic explosives to serve as improvised explosive devices’ as a set-up by the Syrian Arab Army.  You can easily imagine what he’s written in his:

‘Chemical Weapon Attack in Douma… Cui Bono? paragraphs, including asking why in the World of Carmen Sandiego would the Syrian government would have done such a thing, most especially in the middle of a major military offensive it was on the literal eve of concluding in complete victory.  On the other hand, the White Helmets (Tony calls them simply ‘militants’) would have great incentives to use images of suffering people, including children as a major propaganda tool to…attack Syria ‘in order to save the children’.  Which is, of course, exactly what happened, and has occurred before in many other venues: military aggression based on convenient, if irrational lies.  He finishes:

“That the Western media is still attempting to sell WMD lies regarding Syria after being caught fabricating them to justify war in neighboring Iraq should be at the forefront of the global public’s mind when considering their “interpretations” of this latest OPCW report regarding Douma, Syria.”

Good job, Mr. Cartalucci, and thanks.
From the Twittersphere:

Bonuses: ‘Britain puts new roof on Skripal House of Horrors (by George Galloway)’, RT.com, March 4, 2019

‘Salisbury poisoning: One year on, still no evidence of Novichok nerve agent use disclosed to public’, March 4, 2019, RT.com

“British authorities said both Sergei and his daughter Yulia – a Russian citizen who came to visit her father – had survived the attack, and were eventually released from hospital. Sergei has not appeared in public. Yulia issued one public statement through the British police, and appeared in a strange television interview with Reuters in May, asking for no Russian officials or family to contact her.

Russian diplomats were never given access to their citizens. The embassy in London described Yulia’s statement as suspicious and possibly not genuine. Her cousin Viktoria thought the same, and tried to get a visa to visit the Skripals in the UK. She was denied.

From that point, the Skripals vanished. Their relatives have heard not a peep, and there were even rumors they had been relocated to the US and been given new identities.”

Double agent Skripal & daughter have ‘not spoken to family in Russia since poisoning’ – niece to RT’,  Jan. 11, 2019, RT.com

On morning edit: I’ve realized that I’d been remiss in not exposing the dastardly White Helmets for who they really are, as not all readers would have known them.  Vanessa Beeley and Eva Barlett have exposed them for years at 21st century wire, where the site has its own White Helmets tab. A lot of the videos have been expunged from youtube unless one signs in, etc., but I have chosen two of the shorter ones we’re allowed to see.



This was posted today and as with Tony Cartalluci, iain seems to have dug into the report at length:  ‘OPCW Douma Report Indicates US, UK, France May Have Attacked Syria on False Pretext’, March 6, 2019, 21st century wire, Iain Davis

Also, I found this just now on V. Beeley’s Twit account:

Kit’s exposé is about nine yards long, but after citing a lengthy and informative history from 2007 forward (steele dossier, buzzfeed series, other players, allies, and funding sources); his murders deemed suicides section is almost satire… he gets to the recent heart of the matter at about the half-way mark, although rest is almost mind-boggling:

“In 2007, covert recordings revealed three Georgian national security service officials plotted to kill ‘Georgia’s Richest Man’ at the behest of then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. In one recording they debate means of execution, and one operative suggests they use a poisonous substance which will “kill a person two hours after touching it”. “You smear [it] on the door handle,” they say — the precise method by which Sergei and Yulia were contaminated with novichok, according to UK authorities.

Whatever the meaning of that parallel, BuzzFeed’s series is highly significant, for it was fundamental to cementing the notion of frequent Kremlin-directed murders on British soil in the public consciousness in the year prior to Salisbury. Almost inevitably too, it was widely invoked following the Skripals’ poisoning as evidence, if not proof, of Russian state involvement.

Among those seeking to associate From Russia With Blood with the attack was none other than BuzzFeed’s Heidi Blake herself. Her various Twitter postings on the subject would be documented by Integrity Initiative in regular roundups of social media activity relating to Skripal — and an Initiative briefing document (likely circulated to journalists), Russian Lies and the Skripal Case, referenced the series, calling the “evidence” presented by her team’s investigation “compelling”.  [long snip]

“Nonetheless, on 22 January [2018] General Nicholas Carter, UK Chief of General Staff, offered perhaps the most hawkish speech on Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union. Speaking at a Royal United Services Institute event, Carter described the country as the “most complex and capable state-based threat to our country since the end of the Cold War”, and warned hostilities could start “sooner than we expect”, particularly as he — ironically — claimed the Kremlin had “[convinced] ordinary Russians the West is a threat…We have been made to appear as the enemy”.  [snip]

“Not long after the [jan. 2018] speech, Operation Toxic Dagger was launched — a vast three week effort in which 40 Commando Royal Marines, Public Health England, the Atomic Weapons Establishment and Porton Down’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory collaborated to prepare Britain’s armed forces for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear operations by creating “realistic exercise scenarios based on the latest threat information”.

“The endeavour included “company-level attacks and scenarios concerning CBRN vignettes, concluding with a full-scale exercise involving government and industry scientists and more than 300 military personnel”, with a “chemical decontamination area set up not merely to treat ‘polluted’ commandos, but also wounded prisoners”.

It was convened on Salisbury Plain — several of the Royal Marines taking part would be seconded to Operation Morlop, a multi-agency ‘clean-up’ effort launched in Salisbury in the wake of the poisoning of the Skripals, less than a fortnight after Operation Toxic Dagger was completed.”
whoooosh; nice job, kit.

further tweets on the skripals:

(cross-posted at caucu99percent.com)

2 responses to “OPCW Final Report on Douma Chemical Attack

  1. closing time for me; i wish you all a good measure of restorative sleep. tonight’s lullaby is from john gorka:

  2. i’m out for the night; g’night.

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