The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced in a July 6 report that they detected chlorine and explosive residues at the site of the alleged chemical attack on April 7, 2018 in the Syrian city of Douma, but the findings remain inconclusive and they were still working on drawing final conclusions. However, they found no evidence that any nerve agents had been used at the site.
The summary of the report states:
“The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.”
The OPCW team carried out on-site visits to collect environmental samples and other evidence related to allegations of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces.
The OPCW report ascertains that it is not in their prerogative to assign blame for the attack, but to simply detect and evaluate the use of chemical weapons. Damascus had denied the claims, calling them a “provocation,” Moscow subsequently found victims of the alleged attack, who claimed that they had been coerced to participate in the footage of the “attack” in exchange for food. The report additionally declares that the FFM have not drawn their final conclusions about the chlorine and explosive residues found on site, and are still working to figure out what really happened in Douma on April 7.
“The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria. It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks.”
Even if the OPCW completely confirms the presence of these chemicals, which they haven’t, that doesn’t necessitate that the Syrian government is guilty of deploying said chemicals. There have been numerous reports of anti-government terrorist groups within Syria manufacturing and using chemical weapons, including Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), a Saudi-backed Salafi jihadist terrorist organization that had previously controlled the Douma suburb being investigated before Eastern Ghouta was completely liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The likelihood of the Syrian Arab Army using chemical weapons is very slim, given that the OPCW confirmed that all declared chemical weapons in the country were handed over to the United States to be destroyed in 2013.
But this isn’t the first time the SAA have been accused of gassing civilians after the destruction of the Syrian government’s entire stockpile of chemical weapons, which was completed in 2014. The report specifically addresses two previous allegations:
“…of chemical weapons use in Al-Hamadaniya, Syria on 30 October 2016, and Karm al-Tarrab, Syria on 13 November 2016. On the basis of the information received and analysed… the FFM cannot confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon in the incidents that took place in the neighbourhood of Al-Hamadaniyah and in the area of Karm al-Tarrab. The FFM noted that the persons affected in the reported incidents may, in some instances, have been exposed to some type of non-persistent, irritating substance.”
Upon re-evaluating the facts, it’s apparent that the only evidence strongly supporting the claim that the Syrian government had launched a chemical attack on Douma is the unconfirmed video footage posted to social media by questionable opposition groups such as the White Helmets — a video that looks eerily similar to this one of the White Helmets participating in a “mannequin challenge” where they enacted a fake rescue, a video with inconsistent (albeit disturbing) aftermath footage, a video in which medical professionals who appeared in it spoke out about the artificial nature of the video, in which an 11-year-old boy featured in the video testified that the children were told to head to the hospital where they were promptly grabbed by strange men who started hosing them down with cold water, then were rewarded afterwards with dates and cookies, with nothing even hinting at a chemical attack in his recollection, who also posted other video from the same alleged attack in which it appears a plastic doll is being rescued by a White Helmet.
The OPCW report also debunks the mainstream media’s claims that the OPCW were initially prevented from accessing the site, suggesting that the Russians were removing evidence, which is false. The OPCW report states:
“The FFM team was not able to enter Douma for almost a week after its arrival, owing to the high security risks to the team, which included the presence of unexploded ordnance, explosives, and sleeper cells still suspected of being active in Douma. On 18 April 2018, during a reconnaissance visit to two sites of interest, the security detail was confronted by a hostile crowd and came under fire from small arms and a hand grenade that exploded. The incident reportedly resulted in two fatalities and one injury.”
The report also says that the planned FFM deployment was delayed until security was ensured, as suggested by the UNDSS (United Nations Department for Safety and Security), and included the following security measures:
“(a) clearing the areas to be visited by the FFM team;
(b) securing the areas during the 24-hour period before deployment;
(c) increasing the number of escorts and having advance teams from the UNDSS and the Russian Military Police monitor the area prior to the arrival of the team at the sites;
(d) using the police force for crowd control;
(e) minimising the movement of civilians near the areas of interest given the possibility of suicide bombers getting within close proximity of the inspection team;
and (f) deploying snipers on rooftops around the sites of interest.”
The United Nations suggested that they make the areas safer, so the Russian Military Police complied; they weren’t blocking anyone off from Douma with secretive, malicious intentions.
In fact, the Syrian Arab Republic had been quite fervent about launching an investigation as soon as possible:
“On 10 April 2018, the Secretariat sent note verbale No. NV/ODG/214589/18 to the Syrian Arab Republic expressing its intention to deploy a team to Damascus. This correspondence coincided with note verbale No. 38 from the Permanent Representation of the Syrian Arab Republic to the OPCW requesting that an FFM team be dispatched urgently to visit the town of Douma to verify the information surrounding the alleged use of toxic chemicals on 7 April 2018. On the same day, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW submitted a letter to the Secretariat in which he welcomed the request from the Syrian Arab Republic and pledged to facilitate the work of the FFM.”
If the entire report, when finally completed, shows that the SAA did not launch a chemical attack in Douma in April 2018, then the precedent used by the imperialist triumvirate (US, UK, and France) to justify their series of airstrikes against Damascus in retaliation would turn out to be false, just like Iraq, and Vietnam, and Libya.