Wikileaks Email Casts Doubt On Official Syrian Douma Chemical Attack Report
An alleged Douma chemical weapons attack drummed up support for U.S. intervention in Syria in 2018, but how reliable is the official report on what actually took place that day?
An email leaked by Wikileaks last Saturday provides the latest evidence that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) intentionally misled the public about the alleged Douma chemical attack by the Syrian regime, joining the accounts of two whistleblowers who claim that the supposedly impartial international watchdog purposefully omitted evidence and inserted intentional bias into its report that contradicted the findings of the investigation.
Critics have long expressed skepticism of the mainstream narrative that Assad gassed his own people last year. But the Wikileaks email comes shortly after the second whistleblower alleged in an interview that U.S. officials pressured the OPCW to blame Assad for the attack, building the case that U.S.-backed opposition forces staged the Douma chemical attack to shift international opinion against the Syrian dictator and win public support for U.S. intervention.
Despite the massive implications of the U.S. allegedly corrupting a respected international watchdog in order to manipulate the public into another regime change war, the new revelations have received little attention in the mainstream media.
Summary: Syrian Douma Chemical Weapons Attack
Last April of 2018 reports surfaced that a chemical weapons attack killed dozens of people in Douma, a suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus. The United States, U.K., and France quickly blamed the Assad regime and retaliated with airstrikes within days. Critics at the time argued that the regime’s alleged use banned weapons made no strategic sense, since Assad had already won the territory and knew it would incite international backlash.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released its final report on the event in March, which said it was “likely” that air forces dropped cylinders filled with chlorine gas on Douma. The first whistleblower released a leaked Engineering Assessment shortly after, claiming that the cylinders were far more likely to have been manually placed, or staged, then dropped from the air. Last month, the second whistleblower came forward to contradict the official OPCW report on the Douma chemical attack with findings most recently published by WikiLeaks, in which suspicious conclusions and omissions are challenged:
“Omitting this section of the report (including the Epidemiology which has been removed in its entirety) has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified,” reads the leaked WikiLeaks email. “In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents.”
Robert Fisk’s Account
As Citizen Truth’s Lauren von Bernuth noted last year, renowned war correspondent Robert Fisk took issue with the official report after being one of the few reporters to visit Douma after the alleged chemical attack. Fisk described how the locals seemed indifferent and “genuinely perplexed when he asked them about the gas attacks,” and details the account of a local doctor who claimed the deaths were caused by asphyxiation rather than gas. As Dr. Assim Rahaibani told Fisk:
“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.”
Fisk wanted to interview the White Helmets, the award-winning group of first responders with alarming ties to jihadist groups, but he was told they all left the region in government protected buses to the rebel region of Idlib. As Citizen Truth’s Lauren von Bernuth has previously reported, there is strong evidence that the White Helmets were created to serve as a Western propaganda operation.
Jonathan Steele’s Interview With Whistleblower
Two weeks ago, former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian Jonathan Steele published a report with Counterpunch drawing upon his interview with the second whistleblower. The whistleblower alleged that U.S. officials shaped the OPCW narrative on the Douma chemical attack in contradiction to the findings of most of the team.
“Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent,” the whistleblower told Steele. The whistleblower said that all but one member of the team agreed with the leaked assessment that it was far more likely that the cylinders were manually placed rather than dropped from above.
Significance of Douma Whistleblower Accounts
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 on the false pretense that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, killing hundreds of thousands and unleashing sectarian demons that embroiled the region in chaos and enabled the ascent of ISIS. Beyond being a humanitarian atrocity, the war cost trillions of dollars and strengthened the geopolitical position of Iran, leading critics to argue that the U.S. government must be more transparent and cautious in its future foreign policy endeavors.
But from the CIA’s $1 billion Timber Sycamore project which armed and trained the Syrian opposition, to leaked Wikileaks cables that show the US has been pushing for regime change in Syria since the Bush administration, it is clear that the U.S. has secretly worked to destabilize the Assad regime for years. The mounting evidence of a false flag chemical attack, in addition to the White Helmet propaganda campaign, further implicates the U.S. in an information war that misinformed the public with the intent of drumming up support for another Middle East invasion.
The damage to the credibility of the OPCW, which as independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone notes the “US government already has a known history of bullying,” is one of the major takeaways from the story. But perhaps more alarming is the failure of media outlets to bring attention to a story that implicates the U.S. in another attempt to manufacture consent for a regime change war.
Critics like Johnstone argue it is particularly important for the OPCW scandal to get coverage, even as the mainstream media ignores it, because it “would make it much harder for the US to manufacture public support for other military interventions in the future.”