As the ongoing increased sanctions regimen on Syria demonstrates, Washington's pursuit of regime change against Assad is not over, despite Damascus clearly having won the war, and with the US having wisely ditched talk of some kind of overt major Iraq-style military intervention (as was the case under Obama in August 2013).
While mainstream media has largely "moved on" from coverage of Syria (so much for feigned humanitarian "concern" for millions of Syrians suffering under severe American-led sanctions!), some analysts like independent journalist Aaron Maté have been detailing damning leaks from the chemical weapons watchdog Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
"A series of leaked documents from the OPCW raise the possibility that the Trump administration bombed Syria on false grounds and pressured officials at the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog to cover it up," Maté's latest report in The Nation begins.
"Two OPCW officials, highly regarded scientists with more than 25 years of combined experience at the organization, challenged the whitewash from inside. Yet unlike many whistle-blowers of the Trump era, they have found no champion, or even an audience, within establishment circles in the United States," the report continues.
Recall that President Trump bombed Syria on two occasions. On the last occasion, in April 2018, Damascus was pummeled with a series of major tomahawk missile strikes ostensibly in response to claims by the primarily Saudi-backed jihadist group Jaysh al-Islam that the Syrian Army had carried out a chemical weapons attack on civilians. It was the all too familiar pattern which went back to 2013: "rebels" on the brink of being wiped out make a last ditch unverified claim in order to draw Western military support, then the mainstream media runs with it because it already fits the narrative of the "monster" Assad, and then right away it's American and allied "bombs away" with no questions asked.
But Maté now documents an avalanche of leaks and internal dissent within the global chemical weapons watchdog group OPCW to say the US once again attacked a Middle East country based on lies (and just like in neighboring Iraq, don't forget that some 1,000 or more American troops occupy the oil-rich northeast section of Syria).
My bad: Western state-funded Bellingcat "gathered evidence... long before the OPCW."— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) July 25, 2020
Ignore then those "truthers/and or propagandists" who for some silly reason listen to actual OPCW scientists w/ actual credentials & who actually conducted the OPCW's investigation in Syria. https://t.co/zjtDShQ2eL
Maté's report finds that "Since May 2019, internal OPCW documents, including a trove published by WikiLeaks, reveal that the Douma investigators’ initial report reached different conclusions than their organization’s published version. They were overruled by senior officials who kept evidence from the public."
The Nation report outlines leaks’ key revelations as follows:
- Senior OPCW officials reedited the Douma investigators’ initial report to produce a version that sharply deviated from the original. Key facts were removed or misrepresented and conclusions were rewritten to support the allegation that a chlorine gas attack had occurred in Douma. Yet the team’s initial report did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred, and left open the possibility that victims were killed in a “non-chemical related” incident.
- Four experts from a OPCW and NATO-member state conducted a toxicology review at the OPCW team’s request. They concluded that observed symptoms of the civilians in Douma, particularly the rapid onset of excessive frothing, as well as the concentration of victims filmed in the apartment building so close to fresh air, “were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine, and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified.”
- Chemical tests of the samples collected in Douma showed that chlorine compounds were, in most cases, detected at what amounted to trace quantities in the parts-per-billion range. Yet this finding was not disclosed publicly. Furthermore, it later emerged that the chemicals themselves did not stand out as unique: According to the author of the initial report, the OPCW’s top expert in chemical weapons chemistry, they could have resulted from contact with household products such as bleach or come from chlorinated water or wood preservatives.
- The author of the initial report protested the revisions in an e-mail expressing his “gravest concern.” The altered version “misrepresents the facts,” he wrote, thereby “undermining its credibility.”
- Following the e-mail of protest over the manipulation of the team’s findings, the OPCW published a watered-down interim report in July 2018. Around that time, OPCW executives decreed that the probe would be handled by a so-called “core team,” which excluded all of the Douma investigators who had traveled to Syria, except for one paramedic. It was this core team—not the inspectors who had been deployed to Douma and signed off on the original document—that produced the final report of March 2019.
- After the e-mail of protest, and just days before the interim report was published on July 6, a US government delegation met with members of the investigation team to try to convince them that the Syrian government had committed a chemical attack with chlorine. According to veteran reporter Jonathan Steele, who interviewed one of the whistle-blowers, the Douma team saw the meeting as “unacceptable pressure and a violation of the OPCW’s declared principles of independence and impartiality.” Interference by state parties is explicitly prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
- The inference drawn from the OPCW’s final report—widely disseminated, including by the Trump administration—was that gas cylinders found in Douma likely came from Syrian military aircraft. An unpublished engineering study reached the opposite conclusion. The study evaluated competing hypotheses: Either the cylinders were dropped from the sky or they were manually placed. There is “a higher probability,” it concluded, “that both cylinders were manually placed…rather than being delivered from aircraft.” At “Location 4,” where a cylinder was found on a bed, the study determined that the cylinder was too large to have penetrated the hole in the roof above; at the other site, “Location 2,” the observed damage to the cylinder and to the roof it allegedly penetrated were incompatible with an aircraft bombing. Ballistics experts also said it was more likely that the crater had been made by an explosion, probably from an artillery round, a rocket, or a mortar. With both cylinders, the study concluded, “the alternative hypothesis”—that the cylinders were manually placed and that the craters were caused by other means—”produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”
Of course, the media is seeking for these revelations to be memory-holed right way.
New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative https://t.co/vrQaBZIT7T— zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 15, 2019
They are being conveniently ignored, and not just ignored, but covered up.
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Read the full in-depth investigative report at The Nation.