Russian officials brought fifteen people to The Hague from the city of Douma, Syria, said to have been present during the alleged April 7 chemical attack - including 11-year-old Hassan Diab, who was seen in a widely-distributed video taken by the controversian NGO organization known as the "White Helmets," who filmed themselves giving Diab "emergency treatment" after the alleged incident.
“We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me,” said Diab, who was featured in the video which Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands says was staged.
The boy and his family have spoken to various media outlets, who say there was no attack.
Others present during the filming of Diab's hospital "cleanup" by the White Helmets include hospital administrator Ahmad Kashoi, who runs the emergency ward.
“There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care, they were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water. The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator of the emergency ward, recalled. “That happened for about an hour, we provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.” -RT
Also speaking at The Hague was Halil al-Jaish, an emergency worker who treated people at the Douma hospital the day of the attack - who said that while some patients did come in for respiratory problems, they were attributed to heavy dust, present in the air after recent airstrikes, but that nobody showed signs of chemical warfare poisoning.
The hospital received people who suffered from smoke and dust asphyxiation on the day of the alleged attack, Muwaffak Nasrim, a paramedic who was working in emergency care, said. The panic seen in footage provided by the White Helmets was caused mainly by people shouting about the alleged use of chemical weapons, Nasrim, who witnessed the chaotic scenes, added. No patients, however, displayed symptoms of chemical weapons exposure, he said. -RT
Emergency paramedic Ahmad Saur who is with the Syrian Red Crescent, said that his hospital ward did not receive any patients exposed to chemical weapons the day of the alleged incident, and that all the patients either needed general medical care or help with injuries.
That said, none of these people's testimony will make it into the "official record" as it currently stands. Russia's permanent representative to the OPCW, Aleksandr Shulgin, said that the OPCW has already interviewed six alleged Douma witnesses brought to The Hague , and they won't interview any more.
“The others were ready too, but the experts are sticking to their own guidelines. They’ve picked six people, talked to them, and said they were 'completely satisfied' with their account and did not have any further questions" -Aleksandr Shulgin
Shulgin also said that "certain Western countries" accusing Russia and Syria of trying to "hide" witnesses to the attack is not true.
Meanwhile, the West - unhappy with this unexpected diversion to its narrative - has called the Russian press conference a "stunt" - with Britain and France both denouncing it as an "obscene masquerade."
“This obscene masquerade does not come as a surprise from the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years,” said France’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Philippe Lalliot.
"The OPCW is not a theatre," Britain's envoy to the agency, Peter Wilson, said in a statement. "Russia's decision to misuse it is yet another Russian attempt to undermine the OPCW's work, and in particular the work of its fact-finding mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria."
In other words, the West is happy to bomb a sovereign nation based on nothing more than non-public "evidence" suspected to have been staged and provided by the White Helmets, but when actual residents of Douma show up to tell their side of it, they are condemned as an "obscene masquerade" and denied an opportunity to submit their testimony on the record. Sounds about right for the military industrial complex which if nothing else scored a few extra billion in procurement contracts thanks to the latest farcical attack on Syria.