Questions Arise after Red Crescent Says No Evidence of Chemical Attack in Syria's Douma
April 11, 2018
AntiWar.com & RT News
Questions surrounding a reported chemical weapons attack have begun to arise after the Syrian Red Crescent issued a statement dismissing the allegations of a weekend attack in the city of Douma. The statement insisted their medical personnel in the city had found no evidence any such attack took place. Russian medics who also examined patients in Douma also reported that none showed signs of chemical poisoning. Meanwhile the White Helmets have claimed scores killed and over 500 wounded by exposure.
Red Crescent Says No Evidence of Chemical Attack in Syria's Douma
Patients treated by aid group not exposed to any chemical agents
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 9, 2018) -- The Syrian Red Crescent issued a statement Monday dismissing the allegations of a weekend chemical weapon attack in the city of Douma. The statement insisted their medical personnel in the city had found no evidence any such attack took place.
The Syrian Red Crescent said their hospital in Douma received six patients complaining of respiratory problems, but said they didn't seem to have any physical problems at all, nor was there any trace of any chemical agents they might've been exposed to.
Chemical attack or no, it wouldn't be surprising for some people to complain of symptoms without actually having any problems. That the Red Crescent operates a hospital in a city supposedly inundated with wounded and didn't get a single patient with confirmed exposure, however, is very noteworthy.
The Russian Defense Ministry also reported that their own medics had examined some patients in Douma, and had the same result, that none showed signs of chemical poisoning. With White Helmets claiming scores killed and over 500 wounded by exposure, it seems impossible to believe that, if it was true, no one can find any of these "real" patients to confirm an attack.
'Syria Gases Own People Just as Trump Mulls Withdrawal?'
Journalists Question Douma 'Chemical Attack'
MOSCOW (April 8, 2018) -- Not everybody is buying into reports of a chemical attack by Syria's government in Douma, with online critics saying the claims conveniently coincide with Donald Trump's plans to leave Syria and the withdrawal of Ghouta militants.
Anti-government activists, including the notorious White Helmets civil defense group, on Saturday blamed the Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons in the militant-held town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, saying that dozens of civilians were killed and hundreds affected.
The claims have renewed calls for a Syria intervention by the West, while Damascus said they were a "fabrication" and Russia's Foreign Ministry on Sunday called them "fake news."
While a media storm immediately followed, accusing Syria's Bashar Assad of heinous crimes and predicting a new US strike against Damascus forces in response, journalists with knowledge of events on the ground in Syria wondered aloud if the claims should be treated with a grain of salt.
Independent journalist Vanessa Beeley, who visited the Syrian frontline on numerous occasions, said the chemical attack report, quickly picked up by mainstream media, was "also 100 percent lie," pointing out that the White Helmets group had been caught producing fakes before.
The timing of the alleged chemical attack claims was questioned by journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who pointed out that reports spread "just as Trump was seeking a withdrawal from Syria and just as [Syrian President Bashar] Assad was approaching victory in Douma."
In her article on the Medium website, Johnstone doubted the credibility of the White Helmets as a source, due to their "extremely suspicious western funding and terrorist ties", also reminding readers of the Western governments' "extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for military aggression."
The chemical attack on his own people, certain to "provoke the wrath of the US war machine," would mean that "Assad spontaneously began acting against his own self-interest," the journalist wrote. She decried the influence of the mainstream media, which she said makes such news "easier to believe that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are deliberately killing civilians with poisonous gas for no reason whatsoever than to believe that the same empire which deceived us into Iraq is deceiving us into Iraq's next-door neighbor Syria."
US journalist Rania Khalek said that the timing of the alleged attack was "crazy" because it has emerged when the Syrian government was in its strongest position during the whole conflict and Trump said he wanted US troops out of the country.
"Odd how every time Trump suggests he might leave Syria or back off, Assad (who would love the US out) suddenly inexplicably uses chemical weapons and screws himself. How convenient for the players who are desperate to get the US more deeply involved," freelance journalist Danielle Ryan tweeted.
Other commentators online also argued that the reports of a chemical attack were actually aimed at dragging the US deeper into the Syrian conflict.
Some pointed out that Russia and Syria have recently warned the international community of possible false flag chemical attacks in the wake of the Syrian Army gains.
American journalist and writer Mike Cernovich pointed out that President Assad had absolutely no motivation to use chemical weapons against his own people. "It makes total sense for Assad to gas children right as Trump announces a troop withdrawal. It's the only sane, rational decision to make," he tweeted, sarcastically.
At the same time, Cernovich believes that the escalation of the Syrian conflict and prolonged US stay in the country may even reconcile the Republicans and Democrats.
"War is good for the ruling party facing mid-term elections, which is one reason the war mongering Democrats might not support Trump's leading a ground war in Syria. But their blood lust is strong, and may overcome their desire to sweep the House," he wrote.
Following the chemical attack reports, US President Donald Trump, who said on Tuesday that he wanted to "get out" of Syria, called Assad an "Animal," adding that "President Putin, Russia and Iran" were responsible, as backers of the Syrian authorities.
Syrian state media, meanwhile, reported on Sunday that Jaysh al-Islam militants, who were holed up in Douma, have agreed a deal with the Syrian government, according to which they will be allowed to leave the town in exchange for releasing the prisoners they were holding.
On April 4, 2017, a major chemical attack was similarly reported in Syria, just several days after then US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said that "getting Assad out" was no longer Washington's priority.
Back then, the White Helmets and other activist groups claimed that up to 100 civilians in the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate were killed by sarin gas, released in an airstrike by Syrian government forces. The US immediately rushed to blame Damascus for the attack and fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, claiming it was the very compound from which jets, allegedly armed with the chemical, took off.
Syria, which was confirmed to have destroyed its sarin stockpiles under a deal brokered between Russia and the US in 2013, has denied the accusations. Russia also pointed out that thorough, impartial investigation of the incident never took place, with OPCW experts refusing to visit Khan Shaykhun. Moscow also argued that the whole attack could have been staged.
Red Crescent Says It Found No Trace of
'Ghouta Chem Attack' Used by US
To Blame Damascus and Moscow
MOSCOW (April 9, 2018) -- A former US secretary of state said Moscow was "ultimately responsible" for all chemical incidents in Syria, after reports of a chlorine attack in Ghouta in January. Now, the Syrian Red Crescent says there was no such attack.
The medical specialists, who have worked in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta for years, told journalists they did not see any evidence of any chemical incident taking place in the area in January. They also did not confirm reports about an alleged chlorine gas attack that, supposedly, affected more than 20 civilians on January 22.
"At some point, our [hospital] received six people, who were allegedly suffering from respiratory problems. Following a medical examination, we did not find any problems at all, any traces of chemical agents," Seif Aldin Hobia, a member of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who worked for the last seven years at the central hospital of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, said. Recalling the events that took place in January, he added: "we had no evidence of chemical agents being used [in the area]."
His words were echoed by another medical specialist from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Muhammad Adnan Tabazhu, who claimed that the medics obtained no evidence of chemical weapons being used in Eastern Ghouta between 2012 and 2018, when he was working in the area.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is a local humanitarian NGO that says it "enjoys financial and administrative independence." The organization was established in 1942 and recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva (ICRC) in 1946. It has a headquarters in Damascus. The ICRC says it actively cooperates with the SARC in its humanitarian operations across Syria.
Back in January, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously claimed that "more than 20 civilians, mostly children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack," adding that the incident raised "serious concerns that [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad may be continuing to use chemical weapons against his own people."
He then immediately said that "whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in Eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria."
The timing of the incident conspicuously coincided with a 29-nation conference in Paris, organized to create the 'International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.' The reports about the 'attack' came just a day ahead of the meeting. The claims were produced by controversial sources, namely the White Helmets and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Moscow at the time slammed the US accusations as a "massive propaganda attack conducted with the purpose of slandering Russia on the world stage and undermining efforts for a peaceful settlement in Syria." Back then, Russia also called an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In early February, Pentagon chief James Mattis admitted that the US had no evidence of such chemical agents as sarin ever being used by the Syrian government at all. He also openly said that the only information the US had been able to obtain, so far, had come from "other groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground" and just "people who claim it's been used."
Mattis, however, claimed that it was "clear" that Damascus had used chlorine gas in the Syrian conflict but, as before, failed to provide any evidence to substantiate his claims. Reports of chemical attacks, blamed on Damascus, had repeatedly surfaced earlier, with Western media and officials immediately jumping at the opportunity to put all the blame for such incidents on the Syrian government and Moscow, often only to admit later that they actually had no verifiable evidence that the attacks in question had even taken place.
The latest revelations come amid another wave of hysteria that followed yet another claim made by the same controversial pro-militant sources that, once again, have accused Damascus of carrying out a chemical attack in the town of Douma on Saturday.
Syria and Russia dismissed all the accusations and called the reports fake news and propaganda, which were aimed at helping the extremists and justifying potential strikes against Syrian forces.
40 Tons of Chemical Weapons Left by Militants
Found in Syria – Russian Ministry of Defense
(March 21, 2018) -- Chemical weapon production facilities have been discovered in the areas liberated from militants in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry says.
More than 40 tons of chemical weapons were abandoned by retreating militants in the war-ravaged country, the ministry said on Wednesday. "The Syrian Foreign Ministry pointed out that more than 40 tons of poisonous substances were found on the territories, liberated from terrorists," Igor Kirillov, the commander of Russia's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Forces, said on Wednesday.
The official was speaking at a press conference in Moscow concerning the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. London and some of its Western allies blame the incident on Moscow, saying it has used a Russian-made nerve agent.
Kirillov said the West won't back off and is prepared to use any means necessary to discredit Russia. The official recalled the example of Syria's Khan Shaykhun.
The commander also criticized the international bodies for their refusal to work with Damascus in investigating the alleged chemical attacks in the country.
In late February, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said it had obtained information that militants in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta had been "preparing a provocation with the use of poisonous substances in order to blame the government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians."
The release of this data "has foiled the plans of the US-led coalition to strike key Syrian military targets in order to change the balance of power in favor of the so-called 'moderate opposition," he said.
"The shift in focus of the 87th session of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Executive Council from the Syrian chemical dossier to the unsubstantiated accusations against Russia over the chemical attack in Salisbury and the violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention only confirms the conclusion that the coalition's goals have been thwarted," Kirillov noted.
The alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate took place on April 4, 2017 in an area controlled by Al-Nusra Front terrorist group. Up to 100 civilians were said to have been killed by sarin gas, released in an airstrike by Syrian government forces.
Washington immediately rushed to blame Damascus for the attack and fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, claiming it was the very compound from which jets allegedly armed with the chemical took off.
Syria, which was confirmed to have destroyed its sarin stockpiles under a deal brokered between Russia and the US in 2013, has denied the American accusations. Russia also pointed out that thorough impartial investigation of the incident never took place, with OPCW experts refusing to visit Khan Shaykhun. It has argued that the attack could have been staged.
Syria's Eastern Ghouta Militants
Prepare Chemical Attack Provocation
MOSCOW (March 20, 2018) -- Militants holed up in Eastern Ghouta are preparing to stage a "false flag" attack to accuse the Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians, Russia's Defense Ministry said, citing a tip from a local.
On Monday, the Russian Reconciliation Center received a phone call from one of the residents of the al-Wanar quarter of Eastern Ghouta, who warned of possible preparations for a "provocation" with the use of chemical agents.
According to the tip-off, Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorists have placed "hermetically sealed containers," which could contain poisonous substances, next to a self-engineered turbine on one of the roofs in the Damascus suburb.
The terrorists, according to [the caller], could use those preparations to spray chemical agents in residential areas, which will lead to a large number of casualties among civilians," Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko announced on Monday. "The mass poisoning of civilians will be used to accuse the government troops of the use of chemical weapons against peaceful citizens."
This is not the first time Moscow has raised concerns about possible provocations using chemical agents in Syria. Russia believes that such an attack will be widely covered in the Western media and may ultimately be used as a pretext by the US-led coalition to launch strikes against Syrian government forces.
Washington repeatedly warned that it would conduct more air strikes against Syrian forces if chemical weapons are used in the country. French President Emmanuel Macron also promised to "strike" Syria if any evidence emerges that chemical weapons were used against civilians.
In January, just before various factions of Syrian society gathered for the Syrian National Congress in Sochi, reports of a chlorine gas attack on the outskirts of the Syrian capital were used to attack the legitimacy of the reconciliation process.
At the time, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took advantage of the alleged attack to blame Russia for all the chemical weaponry-related incidents in Syria, regardless of who actually conducted it.
Since last month, Syrian government forces have been carrying out operation Damascus Steel to clear east Ghouta of armed Islamist units that have been terrorizing the locals for years.
After the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution proposing a 30-day humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, the Russian Reconciliation Center has been focused on evacuating civilians out of militant-controlled east Ghouta.
"Since the beginning of the humanitarian operation, 79,702 people have been evacuated from the East Ghouta with the help of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation. Most of them are children," the MoD noted Monday, adding that "their lives are out of danger now."
US Training Syria Militants for False Flag
Chemical Attack as Basis for Airstrikes
MOSCOW (March 17, 2018) -- Russia's Defense Ministry says "US instructors" are training militants to stage false flag chemical attacks in south Syria. The incidents are said to be a pretext for airstrikes on Syrian government troops and infrastructure.
"We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria," Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy said at a news briefing on Saturday.
"Early in March, the saboteur groups were deployed to the southern de-escalation zone to the city of Deraa, where the units of the so-called Free Syrian Army are stationed."
"They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs."
The planned provocations will be widely covered in the Western media and will ultimately be used as a pretext by the US-led coalition to launch strikes on Syria, Rudskoy warned.
"The provocations will be used as a pretext by the United States and its allies to launch strikes on military and government infrastructure in Syria," the official stated.
"We're registering the signs of the preparations for the possible strikes. Strike groups of the cruise missile carriers have been formed in the east of the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf and Red Sea."
Another false flag chemical attack is being prepared in the province of Idlib by the "Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, in coordination with the White Helmets," Rudskoy warned. The militants have already received 20 containers of chlorine to stage the incident, he said.
The US military has dismissed the accusations raised by the Russian Defence Ministry. Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway described Rudskoy's statement as "extremely absurd," RIA Novosti reported.
Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly warned about upcoming chemical provocations, and have highlighted that banned warfare agents have been used by the militants. Earlier this week, Syrian government forces reportedly captured a well-equipped chemical laboratory in Eastern Ghouta.
Footage from the facility has been published by the SANA news agency. The installation contained modern industrial-grade hardware of foreign origins, large amounts of chemical substances as well as crude homemade munitions ad their parts.
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