Syria - OPCW Issues First Report Of 'Chemical Weapon Attack' in Douma
July 6, 2018
On April 7 2018 Syrian 'rebels' claimed that the Syrian government used chlorine gas and Sarin in an attack on the besieged Douma suburb near capital Damascus. They published a series of videos which showed the dead bodies of mainly women and children.
During the night the incident allegedly happened Douma was hit with artillery and air strikes in retaliation for earlier attacks by some 'rebels' splinter groups on Damascus city.
Jaish al-Islam, the main 'rebel' group in Douma, had already agreed to leave towards Idleb governorate.
The claim of the 'chemical attack' was made shortly after U.S. President Trump had announced that he wanted U.S. troops to leave Syria. It was designed to "pull him back in" which it indeed did.
Moon of Alabama published several pieces on the issue:
April 8 - Syria - Timelines Of 'Gas Attacks' Follow A Similar Scheme (Update II)
April 9 - Syria - Any U.S. Strike Will Lead to Escalation
April 11 - Syria - A U.S. Attack Would Be Futile - But Serve A Purpose - by M. K. Bhadrakumar
April 11 - Trump Asks Russia To Roll Over - It Won't
April 12 - Syria - Threat Of Large War Recedes But May Come Back
April 13 - Syria - Manipulated Videos Fail To Launch World War III - Updated
April 14 - F.U.K.U.S. Strikes Syria - Who Won?
April 16 - Syria - Pentagon Hides Attack Failure - 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down
April 19 - Syria - Who Is Stalling The OPCW Investigation In Douma?
It seemed obvious from the very first claims of the 'gas attack' that it did not happen at all. The Syrian government had no motive to use any chemical weapon or an irritant like Chlorine in Douma. It had already won. The incident was obviously staged, like others before it, to drag the U.S. into a new attack on Syria.
Even a prominent opposition outlet said that no 'chemical attack' had taken place. As noted on April 9:
"Interestingly the MI6 outlet in Coventry, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR), does not confirm a 'gas' incident. In its version of events some 40 people died after their shelter collapsed:
"The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued a higher death toll, saying at least 80 people were killed in Douma, including around 40 who died from suffocation. But it said the suffocations were the result of shelters collapsing on people inside them."
"Main stream media, which have quoted SOHR for years, now ignore it and report of a 'chemical attack' as if it were a proven reality."
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) send a Fact Finding Mission (FFM) to Douma and investigated the incident. Today it published an interim report and some technical results:
"OPCW designated labs conducted analysis of prioritised samples. 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 "Sarin" organophosphate use the 'rebels' claimed is thereby debunked. No degradation products of such chemicals were found. The "various chlorinated organic chemicals" are unsurprising. Chlorine is widely used for water purification and cleaning and "chlorinated organic chemicals" will be found in any household.
In the technical notes of the OPCW report note that one of its laboratory found "Dichloroacetic acid", "trichloroacetic acid", "chloral hydrate", "trichlorophenol" and "chlorphenol" in some of the samples its fact finding mission took at the claimed incident sites. These are all substances that are no surprise in any upbuild environment and especially within any home.
Dichloroacetic acid" is for example "a trace product of the chlorination of drinking water". Chloral hydrate is likewise "a minor side-product of the chlorination of water when organic residues such as humic acids are present". The other substances are also not uncommon and of various household uses.
The other OPCW laboratory found only "No CWC-scheduled chemicals" and "2,4,6-trinitrotoluene" residues in the samples. Trinitrotoluene, also known as TNT, is an explosive widely used in military ammunition. The second laboratory does not report the chlorinated organic chemicals the other laboratory found.
The preliminary OPCW report says nothing about the concentrations in which these substances were found. Without knowing the concentrations, which may may be extremely low, one can not come to further conclusion. The report includes none of the witness statements the fact finding mission took. In various TV reports the medical personal of the one hospital involved in the stunt said that none of their patients were affected by chlorine or chemical weapons.
After the 'rebels' claimed the 'chemical attack' and published their staged videos of stacked bodies U.S. President Trump tweeted that he would retaliate for the strike. Politically he could not pull back from that even when Secretary of Defense Mattis voiced his doubts about the 'rebel' claims. Trump attacked Syria with a series of cruise missiles most of which were shot down by the Syrian air defense. A civil chemical laboratory was destroyed during the attack but no one was hurt.
The now published preliminary OPCW report reinforces the doubts about the 'rebel' claims. There was no 'chemical attack' in Douma. The incident was staged.
One hopes that Trump has learned from this episode and will in future refrain from violent threats over incidents for which no plausible and vetted evidence is provided.