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Sat07Apr alleged Douma chlorine attack UK, US France strikes

 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Sat07Apr alleged Douma chlorine attack UK, US France strikes Reply with quote

Sat07Apr: alleged Douma chlorine gas attack Russia warned of

Russia warns of 'serious consequences' if US acts on alleged Syrian chemical attack
By CONOR FINNEGAN PATRICK REEVELL
Apr 8, 2018, 12:49 PM ET
http://abcnews.go.com/International/syrias-alleged-chemical-attack-dem and-response-state-department/story?id=54318219

PHOTO: This image released early Sunday, April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria.PlaySyrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP
WATCH Syria accused of launching new poison gas attack on civilians
Warning: This story contains images that may be upsetting to some readers.

Russia is warning the U.S. against any “military intervention” in Syria over the government's alleged chemical attack against civilians this weekend, saying any such response would be “unacceptable” and lead to the “most serious consequences”.


The foreign ministry in Moscow also says in a statement on its website that allegations of the chemical attack are “fabricated,” suggesting the claims were invented by rebel forces and the Syrian Civil Defense known as the White Helmets.

“It is necessary to warn again that military intervention under invented and fabricated pretexts in Syria, where at the request of the lawful government there are Russian military personnel, is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to the most serious consequences,” the statement reads. “The aim of these false speculations, that have no basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, who reject a political solution, at the same time while trying to justify possible armed strikes from outside.”

The alleged attack on Saturday killed 40 in the rebel-held town of Douma, multiple opposition and rescue groups including told The Associated Press, which was unable to independently verify the reports.

It came a year and a day after President Donald Trump ordered dozens of strikes on a Syrian regime air base for its alleged use of sarin gas on April 4, 2017, that killed approximately 100 people, according to the the State Department. More than 30 of the victims were children. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied carrying out the attack.

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PHOTO: This image released early Sunday, April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria.Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP
This image released early Sunday, April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria.more +
President Donald Trump meanwhile blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government of Iran for backing Assad, whom Trump dubbed "Animal Assad," in the country's years-long civil war.


Trump on Twitter called it a “mindless CHEMICAL attack” and blamed "President Putin, Russia and Iran" for backing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.




The State Department, while unable to confirm reports of chemical weapon use Saturday, called the alleged attack "horrifying."

"Reports from a number of contacts and medical personnel on the ground indicate a potentially high number of casualties, including among families hiding in shelters," Nauert said in a release. "These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community."

The United Nations also weighed in, saying that the alleged use of chemical weapons if true is "abhorrent."

"The Secretary-General is particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma," a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation."

"It is critical that civilians be protected," the statement from spokesman Stephane Durjarric said. "There has also been shelling on Damascus city, reportedly killing civilians."

This photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian government airstrikes hit in the town of Douma, in Syria, Saturday, April. 7, 2018. AP
This photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian government airstrikes hit in the town of Douma, in Syria, Saturday, April. 7, 2018. more +
What's changed 1 year after US missile strikes in Syria
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The Syrian government has always denied using chemical weapons against opposition forces or civilians.

But a U.N. war-crimes investigation found the Assad regime was responsible for the attack last year in Khan Sheikhoun.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria found in September that Syrian government warplanes dropped a sarin bomb in that attack and that Syrian government forces have carried out more than two dozen chemical attacks in the course of the country's civil war.

Human Rights Watch has estimated the Syrian government has committed “at least five more chemical weapons attacks” since April 2017 when Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles fired on a Syrian airbase. The missiles were fired after the U.S. said a year ago that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack on the area of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria, which killed over 100 people.

Russia’s military, which has supported Assad, denied the Syrian army is behind the chemical attack in Douma in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday and accused Western countries of trying to use the alleged attack for their own ends.

"We decisively deny that information,” the head of Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria, Major Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, told Interfax, referring to allegations that the chemical attack was caused by a chlorine bomb dropped by pro-Assad forces.

Yevtushenko said that after Douma has been retaken by the government, Russia is ready to immediately send its own chemical weapons experts in to “collect data that will confirm the fabricated character” of the allegations.

PHOTO: An image grab taken from a video released by the Syrian civil defense in Douma shows an unidentified volunteer holding an oxygen mask over a childs face at a hospital following a reported chemical attack on the rebel-held town, April 8, 2018.AFP/HO/Syria Civil Defense/Getty Images
An image grab taken from a video released by the Syrian civil defense in Douma shows an unidentified volunteer holding an oxygen mask over a child's face at a hospital following a reported chemical attack on the rebel-held town, April 8, 2018.more +
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrians gathered next to a bunt car hit by a shelling by members of the Army of Islam rebel group at Rabwa neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, Friday, April 6, 2018. Syrian state TV saidThe Associated Press
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrians gathered next to a bunt car hit by a shelling by members of the Army of Islam rebel group at Rabwa neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, Friday, April 6, 2018. Syrian state TV saidmore +
“We express our readiness, after the liberation of Douma from militants, to immediately send Russian specialists in radiological, chemical and biological protection for the collection of data, that will confirm the fabricated character of these statements,” Yevtushenko said.

Yevtushenko then accused “a range of Western countries” of using the allegations of the attack to try to hinder the Russian-Syrian operation to pull out militants from Douma.

“For that, that theme beloved by the West, the use of chemical weapons by the armed forces of Syrian Arab Republic, is being used,” Yevtushenko told Interfax. He also said the allegations were being made by groups like the White Helmets, which he accused of “being widely known for their fake news.”

The U.S., meanwhile, has supported Kurdish and Arab forces on the other side of the country as they attempt to eradicate ISIS forces from the country.

FILE - This Feb. 2, 2018 file photo provided by the Syrian rebel group Army of Islam, shows a fighter with the Army of Islam rebel group, firing a weapon during clashes with government forces in Housh al-Dhawahira in the eastern Ghouta region near DaThe Associated Press
FILE - This Feb. 2, 2018 file photo provided by the Syrian rebel group Army of Islam, shows a fighter with the Army of Islam rebel group, firing a weapon during clashes with government forces in Housh al-Dhawahira in the eastern Ghouta region near Damore +
It was less than a week ago that Trump announced during a rally in Ohio that he planned to get U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon." The timing of the comment caught even senior officials off-guard, a senior administration official and a U.S. official familiar with the matter told ABC News. He repeated that he wanted the U.S. military out of the country in a press conference on Tuesday.

"It's time. We were successful against ISIS," Trump said. "We'll be successful against anybody militarily, but sometimes it's time to come back home — and we're thinking about that very seriously."

The White House walked back those claims a little on Wednesday, with press secretary Sarah Sanders telling reporters the president isn't going "to put an arbitrary timeline" on withdrawal.

ABC News' Elizabeth McLaughlin and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.


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Trump calls raid on his personal lawyer's home and offices 'a disgrace'
By JUSTIN FISHEL ALEXANDER MALLIN
Apr 9, 2018, 8:04 PM ET
Email
PHOTO: President Donald Trumps personal attorney Michael Cohen appears in front of members of the media after a closed door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 19, 2017.PlayAndrew Harnik/AP, FILE
WATCH Trump calls raid on his personal lawyer's home and offices 'a disgrace'
President Donald Trump Monday reacted angrily to news that the FBI has raided the offices of his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, calling it a "disgraceful situation" and "a total witch hunt."

At a meeting Monday evening with senior military leadership at the White House, Trump described the raid as a break-in.

"I just heard they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys - a good man," he said.

Trump called the raid "an attack on our country, in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for."

"That is really now on a whole new level of unfairness," Trump said.

The story about the raid on Cohen's home and offices was first reported by the New York Times just hours before the meeting, where it was expected that Trump would focus any remarks on the situation in Syria.

Trump lamented to reporters that "here we are talking about Syria and I have this witch hunt constantly going on."

Following his extensive complaints about the Russia investigation, reporters in the meeting asked the president why he wouldn't just take the next step and fire special counsel Robert Mueller, a step Republicans have repeatedly warned Trump against taking.

Trump didn't rule out the idea.

"Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said. "Many people have said you should fire him."

Unprompted, Trump railed against Mueller's investigative team, saying it's made up of the "most biased group of people."

"These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I've ever seen," Trump said. "Democrats all or just about all. Either Democrats or a couple Republicans that worked for President Obama. They are not looking at the other side."

When asked if he is concerned about what federal investigators might find in the raid, the president responded sharply: “No.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump not to fire Mueller.

“If the president is thinking of using this raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: don’t.”

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al Nusra, White Helmets plotting chemical weapons attack in Syria, military warns
http://tass.com/world/989799/amp
World February 13, 14:48
According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation, a chemical weapons attack in Syria's Idlib is being prepared

HMEYMIM /Syria/, February 13. /TASS/.The Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria has received a phone call warning about a chemical weapons attack plot in Idlib being hatched by the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group (outlawed in Russia) together with the White Helmets organization, the Center said in a statement.
"On the evening of February 12, a resident from the Serakab settlement located in the Idlib province called the Russian Center for Reconciliaition to notify (the center) about a chemical weapons attack that could be staged to provide footage for a foreign TV channel," the statement reads. "The caller said that earlier on February 12, Jabhat al-Nusra members travelling in three cars had brought more than 20 chlorine gas cylinders and personal protective equipment to Serakab," the Center added.
"According to the caller, members of the local While Helmets branch wore personal protective equipment while rehearsing first aid provision to civilians suffering from chemical poisoning," the Russian Center said.

"All this shows that the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and White Helmets members have been working on preparations to stage a chemical attack meaning to blame it on the Syrian government," the Russian military said.
"The caller pointed out that all the proceedings had been filmed by professional reporters who used a mic with the CNN logo, while commenting on the actions being taken by the White Helmets," the statement said, adding that in between takes, the reporters had consulted with some people over a satellite telephone in English.
The Russian Center added that "the information provided by the Idlib province resident raises serious concern."

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Russia Tells US Not To Attack Syria – Or Else…
By Inessa Sinchougova On Apr 10, 2018
https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/russia-tells-us-not-to-attack-syria- or-else/

The United States of America can expect “serious consequences” if Washington strikes a blow against the Syrian government troops. Such a statement was made by Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzia.

The US leadership is considering an attack on Syrian territory in response in an alleged chemical attack in the city of the Douma. The diplomat recalled that Russian experts on radiological, chemical and biological protection found no signs of a chemical attack. A reminder, that President Putin warned of a chemical weapon provocation in Syria a number of days ago.

RevContent InArticle SOLO
“We have repeatedly warned the American side about the possible negative consequences of their use of weapons against the legitimate Syrian government, and especially if the use of these weapons – God forbid, of course – affect our military, who are lawfully in Syria,” Nebenzia said.

According to him, Western politicians need to “moderate their hawkish rhetoric” and stop challenging global security. He also stressed that Western leaders were not obliged to perform the role of world gendarmes.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump announced plans to strike at Syria in around two days time.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Bennett wrote:
Funny how on the very day John Bolton starts work as NSA, Trump's lawyer gets raided, and the entire establishment demands Syrian war based on "chemical attacks" blamed on Assad.

I must say this seems to be one of the best shows Tucker has done, because he seems to be at his wits end and sick and tired of enduring the witless, arrogant, blind stupidity and deceitfulness of the establishment politicians--like this inbred bumpkin who had the treason to say as the first words out of his mouth, "Well if you care about Israel, you will care about Syria, etc..."

Then had the mendacity to try and insinuate Tucker was a Putin apologist of some degree because he questioned the honesty and accuracy of the claims of the chemical attacks last year and this past Saturday--which interestingly occurred about a year apart to the day.

The truth is as follows: 1) no chemical attack was executed by Syrian President Assad, but most likely was performed by DAESH/ISIS Israeli-Saudi mercenaries as a "false flag" against Syria. This is apparent from the earlier intelligence of 40 tons of chlorine being found in Gouta a few weeks ago, which indicated the rebels/terrorists were planning such an attack; 2) the Israeli air strike would have been coordinated with US intelligence; 3) the air strike was a declaration of War upon Syria by Israel, and legally is a war crime and should be prosecuted as such; 4) the goading of President Trump to bomb Syria by the Israelis is an attempt to manipulate Americans using "Christian Zionism impulses" into committing to fight another Iraq war using American lives, in an illegal war Congress has not declared, and could also be used to create a political trap to impeach Trump; 5) Democrats are pushing Trump to continue "regime change" in Syria, along with Lindsay "man-boy love" Graham, in order to abandon the "border wall" focus--which frees up democrats to continue their invasion and attempt to redefine the American voter population through illegal laws in CA; 6) War in Syria will result in Russia-Iran countering using military means, which will open the door for America to expand a larger conflict in Ukraine and Iran; 7) Russian countermeasures will trigger more sanctions and attempt to unify NATO into a larger posture of hostility against Russia.

What the major miscalculation will be is that when the needle goes from "yellow to red", and DefCon 2 goes to 1, at that moment Russia will follow its instincts developed from hundreds of years of enduring Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler, and the West, and "pull the visor down" and lunge forward with a ferocity Americans have never experienced, using weaponry American defenses cannot defeat. This of course will result in devestating military losses (Navy ships, aircraft), and mobilize China and Iran to liberate Syria and contain Israel, and hopefully capture Netanyahu and prosecute him for starting a war....ending him like Hitler, ironically enough. If Trump is not careful, the very same may apply to him. Time will tell.

_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skripal, Syria & the long tradition of British govt. misinformation - Prof. David Miller, Bath Uni

Link

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Fq_VxBMNcuA

Sociology Professor David Miller, Bath University
Skripal case – Russia, Novichok, Syria and the long tradition of
British government misinformation - words & phrases 'a suspect
car bomb' or 'of a type developed by Russia' which are 'terms of
art' used to distract from the truth, to deceive politicians, press
& public. 'Putin (probably) behind death of Alexander
Litvinenko', 'Novichok (probably) made by a state actor'
– 3,500 'communications professionals' within government,
press officers, advisers, spin doctors
- Thompson Reuters' 'World-Check' database of 'terrorists' used
to smear Islamic and anti-war activists
- GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG)
churning out fake social media and news at taxpayers expense
- Russia warned of staged chemical weapons attack in Douma
- Lebanon/Syria report British special forces captured in Douma
- Douma's Jaish Al Islam used chemical weapons two years ago
thisweek.org.uk Fri 13 April 2018
Prof. David Miller, Martin Summers, Tony Gosling

Gen. Jonathan Shaw vs Sky News model Samantha Washington - INTERRUPTED!

Link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZzUGHvj-Hc

TV news interview with former army officer cut short as he questions whether Syria launched chemical attack
People have asked whether Major General Jonathan Shaw was censored for questioning the idea that Assad launched the attack. Here's what happened
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tv-news-interview-former-army-1 2358938

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www.mp911truth.org
www.ae911truth.org
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www.stj911.org
www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
www.elementary.org.uk
www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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Last edited by TonyGosling on Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:39 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The British Government’s Legal Justification for Bombing is Entirely False and Without Merit
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/04/the-british-government s-legal-justification-for-bombing-is-entirely-false-and-without-merit/
15 Apr, 2018 in Uncategorized by craig
Theresa May has issued a long legal justification for UK participation in an attack on a sovereign state. This is so flawed as to be totally worthless. It specifically claims as customary international law practices which are rejected by a large majority of states and therefore cannot be customary international law. It is therefore secondary and of no consequence that the facts and interpretations the argument cites in this particular case are erroneous, but it so happens they are indeed absolutely erroneous.

Let me put before you the government’s legal case in full:

1.This is the Government’s position on the legality of UK military action to alleviate the extreme humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring their further use, following the chemical weapons attack in Douma on 7 April 2018.
2.The Syrian regime has been killing its own people for seven years. Its use of chemical weapons, which has exacerbated the human suffering, is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity.
3.The UK is permitted under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering. The legal basis for the use of force is humanitarian intervention, which requires three conditions to be met:
(i) there is convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief;
(ii) it must be objectively clear that there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved; and
(iii) the proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering and must be strictly limited in time and in scope to this aim (i.e. the minimum necessary to achieve that end and for no other purpose).
4.The UK considers that military action met the requirements of humanitarian intervention in the circumstances of the present case:
(i) The Syrian regime has been using chemical weapons since 2013. The attack in Eastern Damascus on 21 August 2013 left over 800 people dead. The Syrian regime failed to implement its commitment in 2013 to ensure the destruction of its chemical weapons capability. The chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 killed approximately 80 people and left hundreds more injured. The recent attack in Douma has killed up to 75 people, and injured over 500 people. Over 400,000 people have now died over the course of the conflict in Syria, the vast majority civilians. Over half of the Syrian population has been displaced, with over 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The repeated, lethal use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity. On the basis of what we know about the Syrian regime’s pattern of use of chemical weapons to date, it was highly likely that the regime would seek to use chemical weapons again, leading to further suffering and loss of civilian life as well as the continued displacement of the civilian population.
(ii) Actions by the UK and its international partners to alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused by the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council have been repeatedly blocked by the regime’s and its allies’ disregard for international norms, including the international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. This last week, Russia vetoed yet another resolution in the Security Council, thwarting the establishment of an impartial investigative mechanism. Since 2013, neither diplomatic action, tough sanctions, nor the US strikes against the Shayrat airbase in April 2017 have sufficiently degraded Syrian chemical weapons capability or deterred the Syrian regime from causing extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale through its persistent use of chemical weapons. There was no practicable alternative to the truly exceptional use of force to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their further use by the Syrian regime in order to alleviate humanitarian suffering.
(iii) In these circumstances, and as an exceptional measure on grounds of overwhelming humanitarian necessity, military intervention to strike carefully considered, specifically identified targets in order effectively to alleviate humanitarian distress by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring further chemical weapons attacks was necessary and proportionate and therefore legally justifiable. Such an intervention was directed exclusively to averting a humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and the action was the minimum judged necessary for that purpose.
14 April 2018
The first thing to note is that this “legal argument” cites no authority. It does not quote the UN Charter, any Security Council Resolution or any international treaty or agreement of any kind which justifies this action. This is because there is absolutely nothing which can be quoted – all the relevant texts say that an attack on another state is illegal without authorisation of the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Nor does the government quote any judgement of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court or any other international legal authority. This is important because rather than any treatment, the government makes a specific claim its actions are justified by customary international law, which means accepted state practice. But the existence of such state practice is usually proven through existing court judgements, and there are no judgements that endorse the approach taken by the government in its argument.

The three “tests” set out under para 3 as to what is permitted under international law are not in fact a statement of anything other than the UK’s own position. These “tests” are specifically quoted by Ola Engdahl in Bailliet and Larsen (ed) “Promoting Peace Through International Law” (Oxford University Press 2015). Engdahl notes:

The UK position, that it is permitted to take coercive action under a doctrine of humanitarian intervention when certain conditions are met, is a minority view and does not reflect lex data on the prohibition of the use of force in international relations as expressed in article 2(4) of the UN Charter.
That is undeniably true, and as it is equally undeniably true that a minority view cannot be customary international law, the British government position is utterly devoid of merit.

The Government argument is a classic statement of the doctrine of “liberal intervention”, which is of course the mantra adopted by neo-conservatives over the last 30 years to justify resource grabs. It is not in any way accepted as customary international law. It is a doctrine opposed by a very large number of states, and certainly by the great majority of African, South American and Asian states. (African states have occasionally advocated the idea that UN Security Council authorisation may be replaced by the endorsement of a UN recognised regional authority such as ECOWAS or the African Union. This was the Nigerian position over Liberia 20 years ago. The Security Council authorised ECOWAS action anyway, so no discord arose. The current Nigerian government does not support intervention without security council authorisation).

The examples of “liberal intervention” most commonly used by its advocates are Sierra Leone and Libya. My book “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo” details my experiences as UK Representative at the Sierra Leone peace talks, and I hope will convince you that the accepted story of that war is a lie. Libya too has been a disaster, and it is not a precedent for the government’s legal argument as the western forces employed were operating under cover of a UN Security Council Resolution authorising force, albeit only to enforce a no fly zone.

In fact, if the British government were to offer examples of state practice to attempt to prove that the doctrine it outlines is indeed customary international law, the most appropriate recent examples are Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Georgia. I oppose those Russian interventions as I oppose the UK/US/French actions now. It is not a question of “sides” it is a question of the illegality of military action against other states.

The rest of the government’s argument is entirely hypothetical, because as the liberal intervention doctrine is not customary international law these arguments cannot justify intervention.

But the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against Douma is non-existent, and the OPCW did not conclude that the Assad government was responsible for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. There is no evidence whatsoever that military action was urgently required to avert another such “immediate” attack. Nor is it true that the UK’s analysis of the situation is “generally accepted” by the international community, as witness China and Russia voting together in the Security Council yesterday to condemn the attack.

So the British government sets up its own “three tests” which have no legal standing and are entirely a British concoction, yet still manages to fail them.


April 15, 2018 at 12:37
Quite a Parliamentary week ahead for May and the Conservative party to fight their rearguard action for popularity with local elections due on May 3.

May statement on Syria tomorrow (Mon).

Renewed “Labour antisemitism” debate opportunity for Corbyn critics of all parties.

PMQs on Wednesday with the usual no-answer routine from May.

https://calendar.parliament.uk/calendar/Commons/All/2018/4/16/Daily

Not so good for the Tories after the local elections with the opening of the election corruption trial of MP Craig Mackinlay and other May associates:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/15/date-set-for-conservat ive-mp-craig-mackinlay-trial-over-election-expenses

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Former Naval chief: Syria chemical attack 'could be propaganda'
http://talkradio.co.uk/news/former-naval-chief-syria-chemical-attack-c ould-be-propaganda-18041325517

The west has blamed President Assad for the attacks

By Nick Moore - @nick_moore
Friday, April 13, 2018

Retired senior Naval Officer Lord Alan West has questioned whether the chemical attack in Syria was the work of President Assad’s troops.

“We need unequivocal proof that this attack was done by Assad’s forces – I’m not at all convinced at the moment,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

“All of the reports are coming from people like the White Helmets, who have a history of doing propaganda for the opposition forces in Syria. The WHO reports are coming from doctors who are also part of the opposition.

“If I’d been advising the opposition, I’d have said ‘get a barrel of chlorine, at some stage there will be bombs dropped on you – blow it up and we can blame them, because what we really want is the allies coming in’.”

Lord West added that if proof is provided: “we do need to be part of a coalition,” but that we should wait for evidence.


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Read more at http://talkradio.co.uk/news/former-naval-chief-syria-chemical-attack-c ould-be-propaganda-18041325517

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

‘Episode #229 – ‘War by Way of Deception’ with Vanessa Beeley, Piers Robinson’:
http://21stcenturywire.com/2018/04/15/episode-229-war-by-way-of-decept ion-in-syria-with-vanessa-beeley-piers-robinson/

Around 36.20 of this audio, evidence of a doctor from the hospital who says there were no patients with CW symptoms, just smoke inhalation. Vanessa Beeley, who was in Damascus in the latest cruise missile attack, also explains how previous CW hoaxes have been carried out.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Terrorist capabilities laid bare in an Eastern Ghouta chemical lab':
http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org/2018/03/16/terrorist-capabiliti es-laid-bare-in-an-eastern-ghouta-chemical-lab/

'....This week, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated some Eastern Ghouta farmlands between Shifouniyeh and Douma and discovered a well-equipped chemical laboratory run by Saudi-backed Islamist terrorists. Not a single Western reporter showed up to investigate the facility.

The media disinterest is strange, given that US officials appear poised to green-light military attacks against Syria, which they claim has used chemical weapons (CW) against civilian populations. This charge remains unproven and highly contentious, with other parties arguing that anti-government militants are employing CW munitions to provoke a US military intervention against Syria.

So perhaps it’s not so strange that a chemical lab discovered right at the epicenter of a major strategic battle over Syria is being ignored by one side. In the end, it is likely that only one side is right about who is using CWs in Syria. Which is why one side went silent when this lab was revealed.

The chemical facility lies only a few dozen meters away from the current military frontline and was liberated as recently as Monday. The lab is surrounded by farmlands – the last place one would expect to find this stash. I see fields of wheat, green peas, beans and chickpeas scattered liberally in a conflict area Western media dubs a “starvation siege.” The building itself is shell-pocked and littered with debris, like so many of the structures I pass in Shifouniyeh and other towns in Eastern Ghouta where war rages.

But the sight inside is astounding. Upper rooms packed with electronic hardware, basements outfitted with large boilers, shelves filled with chemical substances, corners heaving with blue and black canisters (reportedly containing chlorine), chemistry charts, books, beakers, vials, test tubes and all the paraphernalia familiar to the average student of science. And then, in several corners, piles of pipe-shaped projectiles – clear munitions of some sort.

There’s one real standout in an upper room of the facility. It’s a newish looking piece of equipment with “Hill-Rom Medaes Medplus Air Plant” written on its front. A cursory Google search pulls up several interesting facts immediately – the machine is some kind of air or gas compressor, it’s a US-manufactured product, and Saudi Arabia put out tenders for this device in 2015....'

How odd - no MSM coverage!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ISIS Have Used Chemical Waepons at Least 52 Times in Syria and Iraq Says 2016 IHS Markit Conflict Monitor Report
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/world/middleeast/isis-chemical-weap ons-syria-iraq-mosul.html
https://nyti.ms/2lN7xCr

By ERIC SCHMITTNOV. 21, 2016

A cemetery on the outskirts of Gaziantep, Turkey. Grave No. 38487 holds the body of a 4-year-old girl who died of wounds she received when a shell containing sulfur mustard agent hit her home in Marea, Syria. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents, at least 52 times on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq since it swept to power in 2014, according to a new independent analysis.

More than one-third of those chemical attacks have come in and around Mosul, the Islamic State stronghold in northern Iraq, according to the assessment by the IHS Conflict Monitor, a London-based intelligence collection and analysis service.

The IHS conclusions, which are based on local news reports, social media and Islamic State propaganda, mark the broadest compilation of chemical attacks in the conflict. American and Iraqi military officials have expressed growing alarm over the prospect of additional chemical attacks as the allies press to regain both Mosul and Raqqa, the Islamic State capital in Syria.

“The coalition is concerned about ISIL’s use of chemical weapons,” Col. John Dorrian, a military spokesman in Iraq, said in an email on Monday, using another name for the Islamic State. “ISIL has used them in Iraq and Syria in the past, and we expect them to continue employing these types of weapons.”

Colonel Dorrian said that the Islamic State’s ability to use chemical weapons is “rudimentary,” and that American, Iraqi and other allied troops are equipped to deal with the impact of these chemical attacks — typically rockets, mortar shells or artillery shells filled with chemical agents. The effects of these chemical munitions thus far have been limited to the immediate area where they land.

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RELATED COVERAGE

Shell Fired by ISIS at U.S. and Iraqi Troops May Have Contained Chemical Agent SEPT. 21, 2016

Syria Used Chlorine in Bombs Against Civilians, Report Says AUG. 24, 2016

ISIS Detainee’s Information Led to 2 U.S. Airstrikes, Officials Say MARCH 9, 2016

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons OCT. 14, 2014
The IHS assessment is to be made public on Tuesday. The New York Times obtained an advance copy of the assessment and the location of the 52 reported chemical attacks. The analysis did not break down the cases by type of chemical attack.

In an effort to blunt the Islamic State’s ability to make the weapons, the American-led air campaign has bombed militants associated with overseeing their production and the facilities where chemical ordnance is manufactured. In September, for instance, allied warplanes attacked a converted pharmaceutical factory in northern Iraq thought to have been a chemical weapons production facility.

As Iraqi forces now advance into Mosul, analysts warned that the Islamic State could unleash more chemical attacks as they cede control. Iraqi forces have reclaimed about one-third of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

“As the Islamic State loses ground around Mosul, there is a high risk of the group using chemical weapons to slow down and demoralize advancing enemy forces.” said Columb Strack, a senior analyst and the head of the IHS Conflict Monitor. “And to potentially make an example of — and take revenge on — civilian dissidents within the city.”

At least 19 of the 52 chemical attacks have taken place in and around Mosul, according to the IHS data, but the assessment noted a decline in attacks before the Iraqi-led offensive against the city.

“Mosul was at the center of the Islamic State’s chemical weapons production,” Mr. Strack said. “But most of the equipment and experts were probably evacuated to Syria in the weeks and months leading up to the Mosul offensive, along with convoys of other senior members and their families.”

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The Islamic State is not the only actor in Syria to carry out chemical weapons’ strikes: The Syrian government has conducted many more such attacks.

Syrian military helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine on civilians in at least two attacks over the past two years, a special joint investigation of the United Nations and an international chemical weapons monitor said in August.

Beginning last year, American officials confirmed the first instances of the Islamic State using sulfur mustard, a chemical warfare agent, and the presence of the mustard gas on fragments of ordnance used in attacks by the group in Syria and Iraq. Laboratory tests, which were also performed on scraps of clothing from victims, showed the presence of a partly degraded form of distilled sulfur mustard, an internationally banned substance that burns a victim’s skin, breathing passages and eyes.

Chemical warfare agents, broadly condemned and banned by most nations under international convention, are indiscriminate. They are also difficult to defend against without specialized equipment, which many of the Islamic State’s foes in Iraq and Syria lack. The chemical agents are worrisome as potential terrorist weapons, even though chlorine and blister agents are typically less lethal than bullets, shrapnel or explosives.

It was unclear how the Islamic State had obtained sulfur mustard, a banned substance with a narrow chemical warfare application. Both the former Hussein government in Iraq and the current government in Syria at one point possessed chemical warfare programs.

Chlorine is commercially available as an industrial chemical and has been used occasionally by bomb makers from Sunni militant groups in Iraq for about a decade. But it is not known how the Islamic State would have obtained sulfur mustard, the officials said.

Abandoned and aging chemical munitions produced by Iraq during its war against Iran in the 1980s were used in roadside bombs against American forces during the occupation that followed the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. But American officials have said the types of ordnance that have been publicly disclosed so far have not matched known chemical ordnance in the former Iraqi inventory.

The attacks have been geographically scattered and have varied in their delivery systems, suggesting that the Islamic State had access to, and was experimenting with, different types of rockets and shells configured to carry chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.

One theory is that the militants were manufacturing a crude mustard agent themselves, American officials say. Another theory is that the Islamic State acquired sulfur mustard from undeclared stocks in Syria, either through capture or by purchasing it from corrupt officials, although this theory is not widely held by American analysts.

Follow Eric Schmitt on Twitter @EricSchmittNYT.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-r obert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

Exclusive: Robert Fisk visits the Syria clinic at the centre of a global crisis
Robert Fisk Douma, Syria
@indyvoices
4 hours ago
656 comments
This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.

War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the jihadi gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as “terrorists” – the regime’s word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?


READ MORE
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By bad luck, too, the doctors who were on duty that night on 7 April were all in Damascus giving evidence to a chemical weapons enquiry, which will be attempting to provide a definitive answer to that question in the coming weeks.

France, meanwhile, has said it has “proof” chemical weapons were used, and US media have quoted sources saying urine and blood tests showed this too. The WHO has said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients “exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”.

At the same time, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.

Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups. These particular jihadis survived under a blizzard of shellfire by living in other’s people’s homes and in vast, wide tunnels with underground roads carved through the living rock by prisoners with pick-axes on three levels beneath the town. I walked through three of them yesterday, vast corridors of living rock which still contained Russian – yes, Russian – rockets and burned-out cars.


Douma chemical attack: Syria war in pictures
13show all

So the story of Douma is thus not just a story of gas – or no gas, as the case may be. It’s about thousands of people who did not opt for evacuation from Douma on buses that left last week, alongside the gunmen with whom they had to live like troglodytes for months in order to survive. I walked across this town quite freely yesterday without soldier, policeman or minder to haunt my footsteps, just two Syrian friends, a camera and a notebook. I sometimes had to clamber across 20-foot-high ramparts, up and down almost sheer walls of earth. Happy to see foreigners among them, happier still that the siege is finally over, they are mostly smiling; those whose faces you can see, of course, because a surprising number of Douma’s women wear full-length black hijab.

I first drove into Douma as part of an escorted convoy of journalists. But once a boring general had announced outside a wrecked council house “I have no information” – that most helpful rubbish-dump of Arab officialdom – I just walked away. Several other reporters, mostly Syrian, did the same. Even a group of Russian journalists – all in military attire – drifted off.

It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic – “Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city – is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.

“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.”

Oddly, after chatting to more than 20 people, I couldn’t find one who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.

But it was a strange world I walked into. Two men, Hussam and Nazir Abu Aishe, said they were unaware how many people had been killed in Douma, although the latter admitted he had a cousin “executed by Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] for allegedly being “close to the regime”. They shrugged when I asked about the 43 people said to have died in the infamous Douma attack.

The White Helmets – the medical first responders already legendary in the West but with some interesting corners to their own story – played a familiar role during the battles. They are partly funded by the Foreign Office and most of the local offices were staffed by Douma men. I found their wrecked offices not far from Dr Rahaibani’s clinic. A gas mask had been left outside a food container with one eye-piece pierced and a pile of dirty military camouflage uniforms lay inside one room. Planted, I asked myself? I doubt it. The place was heaped with capsules, broken medical equipment and files, bedding and mattresses.

Of course we must hear their side of the story, but it will not happen here: a woman told us that every member of the White Helmets in Douma abandoned their main headquarters and chose to take the government-organised and Russian-protected buses to the rebel province of Idlib with the armed groups when the final truce was agreed.

There were food stalls open and a patrol of Russian military policemen – a now optional extra for every Syrian ceasefire – and no-one had even bothered to storm into the forbidding Islamist prison near Martyr’s Square where victims were supposedly beheaded in the basements. The town’s complement of Syrian interior ministry civilian police – who eerily wear military clothes – are watched over by the Russians who may or may not be watched by the civilians. Again, my earnest questions about gas were met with what seemed genuine perplexity.

How could it be that Douma refugees who had reached camps in Turkey were already describing a gas attack which no-one in Douma today seemed to recall? It did occur to me, once I was walking for more than a mile through these wretched prisoner-groined tunnels, that the citizens of Douma lived so isolated from each other for so long that “news” in our sense of the word simply had no meaning to them. Syria doesn’t cut it as Jeffersonian democracy – as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues – and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn’t cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me?

They talked about the Islamists under whom they had lived. They talked about how the armed groups had stolen civilian homes to avoid the Syrian government and Russian bombing. The Jaish el-Islam had burned their offices before they left, but the massive buildings inside the security zones they created had almost all been sandwiched to the ground by air strikes. A Syrian colonel I came across behind one of these buildings asked if I wanted to see how deep the tunnels were. I stopped after well over a mile when he cryptically observed that “this tunnel might reach as far as Britain”. Ah yes, Ms May, I remembered, whose air strikes had been so intimately connected to this place of tunnels and dust. And gas?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-r obert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

Exclusive: Robert Fisk visits the Syria clinic at the centre of a global crisis
Robert Fisk Douma, Syria Tuesday 17 April 2018

Bombed out civilian apartments once lived in by Islamist rebels in Douma
This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine....

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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They Can’t Even Do a False Flag Right: Russia Calls Out Inconsistencies in Douma “Chemical Attack”

Link

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Subscribe to Vesti News https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8MaD6gQscto_Nq1i49iew
It's obvious without an in-depth analysis. Authors of false stories are constantly caught red-handed. They are scrutinized frame by frame but in vain. Now it’s about the outcome of today's phone conversation between UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and US Acting Secretary of State, John Sullivan. The attack carries the signs of previous chemical attacks conducted by the Assad regime. Nobody specifies what 'the previous attacks' are, given that the alleged use of toxic agents was never investigated. Instead, they're demanding with foam at the mouth to hold Damascus accountable for it. The pattern is common.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HARDtalk| Fares Shehabi, Syrian MP for Aleppo

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Published on 27 Apr 2018
The recent US-led missile strikes on several military installations in Syria changed precious little in the country's horrific civil war.

On the ground, the bloodshed, displacement and suffering continue. Regional and global divisions over Syria are as deep as ever.

HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to a Syrian politician close to the Assad regime. Fares Shehabi is a powerful Aleppo business leader and self-styled 'independent' MP. Is Syria as we knew it broken beyond repair?

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syria hands unexploded US cruise missiles to Russia
Thu Apr 19, 2018 09:39PM
http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/19/559062/Syria-Russia-cruise-mi ssiles-US-UK-France-Scalp-Strom-Shadow-Tomahawk

In this image released by the US Department of Defense, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on targets in Syria on April 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
In this image released by the US Department of Defense, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on targets in Syria on April 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Syria has handed over to Russia two unexploded cruise missiles it discovered in the aftermath of the recent attack by the United States, Britain and France, Syrian sources say.

"Two cruise missiles that did not detonate during the US missile strike on Syria overnight on April 14 were found by the Syrian military. Both are in rather good condition. These missiles were handed over to Russian officer the day before yesterday (April 17)," a source in the Syrian Defense Ministry told Russia's TASS news agency on Thursday.

The Syrian military sent the missiles over on board a plane on Wednesday, the source added. The Russian Defense Ministry had yet to confirm the report.

On April 14, US President Donald Trump along with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Theresa May authorized a joint missile attack against alleged chemical weapons manufacturing sites inside Syria.


PressTV-Syria intercepted 71 of 103 missiles fired at it: Russia
US and Russian military officials say more than 100 cruise missiles were fired at Syria during early Saturday airstrikes by the United State, France and Britain.
The attack, carried out in response to what the US and its allies insisted was a chemical attack by the Syrian government, saw 105 cruise missiles being fired at targets in Damascus and Homs.

It was not clear whether the discovered missiles were American Tomahawks or Scalp/Storm Shadow, codenames for a cruise missile jointly developed by France and the UK.

However, there is a good chance that the missiles were fired by the US military as the UK and France only fired 20 missiles collectively.

Days before the attack, Trump had warned Russia, a key supporter of Damascus in the war against foreign-backed militants, that it should get ready to shoot down "nice and new and smart" US missiles over Syria.

Despite claims by the US military that all missiles hit their targets, the Russian defense ministry said after the attack that 71 missiles were intercepted by Syria's air defense, which relies on Russian equipment.

This is while none of the missiles landed in Tartus and Hmeymim, where Russian missile defense systems, namely the advanced S-400 system, were deployed to protect Russian bases. Russia did not use its own systems to intercept the missiles.


PressTV-Russia: German chlorine, UK grenades found in Syria
Russia says Syrian soldiers have found German chlorine and British smoke grenades in Syria's recently-liberated Eastern Ghouta region.
Trump pressed ahead with his plans to attack despite a decision by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission to the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Douma upon requests from Moscow and Damascus.

The Russian center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties examined Douma on April 9, two days before the purported gas attack, to find no traces of chemical weapons.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weapons Inspector Refutes U.S. Syria Chemical Claims
April 27, 2018 • 52 Comments
https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/27/weapons-inspector-refutes-u-s-sy ria-chemical-claims/

Scott Ritter is arguably the most experienced American weapons inspector and in this interview with Dennis J. Bernstein he levels a frank assessment of U.S. government assertions about chemical weapons use.

By Dennis J Bernstein

In the 1980’s, Scott Ritter was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, specializing in intelligence. In 1987, Ritter was assigned to the On-Site Inspection Agency, which was put together to go into the Soviet Union and oversee the implementation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This was the first time that on-site inspection had been used as part of a disarmament verification process.

Ritter was one of the groundbreakers in developing on-site inspection techniques and methodologies. With this unique experience behind him, Ritter was asked in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, to join the United Nations Special Commission, which was tasked by the Security Council to oversee the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. From 1991 to 1998, Ritter served as a chief weapons inspector and led a number of teams into Iraq.

According to Ritter, in the following Flashpoints Radio interview with Dennis Bernstein conducted on April 23rd, US, British and French claims that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians last month appear to be totally bogus.

Dennis Bernstein: You have been speaking out recently about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Could you outline your case?

Scott Ritter: There are a lot of similarities between the Syrian case and the Iraqi case. Both countries possess weapons of mass destruction. Syria had a very large chemical weapons program.

In 2013 there was an incident in a suburb of Damascus called Ghouta, the same suburb where the current controversy is taking place. The allegations were that the Syrian government used sarin nerve agent against the civilian population. The Syrian government denied that, but as a result of that incident the international community got together and compelled Syria into signing the Chemical Weapons Convention, declaring the totality of its chemical weapons holdings, and opening itself to be disarmed by inspections of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Russia was chosen to be the guarantor of Syria’s compliance. The bottom line is that Syria had the weapons but was verified by 2016 as being in 100% compliance. The totality of Syria’s chemical weapons program was eliminated.


Ritter: They just make it up.
At the same time that this disarmament process was taking place, Syria was being engulfed in a civil war which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. Over a half million people have died. It is a war that pits the Syrian government against a variety of anti-regime forces, many of which are Islamic in nature: the Islamic State, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda. Some of these Islamic factions have been in the vicinity of Ghouta since 2012.

Earlier this year, the Syrian government initiated an offensive to liberate that area of these factions. It was very heavy fighting, thousands of civilians were killed, with massive aerial bombardment. Government forces were prevailing and by April 6 it looked as if the militants were preparing to surrender.

Suddenly the allegations come out that there was this chemical weapons attack. It wasn’t a massive chemical weapons attack, it was dropping one or two so-called “barrel bombs,” improvised devices that contained chlorine gas canisters. According to the militants, between 40 and 70 people were killed and up to 500 people were made ill. The United States and other nations picked up on this, saying that this was proof positive that Syria has been lying about its chemical weapons program and that Russia has been behind Syria’s retention of chemical weapons. This is the case the US made to launch its missile strike [on April 14].

There are a lot of problems with this scenario. Again, why would the Syrian government, at the moment of victory, use a pinprick chemical attack with zero military value? It added nothing to the military campaign and invited the wrath of the West at a critical time, when the rebels were begging for Western intervention.

Many, including the Russian government, believe that this was a staged event. There has been no hard evidence put forward by anyone that an attack took place. Shortly after allegations of the attack came out, the entire town of Douma was taken over by the Syrian Army while the rebels were evacuated.

The places that were alleged to have been attacked were inspected by Russian chemical weapons specialists, who found zero trace of any chemicals weapons activity. The same inspectors who oversaw the disarmament of Syria were mobilized to return to Syria and do an investigation. They were supposed to start their work this past weekend [April 21-22]. They arrived in Damascus the day after the missile strikes occurred but they still haven’t been out to the sites. The United States, France and Great Britain have all admitted that the only evidence they have used to justify this attack were the photographs and videotapes sent to them by the rebel forces.

I have great concern about the United States carrying out an attack on a sovereign nation based on no hard evidence. The longer we wait, the longer it takes to get inspectors onto the site, the more claims we are going to get that the Russians have sanitized it. I believe that the last thing the United States wanted was inspectors to get on-site and carry out a forensic investigation that would have found that a chemical attack did not in fact take place.

DB: It is sort of like cleaning up a police crime scene before you check for evidence.

SR: The United States didn’t actually bomb the site that was attacked. They bombed three other facilities. One was in the suburbs of Damascus, a major metropolitan area. The generals said that they believed there were quantities of nerve agent there. So, in a building in a densely populated area where we believe nerve agent is stored, what do we do? We blow it up! If there had in fact been nerve agent there, it would have resulted in hundreds or even thousands of deaths. That fact that nobody died is the clearest evidence yet that there was no nerve agent there. The United States is just winging it, making it up.

One of the tragedies is that we can no longer trust our military, our intelligence services, our politicians. They will manufacture whatever narrative they need to justify an action that they deem to be politically expedient.

DB: Isn’t it also the case that there were problems with the allegations concerning Syria using chemical weapons in 2013 and then again in 2015? I believe The New York Times had to retract their 2013 story.

SR: They put out a story about thousands of people dying, claiming that it was definitely done by the Syrian government. It turned out later that the number of deaths was far lower and that the weapons systems used were probably in the possession of the rebels. It was a case of the rebels staging a chemical attack in order to get the world to intervene on their behalf.

A similar scenario unfolded last year when the Syrian government dropped two or three bombs on a village and suddenly there were reports that there was sarin nerve agent and chlorine gas wafting through the village, killing scores of people. Videotapes were taken of dead and dying and suffering people which prompted Trump to intervene. Inspectors never went to the site. Instead they relied upon evidence collected by the rebels.

As a weapons inspector, I can tell you that chain of custody of any samples that are to be used in the investigation is an absolute. You have to be at the site when it is collected, it has to be certified to be in your possession until the laboratory. Any break in the chain of custody makes that evidence useless for a legitimate investigation. So we have evidence collected by the rebels. They videotaped themselves carrying out the inspection, wearing training suits that would not have protected them at all from chemical weapons! Like almost everything having to do with these rebels, this was a staged event, an act of theater.

DB: Who has been supporting this particular group of rebels?

SR: On the one hand, we have the actual fighters, the Army of Islam, a Saudi-backed fundamentalist group who are extraordinarily brutal. Embedded within the fighters are a variety of Western-trained and Western-funded NGOs such as the White Helmets and the Syrian-American Medical Society. But their primary focus isn’t rescue, in the case of the White Helmets, or medical care in the case of the Syrian-American Medical Society, but rather anti-regime propaganda. Many of the reports that came out of Douma originated with these two NGO’s.

DB: You mentioned “chain of custody.” That’s what was most ridiculous about sending in inspectors. The first thing you would want to do is establish chain of custody and nail down the crime scene.

SR: I was a participant in the Gulf War and we spent the bulk of that war conducting a massive aerial campaign against Iraq. I was one of the people who helped come up with the target list that was used to attack. Each target had to have a purpose.

Let’s look what happened in Syria [on April 14]. We bombed three targets, a research facility in Damascus and two bunker facilities in western Syria. It was claimed that all three targets were involved with a Syrian chemical weapons program. But the Syria weapons program was verified to be disarmed. So what chemical weapons program are we talking about? Then US officials said that one of these sites stored sarin nerve agent and chemical production equipment. That is a very specific statement. Now, if Syria was verified to be disarmed last year, with all this material eliminated, what are they talking about? What evidence do they have that any of this material exists? They just make it up.


OPCW inspectors in Syria 2013. (UN Photo)
If I had been a member of that inspections team, I would have been able to tell you with 100% certainty what took place at that site. It wasn’t that long ago that the allegations took place, there are very good forensic techniques that can be applied. We would be able to reverse engineer that site and tell you exactly what happened when. Let’s say an inspection team had gone in and we found that there was sarin nerve agent. Now, the US government can say, there is not supposed to be any sarin nerve agent in Syria, therefore we can state that the Syrians have a covert sarin nerve agent capability. But still you don’t know where it is, so now you have to say we assess that it could be in this bunker.

We bombed empty buildings. We didn’t degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability. They got rid of it. We were among the nations that certified that they had been disarmed. We just created this phantom threat out of nothing so that we could attack Syria and our president could be seen as being presidential, as being the commander in chief at a time when his credibility was being attacked on the home front.

DB: Amazing. That helps clarify the situation. Of course, it also leaves us terrified because we are so far away from the truth.

SR: As an American citizen who happens to be empowered with knowledge about how weapons inspections work, how decisions are made regarding war, I am disillusioned beyond belief.

This isn’t the first time we have been lied to by the president. But we have been lied to by military officers who are supposed to be above that. Three top Marine Corps officers stood before the American people and told bald-faced lies about what was going on. We have been lied to by Congress, who are supposed to be the people’s representatives who provide a check against executive overreach. And we have been lied to by the corporate media, a bunch of paid mouthpieces who repeat what the government tells them without question.

So Donald Trump can say there are chemical weapons in Syria, the generals parrot his words, the Congress nods its head dumbly, and the mass media repeats it over and over again to the American public.

DB: Are you worried that we might end up in a shooting war with Russia at this point?

SR: A week ago I was very worried. If I am going to give kudos to Jim Mattis it will be because he took the desire of Trump and Bolton to create a major crisis with Russia over the allegations of Syrian chemical weapons use and was able to water that down into putting on a show for the American people. We warned the Russians in advance, there were no casualties, we blew up three empty buildings. We spent a quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayer money and we got to pat ourselves on the back and tell everybody how great we are. But we avoided a needless confrontation with the Russians and I am a lot calmer today about the potential of a shooting war with Russia than I was a week ago.

_________________
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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theresa May’s husband’s Investment Firm made a financial killing from the bombing...
UKCONSERVATIVESDEFENCEWORLD
Theresa May’s husband’s Investment Firm made a financial killing from the bombing of Syria
By Tom D. Rogers - 17th April 2018
https://evolvepolitics.com/theresa-mays-husbands-investment-firm-made- a-financial-killing-from-the-bombing-of-syria/

Theresa May's husband's Investment Firm made a financial killing from the bombing of Syria

It is common knowledge that Theresa May’s husband Philip essentially acts as the unofficial advisor to the Prime Minister – a fact proven by the former Conservative MP for Chichester, Andrew Tyrie, who said during a Newsnight profile of the PM’s husband that “Philip is clearly acting as, informally, an advisor to Theresa. Probably much like Denis did to Margaret Thatcher.”

--- Article Continues Below ---


Whilst it is pretty obvious that almost all married couples act as informal advisors to each other in come capacity, Tyrie’s admission that the Prime Minister’s husband has such a great influence over his wife’s decisions is made all the more worrying by the fact that Mr May – who is a Senior Executive at a £1.4Tn investment firm – stands to benefit financially from the decisions his wife, the Prime Minister, makes.

The fact that Philip May is both a Senior Executive of a hugely powerful investment firm, and privy to reams of insider information from the Prime Minister – knowledge which, when it becomes public, hugely affects the share prices of the companies his firm invests in – makes Mr May’s official employment a staggering conflict of interest for the husband of a sitting Prime Minister.

However, aside from the ease at which he is able to glean insider information from his wife about potential decisions which could go on to make huge profits for his firm, there is a far darker conflict of interest that has so far gone undiscussed.


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Philip May is a Senior Executive of Capital Group, an Investment Firm who buy shares in all sorts of companies across the globe – including thousands of shares in the world’s biggest Defence Firm, Lockheed Martin.

According to Investopedia, Philip May’s Capital Group owned around 7.09% of Lockheed Martin in March 2018 – a stake said to be worth more than £7Bn at this time. Whilst other sources say Capital Group’s shareholding of Lockheed Martin may actually be closer to 10%.



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On the 14th April 2018, the Prime Minister Theresa May sanctioned British military action on Syria in response to an apparent chemical attack on the city of Douma – air strikes that saw the debut of a new type of Cruise Missile, the JASSM, produced exclusively by the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

The debut of this new – and incredibly expensive – weapon was exactly what US President Donald Trump was referring to when he tweeted that the weapons being fired on Syria would be “nice and new and ‘smart!'”

Every single JASSM used in the recent bombing of Syria costs more than $1,000,000, and as a result of their widespread use during the recent bombing of Syria by Western forces, the share price of Lockheed Martin soared.

Consequently, with the air strikes on Syria having hugely boosted Lockheed Martin’s share price when markets reopened on Monday, Philip May’s firm subsequently made a fortune from their investment in the Defence giant.

Lockheed Martin Share Price Before and After Syria Bombing April 14th 2018
It is obvious that weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin stand to benefit financially from the sales and subsequent use of their weapons in war – and the dramatic surge in the share prices of defence contractors since the so-called ‘War on Terror’ began in 2001 are a testament to this grotesque fact.

The added fact that Investment Firms such as Capital Group are also profiting from these bloodbaths is also disgusting in itself.

But for the husband of a sitting British Prime Minister to be benefitting financially from the very decisions his wife, the Prime Minister, makes on whether or not to send British troops into combat, should make every single person in the entire country, and especially anybody who is still insistent on voting for the Conservatives, feel physically sick.

The Prime Minister took the decision to bomb Syria – without even so much as consulting Parliament – under the full knowledge that her husband’s investment firm would make a financial killing from the resultant bloodbath.

If this isn’t enough to make you sit up and take notice of just how disgustingly corrupt, and morally bankrupt the British Establishment truly is, then surely nothing will.

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Trump, No Clinton, No NATO 131
7 Jul, 2018
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/07/no-trump-no-clinton-no -nato/

Marina Hyde’s vicious and spiteful attack on Susan Sarandon and the Green Party points to the real danger of anti-Trump protest next week being hijacked by the neo-con warmonger franchise. The idea that those of us who do not want arch warmonger Clinton in power are therefore supporters of Trump is intellectually risible and politically dishonest.

Yesterday the OPCW reported that, contrary to US and UK assertions in the UN security council, there was no nerve agent attack on jihadist-held Douma by the Syrian government, precisely as Robert Fisk was execrated by the entire media establishment for pointing out. The OPCW did find some traces of chlorine compounds, but chlorine is a very commonly used element and you have traces of it all over your house. The US wants your chicken chlorinated. The OPCW said it was “Not clear” if the chlorine was weaponised, and it is plain to me from a career in diplomacy that the almost incidental mention is a diplomatic sop to the UK, US and France, which are important members of the OPCW.

Trump’s reaction to yet more lying claims by the UK government funded White Helmets and Syrian Observatory, a reaction of missile strikes on alleged Syrian facilities producing the non-existent nerve agent, was foolish. May’s leap for British participation was unwise, and the usual queue of Blairites who stood up as always in Parliament to support any bombing action, stand yet again exposed as evil tools of the military industrial complex.

Hillary Clinton, true to form, wanted more aggressive military action than was undertaken by Trump. Hillary has been itching to destroy Syria as she destroyed Libya. Libya was very much Hillary’s war and – almost unreported by the mainstream media – NATO bombers carried out almost 14,000 bombing sorties on Libya and devastated entire cities.


Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

The destruction of Libya’s government and infrastructure directly caused the Mediterranean boat migrant crisis, which has poisoned the politics of much of the European Union.

Donald Trump has not started any major war. He has been more restrained in military action than any US President since Jimmy Carter. My own view is (and of course it is impossible to know for sure) that, had Hillary been in power, Syria would already have been totally destroyed, the Cold War with Russia would be at mankind threatening levels, and nuclear tension with North Korea would be escalating.

“He hasn’t destroyed mankind yet” is faint praise for anyone. Being less of an existential danger to mankind than Hillary Clinton is a level achieved by virtually the entire population of the planet. I am not supporting Trump. I am condemning Clinton. I too, like Susan Sarandon, would have voted for Jill Stein were I an American.

So do protest against Trump. But do so under the banner No Trump! No Clinton! No NATO! And if any Clintonite or Blairite gets up to address you, tell them very loudly where to get off. I remember the hijacking of the Make Poverty History campaign by Brown, Darling and Campbell on behalf of their banker friends. Don’t let that happen again.

Or here is an even better idea.

Escape the Trump visit completely. Rather than stand penned in and shouting slogans at a police van parked right in front of you, turn your back on all of that and come join me at the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival from 13 to 15 July. As our regulars know, this blog has been intimately connected with running the Festival from the start. This year is much bigger, with the Levellers, Akala, Atari Teenage Riot, Peatbog Faeries, and literally scores of other bands, and a great array of other festival activities too, including for kids, who come free and get free drinks.

DTRH has no sponsorship, no advertising, no government money and no rip-offs – beer and cider from £3.50 a pint at the bars. It is very much an alternative lifestyle gathering, and I find spiritual renewal there in the glorious Stirlingshire countryside. (I know that sounds corny, but I do). Tickets are £90 for full weekend including camping, which I think makes it the cheapest festival on this level around. Or you can buy a cheaper day ticket and drop in just for the day. If tickets are too expensive or you fancy a different kind of fun, you can volunteer, including to come and work with me in the bar, though there are a whole range of other tasks to be done if you don’t fancy that. Volunteers get in free and get fed in return for one six hour shift a day.

I really do hope I will see some of you there – it looks set to be a glorious weekend. Forget stress, forget Trump and hang out with nice people!

_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chlorine used in Syria's Douma, no trace of nerve agent, Interim OPCW report finds
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-07/opcw-report-finds-chlorine-used- in-syria-douma/9952312

A global chemical weapons watchdog have released an interim report stating that "various chlorinated organic chemicals" were found at the site in Syria where a chemical attack is suspected of being carried out in April.

Key points:
So far "no organophosphorus nerve agents" were detected
OPCW warned that it was too early to come to conclusions
Russia and Syria have sought to disprove that Douma was hit by a poison gas attack
A fact-finding mission by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) warned it was too early to come to conclusions about the suspected attack on the town of Douma, saying "work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing".

At the same time, the investigators reported, based on initial results, that "no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products" were detected in samples taken from people allegedly exposed or in the environment.

The significance of Eastern Ghouta
The significance of Eastern Ghouta
What is it about Eastern Ghouta that has made its population the victims of such frequent and vicious attacks?
The OPCW is investigating the suspected April 7 chemical attack on Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The United States, Britain and France blamed Syrian Government forces and launched punitive airstrikes. Syria denied responsibility.

The chemical weapons organisation, based in the Netherlands, does not designate blame for chemical attacks.

The team said in its report that it found two industrial gas cylinders at different locations in Douma — one on a top-floor patio and the other on a bed in a top-floor apartment.

It said it is working to establish how they got there and whether they are linked to the alleged attack.

More time needed for investigation
VIDEO 2:00 Chemical attack was "staged": Russia presents alleged Syrian witnesses to refute bombing claims
ABC NEWS
The team said it "needs to continue its work to draw final conclusions regarding the alleged incident and, to this end, the investigation is ongoing".

Why Syria won't be blamed for chemical weapons

Chemical weapons inspectors are in Syria to try to find out what happened in Douma, but don't expect any definitive finding, writes Anne Barker.
Russia and Syria sought to disprove that Douma was hit by a poison gas attack, and in April brought a group of Syrians to the global chemical weapons watchdog's headquarters in The Hague to denounce the reports of an illegal attack as fake.

The insistence by Russia and Syria that a chemical weapons attack was staged runs counter to accounts from witnesses and survivors interviewed by media, some of them in Douma, who described being overwhelmed by a strong smell of chlorine.

Some survivors interviewed in Douma after government forces took control of the town blamed rebels from the Army of Islam group of being behind the attack.

Other survivors who left Douma said the chlorine attack occurred amid government airstrikes and blamed the Government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'White Helmets Flee, Hacking Elections, NXIVM Case – New World Next Week':
https://www.corbettreport.com/white-helmets-flee-hacking-elections-nxi vm-case-new-world-next-week/?

Video on Isreal's 'assistance' to WH's terrorists, and more on hacking elections.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DOUMA: Alleged Chemical Attack – in Depth Briefing from Members of the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media
AUGUST 22, 2018 BY 21WIRE
https://21stcenturywire.com/2018/08/22/douma-alleged-chemical-attack-i n-depth-briefing-from-members-of-the-working-group-on-syria-propaganda -and-media/

Douma Medical Point where the “victims” were received, of the alleged 7th April 2018 chemical attack. This photo was taken days after the

Paul McKeigue, Jake Mason, David Miller, Piers Robinson
Members of Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media
Briefing note: the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and other alleged chlorine attacks in Syria since 2014
1 Summary
2 Introduction
3 Suggestions that a nerve agent had been used in Douma
4 The Prime Minister’s statement on 16 April 2018
5 Interim report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the alleged chemical attack in Douma
6 Possible explanations for the Douma incident, and relevant evidence
7 Alleged use of chlorine as a weapon in the Syrian conflict
7.1 April to May 2014: chlorine barrel bombs
7.2 March to May 2015: permanganate barrel bombs
7.3 March 2017 to February 2018: chlorine cylinders
8 Appendix

View of Douma Medical Point from the entrance to the tunnels that ran beneath the building. April 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
1. SUMMARY
Early statements by the US and French governments that a nerve agent had been used in the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 were rebutted by the OPCW Fact-Finding mission which reported that neither environmental samples obtained on-site nor blood samples from purported victims contained any trace of nerve agent. This indicates that the US and French governments were poorly informed at the time of the US-led missile attack on Syria on 14 April.
The Prime Minister misled the House of Commons by stating on 16 April that the OPCW team had been prevented from visiting the Douma attack site by the Syrian authorities and the Russian military, and may also have misled the House by stating that the US-led missile attack was “specifically targeted at three sites” allegedly associated with chemical weapons (rather than targeted on Syrian military infrastructure as reported elsewhere).
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission did not reach any conclusion as to whether a chemical attack had taken place. The detection of chlorinated organic compounds in environmental samples is consistent with release of chlorine from a gas cylinder at the two alleged attack sites, but this does not distinguish between a chemical attack and a staged incident.
Experts agreed that the images showing bodies of victims lying close together in an apartment building were not compatible with exposure only to chlorine, from which the victims would have been able to escape by moving to the windows or leaving the building. This is supported by experience of industrial accidents with chlorine in which those exposed are usually able to escape.
As no nerve agent degradation products were detected and the positions of the victims’ bodies are not compatible with death from chlorine exposure on the spot, the only remaining explanation is that the victims were killed by other means.
Other observations favour a managed massacre rather than a chemical attack as the explanation for the Douma incident:-
the positioning of the gas cylinders is more consistent with staging than with an air-dropped munition
at the site where most victims were shown, a fire was lit in the room underneath the gas cylinder.
For chlorine to be useful as a weapon, it would have to be released on an industrial scale as in 1915 rather than as a single cylinder or barrel dropped from the air.
Assessments by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission that chlorine had been used as a weapon in Syria between 2014 and 2017 were based on secondary sources without on-site inspections. This violates a precept that OPCW had set for itself in 2013.
The conclusions of the Fact-Finding Mission that use of chlorine in alleged attacks in Syria between 2014 and 2018 was “likely” or supported “with a high degree of confidence” relied on witnesses and samples provided by purported non-governmental organizations with access to opposition-held areas of Syria. These organizations included:
a “CBRN Task Force” set up by an agent of the intelligence service of a state committed to one side in the Syrian conflict
Same Justice / CVDCS, a Brussels-based organization whose operations are not transparent
the White Helmets, who would themselves be implicated if these incidents were staged
In relation to one of the incidents from which the CBRN Task Force collected materials — the alleged chlorine barrel bomb attack in Talmenes on 21 April 2014 — the UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism found clear evidence of staging at one of the two alleged locations.
In a widely-publicized incident in Sarmin on 16 March 2015, the deaths of a family of six were allegedly caused by a chlorine barrel bomb. For this incident the alleged munition is implausible, the alleged mode of delivery is improbable, and the images of the child victims in hospital are consistent with drug overdose rather than chlorine exposure as the cause of death. Despite evidence that the incident had been staged, the Leadership Panel of the UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism — Gamba, Meritani and Schanze — relied on information obtained from unspecified “other sources” to conclude that a Syrian air force helicopter had dropped a chemical weapon.
2. INTRODUCTION
The alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 led to a missile attack on Syria by the US, France and UK. This briefing note summarizes the results of further investigations of the Douma incident and explains relevant scientific issues. This note also examines the processes by which OPCW Fact-Finding Missions and the UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism reached their conclusions that chlorine had been used as a weapon in earlier alleged chemical attacks in Syria.
The primary sources for the alleged chemical attack were images from three locations:
a hospital scene in which children purported to be victims have water thrown over them (FFM Location 1)
a four-storey apartment building where images showed bodies of 35 victims and a gas cylinder lying over a hole in the roof (FFM Location 2).
a room in an apartment that has a hole in the roof and a gas cylinder on a bed (FFM Location 4)
3. SUGGESTIONS THAT A NERVE AGENT HAD BEEN USED IN DOUMA
The speech of the French representative (Francois DeLattre) at the UN Security Council on 9 April 2018 was reported by the UN press office:
Noting that thousands of videos and photos had surfaced in the hours following the attacks — showing victims foaming at the mouth and convulsing, all symptoms of a potent nerve agent combined with chlorine gas — he said there was no doubt as to the perpetrators, as the Syrian Government and its allies alone had the capability of developing such substances.
On 13 April US officials briefed CNN:
Biological samples from the area of the alleged chemical attack in Syria have tested positive for chlorine and a sarin-like nerve agent, according to a US official familiar with the US analysis of the test results. A western official told CNN that it is not conclusive but officials suspect the substance used in the attack was a mixture of chlorine, sarin and possibly other chemicals.
An official press release mentioned symptoms that “suggest that the regime also used sarin” but did not mention tests on biological samples. By the following day, US officials briefing the media were more confident that nerve agents had been used:
“While the available information is much greater on the chlorine use, we do have significant information that also points to sarin use,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters, citing reports from media, nongovernmental organizations and other open sources. “They do point to miosis — constricted pupils — convulsions and disruptions to central nervous systems. Those symptoms don’t come from chlorine. They come from nerve agents.”
On 11 April the former British Army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, widely quoted as a chemical weapons expert, briefed the FT:
“There’s no doubt this was a major chemical weapons attack,” he said. “The big question is whether it was chlorine or sarin. I am favouring a mix of the two.”
and on 16 April briefed the Daily Mail
‘What they’re describing is chlorine and what we suspect is a nerve agent mixed with chlorine.’
A similar opinion was expressed on 16 April by Raphael Pitti, a former French Army officer who, like de Bretton-Gordon, has had a role in collecting samples from alleged chemical attacks in Syria since 2013:
The UOSSM also concluded that the symptoms of the casualties were consistent with exposure to a nerve agent, possibly one mixed with chlorine. Dr Raphael Pitti of UOSSM France said he thought “chlorine was used to conceal the use of Sarin”, a nerve agent
Other experts noted that the images showing victims’ bodies close together in the middle of the apartment building, having made no attempt to escape the gas by leaving the building or moving to the window, were more consistent with exposure to a nerve agent than with exposure to chlorine. Alastair Hay, a member of the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach noted that: “people have pretty much died where they were when they inhaled the agent. They’ve just dropped dead” and added that “Chlorine victims usually manage to get out to somewhere they can get treatment”. The Washington Post reported “outside experts” as commenting that “the speed with which the victims died suggested that a nerve agent was used. Chlorine usually takes longer to work.”
4. THE UK PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT ON 16TH APRIL 2018
The Prime Minister made a statement on the Douma incident in the Commons on 16 April 2018, two days after a missile attack had been launched without parliamentary approval. She alleged that Syria and Russia were delaying the FFM’s access to the alleged attack sites:
Even if the OPCW team is able to visit Douma to gather information to make that assessment — and it is currently being prevented from doing so by the regime and the Russians — it cannot attribute responsibility.
This is contradicted by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Interim Report which explains that although preparations were made to deploy an advance team on 12 April, this was delayed by safety considerations and that the risk assessment was shared by the representative of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS).
Given the recent military activities and the volatile situation in Douma at the time of the FFM deployment, security and safety considerations were of paramount importance. Considerable time and effort were invested in discussions and planning to mitigate the inherent security risks to the FFM team and others deploying into Douma. According to Syrian Arab Republic and Russian Military Police representatives, there were a number of unacceptable risks to the team, including mines and explosives that still needed to be cleared, a risk of explosions, and sleeper cells still suspected of being active in Douma. This assessment was shared by the representative of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS).
Under the evacuation agreement reached on 8 April, Russian military police were to patrol Douma during a transitional period before handing control to the Syrian authorities. The FFM report explains that at the outset
the formal position of the FFM team, as instructed by the Director-General, was that security of the mission should be the responsibility of the Syrian Arab Republic. During the initial meetings in Damascus, the FFM team was informed by Syrian and Russian representatives that the Syrian Arab Republic could guarantee the safety of the FFM team only if the security was provided jointly with the Russian Military Police.
On 16 April 2018, following consultations with OPCW Headquarters, it was agreed that security within Douma could be provided by the Russian Military Police. A letter dated 18 April from the OPCW Director-General described what happened next:
The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) has made the necessary arrangements with the Syrian authorities to escort the team to a certain point and then for the escort to be taken over by the Russian Military Police. However, the UNDSS preferred to first conduct a reconnaissance visit to the sites, which took place yesterday. FFM team members did not participate in this visit. On arrival at Site 1, a large crowd gathered and the advice provided by the UNDSS was that the reconnaissance team should withdraw. At Site 2, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated. The reconnaissance team returned to Damascus.
This incident on 17 April led to a reassessment of the security situation, and the implementation of additional measures to mitigate the risks before the FFM site visits began on 21 April:
“Once the security reassessment had been concluded and the proposed additional mitigation measures implemented, the FFM team deployed to the sites of investigation in accordance with the updated priorities and proposed schedule.
The Prime Minister repeated the Pentagon’s version of the targeting, stating that missiles were “specifically targeted at three sites” [Barzeh in northern Damascus, and two sites at Him Shinsar near Homs] allegedly associated with development or storage of chemical weapons, and that 88 missiles had hit these targets. The Russian Ministry of Defence however gave a different version of the targeting, stating that “The real targets of the attacks of the US, Britain and France on April 14 were not only Barzah and Jaramani research facilities, but also Syrian military infrastructure, including airfields,” and that of the 73 missiles fired against these six heavily-defended airfields all but eight were brought down by Syrian air defences.
Without access to the flight tracks of the missiles, we have no way of establishing which of these two versions of the targeting is correct. In the version given by the Pentagon and the Prime Minister, 76 missiles were used against the research centre at Barzeh: a surprisingly large number for a strike on a single unprotected target. We note that if the US and its allies had been concerned that these sites were being used for development or storage of chemical weapons, they could have requested that OPCW inspect them. After their most recent inspection of Barzeh in November 2017, OPCW had reported that
“The analysis of samples taken during the inspections did not indicate the presence of scheduled chemicals in the samples, and the inspection team did not observe any activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention during the second round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities.”
5. INTERIM REPORT OF THE OPCW FACT FINDING MISSION ON THE ALLEGED CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACK IN DOUMA
The interim report of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) did not find any trace of a nerve agent in samples taken from the site and from alleged casualties
No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.
The FFM did not reach a conclusion on whether a chemical attack had taken place, stating only that
The FFM team needs to continue its work to draw final conclusions regarding the alleged incident
The inability to detect sarin degradation products in environmental samples from the two alleged attack sites cannot be explained by delay in sampling as the main breakdown product of sarin — isopropylmethylphosphonic acid — is stable and persisted for more than 30 years in contaminated groundwaters at a sarin production site in Colorado.
Blood samples from witnesses allegedly exposed to toxic chemicals in this incident were obtained under FFM oversight in “Country X” (presumably Turkey), or received by the FFM.
The tests on these blood samples included tests for peptide adducts that are not affected by aging of the adduct. These tests should remain positive for several half-lives of the target protein in vivo: this half-life is about 12 days for butyrlcholinesterase and about 20 days for albumin. As the blood samples were obtained no more than 14 days after the alleged incident, delay in sampling cannot explain the negative results.
The environmental samples were reported to contain chlorinated organic molecules such as trichloroacetic acid and chloral hydrate. Such organic molecules in which one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by chlorine atoms are environmental markers of chlorine exposure, typically found in chlorinated drinking water and used to monitor water quality. As in previous OPCW reports, no quantitative results were given so we do not know whether these compounds were present in trace amounts, such as might be found in drinking water, or in high concentration as would be expected if chlorine had been released in the buildings.
6. POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FOR THE DOUMA INCIDENT AND RELEVANT EVIDENCE
As explained elsewhere, the formal logic of inference requires that alternative hypotheses are stated before evaluating the evidence, and that the weight of evidence favouring any of these hypothesis over the others is evaluated by comparing, for each relevant observation, how well each hypothesis would have predicted that observation. Evaluating the evidence favouring one hypothesis over another does not depend upon prior beliefs about which hypothesis is true.
The possible explanations for the Douma incident can be reduced to two alternative hypotheses:
A chemical attack using gas cylinders dropped from the air.
a managed massacre of captives, with a chemical attack staged by placing gas cylinders at the site and possibly opening them to release chlorine.
Other hypotheses are possible — for instance accidental asphyxiation of victims while sheltering elsewhere, followed by opportunistic staging of a chemical attack — but unless such hypotheses are proposed we shall consider only the two alternatives stated above.
Several witnesses to the hospital scene at FFM Location 1, including an 11-year old boy seen in the video having water thrown over him, have testified that this scene was staged. Staging of the hospital scene does not exclude a chemical attack, though it it is more probable under the managed massacre hypothesis than under the chemical attack hypothesis.
Laboratory evidence that chlorine was released is not evidence favouring one of these hypotheses over the other, as it is equally compatible with use of chlorine as a weapon as with use of chlorine to lay a forensic trail.
The most direct evidence favouring a managed massacre is the positions of victims’ bodies at FFM Location 2: of the 35 bodies seen, 18 were in a first-floor apartment and 10 in a second-floor apartment. As noted in Section 3, in the first few weeks after the Douma incident several experts commented that people exposed to chlorine would have attempted to escape. With exposure to a nerve agent subsequently ruled out by negative results on environmental and physiological samples, exposure to chlorine from a gas cylinder on the roof does not explain why the victims made no attempt to escape by moving to the windows. Under the managed massacre hypothesis, we would expect to find the bodies in positions that would be convenient for those who were carrying the bodies up the stairs.
Other lines of evidence that favour a managed massacre over a chemical attack include:
the position of the gas cylinder at FFM Location 2, on a balcony at with its valve end lying over a hole in the roof is improbable under the chemical attack hypothesis (the balcony is only about one-twentieth of the roof area), but highly probable under the managed massacre hypothesis (the balcony is the only part of the roof that is easily accessible from inside the building).
the visual evidence that a fire was lit in the room underneath the cylinder at FFM Location 2) on top of the rubble from the hole in the roof above (confirmed by the FFM’s inspectors who took wipes from the burnt wall) is inexplicable under a chemical attack hypothesis, but explicable on the managed massacre hypothesis as a method of releasing the contents of the cylinder.
Other evidence on the Douma incident has been reviewed by Larson
7. ALLEGED USE OF CHLORINE AS A WEAPON IN THE SYRIAN CONFLICT
Since 2014 it has been alleged that the Syrian armed forces were using chlorine bombs dropped from helicopters. For chlorine to be effective as a weapon, it has to be released on an industrial scale as at Ypres in April 1915 when the German army released 168 tons of chlorine from 5730 cylinders installed along their front line and at Bolimov in May 1915when 12000 cylinders were used along a 12-kilometre front. This resort to chemical warfare was an act of desperation at a time when Germany was running out of imported nitrate for explosives as a result of the British blockade and had not yet managed to scale up the Haber-Bosch process to synthesize nitrate. Although there has been no experience with use of chlorine by a state as a weapon since 1915, there is ample experience with industrial accidents, in which fatalities have been rare unless the quantity of chlorine released exceeds one ton (creating a cloud too big to run out of) or the victims are in a confined space. This experience indicates that:
for the same weight of payload delivered, explosives would be more lethal than chlorine.
in a real chlorine incident, the number of casualties that were not immediately fatal would be much greater than the number of immediate fatalities. Some of these casualties would develop pulmonary oedema several hours after exposure, obvious on chest X-rays and requiring intensive medical care.
As noted by Hitchens, OPCW stated in April 2013 that they would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons had been used only if their inspectors were able to visit the sites of alleged attacks:
Weapons inspectors will only determine whether banned chemical agents were used in the two-year-old conflict if they are able to access sites and take soil, blood, urine or tissue samples and examine them in certified laboratories, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works with the United Nations on inspections. That type of evidence, needed to show definitively if banned chemicals were found, has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents. “That is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used,” said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based OPCW.
Luhan was quoted further as saying that even if samples were provided, OPCW would never get involved in testing something that its own inspectors did not “gather in the field” because of the need to “maintain a chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab to ensure their integrity”.
Following an incident on 27 May 2014 in which despite having reached an agreement with the opposition the FFM convoy came under fire while travelling behind opposition lines to Kafr Zita and members of the team were “detained for some time” by gunmen, further visits to opposition-held areas were ruled out. The decision to continue the Fact-Finding Mission, implying that OPCW would now disregard its own precepts that they would not test samples provided by others or make a formal assessment of an alleged chemical attack without being able to visit the site, was made by the Director-General and subsequently endorsed by the Executive Council of the OPCW. The FFM’s conclusions that chlorine was used as a weapon in incidents from 2014 onwards were based on interviews, images, documents and samples provided by witnesses and NGOs and conveyed to the FFM outside Syria.
The work of the FFM was criticized by the Russian Permanent Representative to the OPCW who complained on 14 April 2017 that
Under the mandate defined for [the Fact-Finding Mission], its membership should be approved by the Syrian government, and it should be balanced. For some time, these provisions were observed somewhat, but then the mission was split into two groups. One [Team Bravo], led by Steven Wallis from Britain, works in contact with the Syrian government, while the other one [Team Alpha], headed by his fellow countryman Leonard Phillips, deals with the claims filed by the Syrian armed opposition. This latter group is working completely non-transparently. Its membership is classified, and no one knows where it goes or how it operates. They are allegedly using the same methodology as Steven Wallis’ group, but they are clearly working mostly remotely, relying on the internet and the fabrications provided by Syrian opposition NGOs, and never go to Syria. At least, we are not aware of a single such trip.
The FFM also used open-source material as evidence. The 2018 reports mention that media monitoring to identify this material was undertaken by the OPCW Information Cell. This unit is headed by the Senior Communication and Information Officer Lt-Col Leo Buzzerio whose curriculum vitae includes three years as Deputy Division Chief in the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The FFM’s reports do not describe their methods for retrieval and analysis of open source material, although methodology for conducting interviews and collecting physical evidence is described in detail. Links are listed in the appendix to each report, but there is no indication that any systematic analysis of this material was undertaken. Serious analysis of open source material entails tracing reports and images back to primary sources, geolocation and timing of images, ordering them in temporal sequence, and matching the identities of individuals in different videos or still images. When this is done carefully, clues may emerge. A model for this type of investigation is the analysis of the Douma videos described by McIntyre, which reveals many troubling details: for instance that during the night some victims’ bodies were rearranged and gold jewellery was removed.
Without on-site inspections, the credibility of the FFM’s reports into alleged chlorine attacks depends critically on the organizations that identified purported witnesses and collected physical evidence. If OPCW inspectors as neutral observers could not safely travel in opposition-held areas, this calls into question the neutrality of those who could travel in such areas. Because this is critical to the credibility of the FFM’s reports, this briefing note examines in more detail the organizations on which FFM Team Alpha relied to collect evidence.
Based on the devices alleged to have been dropped, the alleged chlorine attacks can be grouped into three phases:-
7.1 April to May 2014: chlorine barrel bombs
Following Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in September 2013, no further alleged chemical attacks in Syria were reported in mainstream media until 2014. The Third Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding mission by Malik Ellahi dated 18 December 2014 covered alleged attacks using chlorine barrels during April and May 2014 in Talmenes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zita. The data and material collected by the FFM included interviews, images and documents. The FFM concluded:
The Mission has presented its conclusions with a high degree of confidence that chlorine has been used as a weapon.
The Third Report of the FFM did not give any information on how the witnesses were identified, who arranged for them to travel outside Syria, or who provided the images and documents. In an earlier interim report on the same incidents, the FFM had stated:
Independently of the individuals from the three villages who were interviewed, the FFM interviewed and received information from members of the “CBRN Task Force”, who had performed a systematic collection of data in the field following reported attacks in Talmenes and Kafr Zita.
A biographical note on Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (HdBG) states that he helped set up this CBRN [Chemical/Biological/Radiological/Nuclear(/Explosive)] Task Force.
Since the Syrian conflict started, Hamish has been deployed to the conflict area a number of times, where on behalf of OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) he has helped set up a CBRNE task force.
In a presentation to the Innovate UK Small Business Research Initiative dated September 2014, HdBG (representing the now-liquidated company Secure Bio that he set up in 2011) indicated that this CBRN task force had been trained in Gaziantep in October 2013 and was based in Aleppo. He confirmed that it had provided evidence from alleged attacks in Talmenes and Kafr Zita to the FFM and also for a story in the Daily Telegraph published on 29 April 2014. He described his role further in a talk to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria in September 2016:
I have covertly been in Syria collecting evidence of chemical weapons attacks and have been giving it to the OPCW and the UN. They cannot get to the places the chemical weapons attacks have happened because they’re in rebel held areas. When I present evidence with our teams from UOSSM, we are not an international body etcetera etcetera. We provided the evidence of the chemical weapons attack in a town called Talmenes in April 2014, on the 29th of April 2014, three weeks after the attack; two weeks ago, two years later, the UN Security Council announced to the world that they had conclusive evidence that the regime had attacked Talmenes in April 2014 with chemical weapons.
More information on the CBRN Task Force and its role in collecting evidence from alleged chemical attacks in Talmenes and Kafr Zita was given in an article by Houssam Alnahhas, described as the Local Coordinator of the CBRN Task Force of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). The affiliation of the CBRN Task Force to UOSSM was not described before 2016. The coverage of UOSSM’s press releases appears to have changed abruptly in April 2016 from humanitarian work to allegations of airstrikes on hospitals and chemical attacks.
HdBG has described to the All-Party Parliamentary Group and elsewhere his covert role in collecting samples from alleged chemical attacks in Syria, and has stated that this role dates back to March 2013. Press reports at this time described the collection of samples from these alleged chemical attacks as a “covert operation involving MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service” and as an operation in which “MI6 played the leading role”. If these reports are correct, then it is reasonable to infer that unless there were two independent UK-led covert operations at the same time to collect environmental samples from the same incidents for analysis at Porton Down, HdBG’s covert activity and the MI6 operation were one and the same. However admirable HdBG’s activities (no doubt undertaken at considerable personal risk) may have been, neutral observers might consider it inappropriate for the FFM to have relied on evidence gathered by a network set up by an agent of the intelligence service of a state committed to one side in the Syrian conflict. For clarity, we emphasize that the term “agent” is used here to denote someone who undertakes covert activities on behalf of an intelligence service but is not a member of that service.
7.1.1 Alleged attack in Talmenes on 21 April 2014
By comparing information from the three reports — the interim report of the FFM, the Third Report of the FFM, and the Third Report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (Gamba, Neritani and Schanze) — it is possible to reconstruct the role of the CBRN Task Force in providing evidence from this incident.
Annex 2 paragraph 3.5 of the Third Report of the FFM states that “The first interviewee provided his testimony and data to the Mission on 22 August 2014”. The first of three groups of interviewees from Talmenes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zita reached the OPCW interview site on 25 August, so this first interviewee was evidently not a member of one of these groups. Table A in the Third Report of the FFM shows that the materials handed over by this interviewee on 22 August 2014 included sampling forms showing collection of materials including soil (from unspecified sites) on 12, 18, 21, 22 and 23 April 2014 and also “various videos [42 in number] taken by interviewee from the incident of 21 April 2014”. The Joint Investigative Mechanism reported that soil samples had been taken from this incident on 23 April 2014 and that the results had been published in a newspaper on 29 April 2014. From the quote given in the Mechanism’s report, this newspaper article can be identified as Ruth Sherlock’s story in the Daily Telegraph which described HdBG’s analysis of soil samples collected by the CBRN Task Force. From this we can infer that the person interviewed by the FFM on 22 August 2014, who provided the 42 videos from the incident in Talmenes together with documentation that soil and other samples had been collected, was representing the CBRN Task Force.
Although the environmental samples provided by the CBRN Task Force were not used by the FFM or the Joint Investigative Mechanism, the videos of the alleged impact sites in Talmenes were a key source of evidence for the reports. More details were given in the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s report. Two impact locations 75 metres apart near the main mosque in Talmenes were reported by witnesses to have been struck with chemical barrel bombs at around 10:30 to 10:45 h.
The videos of Location 1 (numbered v02 to v05) showed a crater in a courtyard with dead animals and remnants of a barrel bomb. Analysis of these videos showed what the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s report referred to as “inconsistencies”, leading the Mechanism to disregard Location 1 for further investigation:
A forensic examination of videos v02 and v03 concluded that the crater had probably been made by a small explosive charge (5-10 kg TNT-equivalent) buried in the ground. “A barrel bomb without a large explosive charge would not penetrate the hard soil to the extent seen.” Use of a barrel bomb with explosives could be excluded as there was no shrapnel damage to surrounding walls.
The Mechanism noted that “the bodies of the dead animals seen in v04 look clean and intact, making it highly unlikely that they were in the backyard or at close vicinity when the device causing the crater detonated.”
Metadata of video v04 included timestamps showing the creation date as 20 April 2014, one day before the alleged attack.
Videos v02 and v03 showed Location 2 also, with structural damage to a house and remnants of a barrel bomb. Gamba, Meritani and Schanze decided that “there is sufficient information for the Leadership Panel to conclude that the incident at impact location #2 was caused by a SAAF helicopter dropping a device causing damage to the structure of a concrete block building house and was followed by the release of a toxic substance which affected the population.”
As the Mechanism had identified evidence of staging at Location 1, we might have expected Gamba, Meritani and Schanze to be more suspicious of the story of a chemical barrel bomb strike at Location 2, especially since there was overlap of witnesses and videos from both alleged impact sites. As the “inconsistencies” identified by the Mechanism included the timestamp of video v04, this implicates whoever recorded these videos in the staging. As shown above, the source of these videos appears to have been the CBRN Task Force.
7.2 March to May 2015: permanganate barrel bombs
A new series of incidents allegedly involving chlorine began on 16 March 2015, ten days after the UN Security Council had adopted Resolution 2209 condemning “in the strongest terms any use of a toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic” and resolving “in the event of future non-compliance with resolution 2118 to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter”.
Images from the sites of these alleged attacks showed refrigerant canisters and half-litre plastic bottles containing a purple substance that stained the surroundings pink. This substance was identified as potassium permanganate by the FFM, which suggested that it might have been used to produce chlorine by reaction with a “chlorine-containing compound”. The Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria regarding alleged incidents in the Idlib Governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic between 16 March and 20 May 2015 by Leonard Phillips dated 29 October 2015 covered six alleged attacks, concluding that
several incidents that occurred in the Idlib Governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic between 16 March 2015 and 20 May 2015 likely involved the use of one or more toxic chemicals — probably containing the element chlorine — as a weapon.
In relation to the alleged attack on 16 March 2015 in Sarmin, the Leadership Panel of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (Gamba, Neritani and Schanze) concluded that
There is sufficient information for the Leadership Panel to conclude that the incident at impact location #2 was caused by an SAAF helicopter dropping a device which hit the house and was followed by the release of a toxic substance, which match the characteristics of chlorine, that was fatal to all six occupants.
The Sarmin incident is examined in more detail in the Appendix.
The FFM used open-source material from the internet as “supporting information”, but the methods for selection and analysis of this material were not described. Witnesses were identified and transported to “Country X” (presumably Turkey) by an NGO named the “Chemical Violations Documentation Center of Syria” (CVDCS). The FFM also received environmental samples and fragments of alleged munitions “collected by witnesses and/or representatives of the fCVDCS”. Some of those interviewed by the FFM team were White Helmets. The CVDCS met OPCW in The Hague and in Brussels. The FFM explains why CVDCS was chosen as the provider of witnesses:-
While there were several different NGOs with access to potential interviewees, only one, the Chemical Violations Documentation Center of Syria, appeared to have access to the means of arranging their transport from the Idlib Governorate and their accommodation in Country X.
The CVDCS is described on its website as “an office within Same Justice” which was founded as a not-for-profit association in Brussels on 7 April 2015. No accounts for this organization are available on the Belgian business register. The domain names cvdcs.comand samejustice.com were registered (on 11 March 2015 and 8 August 2015 respectively) by Hasan Addaher (sometimes transliterated as Hassan Aldaher), one of the founders of Same Justice who is also the co-ordinator of a pro-opposition organization. As the FFM reports from 2015 onwards relied critically on Same Justice / CVDCS to provide interviewees and samples, we might have expected them to scrutinise this organization: how did it spring into existence in 2015, with an office in Brussels and a network on the ground in opposition-held Idlib able to collect samples, identify witnesses, and arrange for their transport and accommodation in Turkey?
7.3 March 2017 to February 2018: chlorine cylinders
Two later Fact-Finding Mission reports investigated alleged chlorine attacks in 2017 and 2018 in which the alleged munitions were ordinary gas cylinders, sometimes in a metal sleeve with fins. Environmental samples provided from both incidents showed chlorinated organic compounds and sarin degradation products. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed in the Appendix.
For these investigations witnesses were identified through NGOs including CVDCS and the White Helmets. Samples were provided by the White Helmets, for whom the FFM uses the name “Syria Civil Defense” though Syria has a civil defence directorate responsible for firefighting and rescue. The reliance on the White Helmets for provision of evidence raises additional concerns. In many of the alleged chemical attacks from 2015 onwards, images showed that people dressed as White Helmets were present at the alleged attack sites or were filming the victims. To decide between the alternative hypotheses of a chemical attack or a staged incident, the FFM was relying on evidence provided by those who would be implicated if the hypothesis of a staged incident was true.
Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria regarding an alleged incident in Saraqib on 4 February 2018 dated 15 May 2018:
The FFM determined that chlorine, released from cylinders through mechanical impact, was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib
Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria regarding alleged incidents in Ltamenah on 24 and 25 March 2017 dated 13 June 2018. The FFM attributed the sarin degradation products to secondary contamination from a previously unreported sarin attack the day before in which two munitions had allegedly fallen on agricultural land outside the town. The FFM concluded that “sarin was very likely used as a chemical weapon in the south of Ltamenah on 24 March 2017” and that “chlorine was very likely used as a chemical weapon at Ltamenah Hospital and the surrounding area on 25 March 2017”.
Witnesses of the alleged incident on 25 March 2017 reported that a gas cylinder dropped from the air had pierced the roof of the Ltamenah cave hospital, causing the death of a doctor. One of the witnesses interviewed by the FFM was described as a physician working at a nearby hospital that had treated victims of this attack. This individual is not identified, but the list of links included in the FFM’s report includes direct and indirect links to a tweet uploaded on 25 March by the struck-off former doctor Shajul Islam from a hospital that is purportedly treating patients from this attack, stating that “we think it’s sarin” and “our doctor Ali Darwish has been killed from treating the patients from this gas attack”. There is no indication that the FFM undertook any background checks on witnesses.
8. APPENDIX
8.1 The alleged attack in Sarmin on 16 March 2015
The alleged attack in Sarmin is the most widely-publicized of the alleged chlorine attacks. Excerpts from a video recorded in the emergency room of the Sarmin hospital were shown to a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on 17 April 2015, addressed by the doctor in charge of the hospital.
8.1.1 Alleged munition: a permanganate barrel bomb
From the alleged site of this and other attacks, plastic drink bottles containing potassium permanganate and ruptured gas canisters labelled R22 (a non-toxic hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant) were allegedly recovered. Potassium permanganate reacts with hydrogen chloride to produce chlorine. The FFM report obliquely suggested that this reaction (commonly used as a convenient way to prepare small quantities of chlorine in a laboratory) could have been used in a munition.
The samples and their analysis indicate the presence of potassium permanganate and a chlorine/chloride-containing chemical … The vapour pressure of R22 is similar enough to that of certain other industrial chemicals, inter alia chlorine, anhydrous hydrogen chloride, and anhydrous ammonia, such that the refilling of R22 containers with other chemicals for use in an improvised bomb would be feasible … Given the oxidising nature of potassium permanganate, it is conceivable that it might be used to oxidise a chlorine containing compound, resulting in the production of Cl2.

The FFM’s reconstruction of the alleged permanganate barrel bomb: Figure 23, Annex 2 page 83 in the report
Though the leader of FFM Team Alpha is a chemical engineer, the FFM did not comment on the feasibility of such a device being used as a weapon. The plausibility of this device is open to question:-
If for some reason it was intended to use chlorine as a weapon delivered by air, it would be simpler to drop cylinders of chlorine than to construct a device to produce chlorine by a chemical reaction at the point of impact.
There is no mechanism for the potassium permanganate and hydrogen chloride to mix before the device is detonated. Binary chemical munitions are designed to mix the precursors in flight or before launch.
Although the FFM had suggested that refilling of R22 canisters with other chemicals for use in an improvised bomb would be feasible, the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s report noted that these canisters are disposable and that “their repurposing or refilling would require technical modification of the valve”. No such valve modifications were reported by the FFM, which had been provided with canisters allegedly used in these munitions.
8.1.2 Alleged delivery
The device, reported to have an “approximate diameter of 1 metre to 1.5 metres”, was alleged to have been dropped from a helicopter at about 11 pm and to have fallen down a ventilation shaft 1.5 metres wide from the roof of an apartment building to the basement apartment where the victims lived. A satellite image shows the ventilation shaft occupying less than 2% of the roof area of the building. Gamba, Neritani and Schanze accepted this story, adding “improbable as it may sound”. The head of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly was more sceptical:
Allegedly, in 2015, in the area of Sarmin town the Syrian government air force helicopter flying at a high altitude at night dropped a barrel with chlorine, which fell exactly into the ventilation shaft of an apartment building, almost of the same diameter. The [JIM] report recognizes that it “sounds improbable” and nevertheless the responsibility has been put on the government of Syria in spite of any common sense and the laws of ballistics.
Although western and Russian officials have stated that the Syrian air force does not have the capability to conduct air strikes at night, and the Syrian government had informed the Joint Investigative Mechanism that there had been no Syrian air force flights over Sarmin on 16 March 2015, Gamba, Neritani and Schanze stated that
the Mechanism obtained information from other sources, which corroborate witness statements of SAAF helicopter flights on the date and time of the incident.
Although the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s report devotes more than 2500 words to “Methodological considerations” and “Methods of work”, no information about these “other sources” is given.
8.1.3 Hospital images
Two videos were recorded in a hospital emergency room over a time span of about five minutes: one bearing the logo of the the White Helmets and the other a logo that includes the flag of the Nusra Front (the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda). These showed one adult and two children apparently already dead, and one boy about one year old who stopped breathing when he was laid on a trolley. No respiratory support was provided to this child. Others have commented on the inappropriate medical treatment of this child.
The children seen in the videos have no signs of chlorine exposure: no red eyes and no signs of having coughed mucus or blood. The one-year old boy seen in the emergency room and in a previous video can be assessed on the limited evidence of these videos to have a reduced level of consciousness (does not open eyes, does not vocalize, and motor response to handling is minimal). This is consistent with an overdose of a drug such as an opiate causing respiratory depression, rather than chlorine exposure, as the cause of death. The doctor who addressed the UN Security Council described having personally attempted to save these children, but is not seen in these videos.
8.2 Suggestions that chlorine and sarin might be used as a mixture
As noted above, several government and non-government sources had suggested that chlorine and sarin might have been used in combination in Douma.
An unexplained finding in the Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission regarding an alleged incident in Saraqib on 4 February 2018 was that the environmental samples contained not only chlorinated organic molecules, as would be expected if chlorine had been released, but also unchlorinated diisopropyl methylphosphonate (an impurity in sarin) and isopropyl methylphosphonate (the main breakdown product of sarin). The FFM’s only comment on these findings was this paragraph:-
The FFM also noted the presence of chemicals that can neither be explained as occurring naturally in the environment nor as being related to chlorine. Furthermore, some of the medical signs and symptoms reported were different to those that would be expected from exposure to pure chlorine. There was insufficient information and evidence to enable the FFM to draw any further conclusions on these chemicals at this stage.
Chlorinated organic molecules and sarin degradation products had been found also in samples from the alleged chemical attack on the Ltamenah cave hospital on 25 March 2017. The FFM attributed this to cross-contamination of the hospital by casualties from an alleged attack the day before in which two sarin-containing munitions were allegedly dropped on agricultural land outside the town. Environmental samples from the alleged incident on 24 March 2017 were not received by the FFM team until eleven months later, after the White Helmets had been prompted to provide them:
Based on information supplied during interviews, the FFM identified munition parts that were of potential interest in relation to the alleged incident of 24 March 2017 and arranged for their collection by an NGO. As a result, further environmental samples and remnants of alleged munition parts were received by the FFM team on 19 February 2018.
Surprisingly, despite the delay in obtaining these samples, they were found to contain intact sarin as well as sarin degradation products. The FFM does not comment on this. As no reports or images of the incident on 24 March appeared at the time, sceptics might doubt that it happened. A possible motive for fabricating the story of a sarin attack on 24 March 2017 could have been to provide an explanation for the anomalous finding of sarin degradation products in the samples provided in April 2017 from the alleged chlorine attack on 25 March.
In interviews on the BBC and RT. the journalist Seymour Hersh indicated that he had seen a US intelligence report that expressed scepticism about the alleged use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria and noted that a mixture of chlorine and sarin would not work because the sarin would be chlorinated
All I can tell you is that the American intelligence community report – I wish I could flash it here – but the American intelligence community has been very clear that there’s no evidence that the Russians, that the Syrians, the regime used a chlorine weapon because there is no such thing … They [the US Army Chemical Corps] tested, in the Fifties, they tested chlorine with nerve agent to see how – whether the chlorine would soup it up. In fact what the chlorine did is it grabbed all the hydrogen molecules and diminished it. There’s just no way you can use sarin and chlorine, as was written about all the time.
This report by Martin Chulov indicates that his source was aware that sarin cannot be mixed with chlorine.
“We’re looking at the possibility that there were separate canisters inside the cylinder,” said one regional official. “[The contents] cannot be mixed, because that would be volatile and unstable, but they can be combined. That’s a working theory – that they were in the same cylinder but kept separately. The point of detonation dispersed them together.”
No such cylinders with separate canisters have been reported from any of the alleged chemical attacks. We can find no published studies of the effect of dry chlorine on organophosphate nerve agents. If the conditions for chlorination (which include exposure to light or presence of impurities that could act as catalysts) were sufficiently favourable for other organic molecules to undergo chlorination, we might expect that sarin or its breakdown products would undergo chlorination. If the sources quoted above are correct, the finding of chlorinated organic molecules and unchlorinated sarin breakdown products in the same samples suggests that the sarin breakdown products may have been added later. This casts further doubt on the integrity of the process by which these samples were provided to the Fact-Finding Mission.

Life returning to normality in Douma only days after the final evacuation of Jaish Al Islam extremists to Idlib. This street is 700m from the site of the alleged chemical weapon attack. April 2018 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley).
***

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