Fri, 13 Apr 2018
Last year when the U.S. military launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase after allegations of a chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun, many commentators grasped the obvious implication: in the future, whenever so-called moderate rebel terrorists were being routed by the Syrian and Russian militaries, all that the terrorists would have to do is stage another “chemical weapons” attack and broadcast it via their White Helmets propaganda network. This would essentially act as a call for American air support.
U.S. government spokespeople even said that any future chemical weapons attacks would be automatically blamed on Syria and Russia. In the real world, that’s called a blank check. Since any apparent chemical weapons attack will automatically be blamed on Syria and Russia, and will be responded to with a cruise-missile attack on Syrian military positions, Syria’s enemies have a major incentive to give the appearance that civilians have suffered from a chemical weapons attack. It’s not rocket science.
The Russian Ministry of Defense warned about precisely this scenario on March 13, less than a month before the Douma event. Two sets of videos were released after the alleged attack in Douma: the apparent discovery of many bodies in a home, allegedly killed by a chemical weapons attack; and a video of civilians and children being doused with water in a medical facility, allegedly after having come into contact with said chemical. The sources for the claims were the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (both of which have close ties to the jihadists, including al-Qaeda, in Syria), who claimed that 500 people had been exposed.
As for the first videos showing the dead bodies, there is no evidence they died from a chemical weapons attack. In fact, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (itself an “organization” known for atrocity stories designed to paint the Syrian and Russian militaries in a bad light) reported that “it could not confirm whether chemical weapons had been used”. Instead, they provided this account:
…reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that some of the casualties and injured people had been subjected to suffocation due to the demolition of basements of houses as a result of the heavy and intense shelling of Douma city, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published hours ago that 11 people at least including 5 children had suffocated, after bombardment by a warplane on an area near the old cemetery at the northern outskirts of Douma city in the Eastern Ghouta.
This appears to have been the site filmed by the White Helmets. As for the other video, today the Russian Ministry of Defense provided a credible account of its provenance, as well as an overall account of events that makes sense of all the data and contradictions so far. Major General Igor Konashenkov stated:
The Russian Ministry of Defence has overwhelming evidence that in Douma on April 7 there was a planned provocation in order to deceive the world community. Its original purpose was to provoke missile strikes by the USA against Syria. It is to be reminded that a video clip recorded at the Douma hospital where injured people were allegedly brought to is the key ‘evidence’ of all these accusations made by western countries. However, we managed to find those who directly had taken part in this footage, and to ask them questions. Today, Russian shows an interview with these people.
Citizens of Douma told how a staged clip had been recorded, in which episodes they had participated and what roles they had had. Besides, they showed shots with them in the clip. Both persons involved in the clip have medical degree and work in emergency department of the Douma Hospital.
According to them, those who had been brought to the hospital had no injuries caused by chemical agents. When civilians were receiving first aid, some unidentified people rushed in the hospital. Some of them had video cameras. These people started shouting, spreading panic, and dousing other people with water. They shouted that all people in the hospital were victims of chemical weapons use. Patients and their relatives started dousing each other with water. After the action was filmed, the unknown persons escaped immediately.
As it can be seen, these Syrians demonstrate themselves at the footage. It is to be noted that these people do not hide their names. These are not some impersonal messages on social networks or statements of anonymous activists. It is to be stressed once again that these are people who became direct participants in filming these footage. These facts are the evidence in the civilized world, and are not unfounded and irresponsible accusations spread with the aim of hanging labels and denigrating the leadership of other countries.
Earlier, Russia had made numerous warns on all levels about provocations of chemical weapons use organized by insurgents in the Eastern Ghouta. Today, there are other evidences at the disposal of the Russian military department, which testify to the direct participation of Great Britain in organizing this provocation in the Eastern Ghouta.
The Russian party knows for certain that from April 3 to 6, representatives of the so-called White Helmets were influenced by London for the speedy implementation of the provocation prepared in advance. The White Helmets received information that Jaysh al-Islam militants were to conduct a series of powerful artillery shelling of Damascus on April 3 to 6. This will promote a response from the government troops, which the White Helmets’ representatives will have to use to carry out provocations with alleged chemical weapons.
The relevant section of the briefing starts at around 25:45 of this video and ends at 29:50, showing footage of the interview with the two Syrian medical personnel telling their side of what happened at the hospital. Here are the Syrian medical workers’ accounts:
This makes sense. Before the alleged attack on April 7, the Syrians and Russians had liberated most of Eastern Ghouta. Only Douma remained, occupied by the terrorist group Jaish al-Islam. On April 2, over 1100 militants left Douma under agreement with the Syrian Army. Evacuations followed on April 3 and April 4. During this time, Jaish al-Islam commanders still refused to negotiate their evacuation (leading to several reported executions and at least one defection to the Syrian government). On this same day, Putin held a press conference with Erdogan where he reiterated that Russian intelligence had “irrefutable evidence” that Syrian militants were planning chemical attacks.
More infighting among Jaish al-Islam terrorists broke out on April 5. On April 6, the Russian MOD once again cited sources that militants planned a chemical attack provocation, and after ongoing talks with Jaish al-Islam failed, the Russian air force heavily bombed their positions and the Syrian army began storming Douma to retake it by force and launched their own airstrikes. The JAI terrorists fired artillery shells into residential Damascus in response, wounding at least 16 and killing 1 civilian. Such shelling continued into the morning of the 7th. As fighting continued through the night Jaish al-Islam announced their willingness to resume negotiations (which were successful, leading to the full evacuation of Douma in the days after). On this same day came the White Helmets spurious and cynical allegation of a ‘chemical weapon attack’.
So while the events of those days aren’t as clear as Konashenkov states – even if the shelling was planned in advance, it was temporally after the offensive to retake Douma had begun – the logic is still clear. If negotiations failed, the offensive on Douma would be resumed. This would be followed (or preceded) by indiscriminate shelling of Damascus, which would be followed by even more airstrikes on Douma. In this context, all the White Helmets had to do was wait for a suitable site of death and destruction, frame it as a chemical attack, and produce “video evidence” to call in U.S. air support.
The death by suffocation of several residents (cited above) was used as evidence of a chemical attack and a scene was staged at a local hospital to give the appearance that numerous Syrians had been exposed, when in fact they had not. After that, practically all Western media and most governments followed the script. But so far nothing has come of it. It looks like Russia has solidified its presence in Syria to the extent that the U.S. cannot risk another attack without potentially starting a war with Russia.
The hand of the UK in both the Skripal and Douma provocations is telling. Perhaps there’s more to the following story than meets the eye: Syrian army arrests British and other Western forces embedded with terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta – Local reports
But more telling is that the ‘reality creators’ powers are failing them. Staged provocations in Syria and elsewhere have worked in the past, but the transparently false nature of the most recent claims, combined with serious Russian push-back, may prove to have been a bridge too far for the faltering and increasingly desperate anglo-American empire.