A new cache of internal documents reveal that members of the OPCW team tasked with probing the Douma “chemical attack” protested the organization’s final report on the incident, which they said misrepresented their conclusions.
In a memo addressed to OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, one scientist who participated in the OPCW’s fact finding mission (FFM) wrote that there are “about 20 inspectors who have expressed concern” over how the OPCW presented its findings on the alleged Syrian chemical attack. According to the memorandum, the organization’s final report does not reflect the FFM’s findings, presented in their interim report, which is also part of the new document dump.
The new documents, released by WikiLeaks, are the latest evidence undermining the OPCW’s final report on the Syrian attack.
If you compare the original redacted report to the unredacted one that WikiLeaks released it’s really stunning the difference. Like for example the team decided not to exhume buried bodies because they couldn’t find evidence of chemical weapons this was kept from released report. pic.twitter.com/Je5wwf6jRy
— Currie Dobson (@Ventuckyspaz) December 15, 2019
The April 2018 incident reportedly killed dozens of Syrian civilians, and was used by the United States and several NATO allies to justify airstrikes against Syrian military targets. The OPCW was later sent to the site to investigate, and the organization’s final report gave credibility to the accusation that Damascus had used chemical weapons.
The memo goes on to state that the final report “does not reflect the views of all the team members that deployed to Douma.” In fact, the team on the ground in Douma was apparently excluded from drafting the final report – only one member of the fact finding mission, a paramedic, directly contributed. The final document was instead authored by a separate group that had operated from “Country X,” believed to be Turkey.
The consensus within the FFM team was that there were indications of serious inconsistencies in findings… the conclusions appear to have been turned completely in the opposite direction
The team’s findings, outlined in their preliminary report, illustrate some of these inconsistencies. For example, the team expressed uncertainty about the origin of the cylinders which were allegedly used to release chlorine. Washington and its allies claim that the cylinders were dropped from the sky, pointing to Damascus as the culprit.
However, the original interim report said that there was no strong evidence to support this theory. In fact, a follow-up investigation into the matter concluded that it was more likely that the cylinders “were manually placed… rather than being delivered from aircraft.”
After the conclusions failed to make it into the final report, a FFM team member attempted to archive the analysis of the cylinders in a secure registry, known as the Documents Registry Archive (DRA). According to journalist Peter Hitchens, a senior OPCW official ordered his subordinates to “remove all traces” of the findings from the archive.
The documents support allegations made by whistleblowers – and corroborated by previous leaks – that the OPCW excluded and manipulated key findings in its final report on the incident.
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