Western media keeps referring to an alleged chemical attack on Douma, Syria, as an established fact, but have yet to produce one iota of evidence from the town that, until recently, was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam.
Unverified videos, emanating from the Western-funded propaganda construct the White Helmets, do not constitute evidence, nor do testimonies taken in Turkey or Idlib, Syria, which is under terrorist rule.
On the other hand, there are many testimonies that contradict the accusations, including those of 17 Syrians from Douma (among them doctors and medical staff), who, on April 26, spoke at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, stating that there was no chemical attack.
The leaderships of the US, UK, France and their lapdog media, unsurprisingly, dismissed the Syrian testimonies as “obscene” and a “masquerade”. It should be noted that the same media took as utterly credible the words attributed to a then-seven year-old girl named Bana al-Abed, living in eastern Aleppo, before it was liberated. Corporate media and Western leaders had no issues with the credibility of Bana, who was living surrounded by twenty-five terrorist cells in her district alone. But the testimonies of Syrians from Douma are “obscene.”
There are other statements by civilians that contradict the accusations, given to journalists who bothered to go to Douma and listen to them, like Robert Fisk, Germany’s ZDF, One American News, and Vanessa Beeley.
In fact, it was the Syrian and Russian governments who called for the OPCW to investigate, and it was the US, UK, and France which illegally bombed Syria with 103 missiles, including 76 missiles on Damascus itself, before the OPCW inspectors could investigate.
None of the accusations have been “proven” and, when the OPCW does eventually issue its report, it is worth recalling that their report in the previous year, on the allegations of a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, contained “irregularities,” to put it mildly. The most glaring irregularity (mentioned in the annex section of their report) was the admission of 57 “victims” to hospital before any alleged attack even could have occurred. Another unexplained irregularity was sarin showing up in urine but not in blood tests from the same sample.
In late April, I traveled by taxi to Douma, with a translator only, where I spent a few hours in the town, talking to civilians so traumatized by the rule of the terrorist group Jaysh al-Islam that they mostly wanted to talk about how hellish their lives had been. But first I went to the hospital in question.
Passing through Martyr’s Square, one of the sites allegedly targeted by a chemical attack but now busy with pedestrians and traffic, the underground hospital was just some hundred metres beyond. Inside, I recorded an interview with a medical student who was at the hospital on April 7, the day of the alleged attacks.
According to Marwan Jaber, patients who came in were being treated for normal shelling injuries, as well as for breathing difficulties, due to the combination of dust and their having taken refuge for extended periods in basements.
Jaber told me that, while staff were treating normal bombing injuries and breathing cases, “strangers” entered screaming about a chemical attack and started hosing people with water. Hospital staff calmed the situation down and went back to treating the patients as ‘normal’ shelling victims, as they had not exhibited any indications of having been exposed to a chemical agent.
Patients’ symptoms were “not in line with the symptoms of a chemical attack. There wasn’t pupil constriction or Broncho-constrictions leading to death,” Jaber recalled. “The symptoms we received were all symptoms of choking, patients affected by the smoke and regular war injuries. They came here, we treated them, and dispatched them home,” Jaber said, noting that none, not one, had died.
Nor were any of the hospital staff affected, as one might expect they would be had a chemical agent been used. The staff, as seen in the video produced by the White Helmets, wore no protective clothing, as would have been necessary when dealing with a toxic chemical.
In Marwan Jaber’s opinion, the unfamiliar men who barged into the hospital screaming weren’t trained in medicine. He went so far as to doubt whether they’d finished high school.
Below the hospital, a network of extensive, reinforced tunnels, large enough for vehicles, enabled Jaysh al-Islam to move freely while they held Douma residents hostage.
Ghouta residents on alleged chemical attacks, 2018 and 2013
As I walked around Douma, I asked residents about life there and especially about whether they believed there was a chemical attack in their town. Some replied they had no idea about an attack. But most replied decisively no, there hadn’t been any.
At a stand selling vegetables and fruits, Tawfeeq Zahran replied that he believed Jaysh al-Islam had spoken of a chemical attack to frighten them, to make them fear the Syrian army and government. Men around him nodded their agreement. They spoke more about their starvation under Jaysh al-Islam and about the public executions by sword that the terror group had routinely carried out.
A group of young men selling baked goods waved me over, handing me one. They also replied that they knew nothing of an attack. They were more concerned about the fact that, under Jaysh al-Islam, they couldn’t get the flour needed for their baked goods, much less food to live. This was a constant among every civilian I met: Their hunger and terror under Jaysh al-Islam’s rule.
In 2013, the West and its media had accused the Syria government of a chemical attack in eastern Ghouta (oddly at the very time when OPCW inspectors were in the country to investigate a previous allegation). These accusations were shot down by reports from investigative journalists, particularly Seymour Hersh, who concluded that terrorists possessed sarin and the workshops to manufacture rockets. Indeed, I saw one of these mortar and rocket workshops when in Saqba, eastern Ghouta. Massive amounts of missiles of varying sizes lay, as-yet unused, inside the workshop.
Two days after allegations of a chemical attack in April 2018, the Saudi ambassador to the US, Khalid bin Salman, tweeted a condemnation of the Syrian government’s “barbaric” act. The irony, aside from Saudi’s support to the barbaric Jaysh al-Islam, lies in the fact that, according to Mint Press News, Saudi Arabia also gave chemical weapons to terrorists in Ghouta for the 2013 attack.
The Mint Press article cited anti-government fighters who said they’d been given chemical weapons which they didn’t know how to use, naming Saudi Prince Bandar as the source.
The co-authors of that Mint Press article came under intense pressure to retract the article. According to a statement from Mint’s executive director and editor, Mnar Muhawesh, the authors suspected the pressure was from the then-head of Saudi Intelligence, Prince Bandar, one author saying “that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his career,” if he continued investigating the attack.
So, in early May, I went to Kafr Batna where, in August 2013, hundreds of people had allegedly been treated at the Tuberculosis Hospital.
Mohammed al-Aghawani, administrator of the hospital, told me:
“There was no chemical attack. I wasn’t at the hospital that night, but my staff told me what happened. Around 2am, there was suddenly noise, shouting, cars arriving at the hospital, bringing civilians. Some people, armed men, said there was a chemical attack. Some of them had foreign accents. They took people’s clothes off and started pouring water on them. They kept bringing people in till around 7am. Around 1,000 people, mostly children, alive, from nearby villages like Ein Terma, Hezze, Zamalka. Many people later said their children never came back.”
Upon closer analysis, footage from that night shows that some of the victims appeared to have had their throats slit, peculiar indeed if they had “died from a nerve agent.”
In an ice cream shop in Kafr Batna’s main square, I asked employee Abdallah Darbou whether he knew anything about the alleged 2013 attacks.
“Yes, we heard about it, but that didn’t happen. They claimed that the Syrian regime had carried a chemical attack on us. No, they didn’t. I was living in Jisreen, close by, I have been living the real story for seven years. They didn’t attack us.”
Other residents I spoke with had no idea about the alleged attacks.
I took a taxi to the Horjilleh centre for displaced persons, just southeast of Damascus, where I met Marwan Qreisheh, from Kafr Batna. Regarding the 2013 incident, he recalled the fighting between Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, saying, “500 were killed, from both sides. They spread them on the ground, released something like tear gas, and started to film, saying the ‘regime’ bombed the area with a chemical weapon.”
Also at the Horjilleh centre, Mahmoud Souliman Khaled, a younger man from Douma, spoke of his young niece. “My sister from Beit Sawa decided to bring her children to our house. While they were on the street, there was a big explosion and a strange smell. Her daughter fell to the ground. They took her to the nearest hospital and they found out that she suffocated and died instantly. Her mouth was open and she had blue lips, it was obvious that she had suffocated.”
Khaled spoke of the aftermath, how terrorists exploited the toddler’s death: “They took photos of her and they started using them on social media and on websites. They said that she was killed in a chemical attack from the government. But she died from the chemicals that they produce. They killed her.”
After speaking with many civilians in Douma, Kafr Batna and Horjilleh, not only about whether the Syrian government had bombed them with chemicals or nerve agents but also on the truly horrific conditions they’d endured under Jaysh al-Islam, it is my opinion that the videos alleging a chemical attack in Douma were a hoax. There are enough testimonies to the contrary of the accusations, there is a dearth of any evidence to support the claims, and there is every reason to believe that terrorists and the West’s propaganda group, the White Helmets, would stage videos and fake accusations in order to incriminate Syria and Russia.
Syria and Russia are the two parties with zero interest in perpetrating a chemical attack against Syrian civilians, for moral reasons and for the obviously pragmatic one of not wanting to be militarily attacked as a consequence. FUKUS (France, UK & US), the Gulf states and Israel are parties with every reason to want a chemical attack scenario in Syria, to prolong their dirty war on Syria.
The media was right to use the words “obscene” and “masquerade”, but only in regards to the official story of events in Douma, the corporate media’s lapping up of another dodgy White Helmets video and that same media’s obfuscation of the cruelty and barbarism of the terrorists who ruled in Douma and all of eastern Ghouta.