Thursday, 19 April 2018

Proof of a staged chemical weapons attack in Douma in the form of an 11-year-old boy

This more than confirms what British journalist, Robert Fisk reported yesterday.


The war correspondent for "KP" passed through the Syrian city of Douma, looking at it through the eyes of Western journalists. And found evidence of chemical attack being staged — the healthy 11-year old boy from the sensational video of the militants

Aleksandr Kots

18 April, 2018

In the history of the staged chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus city Duma Syrian authorities have made a very good move. They suddenly gave an unprecedented for the middle Eastern countries, the liberalization of media. The Syrian bureaucracy is very slow, it rusted from the time the mechanisms are simply unable to compete with the challenges of the time. But someone smart suggested: "Loosen the nuts, it will play for you." Western journalists in Damascus were given relative freedom, and the result was not long in coming. At first, the little-known American journalist Pearson sharp from one Amegica News Network suddenly broke the air of a report, in which he frankly admitted that he did not find any evidence of the use of chemical weapons in the Duma. Behind him, mastodon of international journalism Robert Fisk, who is now writing for the independent, told the world the same from his trip to the Duma. The ice was broken? As it is not so...


If I were a Western journalist, what would I expect to see in the city, which "Assad's regime" attacked by chemical poison. Undoubtedly, the local population hostile to Assad and the Russian military. And yet, the traces of the barbaric atrocities that stretch from the crime scene to the hospital. The evidence will not have problems, poor people of Duma'll tell you, if there not men in uniform with guns. There's only an interpreter in my car. He's probably in the evening will report, where you want, with whom and what they talked about, but to intervene in the story will be.

We call the Duma early in the morning. At checkpoints-the usual Syrian military who waving their hands. They should be on the lookout, because the population of the city is hardly loyal to the military. But people, for the first time in 7 years not hearing the constant firing and explosions, surprisingly joyful.

Read Robert Fisk's account here

В истории с инсценировкой химической атаки в пригороде Дамаска городке Дума сирийские власти сделали очень удачный ход. Они неожиданно устроили невиданную для этой ближневосточной страны либерализацию режима работы СМИ. Сирийская бюрократическая машина очень неповоротлива, ее проржавевшие от времени механизмы просто не в состоянии конкурировать с вызовами времени. Но кто-то умный подсказал: «Ослабь гайки, это сыграет на тебя». Западным журналистам в Дамаске предоставили относительную свободу, и результат не заставил себя долго ждать. Сначала мало кому известный американский журналист Пирсон Шарп из One Ameriсa News Network вдруг разорвал эфир репортажем, в котором откровенно признался, что ни одного свидетельства применения химоружия в Думе он не нашел. За ним мастодонт международной журналистики Роберт Фиск, пишущий сейчас для «Индепендент», сообщил миру то же самое из своей поездки в Думу. Лед тронулся? Как бы не так...


Будь я западным журналистом, чего бы я ожидал увидеть в городе, который «режим Асада» атаковал химической отравой. Несомненно, враждебно настроенное по отношению к Асаду и русским военным местное население. И еще - следы варварского злодеяния, которые тянутся от места преступления, к больнице. С доказательствами не будет проблем, несчастные жители Думы сами все расскажут, если рядом не будет людей в форме с автоматами. В моей машине - только переводчик. Он наверняка вечером доложит, куда следует, с кем и о чем разговаривал, но вмешиваться в репортаж не будет.

В Думу мы заезжаем рано утром. На блокпостах — обычные сирийские военные, которые приветливо машут руками. Они должны быть настороже, ведь население города вряд ли лояльно военным. Но люди, впервые за 7 лет не слышащие постоянной стрельбы и разрывов, на удивление радостны.

Ice melt in Bering Strait

Record low sea ice in Bering Strait

Zack Labe, via Twitter

Clear skies over the Bering Strait today - still remarkable to me to see its record low sea ice condition this winter

[MODIS Terra from @NASAEarthData at ]

The pot calling the kettle black: BBC conspiracy theorists do hit job on anti-war activists

Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories


18 April, 2018
Sarah Abdallah is one of the most influential Twitter users commenting on conversations about the conflict in Syria, although little is known about the person behind the accountImage copyrightTWITTER/@SAHOURAXO
Image captionSarah Abdallah is one of the most influential Twitter users commenting on conversations about the conflict in Syria, although little is known about the person behind the account
As the investigation continues into another alleged chemical attack in Syria, one group of influential online activists is busy spreading their version of events.
Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are attempting to access the previously rebel-held town of Douma, where medical organisations and rescue workers say President Bashar al-Assad's forces dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals in an attack on 7 April, killing more than 40 people.
The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, say the incident was staged. But the US, UK and France - who support the opposition to Mr Assad - say they are confident that chlorine and possibly a nerve agent were used.
Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred on 7 April.
They've seized on a theory being floated by Russian officials and state-owned media outlets that the attacks were "staged" or were a "false flag" operation, carried out by jihadist groups or spies in order to put the blame on the Assad government and provide a justification for Western intervention.
The group includes activists and people who call themselves "independent journalists", and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands.
The activists call themselves "anti-war", but as they generally back the Syrian government's military operations against rebel forces seeking to overthrow Mr Assad and Russian air strikes carried out in support, it might be more accurate to describe them as "anti-Western intervention" or "pro-Syrian government".
According to their narrative, international media organisations across the political spectrum, along with human rights organisations, are somehow covertly aligned with Western governments, Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda and taking part in a secretive plot to take over Syria.
Header image for Vanessa Beeley's Twitter accountImage copyrightTWITTER/@VANESSABEELEY
The network of activists includes people like Vanessa Beeley. She has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and writes for a news outlet that the website Media Bias/Fact Check calls a "conspiracy and conjecture site" that has "an extreme right bias".
In response to a list of questions, she called BBC Trending's story a "blatant attempt" to "silence independent journalism" and repeated unsubstantiated claims about alleged chemical weapons attacks.
Tweet by Vanessa Beeley: "US & UK are running a psychological warfare campaign supported by their fawning media incl. #BBC #CNN #Guardian #Channel4 to subject #Syrian people to further trauma after 7 years of punishing terrorist war waged by US/UK alliance against innocent civilians. #Enough"Image copyrightTWITTER/@VANESSABEELEY

Influential accounts

Beeley gives talks to fringe groups and makes appearances on media outlets including state-owned Russian channel RT.
But in the online conversation about Syria there are more influential activists, about whom much less is known.
Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo on Twitter) has more than 125,000 followers, among them more than 250 journalists from mainstream media outlets. Her follower count is comparable to BBC journalists who regularly report on Syria, such as BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen (167,000) and BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet (142,000).
In addition to pictures of herself, Sarah Abdallah tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages, with a dollop of retweeting mostly aimed at attacking Barack Obama, other US Democrats and Saudi Arabia.
In her Twitter profile she describes herself as an "Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator" but she has almost no online presence or published stories or writing away from social media platforms. A personal blog linked to by her account has no posts.
Her tweets have been quoted by mainstream news outlets, but a Google News search indicates that she has not written any articles in either English or Arabic.
She refused to comment several times when approached by BBC Trending and did not respond to specific requests to comment on this story in particular.
In several pictures posted by Sarah Abdallah, items in the background - such as house in this picture - are common to North America, rather than LebanonImage copyrightTWITTER/@SAHOURAXO
Image captionIn several pictures posted by Sarah Abdallah, items in the background - such as the house in this picture - are common to North America, rather than Lebanon

White Helmets

The Sarah Abdallah account is, according to a recent study by the online research firm Graphika, one of the most influential social media accounts in the online conversation about Syria, and specifically in pushing misinformation about a 2017 chemical weapons attack and the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the "White Helmets".
The White Helmets operate in rebel-held areas. They have been one of the sources that Western media outlets, including the BBC, have quoted about alleged chemical attacks in Syria. With regard to the incident in Douma, the BBC has not been able independently to verify the group's reports.
Graphika chief executive John Kelly says his company's analysis showed distinct patterns emerging.
"When you're looking at these disinformation campaigns, a lot of the same characters show up for every party," he told BBC Trending.
Graphika was commissioned to prepare a report on online chatter by The Syria Campaign, a UK-based advocacy group organisation which campaigns for a democratic future for Syria and supports the White Helmets. The White Helmets have been the subject of two Oscar-nominated documentary films and have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Graphika 20 million messages about the White Helmets, split between tweets in support and in opposition. Among the opponents, Kelly says, Sarah Abdallah was "by far the most influential", followed by Vanessa Beeley.
The firm found that Sarah Abdallah's account was primarily followed by a number of different interest clusters: supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.
These groups were instrumental in making the hashtag #SyriaHoax trend after the chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.
That hashtag, pushed by Sarah Abdallah and influential American conservative activists, became a worldwide trend on Twitter. Many of those tweeting it claimed that the chemical weapons attack was faked or a hoax.
Tweet by @sahouraxo: "Nobody is happier about Trump's illegal attack on #Syria than Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu. McCain and Hillary too. #SyriaHoax"Image copyrightTWITTER/@SAHOURAXO
Beeley said the 2017 attack had "been debunked by a number of highly respected analysts and experts." She alleged that evidence "points to the White Helmets as a propaganda construct" and asked, via email: "Why has the BBC never carried out an investigation into the White Helmets?"
Experts from a joint UN-OPCW mission said in October 2017 that they were confident a Syrian Air Force jet dropped munitions containing sarin on Khan Sheikhoun, dismissing statements from Russia that the jet had fired conventional munitions at a rebel chemical weapons depot.

Drowned out

The difficulty in reporting on the ground in Syria has opened up an information vacuum which has been partially filled by highly partisan sources, according to Scott Lucas, a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham and editor of news and analysis site EA Worldview,
"None of it is journalism; none of it is really based on solid independent reporting," Lucas says.
"It is absolutely right to question all narratives, including official narratives of what is happening," he says. "The key is that you don't actually start with a narrative, you start with the facts and you establish what may not be true and what may even be disinformation.
"The danger we face is, unreliable information is now being taken up by more established - and what we would think of as - more reliable outlets," he says.
And although the activists' follower accounts continue to grow, there is one indication that their influence online might be on the decline compared with last year.
In the hours after the alleged attack in Douma, "Syria" was a top trending term on Twitter, but the messages by pro-Assad activists were drowned out by reports from a range of news outlets.
The hashtag #SyriaHoax was used around 17,000 times in a week (compared to more than 280,000 times in April 2017), and mostly failed to make Twitter's lists of top trends.

Is Putin seeking a deal with Trump?

Putin Reportedly "Ready For Deep Concessions", Seeks Deal With Trump

18 April, 2018

We noted earlier that a Foreign Ministry official told Bloomberg that a US official had notified the Russian embassy that no sanctions would be forthcoming, contradicting Haley's comments from Sunday but affirming a Washington Post report the following day.

And it appears Russia is responding positively to that reported comment, as Bloomberg reports that Russian President Putin wants to give President Trump another chance to make good on pledges to improve ties and avoid escalation, according to four people familiar with the matter.

One said the Kremlin has ordered officials to curb their anti-U.S. rhetoric.
Putin’s decision explains why lawmakers Monday suddenly pulled a draft law that would’ve imposed sweeping counter-sanctions on U.S. companies, two of the people said. 

Putin is ready to make numerous, deep concessions, but he has to appear like he’s not losing,” said Igor Bunin of the Center for Political Technologies, a consultancy whose clients include Kremlin staff.
He understands Russia can’t compete with the West economically and he doesn’t plan to go to war with the West.”

Amid ominous tweets, conflicting statements from various administration officials, and demands from the Deep State to keep the boot on Russia's throat, one could be forgiven for brushing off this latest 'reported' US-Russia detente as a strawman designed to inspire more ire in Washington and corner Trump further into escalating tensions with Putin.

Finally, Bloomberg  notes that some administration officials are holding out hope that Trump might be able to stop the downward slide, especially after he congratulated Putin on his re-election in March and dangled the prospect of a White House summit. But given the current political climate in the U.S. it’s unlikely that any concession Putin may offer would be enough to bring a real thaw.

If you believe in nice, neat plans where the "patriots" always are going to win out against the Deep State - and everything is "going according to plan"

Otherwise, not bad at getting an idea of the day's news

OPCW inspection delayed AGAIN, by gunfire

OPCW Investigators Delay Douma Visit Following Reports Of Gunfire

18 April, 2018

Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have delayed their planned visit to Douma, Syria - the site of an alleged gas attack that caused a flareup of tensions between Syria and its western antagonists - after a UN Security Team sent to evaluate the area was confronted by a crowd of violent protesters demanding food and aid.

After the brief confrontation, gunfire ensued, and the inspectors declared that the town was not yet safe to visit, according to RT.

An anonymous source told RT that the advance team had "encountered a security issue" including gunfire, which led to the delay. No further details were disclosed.


The town was recently cleared of terrorists by the Syrian Army, so it's likely that residents who are desperate for food and other assistance were responsible for the gunfire.

In what was a milestone victory, the Syrian Army declared over the weekend that the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the region to which Douma belongs, had been liberated from rebel groups as the last militants fled the area on Saturday.

"All the terrorists have left Douma city, their last bastion in eastern Ghouta," the army statement said.

Syria’s ambassador to the UN said on Tuesday that the fact-finding mission would begin its work in Douma on Wednesdayif the UN security team deemed the situation there safe.

The OPCW team arrived in Damascus over the weekend, but repeated delays of their inspection have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Russia, the primary backer of the Syrian regime, and the US. Russia and Syria have denied tampering with the investigation and also denied Western accusations that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the gassing of innocent civilians.

Russia's Defense Ministry says it has found proof that the chemical attacks were staged - a fact that has been confirmed by famed war reporter Robert Fisk.
In response to the purported gassing, a US-led coalition launched more than 100 missiles late Friday at what they described as key targets meant to cripple Syria's chemical weapons program.

Meanwhile, a UN source told Reuters that the team probably wouldn't make it to Douma on Wednesday.

Syria - Who Is Stalling The 

OPCW Investigation In 


18 April, 2018

Why has the fact finding mission (FFM)of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) not visited Douma?

The OPCW inspectors are held up by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) which has a say about any movement of UN aligned organizations in areas that might be dangerous. The UNDSS is led by an Australian police / intelligence officer. The holdup seems to be intended.

On Sunday April 8 videos were published of an alleged 'chemical attack' in Douma near Damascus. At that time the area was under control of Jaish al-Islam, a Salafi terrorist organization financed by Saudi Arabia. The various videos from terrorist supporters like the 'White Helmets' were unconvincing. They showed obviously arranged scenes of an alleged 'barrel bomb' and manipulated bodies of dead children that had been arranged to superficially fit the claims of a 'chemical incident'. Another video showed people in a hospital being doused with water for no apparent reason.

An often quoted opposition news outlet, the Syrian Observatory in Britain, denied that a 'chemical attack' had happened. It reported on April 8 of suffocation after a shelter collapsed due to bombing:
[I]n among the casualties there are 21 civilians including 9 children and 3 women were killed as a result of suffocation caused by the shelling which destroyed basements of houses as a result of the violence bombardment that stopped about an hour ago on Douma area.
The 'chemical incident' has likely been faked. It suspiciously happened just a few days after U.S. President Trump had announced the he wanted the U.S. military to leave Syria. A year earlier a similar incident was claimed to have happened after a similar announcement by Trump. The U.S. had responded to the 2017 incident by bombing an empty Syrian airfield.

A day after the incident the Salafi terrorists of Jaish al-Islam gave up and left the area under a ceasefire deal arranged with the help of the Russian military in Syria. The ceasefire deal does not allow the Syrian army to enter the area, only the Russian military police is allowed.

Russian military police immediately entered the area and investigated the house where, allegedly, people were killed by 'chemical weapons'. They found no evidence that such an event had taken place. The Syrian government asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical aWeapons (OPCW) to investigate the case.

Many international news teams have since visited the area where the incident allegedly took place. The also visited the field hospital shown in one of the opposition videos. Doctors at that hospital deny (vid) that any patient of theirs had been affected by a chemical attack. The cases they had seen had breathing difficulties caused by the inhalation of dust thrown up through exploding bombs and artillery. Alleged 'victims' shown in the hospital video claim (vid) they were paid to perform.

On Friday April 13 the OPCW fact finding mission arrived in Damascus. On Saturday France, the U.K and the United States, (FUKUS), bombed an agricultural and medical research center in Damascus as well as two Syrian army depots. The attack missed its other targets, a failure the U.S. military attempts to cover up. The attack came despite doubts in the Pentagon and elsewhere about what actually happened. High British military generals have publicly doubted the claims of a Syrian 'chemical attack'.

The suburb where the alleged incident happened is only a few miles away from the center of Damascus. Journalists and camera teams walk all over the place without any protection and freely interview hospital personal. The OPCW has yet to reach the area. It claims that the security is insufficient.

Like other organizations aligned with the United Nations the OPCW is relying on the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) for intelligence and protection.

Yesterday the Director General of the OPCW Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat who was earlier Turkey's Permanent Representative to NATO, issued a statement:
On 16 April, we received confirmation from the National Authority of the Syrian Arab Republic that, under agreements reached to allow the evacuation of the population in Ghouta, the Syrian military were unable to enter Douma. The security for the sites where the FFM plans to deploy was under the control of the Russian Military Police. 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.
(Note: Only about 10% of the population of the Ghouta area to which Douma belongs, the terrorist and their families, were evacuated. Other people have stayed or returned to the now liberated areas.)

No other organization reported of recent shots or explosions in Douma.
Even the New York Times, a staunch defender of the 'opposition' in Syria, wonders about the hold-up but does not bother to answer the question:
[T]he fact that journalists had been able to wander around Douma unmolested raised questions about why it was not deemed safe enough for the investigators to visit.
Why were, allegedly, shots fired at the UN Security team but not on anyone else visiting the area?

If, as the terrorist supporters claim, Chlorine was used in the 'chemical attack', the OSCE investigators are unlikely to find any physical evidence of it. Chlorine dissipates and leaves no unique traces in the dead body. Interviews with local witnesses though could be of value.

One gets the impression that certain circles fear the the OPCW could reach the area, talk to witnesses and confirm the claims made by doctors in the hospital as well as by many journalists that no 'chemical attack' took place. It would expose the attack on Syria as a reckless and unjustified war crime.

The leader of the UNDSS is an Australian police commander:
Mr. Drennan, who from 2009 served as Deputy Commissioner National Security with the Australian Federal Police, brings to the position an extensive career in policing and law enforcement at the community, national and international levels.
Is it possible that a distinguished Australian police commander delays or prevents the OPCW investigation to protect the British and U.S. allies?
Moon of Alabama posts on the 'chemical attack' in Douma and its consequences.

April 8
Syria - Timelines Of 'Gas Attacks' Follow A Similar Scheme (Update II)
April 9
Syria - Any U.S. Strike Will Lead to Escalation
April 11
Syria - A U.S. Attack Would Be Futile - But Serve A Purpose - by M. K. Bhadrakumar
April 11
Trump Asks Russia To Roll Over - It Won't
April 12
Syria - Threat Of Large War Recedes But May Come Back
April 13
Syria - Manipulated Videos Fail To Launch World War III - Updated
April 14
F.U.K.U.S. Strikes Syria - Who Won?
April 16
Syria - Pentagon Hides Attack Failure - 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down