Town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus. © AFP
By Finian Cunningham
With astounding double-think, the US and Britain accuse Russia of “tampering” with the alleged chemical-weapon attack site in Syria’s Douma – just days after the US, UK and France barraged the county with over 100 missiles.
If anyone is guilty of tampering with the alleged crime scene, it is the NATO trio who rushed to bomb Syria just as inspectors belonging to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Syria – invited there by the Syrian and Russian governments.
The frenzied Western media campaign to find Syria and Russia guilty of a war crime involving alleged chemical weapons is further highlighted by the reporting this week by award-winning British journalist Robert Fisk.
Fisk, who has been covering Middle East war zones for nearly 40 years, went to Douma city to file his report for The Independent. Credit goes to The Independent for publishing Fisk’s investigative work.
In the aftermath of the weekend’s airstrikes, what he found from interviewing local people and medics is arresting, if not shocking. From Fisk’s witness-gathering report, there was no gas attack carried out on April 7 – in stark contradiction to what the US, British and French governments have been declaring in hysterical tones for the past two weeks.
Those declarations culminated in the US-led bombing of Syria at the weekend. What’s more, the US, British and French leaders are reserving the right to carry out further strikes on Syria – if “the regime repeats its chemical-weapons attacks on civilians.”
What Robert Fisk reports from inside Douma corroborates what the Syrian government and its Russian ally have been saying consistently since the alleged incident on April 7. The incident, they say, was staged by the so-called “first responder” group known as the White Helmets, who work hand-in-glove with notorious terrorist outfits like Jaysh al-Islam and Al-Nusra Front. The White Helmets are also on the pay roll of the American CIA, as well as British and French intelligence agencies.
Similar to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s earlier claim, Fisk reports that on April 7, a panic scene was engendered in Douma’s hospital by White Helmets activists who shouted that “chemical weapons” were being deployed. These activists began dousing people with water hoses and conveniently had video cameras on hand to capture the chaotic scenes acted out by unwitting civilians. A doctor in the hospital confirmed this to Fisk.
As for the supposed dozens of dead that Western governments and media blamed on “animal Assad” and Russian complicity, there is no evidence of the alleged victims. Video footage of dead people in a war zone is hardly proof.
This means that US President Trump and his British and French counterparts, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron, just launched a criminal aggression on Syria in grave violation of international law and the country’s sovereignty. This is exactly what many independent observers were decrying at the time of the missile barrage, warning that the presumed evidence for a chemical attack was far from substantiated.
Indeed, the suspicion is that Trump, May and Macron knew that their evidential ground for attacking Syria was impossibly thin, and that is why they rushed to bomb the country. It was a decision hastened by the arrival of the OPCW inspectors heading to Douma. The inspectors are due to start their investigative work on Wednesday – delayed apparently by security concerns.
In all probability, the Douma incident was a propaganda stunt orchestrated by Western-backed anti-government militants and their White Helmets media agents, precisely in order to provoke an external military attack on Syria by the US, Britain and France.
Several things stand out about Robert Fisk’s latest reporting. This is exactly the kind of critical journalism that other Western media outlets should have been engaged in following the alleged chemical weapon attack on April 7. Credit goes to Fisk and The Independent. But it is a shameful case of “too little, too late.”
Also, it is notable how Fisk’s reportage is being roundly ignored – at least so far – by other mainstream Western media outlets. That’s an impressive feat of self-censorship at a crucial time when the US, British and French governments should be open to accusations of committing a war crime on Syria over their latest blitzkrieg.
This is especially so, given their warnings of more to come, over “further” chemical-weapons use. The urgent concern is that these governments are giving themselves a license to act on more false flags. They should be held rigorously to account for their claims.
This disregard for international law is made possible because of the appalling willingness of Western mainstream media to regurgitate self-serving claims made by terrorist-affiliated groups in Syria and their propaganda outlets.
American, British and French mainstream media have given saturated coverage to the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society, and the dodgy one-man-band operation in Coventry known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. CNN, the BBC and France 24 cite these groups as if they are “authoritative” and impartial, when in fact they are all part of the regime-change campaign in Syria sponsored by the US and its British and French allies.
It is telling, too, how Robert Fisk is being assailed as a “Syrian, Russian stooge” on social media. The one Western mainstream journalist who has had the integrity to delve into Syria’s Douma to uncover a very different critical perspective – one that disproves the claims peddled by the US, British and French leaders and other mainstream media – is being vilified for principled journalism.
Western corporate media are a grotesque mockery of public information and critical, independent accounting of government power.
Apart from Robert Fisk, the few other Western journalists to have ventured into Syria to report on what is really happening are independent, “alternative” sources like Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley and Patrick Henningsen. They have exposed the “Oscar-winning” White Helmets group, which is actually complicit in staging atrocities against civilians living under a reign of terror imposed by their terrorist affiliates. It is understood the White Helmets activists behind the Douma provocation on April 7 have since fled the city along with the terrorist gangs under the cover of an evacuation deal with the liberating Syrian and Russian forces, who are now in control of most of the Eastern Ghouta suburbs near Damascus.
Western media journalists, if they were really committed to principles of accuracy and critical investigation, should be poring over the rubble in Douma, interviewing local people and finding out what really happened. But they are not.
That is why, one suspects, they are not there. That is why the US and Britain are now accusing Russia of “tampering” with the site in Douma – because there is no evidence of a chemical-weapons attack, as Robert Fisk reports.
That means the US, British and French governments just committed a brazen war crime.
This would also explain why Western mainstream media have now quickly moved their focus to allegations of “Russian cyberattacks” on American and British infrastructure. This is a classic case of “keeping ahead of the story.” Western governments and their dutiful media do not have a “story” – at least not the one they claim – in Syria, so the imperative is to change to another subject as quickly as possible.
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