WikiLeaks Suggests Authors Of Redacted OPCW Report On Duma Attack Did Not Work In Syria

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 15th December, 2019) Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks on Saturday released more documents concerning the redacted version of the report of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on alleged chemical attack in Syria's Duma in April 2018, and suggested that authors of the report did not actually work in Syria.

In July, Alexander Shulgin, Russia's envoy to OPCW, said that the head of the organization's fact-finding mission probing claims of a chemical attack in Duma had never been to this city. On Saturday, WikiLeaks published a memorandum written by one of the scientists, sent to investigate the attack as part of the fact-finding mission, to Fernando Arias, the OPCW director general. The document dates back to March 14, 2019.

"The aforementioned memo states that around 20 inspectors have expressed concerns over the final FFM [fact-finding mission] report, which they feel 'did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to Douma.' Only one member of the fact finding team that went to Douma, a paramedic, is said to have contributed to the final version of the report. Apart from that one person, an entirely new team was gathered to assemble the final report, referred to as the 'FFM core team,'" the press release read.

The press release added that authors of the report might not having worked in Syria.

"This new team was staffed with people who 'had only operated in country X,' according to the memorandum. It is not clear what country that refers to, except that it is presumably not Syria," it stated.

In November, WikiLeaks published an email, sent by a member of the OPCW mission to Syria to his superiors, in which he voiced his "gravest" concerns over the redacted version of the report in question, which he co-authored. According to the OPCW employee, the document, which is understood to have been edited by the secretariat, misrepresented facts, omitted certain details and introduced "unintended bias," having "morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted."

Reports about an alleged chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta's Duma emerged on April 7, 2018. The European Union and United States promptly accused Damascus of being behind it, while the Syrian government denied any involvement. Syria and Russia, a close ally of the former, said that the attack was staged by local militants and the White Helmets group.

A week later, without waiting for the results of an international investigation, the United States, the United Kingdom and France hit what they called Syria's chemical weapons facilities with over 100 missiles in response to the reported attack.

After a significant delay, OPCW finally arrived to the site to conduct a probe on April 21, 2018. It issued its final report on its investigation in March, in which the organization said that chlorine was "most likely" the chemical agent used in the incident but stopped short of apportioning blame.