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OPCW Releases Douma “Chemical Attack” Report. No ‘Nerve Agent’ Found

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OPCW Releases Douma “Chemical Attack” Report. No 'Nerve Agent' Found

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Chlorine was likely used in a chemical attack in Syria’s Douma last April, the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a new report released on March 1.

“Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma, the evaluation and analysis of all the above-referenced information gathered by the FFM provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on April 7, 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine,” the OPCW’s report reads.

The international organization said the FFM conducted a number of on-site visits and analyzed a range of inputs including witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses, and additional digital information from witnesses.

The tunnel that had appeared in videos and photographs released by Syrian opposition activists was among the sites visited by the FFM. The videos and photos showed bodies of victims of the alleged chemical attack.

The visit debunked the earlier’ claims of anti-government sources as no bodies were found in the tunnel by the FFM. Furthermore, the samples collected from the tunnel showed no trace of toxic chemicals.

“Samples for analysis were collected in the tunnel following the sampling plan, but no chemicals relevant to the allegation were found,” the FFM said in its report.

The OPCW also stressed that its team found no traces of any designated chemical weapon agent during its investigation in Douma.

“[We] did not observe any major key precursors for the synthesis of chemical weapons agents, particularly for nerve agents such as sarin, or vesicants such as sulphur or nitrogen mustard,” the report reads.

U.S. officials had expressed confidence that both chlorine and sarin gas were used in Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma. The claims regarding the Sarin are now confirmed to be northing but lies.

“While the available information is much greater on the chlorine use, we do have significant information that also points to sarin use,” the CNN quoted a senior administration official on April 14 of 2018.

The U.S., France and the UK used the alleged chemical attack as a pretext to launch a missile strike on several military bases and research facilities in Syria. Back then, the mainstream media jumped to support the strike and accused the Damascus government of using chemical weapons.

The OPCW refrained from identifying the party responsible for the incident, despite earlier being granted such powers. However, its report noted that the FFM found a gas cylinder similar to the one used in the attack in an abounded warehouse of the militants who once controlled Douma.

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  • MichaH

    Dear SF-Team,

    thanks for all your work, but my friends can‘t you just add an link to the report anywhere, somewhere in the article, in the topic or where ever it is suitable?

    With best regards.

  • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

    Do yourself a favor and read the report, it so well written and researched, and even the slightest details they caught; lampshades and glasses misplaces/replaced/staged and containers moved around, cleaned and then attempted to set on fire, there are so many facts in it!

    So take a few hours of your time and brew a kettle of coffee and read it.

  • Sinbad2

    The OPCW no longer has any credibility, it’s obvious they are a political organization working for the US/UK.
    People in all countries should lobby their politicians to withdraw funding.

    • PZIVJ

      A gas tank of Cl, which is used to purify water in some areas.
      This is a sad finding by OPCW !

    • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

      Have you read the report?
      I have read every word of the 106 page report.
      They say that there are no proof of any casaulties caused by the alleged gas attack, and they rip appart that fake and staged hospital scene.
      They say that the “victims” in that hospital video is most likely from dust and smoke inhalation, since they show none of the signs that should be there, if they actually had inhaled the alleged gas.

      They also say that the canisters have been moved and tampered with; cleaned and set on fire, and that there where no proof that the casaulties showed in another video is from that attack.

      They so many times rip apart the official western MSM BS, that I cant see how someone can say that they actually support the official BS story.

      • Leonardo Facchin

        I have read it, but I developed very different feelings from those you mention.

        To me the report looks embarassing. Actually it doesn’t even look like a report; more like an attempt to justify a pre-conceived theory at any cost.
        It feels sloppy: important informations are witheld while they show pretty pictures that have no explanatory value, almost as if trying to dress the report in a professional look.

        While reading, I didn’t feel like I was reading the report of an investigation.
        An investigation is meant to probe different hypothesis and to rate them according to ascending likelihood. There are no hypothesis here: there is only a 100+ pages long attempt to show that the Western narrative is accurate enough. Every effort is directed towards establishing that the data gathered by the FFM are “compatible” with the chlorine attack narrative.

        That is: they try very hard to show that a chemical attack cannot be ruled out and they interpret any and all informations in light of this undeclared purpose: White Helmets testimonies are taken at face value without regard for the manipulation of corpses proved by the videos, nor the inconsistencies between the supposedly very rapid onset of lethal symptomes that the bodies allegedly showed and the complete absence of traces of organophosphorus substances in environmental and biological samples. The chance that the locations and positions of the corpses shown in the videos could have been the result of staging them for maximum mediatic effect is not discussed. The text of the report reads like the FFM team knew for certain that what is shown in the digital media was the way the scene actually looked like immediately after the alleged attack. But what justifies such a conviction is not explained at all, because the issue is not even mentioned.

        The likely exposure to chlorine is based on the analysis of chlorinated compounds that were found in locations 2 and 4 (apartment buildings).
        Two compounds are considered the most important telltale signs: bornyl chloride and thrichlorophenol.
        I’m not a chemist, so I might be inaccurate here, but what I could figure out by reading the report is that bornyl chloride could be the result of alpha-pinene in wood reacting with chlorine or other chlorine compounds. In order to rule out anything but chlorine gas, the FFM looked at the thrichlorophenol, stating that while the bornyl chloride could also be explained by the interaction of alpha-pinene with different chlorine compounds, the thrichlorophenol can only be explained by exposing wood to chlorine gas (pages 13-14 of the report).
        Except that the report avoid to discuss the fact that thrichlorophenol was also used in the past as a wood preservative, which could also explain its presence in the wood samples gathered by the FFM. Maybe they had other reasons to discard this explanation, but the fact that they don’t even mention it raises doubts about a sloppy reporting or at the very least a lack of transparency.

        Having concluded that chlorine was likely deployed, they go on trying very hard to convince the reader that the two yellow cannisters are the likely vessels of delivery. So they cite unnamed experts whose computer models allegedly show that celings, cannisters and accessory damage are all compatible with data observed and gathered. Once again, there is no discussionof alternative hypothesis, even though the report admits that at least once crime scene was tempered with.

        In my opinion, this report is what you get when a politicized organization must guarantee that three prominent countries like the US, France and the UK do not lose too much face after they embraced the shaky narrative of a chemical attack for which there is very little hard proof. The report amounts to an attemopt at connecting dots in the only way that allows the western mainstream narrative to survive, even if in a diminished form.

        • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

          Interesting thoughts.

          We agree that there is some statements that leave questions and that needs further investigation, but i believe that they did a rather good job, also stating that the only person in the hospital that had any traces/remnants of anything that could be connected to chloride, was that it was/is used in fireretartent garments, there by saying; none of the persons in the hospital scenes had any traces of chloride in them and that the “symptoms” shown by the persons are because of dust and smoke and the stress followed by the shelling that evening.

          They also states that the corpses shown in the other video, could not be directly linked to the alleged attack, thereby saying; the claims that anyone died in the alleged attack have no proof.
          And since no one collected samples from them, made any autopsy or any corpses is available for their own investigation, they say that there is no proof that anyone died instantly or following the alleged gas attack and that the video with the corpses, could be from another incident.

          For me, in some instances, the lack of other hypothesis, is simply because that what they had to go with, ruled them out.
          We do not know if they had any other hypothesis in mind or tried any other methods to come up with other reasons, perhaps they did, perhaps they did not.
          Sometimes experience rules out other reasons, that for us, seems plausible.

          Maybe im missing or misunderstanding something, but i believe that they did a pretty good investigation here, focusing on what they had to go with.

          • Leonardo Facchin

            If I had to guess, the fact that the FFM couldn’t link any specific chemicals to the death of (allegedly) 43 people will be blamed on the Syrian authorities, that apparently tried to impose some preconditions on the exhumation of the bodies, preconditions that the FFM didn’t feel worth accepting (for unspecified reasons).
            In the end the FFM did say that the attack happened. And that will be interpreted as a confirmation of what the Western countries told the world since the beginning (except for the sarin part… but the media have already been at work for months in order to minimize the claim that sarin was also used, stating that it doesn’t matter much because chlorine was the main focus of the accusations).

            Also, I’m not saying that the FFM is certainly wrong. Nor do I claim to know more than them. I just question their choice of not even mentioning some of the most blatant issues their report glosses over and what I feel is a report that is meant to push a stance more than discover facts.

  • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

    So, the FUKUS gangsters launched a 100+ cruise missile attack on Syria, with the risk of starting WW3 with a conflict against Russian forces based on Al-Queda produced youtube videos BEFORE the visit of the OPCW, and now only Chlorine use has been “confirmed” by the NATO packed and controlled OPCW?
    These were the reports by the government and billionaire controlled media such as CNN to justify the attack against Syria:
    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/14/politics/us-chlorine-sarin-syria/index.html
    And now the NATO-stuffed OPCW:
    “did not observe any major key precursors for the synthesis of chemical weapons agents, particularly for nerve agents such as sarin, or vesicants such as sulphur or nitrogen mustard,”
    Who will make the FUKUS gangsters pay for their war-crimes???

  • Brother Thomas

    Reparations for the missile attack and a formal apology from the FUKUS troika to Syria are in order.

  • TomWonacott

    The article is deceptive – and leaves out important information from the OPCW report.

    1. The “chemical weapons” lab and warehouse under the control of the “rebels” identified by the Syrian regime was NOT used for the development of chemical weapons (OPCW final report):.

    “………From the analysis of the information gathered during the on-site visits to the
    warehouse and facility suspected of producing chemical weapons, there was no
    indication of either facility being involved in their manufacture. The information
    collected indicates that the activities at both locations were mostly related to the
    production of explosives
    …….”

    2. At locations 2 and 4, in the areas where chlorine killed over 40 people, the damage to the cylinders *(found at locations 2 and 4) are consistent with the holes/damage (apertures) in the roofs where they were found and determined by OPCW expert analysis. That is very difficult to fabricate on the part of the “rebels” (OPCW final report):

    The analyses include general descriptions, geometrical data, trajectory
    calculations, empirical calculations and numerical simulations.

    8.31 The analyses indicated that the structural damage to the rebar-reinforced concrete
    terrace at Location 2 was caused by an impacting object with a geometrically
    symmetric shape and sufficient kinetic energy to cause the observed damage. The
    analyses indicate that the damage observed on the cylinder found on the roof terrace,
    the aperture, the balcony, the surrounding rooms, and the rooms underneath and the
    structure above, is consistent with the creation of the aperture observed in the terrace
    by the cylinder found in that location
    .

    The thorough analysis by the OPCW at locations 2 & 4 are consistent with the yellow cylinders being dropped from a helicopter. Obviously, this points toward the Syrian regime.

    3. On April 9th, the Russian military entered into the buildings where 40(+) people perished from chlorine poisoning – and reported there was no chemical attack. This was reported on April 9th at the Russian MOD website. This was impossible to determine without testing as was proven by the OPCW. This was simply another Russian lie.

    4. Although no bodies were exhumed, witnesses which testified for the OPCW confirmed the dead inside the building and outside the building (OPCW final report).

    “……Witnesses reported to the FFM team that there were 43 decedents related to the alleged chemical incident, most of whom were seen in videos and photos strewn on the floor of multiple levels of an apartment building and in front of the same building. Additionally, several witnesses reported seeing decedents in the basement of the building, on multiple floors of the building, on the streets and inside the basements of several buildings within the same area. A United Nations agency also reported cases of death by exposure to a toxic chemical…….”

    5. Although Russia still refers to the Douma attack as a ‘White helmets’ staged provocation.”, it’s clear that the Russian government is covering for the Assad regime. On April 7th, (identified) helicopters dropped chlorine cannisters carrying a payload of chlorine killing over 40 people in Douma.

    • Leonardo Facchin

      The report doesn’t say that in areas 2 and 4 the chlorine killed more than 40 people. The report actually admits that the FFM couldn’t even ascertain how many people actually died. The figure of 43 dead is based entirely on White Helmets and other witnesses testimony and there is no indipendent corroboration.

      The assessment of the cylinders is about the damage being cosistent and compatible. That is: what the report actually says is that it’s not impossible that the cylinders caused that damage. It doesn’t state how likely it is, nor does it compare that theory with other alternative possibilities (for example, the damage being pre-existing and the cylinders having been staged into position). It doesn’t discuss how likely it is that a cylinder could bounce from its landing position onto the bed. It just states that it might have had enough energy left to do it and that it did.

      Also, the assessment is based on the work of unnamed experts whose computational models cannot be checked and verified because we don’t know how they were developed. Simulations are usually very dependent on the choice of parameters. In the name of transparency the report should have divulged those models, so that other experts could make up their own mind.

      The truth is that the FFM explored only one theory, trying hard to push it even in front of many inconsistencies.

      While not openly stating so, the report implicitly acknowledges many of those inconsistencies. For example, it strongly suggests that the dense secretions and foaming mouths that were observed in the videos cannot be explained only by the action of chlorine. The rapid onset of symptoms that prevented people from trying to flee suggests the use of a much more lethal substance. But the FFM couldn’t find any trace of nerve agents. This could suggest that the bodies were manipulated in order to maximise the emotional impact of the images. Which is not so conspiratorial and outrageous as it sounds, if we consider that we know for sure that the bodies were moved, arranged and filmed in different positions.

      When it comes to witnesses, the FFM offers what it calls a “composite” summary of their statements, mixing sources that tell very different accounts of the events.

      “A number” (what does that even mean? Why not give a figure?) of physicians stated that the Douma hospital (the one were the video showing children and adults being doused was filmed) didn’t treat chemical weapons related injuries on the night of 7 april 2018. Which means that either a) there were only fatalities and no wounded (which is pretty strange) or b) that all the wounded were actually cared for by White Helmets and other medical personnel (which is strange in a different way).
      The White Helmets are the ones that stick to their initial story and reports of casualties who showed signs of chemical weapons poisoning, including miosis, foam at the mouth and cyanosis.
      Physicians for the most part didn’t observe those symptoms in the patients they cared for.

      Regarding how the FFM determined that chlorine gas entered in contact with many items in locations 2 and 4 I have already said above. To this very moment, nobody from the OPCW has bothered explaining which data allowed them to reject the simple hypothesis that the thrichlorophenol in the wood samples was there because the wood was treated for preservation and not because of a reaction with chlorine gas. Maybe they have a perfectly sound reason. But they didn’t even mention that thriclorophenol was used in teh past as a wood preservative.

      • TomWonacott

        The assessment of the cylinders is about the damage being cosistent and compatible. That is: what the report actually says is that it’s not impossible that the cylinders caused that damage. It doesn’t state how likely it is, nor does it compare that theory with other alternative possibilities (for example, the damage being pre-existing and the cylinders having been staged into position). It doesn’t discuss how likely it is that a cylinder could bounce from its landing position onto the bed. It just states that it might have had enough energy left to do it and that it did.

        Here is the actual wording in the conclusion of the document – and there is nothing suggesting “not impossible”. The assessment by experts is that the damage to the cylinder is consistent with the damage to the roof:

        9.8 The team analysed the available material and consulted independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy who utilised specialised computer modelling techniques to provide qualified and competent assessments of the trajectory and damage to the cylinders found at Locations 2 and 4.

        9.9 The analyses indicated that the structural damage to the rebar-reinforced concrete
        terrace at Location 2 was caused by an impacting object with a geometrically
        symmetric shape and sufficient kinetic energy to cause the observed damage. The
        analyses indicate that the damage observed on the cylinder found on the roof-top
        terrace, the aperture, the balcony, the surrounding rooms, the rooms underneath and
        the structure above, is consistent with the creation of the aperture observed in the terrace by the cylinder found in that location.

        9.10 At Location 4, the results of the studies indicated that the shape of the aperture
        produced in the modulation matched the shape and damage observed by the team. The
        studies further indicated that, after passing through the ceiling and impacting the floor
        at lower speed, the cylinder continued an altered trajectory, until reaching the position
        in which it was found.

        You write:

        While not openly stating so, the report implicitly acknowledges many of those inconsistencies. For example, it strongly suggests that the dense secretions and foaming mouths that were observed in the videos cannot be explained only by the action of chlorine. The rapid onset of symptoms that prevented people from trying to flee suggests the use of a much more lethal substance. But the FFM couldn’t find any trace of nerve agents

        The OPCW never imlies that the symptoms cannot be explained only by Chlorine (you need to cite the location in the document where this is implied). In actuality, this is what the OPCW states:

        8.103 Many of the signs and symptoms reported by the medical personnel, witnesses and casualties (as well as those seen in multiple videos provided by witnesses), their rapid onset, and the large number of those reportedly affected, indicate exposure to an inhalational irritant or toxic substance.

        You write that physicians (for the most part) didn’t observe those symptoms in the patients; however, the OPCW document cites “medical personnel” (which may or may not include physicians that observed the following symptoms:

        8.78 According to medical staff accounts, a majority of the casualties were described as having mild signs and symptoms of exposure and were ambulatory. Moderate and severe casualties were non-ambulatory, were described as having altered mental state, and were assisted to the emergency department.

        8.79 Broadly, patients were reported to display shortness of breath, burning sensation in the chest, oral hypersecretion or foaming, and ocular irritation. Additional complaints were visual disturbances, lacrimation, dysphonia, nausea, vomiting and pruritus. A non-specific number of patients classified as severe manifested with seizure activity described as flexion of arms and wrists. Medical personnel reported the absence of any signs of external trauma.

        You seem to be trying your utmost to reach a conclusion which the OPCW doesn’t imply at all.

        • Leonardo Facchin

          Consistent means non-contradictory. That is exactly what I was saying: the report’s authors don’t compare different hypothesis and their relative likelihood. The report is only concerned with proving that the release of chlorine by air dropped cylinders is compatible with the data the FFM collected.
          Other explanations might be consistent with those data, and maybe even more likely. But none is considered and discussed.

          About the symptoms, I never said the OPCW implies anything. I said that the report does. Not because it states as much, but because of what it says and what we know by means other than this report. We know that chlorine is unlikely to immediately incapacitate its victims, without giving them a chance to attempt to escape, and that it doesn’t cause excessive secretions the way a nerve agent like sarin does. It doesn’t matter if the report does not explicitly say so. The implications are born because of the unlikeliness that some of the symptoms and conditions the bodies are said to have been found in were actually caused by chlorine.

          About the patients, the problem is that the report conflates and lists all those symptoms within a single paragraph. But only some of those symptoms are consistent with chemical poisoning, while others are also consistent with smoke and dust intoxication. Smoke and dust are “inhalation irritants” but they are not chemical weapons. Mentioning them in the same paragraph that also mentions the words “toxic substance” only leads to confusion.

          You quoted 8.78 and 8.79, but you didn’t quote paragraphs 8.48 through 8.54 which deal with the assessment of the physicians that were actually working and receving patients at the emergency center and that did state that they didn’t receive patients affected by chemical weapons.

          • TomWonacott

            You make some good points.

            Consistent means non-contradictory. That is exactly what I was saying: the report’s authors don’t compare different hypothesis and their relative likelihood. The report is only concerned with proving that the release of chlorine by air dropped cylinders is compatible with the data the FFM collected.

            What they are saying is the damage to the cylinders and the roof(s) is consistent and they probably happened at the same time. They leave it to the reader to determine how that might have happened – which obviously – the cylinders were dropped from the air. It seems unlikely that the “rebels” would (or could) have chiseled the roof and damaged the cylinders to give the impression that happened. What other scenarios are you thinking of? There was no attack at all and this whole thing was staged?

            The report does leave open the possibility of other hypothesis. The report states:

            2.16 Based on the analysis results of the samples taken by the FFM from the cylinders, their proximity at both locations, as well as the analysis results of the samples mentioned under paragraph 2.6, it is possible that the cylinders were the source of the substances containing reactive chlorine.8

            Possible is not exactly a rousing endorsement for the source of the chlorine. The word “possible” allows a considerable amount of wiggle room to speculate; however, the OPCW probably eliminated a staged chemical attack because it considered there was “reasonable grounds” that a chemical attack took place. Effectively, they are calling the Russians liars!

            We know that chlorine is unlikely to immediately incapacitate its victims, without giving them a chance to attempt to escape, and that it doesn’t cause excessive secretions the way a nerve agent like sarin does.

            Of course, that depends on the concentration of the Chlorine gas which is heavier than air and would have concentrated in the lower levels of Locations 2 & 4. The OPCW doesn’t state specifically say there is a problem with the deaths by chlorine gas. Possibly something will be leaked from the OPCW which confirms your skepticism (or maybe the Russians will successfully hack the OPCW this time).

            I’m sure that there were a variety of casualties coming to the hospital. There would have been great confusion and panic. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that someone would yell “chemical! chemical!”.