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US manipulated OPCW to justify Syria strikes: Journo tells UN

Damascus’ sky lights up as the US launches an attack targeting different parts of the capital on April 14, 2018.

A journalist recounts to the United Nations Security Council how the United States manipulated the world body’s chemical watchdog into reporting a chemical incident in Syria to justify Western military strikes against the Arab country.

Aaron Maté of Grayzone -- an independent and reputable investigative news website that has been hailed for its honesty by the likes of famed American director Oliver Stone -- made the remarks to the UNSC via video-link as means of raising awareness about “one of the most important, and overlooked, global stories in recent memory.”

“It appears the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) was compromised to justify military strikes,” he was quoted by the website on Tuesday as telling the meeting.

On April 7, 2018, the southwestern city of Douma in Syria witnessed an attack that reportedly killed at least 43 people.

One week after the attack that came at a time when the Syrian army was about to win the battle against foreign-backed militants there, the US, Britain, and France launched coordinated missile strikes against sites and research facilities near the Syrian capital Damascus and the western Syrian city of Homs.

The Western allies claimed at the time that the operation had sought to paralyze, what they called, the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

In July 2018, the OPCW released a report alleging use of chemicals in the Douma incident in order to retroactively justify the Western incursion.

This is while the Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to a joint mission led by the UN and the OPCW in 2014. It has also constantly said that no chemical attack had happened in Douma and that the incident had been staged by foreign intelligence agencies.

Seemingly endorsing Damascus’ outcry, the journalist said the OPCW changed the original report that its investigators had compiled after probing the scene of the attack and pressure by the United States quelled protests to the manipulation by the veteran experts.

“The chief author of the initial report, identified by the OPCW as Inspector B, was among those who deployed to Syria for the entire Douma mission. Records show he was also, at the time, the OPCW’s top expert in chemical weapons chemistry,” Maté said.

The said inspector communicated his protest to the engineering, but “a US government delegation met with members of the investigation team to try to influence them. The US officials encouraged the Douma team to conclude that the Syrian government had committed a chemical attack with chlorine,” the journalist noted.

“It is worth noting here that the US delegation promoted this chlorine theory despite the fact that it was still not publicly known that no nerve agents had been found in Douma,” he said.

Over all, “under direct US government pressure, the OPCW concealed evidence that pointed to the incident being staged on the ground, and instead released a report that suggested Syrian government culpability,” Maté said.

The journalist also noted that the OPCW’s Director-General Jose Bustani, meanwhile, tried to sidestep protests to the cover-up by falsely portraying the protesting experts as rogue actors, with only minor roles in the investigation and incomplete information.

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