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OPCW chief offers new lies, excuses to avoid liability in Syria cover-up scandal

This file picture shows a view of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquarters building in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has resorted to new falsehoods and fabrications to avoid accountability about his organization’s cover-up scandal that sought to blame the Syrian government for the 2018 attack in a residential area in Idlib province.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by the Syrian government as the country had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile under a 2013 agreement.

Exposed OPCW documents showed that the inspectors who investigated the Douma incident had found “no evidence” of a chemical weapons attack.

Under pressure from the US and Western governments, the organization, however, censored the findings and in a multi-stage cover-up tried to conceal evidence that undermined the pretext for the US-led bombing of Syria in April 2018.

The Grayzone website said in a report published on Friday that OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, facing growing outcry, had gone before the United Nations Security Council on June 3 and told new falsehoods about his organization’s Syria cover-up scandal in addition to more disingenuous excuses to avoid addressing it.

“Arias has refused to investigate or explain the extensive manipulation of the OPCW’s probe of an alleged April 2018 chlorine attack in Douma. Rather than answer calls to meet with the veteran inspectors who protested the deception, Arias has disparaged them,” the website said.

The OPCW director general, as the website noted, even resorted to feigning ignorance about the scandal, claiming that “I don’t know why” the organization’s final report on Douma “was contested.”

During the open session, Arias backtracked from a previous statement that the Douma controversy could not be revisited, but while appearing to suggest that the investigation could be reopened, he offered more falsehoods about the scandal and made new disingenuous excuses to avoid addressing the issue.

Arias claimed that the OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board has “no authority” to examine the manipulated Douma evidence and also claimed that he personally has “no authority whatsoever to reopen this investigation,” even though the OPCW’s regulations contain no such limits.

In order to discredit the vast quantity of work that was done for the investigation’s original report, which found no evidence of a chlorine attack, the OPCW director general falsely stated that the “bulk” of analysis was conducted after its chief author was no longer involved.

Apart from declining to answer direct questions about the documented scientific fraud in the Douma probe, Arias also ignored a question from the Russian delegation about why the Final Report omitted the conclusions of NATO member state toxicologists who ruled out chlorine gas as the cause of death in the incident.

Russia has repeatedly criticized the OPCW for ignoring the information about toxic provocations in Syria, saying the body is biased against the Damascus government.

Moscow and Damascus have on many occasions said members of the so-called White Helmets civil defense group stage gas attacks in a bid to falsely incriminate Syrian government forces and fabricate pretexts for military strikes by the US-led military coalition.

The group claims to be a humanitarian NGO but has long been accused of collaborating with anti-Damascus militants.

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