The chemical weapons watchdog released its conclusions on last year’s high-profile incident in early March. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) claimed that chlorine-filled gas cylinders were dropped from the sky on the Damascus suburb. It did not directly pin the blame on the Syrian government, however.
Last month, there was a leak of an internal technical assessment which had been produced by a member of the OPCW fact-finding mission that studied two locations where the cylinders were found.
The document stated that the evidence the inspectors found didn’t square with the idea that the cylinders fell from the sky, and that the logical explanation was that they had been planted there. This opinion was ignored in the watchdog’s final document, and this makes it “a product of compromised reporting of the inspection and analysis process by upper level OPCW management,” Theodore Postol, a leading expert in missile technology, told the Grayzone Project.
The scalding criticism came in response to the way the head of the OPCW addressed the embarrassing leak. Director General Fernando Arias said the opinion had no place in the final report because it “pointed at possible attribution” in the incident, which was contrary to the mandate given to the mission.
He said the data was instead studied by three external experts, who “all reached the same conclusions that can be found in the FFM final report.”
Postol disagreed and accused Arias of mischaracterizing what was said in the leaked paper. The document “provided unambiguous contradictory data… that explicitly showed that the attacks were instead staged,” but didn’t go as far as pinning it on anyone. The criticism stopped short of suggesting Douma and other alleged chemical weapons incidents were false flag events but the implication was clear.
The Douma incident sparked global outrage, partially thanks to footage of children being doused with water in a makeshift hospital, which was circulated by the media worldwide. The scene was later revealed to have been staged and not related to the alleged chemical attack.