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OPCW accused of Syrian chemical attack cover-up

FRESH doubt has been cast on an alleged 2018 chemical attack in Syria, as a cover-up of documents which debunk claims that it was carried out by the Syrian government was revealed on Saturday.

WikiLeaks released a new batch of internal documents from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Saturday relating to its investigation into the alleged attack in Douma in April 2018.

Blame for the alleged attack was swiftly apportioned to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Britain, France and the US launching missile attacks in retaliation. It led to a dangerous escalation of regional tensions and allowed space for jihadists to regroup.

But the case has dramatically fallen apart over the course of the year, with OPCW whistleblowers claiming that evidence was deliberately withheld and manipulated to shape the pre-determined outcome of blaming the Syrian government.

The latest documents show an email exchange, dated February 27 and 28 2019, between members of the OPCW fact-finding mission (FFM) and senior OPCW officials.

An email from OPCW chief of cabinet Sebastien Braha issues instruction for an engineering report by Ian Henderson to be removed from the organisation’s secure registry.

It reads: “Please get this document out of DRA [Documents Registry Archive] … And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA.”

As reported in the Morning Star earlier this year, Mr Henderson’s report states that the chemical cylinders found at the site of the alleged chemical attack had been placed there, rather than dropped from a helicopter. His findings were omitted from the final OPCW report.

Further leaked documents included minutes of a meeting on June 6 2018 between a staff member of the OPCW and several experts in chemical weapons.

The documents say: “With respect to the consistency of the observed and reported symptoms of the alleged victims with possible exposure to chlorine gas or similar, the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure.”

A further leaked email exchange from the end of July 2018 reveals that the eight OPCW inspectors deployed to Douma during the FFM (except one, a paramedic) should be excluded from discussions on the project.

The Syrian government has consistently denied using chemical weapons on its own people and accuses Western imperialists — in collusion with the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets group — of staging attacks to precipitate military intervention.

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