A former US secretary of state famously blamed Moscow for being ‘ultimately responsible’ for every chemical incident in Syria, after reports of a chorine attack in Ghouta in January. The incident, it now turns out, never happened.
The reports about an alleged chlorine gas attack that, supposedly, affected more than 20 civilians on January 22, were dismissed by the medical specialists of the Red Crescent, who worked in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta for many years. The doctors said they found no traces of the use of any chemical agent at that time.
“At some point, our [hospital] received six people, who were allegedly suffering from respiratory problems. Following a medical examination, we did not find any problems at all, any traces of chemical agents,” Seif Aldin Hobia, a member of the Red Crescent, who worked for the last seven years at the central hospital of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, told journalists. Recalling the events that took place in January, he said “we had no evidence of chemical agents being used [in the area].”
His words were echoed by another medical specialist of the Red Crescent, Muhammad Adnan Tabazhu, who said that the medics obtained no evidence of chemical weapons being used in Eastern Ghouta between 2012 and 2018, when he was working in the area.
Back in January, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously claimed that “more than 20 civilians, mostly children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” adding that the incident raised “serious concerns that Bashar al-Assad may be continuing to use chemical weapons against his own people.”
He then immediately said that “whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria.”
The timing of the incident, that has now been exposed as fake, conspicuously coincided with a 29-nation conference in Paris, organized to create the ‘International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.’ The reports about the ‘attack’ came just a day ahead of the meeting. The reports were produced by controversial pro-militant sources, namely the White Helmets and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Moscow at the time slammed the US accusations as a “massive propaganda attack conducted with the purpose of slandering Russia on the world stage and undermining efforts for a peaceful settlement in Syria.” Back then Russia also called an emergency UN Security Council meeting, to discuss those allegations of the use of chemical weapons Syria.
In early February, Pentagon chief James Mattis admitted that the US has no evidence of such a chemical agent as sarin ever being used by the Syrian government at all. He also openly said that the only information the US had been able to obtain, so far, came from “other groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground” and just “people who claim it’s been used.”
Mattis, however, claimed that it was “clear” that Damascus had used chlorine gas in the Syrian conflict but, as before, failed to provide any evidence substantiating his claims. Reports of chemical attacks, blamed on Damascus, had repeatedly surfaced earlier, with Western media and officials immediately jumping at the opportunity to put all the blame for such incidents on the Syrian government and Moscow, often only to admit later that they actually have no evidence the attacks in question had even taken place.
The latest revelations come amid another wave of hysteria that followed yet another claim made by the same controversial pro-militant sources that, once again, have accused Damascus of carrying out a chemical attack in the town of Douma on Saturday. Syria and Russia dismissed all the accusations and called the reports fake news and propaganda, which were aimed at helping the extremists and justifying potential strikes against Syrian forces.