Late admission: Who is really responsible for the chemical attacks in Syria?
by Bakhtiar Urusov on 15 Apr 2024 2 Comments

On 22 February this year, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued an opinion from the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) that found ISIL* responsible for the use of chemical weapons (CW) in the Syrian town of Mari in September 2015.


Despite the fact that it took the OPCW more than 8 years to state a known fact, the conclusion uses cautious language such as “there is reason to believe” that “only ISIL* could have had the intent, motive and capability” to use CW at this location. The conclusion is based on another OPCW document, the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report on the Mari incident, dated 24 January 2022.


It is noteworthy that the OPCW inspectors conclude that CW has been used by ISIL* fighters against other “armed groups”, including the US-controlled terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra*. Despite its official recognition by the international community as a terrorist organisation, the report refers to this international terrorist organisation as “armed opposition to ISIL*”. It also states separately that there were no Syrian army forces in the Mari area. In reality, this refers to the presence of chemical weapons in the terrorists’ possession, which they used in their struggle for power.


At the same time, there are known facts of the use of chemical weapons by Jebhat al-Nusra* itself. For example, in 2015, Turkish parliamentarians presented evidence of supplies of precursors for CW (sarin) and CW missiles by militant groups from Turkey.


Details of British and American intelligence assistance to extremists in the creation of CWs are revealed in the book “The Red Line and the Rat Line” by the well-known American journalist Seymour Hersh. In it, the author refers to the documents of the US military intelligence, according to which the US not only knew about the creation of CW by pro-Turkish militants with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but also actively contributed to it.


This fact played a key role in President Obama’s declaration of readiness to attack Syrian troops if CW were used. The Americans knew that such a scenario had already been prepared by extremists supported by Washington and its allies – Ankara, Riyadh and Qatar. The “White Helmets” and “Belingcat” organisations, created by Britain’s MI6, were to provide the necessary media image to justify the invasion of Syria.


Damascus’ proposal to destroy Syria’s CW stockpiles, with Moscow’s active mediation, was postponed for a while, but did not stop the provocations with its use. Apparently, the initiative took the members of the anti-Assad coalition by surprise and they had no plan B. Against the background of the defeat of the terrorists in Syria, it was too late to create another pretext for a quick invasion of Syria.


The subsequent chemical attacks in Syrian cities were clearly attributed to the Syrian army. Without any investigation, based only on the testimony of the White Helmets and Belingcat, the Americans, British and French launched several massive attacks against the Syrian army in an attempt to prevent the defeat of the terrorists. Just three days after the Syrian Air Force destroyed a militant CW depot in Khan Shaykhun (April 2017), the US Navy struck the Syrian Air Force’s Shayrat airbase with missiles, which played a key role in pushing al-Nusra militants out of northern Idlib province.


When the Syrian military forced the militants to retreat from the suburb of Douma in April 2018, the militants staged a chemical attack there, prompting a massive missile attack by US, French and British forces on the advancing Syrian army just six days after the incident. As before, the White Helmets’ testimony about the Syrian army’s use of CW was enough for the West. With the full cooperation of Damascus, OPCW experts inspected the site of the alleged CW use. Subsequently, one of the inspectors appeared at the UN with a refutation of the White Helmets’ conclusion, providing evidence of a staged use of CW. However, his testimony was rejected by the OPCW and he was ostracised and dismissed without any legal basis.


Similar provocations have been carried out in other cities in Syria. All of them have one thing in common – preliminary military successes of the Syrian army against terrorists in a particular area, the absence of any military sense in the use of CW, as well as immediate air strikes by the “friends of Syria” led by the United States, the invasion of foreign troops into the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.


If it took more than eight years to recognise ISIL* responsibility for the use of CW, it took only a few days for the West to accuse and attack government forces. All the CW provocations in Syria are reminiscent of the infamous test tube of white powder demonstrated by US Secretary of State C. Powell at the UN in 2003. With the passage of time this lie, which became the pretext for the invasion of Iraq, has become obvious to everyone.


The use of CWs by terrorists supported by the West, Turkey and KSA is also becoming obvious. But we should not expect Washington, London, Paris or Ankara to acknowledge this fact any time soon. This would mean admitting that they have committed crimes against humanity, violated many international conventions and carried out aggressions against sovereign states.


Collective condemnation of the crimes of these countries in the UN, the OPCW and other international and regional organisations should be a defence against such a policy of the West. International cooperation should be established to repel such hybrid attacks on yet another “overly independent” state that, according to Washington, intends to defend its national interests “to the detriment of the interests of the United States”.


*ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra – terrorist organisations banned in Russia

Bakhtiar URUSOV, political observer, especially for online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Courtesy 

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