Leaked OPCW report finds Douma gas attack likely staged
DOUMA, SYRIA — A leaked document is casting doubt on the official narrative of the 2018 Douma gas attacks which were later used to justify American, British and French airstrikes on Syria.
The New York Times reports that on the night of April 7, 2018, Syrian military helicopters allegedly dropped chlorine bombs on the town of Douma, killing dozens of civilians.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent a fact-finding mission to investigate two sites where gas cylinders were found: a rooftop balcony and a bedroom.
It later confirmed that toxic chemicals were used as a weapon in Douma.
According to the official OPCW report, the rooftop bomb first struck a corner of the balcony wall.
This initial impact decreased the cylinder's velocity and changed its trajectory, causing it to hit the concrete floor hard enough to make a hole and fracture the valve, but without sufficient energy to fall through.
However, a leaked OPCW engineering assessment report found that to create the crater, the cylinder would have had to have impacted it at a vertical or near vertical angle of inclination.
Simulations indicated that the minimal damage sustained by the cylinder was incompatible with having hit both the wall and floor.
Impact with the floor's steel rebar alone should have resulted in substantial deformation.
The appearance of the crater was also more consistent with being the result of mortar or artillery round blast, in particular the fragmentation pattern and scorching on the underside of the hole.
At the bedroom location, the official OPCW report maintains that the chlorine-filled cylinder fell parallel to the roof of a building and crashed through the concrete.
It fell through and briefly impacted the floor, then continued forward on an altered trajectory that landed it on the bed.
The harness and valve remained intact, and its contents were not discharged.
But the leaked OPCW report contends that the cylinder could not have fit through the crater with the valve intact.
Deformation on the cylinder was consistent with falling flat on a horizontal surface, not crashing through concrete.
It also couldn't establish any set of circumstances that would have resulted in the cylinder moving from the floor to the bed.
The engineering assessment concludes that the cylinders were likely not dropped from an aircraft at either location, and that there is a higher probability that they were manually placed at the two sites.
The leaked report has been confirmed as genuine after the OPCW, in reply to Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday, said it was investigating the "unauthorized release of the document in question.
Mainstream media outlets that religiously covered the Douma chemical attacks and the subsequent military response are now silent over the dissenting document.
Many supported, perhaps even pushed, the official narrative, including the New York Times.
The paper had a "virtual crime scene analysis" based on superficial observations and concluded the cylinders were dropped from helicopters.
The implications of a staged attack, however, extend to more than just what happened in Syria.
It also calls into question whether seemingly independent international organizations like the OPCW are helping push an agenda in the service of certain governments.