Leaked Document Pokes More Holes in Establishment Syria Narrative

Caitlin Johnstone looks at the latest revelation about a chemical attack in Douma last April that was pinned on Damascus.

By Caitlin Johnstone

“It is hard to overstate the significance of this revelation,” tweets former British MP George Galloway of a new report by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM). “The war-machine has now been caught red-handed in a staged chemical weapons attack for the purposes of deceiving our democracies into what could have turned into a full-scale war amongst the great-powers.”

“An important #Douma #Syria ‘Assad chemical weapon attack’ development and yet more evidence to suggest the ‘attack’ was staged, as it’s now revealed that @OPCW suppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air,” tweets former Scotland Yard detective and counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge.

“The engineering assessment confirms our earlier conclusion,” the excellent Moon of Alabama blog writes. “The whole scene as depicted by ‘rebels’ and propaganda organs was staged. The more than 34 dead on the scene were murdered elsewhere under unknown circumstances.”


The report has grabbed the attention of those who’ve expressed skepticism of establishment Syria narratives because it casts serious doubts on the official story we’ve been told to believe about an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, in April of last year. A document titled “Engineering Assessment of two cylinders observed at the Douma incident” has been leaked to the WGSPM which reveals that an engineering sub-team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission in Douma came to conclusions which differ wildly from the OPCW’s official findings on the Douma incident, yet we the public were never permitted to see this assessment.

Map of Syria with Douma starred.

The assessment’s findings, which you can locate on pages five through eight of the document, put forward multiple hypothetical scenarios in which two gas cylinders could have wound up in the locations (Location 2 and Location 4) where they were found. The assessment concludes that “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

The assessment says more thoroughly and technically what I argued in an article last year, that the physics of the air-dropped cylinder narrative make no sense whatsoever. This is a problem, because the reason we were given for the U.S., U.K. and France launching airstrikes on Syrian government targets in April of 2018 was that two cylinders full of poison gas had been dropped from aircraft by the Syrian air force and killed dozens of civilians.

The assessment is signed by Ian Henderson, who the WGSPM were able to verify as a longtime OPCW-trained inspection team leader. The OPCW reportedly denied that Henderson was involved in its Douma fact-finding mission, but the WGSPM counters that “This statement is false. The engineering sub-team could not have been carrying out studies in Douma at Locations 2 and 4 unless they had been notified by OPCW to the Syrian National Authority (the body that oversees compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention) as FFM inspectors: it is unlikely that Henderson arrived on a tourist visa.”

Just as interesting as this new report has been the response of the usual establishment Syria narrative managers to it, or rather the lack thereof. NATO narrative management firm Bellingcat, which normally jumps all over these kinds of revelations in an attempt to discredit them, has been maintaining radio silence as of this writing. Its founder, Eliot Higgins, has had nothing to say on the matter other than to retweet a pathetic rebuttal by his mini-me Scott Lucas and take a few childish jabs at me for highlighting this fact.

Scott Lucas’ Facebook post on the WGSPM report remains as of this writing the only attempt from the Syria narrative management machine to address it, and it boils down to nothing more than assertions that the report contradicts the official OPCW narrative (duh) and that the WGSPM are conspiracy theorists. Lucas may have thought it a good idea to author this post believing that he had a more substantial argument than he actually had, but it was pointed out shortly after publication that his claim about Henderson refusing to consider other possible scenarios in his assessment is directly contradicted by the words that are in the assessment, and Lucas was forced to make a hasty revision.

U.S. bombing crew leaving Al Udeid AIr Base, Qatar, April 13, 2018, in support of the multinational response to reports of Syria recent use of chemical weapons. (U.S. Air Force/Phil Speck)

There will be other counter-narratives released by the Syria narrative management machine, to be sure, but the fact that this report has been out for the better part of the day with nary a peep from that lot reveals a great deal about the difficulties they’re having with this one.

We are being lied to about Syria. Anyone who believes unproven assertions about governments targeted for toppling by the US-centralized empire has failed to learn the lessons of history. The Syrian government had literally nothing to gain strategically from using chemical weapons in Douma, a battle it had already won, and knew full well that doing so would provoke an attack from the empire. Douma was occupied by the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO powers to function as its air force.

If you still believe at this point that the Syrian government dropped poison gas on Douma last year, then I’ve got some Iraqi WMDs to sell you.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitteror her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” This article was re-published with permission.

27 comments for “Leaked Document Pokes More Holes in Establishment Syria Narrative

  1. Hayssam2020
    May 18, 2019 at 01:33

    It was known from beggin that the whole issue is a fabricated story . But how could a 9 persons raise their hands against the one person from the empire of power ,money and media ?!

  2. bozhidar balkas
    May 17, 2019 at 09:06

    Let us compare A-bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the allegedly Syrian gassing of civilians in Douma, and we can see that; from a moral point of view, US is least of all countries justifiable to condemn the alleged chemical attack.

  3. Napier
    May 17, 2019 at 08:07

    I still have yet to see this on any mainstream news outlet….

    But moving right along, U.S. Intelligence asserts that tankers were sabotaged by Iran…

  4. Sam F
    May 17, 2019 at 06:20

    An excellent review of the evidence by Caitlin Johnstone, with some very well-informed commentary.

  5. May 17, 2019 at 02:54

    Assad didn’t use chemicals in any of the three times the US said he did. The first time a UN investigative team led by Carla del Ponte concluded that the “rebels” had done it not the Syrian government. When she said it, I knew we would never hear from her again on the subject. The next time at Khan Shaykhun, a big event, Seymour Hersh (best known investigative reporter on the planet) proved the attack was not from Assad/Syrian Army but couldn’t get his article printed in the NYT, WaPo, London Times or even the Guardian, though he’d written for 25 years for the New York Times and The New Yorker, et.al. Finally it was published in Die Welt in Germany where I read it. I saw the Douma “event” myself. The completely discredited White Helmets simply began hosing children with cold water, shocking them, and screaming “chemicals!” The doctors and nurses at the hospital said there were no chemicals. It was obviously phony, glaringly so in my opinion. One thing the papers didn’t talk about was how insane it would be for Assad to use chemicals at those particular times, all of which would make no sense at all.

  6. Mahendra bhanj deo
    May 16, 2019 at 16:15


  7. Moa
    May 16, 2019 at 15:31
    • May 16, 2019 at 23:33

      Too bad that OPCW is not.

  8. Abe
    May 16, 2019 at 12:31

    “Why Douma Still Matters

    “Washington’s propensity toward staging provocations as a pretext toward wider war is not confined to Douma, Syria alone. The lead up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq was predicated entirely on a deliberate lie built atop fabricated evidence.

    “And the US still seeks to provoke war in Ukraine, in Venezuela, against Iran, and likely again in Syria itself as government forces begin to retake Idlib.

    “Understanding how US-backed militants staged the Douma attack in 2018, how the Western media lied to the global public in the aftermath to sell subsequent Western military intervention, and how investigators exposed evidence revealing the attack as a false flag operation – will all aid in blunting the political impact of future false flag provocations.”

    Further Evidence US Attacked Syria Based on False Flag
    By Tony Cartalucci

  9. hetro
    May 16, 2019 at 12:04

    Recommended: another Caitlin study offering a 2 and a half hour video interview with Tulsi Gabbard (May 14, 2019)at:


  10. May 16, 2019 at 11:30

    Given the state of the war at the time and the obvious disadvantage to Assad from a government sponsored sarin gas attack in Douma, it was as obvious at tits on a boar hog that it was a false flag operation.

    What’s worrisome now, though, is how the same propaganda machine is fabricating “evidence” to start a war with Iran.

    I would urge everyone to contact their members of Congress to reign in the President’s power to use military force in Iran without a specific declaration of war by the Congress. It is very likely that we will find ourselves at war in Iran by the end of the year if Congress fails to prevent it.

  11. May 16, 2019 at 09:27

    Now we are hearing new allegations coming from the NYTimes regarding allegations of torture by the Syrian government. Does anyone question the Times sources regarding their credibility? It sad when you listen to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now just echo and amplify these corporate media allegations.

    • Hank
      May 16, 2019 at 10:21

      And the US government has never tortured or allowed harsh prison conditions for its prisoners? Everything the USA accuses other nations of doing it does a hundred times more! Only a moron would believe that Assad would give his enemies a “justification” to attack Syria(use of chemical weapons) after 6 long wars of defending itself against foreign-supported “terrorists” and on the real verge of defeating them. Only a moron! Only when people start to think in terms of “Who profits” by these alleged crimes by America’s “enemies” will they see who has the biggest MOTIVE to instigate such false flag actions.

      • AnneR
        May 16, 2019 at 10:43

        Yes, Hank. I find it nauseating in the extreme to hear on NPR (or the BBC) the MSM bleat on about what the Chinese, Syrians, Iranians (whichever government is the “evil” targeted today) are doing with regard to convicting and imprisoning clearly innocent people (innocent because, well, we say so, and they are an authoritarian, evil *regime*).

        Meanwhile – Guantanamo. Meanwhile – Marziah Hashemi. Meanwhile Leonard Peltier. Meanwhile Abu Jamal. Meanwhile the use, in US prisons (and apparently in the UK’s Belmarsh, a sort of Guantanamo) of solitary confinement as a known psychological torture technique. Meanwhile in US prisons prisoners are still, in the Constitution and in fact, considered available and used as slave or near slave labor – and that by major corporations, too. Meanwhile with the expansion of private prisons and thus the *requirement* to keep them filled (got to keep those profits rising and shareholders happy) so the concomitant expansion of every means in the so-called “justice” system to do so.

        As for these revelations – how can it surprise anyone with two hemispheres to rub together? The OPCW’s lack of objectivity became thoroughly apparent not only in the supposed Syrian chemical attacks but also and even more blatantly in the Skripal affair and its changing of the OPCW rules to allow for them to *accuse* an entity.

        Always, always the question in every conscious person’s mind should be: Cui Bono?

    • Tedder
      May 16, 2019 at 13:52

      I had the same response after listening to the piece and wrote a comment on DemocracyNow!’s facebook page. How can we believe the NY Times or Council on Foreign Relations after so much falsehood and misinformation. The first I noticed a quirk was when she referred to the very bloody Muslim Brotherhood revolt in 1982, which was an existential battle with the Syrian state, just as “an uprising.” In fact, these people have never gone away or ceased their anti-Alawite jihad. Also, she never said who these people were in the prisons and why they were there, a major omission.

  12. Stephen Dowdy
    May 16, 2019 at 08:30

    Caitlin, what’s your read on the new NYT article on Syrian torture and detention?

  13. vinnieoh
    May 16, 2019 at 08:27

    It never made any sense that Assad would launch chemical attacks after Obama made his “red line” statement. It made even less sense that the several alleged gas attacks occurred when and where they supposedly occurred. Just as it makes no sense now that the leadership of Iran would provoke their own annihilation.

    At the time of the first alleged gas attack I told my wife I wouldn’t be surprised if John McCain personally bankrolled the affair. That is possibly absurd, but that is how I now view my own government – absolutely absurd, bloodthirsty, criminal, and not to be trusted in word or in action. Where do we go from here?

    Some in the US Congress are stirring themselves from their slumber or disengaging from the “Russiagate” farce to question the dangerous escalations and provocations against Iran. Let’s hope that more come to their senses (possibly a forlorn hope.) First and foremost they should be made to understand that neither Russia nor China are likely to sit idly on the sidelines again as the US turns another ME nation into a failed state, and commits mass murder.

  14. john wilson
    May 16, 2019 at 04:38

    There was an excellent video on the Duran.com a few days ago with the legendary and brilliant Alexander Mercouris explaining in some detail about this Douma farce. I think anyone seeing the white helmets ridiculous video of some oaf with a hosepipe washing down kids who were clearly not suffering form any fantasy chemical weapon, have long since come to the conclusion that the Douma affair was total nonsense. Not to take anything away from Caitlin’s excellent article, it really is worth paying a visit to the Duran to see their take on this and many other aspects of current affairs.

  15. May 16, 2019 at 03:47

    Clearly most of this crap is the usual false flags. But it’s not wise to invest too much passion into one side or the other when discussing the attacks that happen DURING a war.

    Both sides do bad things in a war. The more important question is WHO STARTED IT? And the answer is WE started it. That’s the big problem, not the details of any single attack. If we hadn’t STARTED this war, NEITHER side would have committed atrocities and NOBODY would have died from ANY kind of attack.

  16. Abe
    May 16, 2019 at 01:58

    “United States Assessment of the Assad Regime’s Chemical Weapons Use”

    The U.S. government “assessment” on Syria reads like a nearly verbatim compendium of Bellingcat blog excretions, including Bellingcat’s 11 April 2018 “Open Source Survey of Alleged Chemical Attacks in Douma on 7th April 2018”.

    The government “assessment” is identical to Bellingcat’s “assessment” based entirely on “open-source information”:

    “social media users, non-governmental organizations, and other open-source outlets reported”

    “Videos and images […] photos and video”

    “reporting from media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other open sources”

    It now appears that the U.S. government relies almost entirely on non-governmental entities to “verify” information.

    The U.S. government “assessment” only mentions “Reliable intelligence” once, but presents no further information regarding the specific form of the alleged “intelligence”, nor how its “reliability” was determined, nor whether it came from a foreign nation.

    Israel, for example, has a long history of supplying the U.S. with dubious or obviously false “intelligence”.

    ABC News reported that the United States Government “Assessment” was supplied to Congress by the National Security Council, now under the direction of rabid pro-Israel Lobby figure and terrorist supporter John R. Bolton.

    The 14 April 2018 ABC News report states: “In the moments after President Donald Trump ordered coordinated attacks on chemical weapons facilities in Syria, the White House sent a briefing document to members of Congress prepared by the National Security Council outlining the thinking behind its air strikes.”

    ABC News “obtained a copy of the document, sent to at least one senator”.

    According to ABC News, in response to arguments made by the Syrian and Russian governments that the April 7 attack was fabricated by Western governments, the NSC memo stated, “Such a widespread fabrication would require a well-organized and compartmented campaign to deceive multiple media outlets while evading our detection.”

    Like so many statements in the U.S. Government “Assessment” of alleged “chemical use” in the Syrian conflict, the NSC statement was merely an assertion with no direct evidence to support it.

    The official U.S. Government “Assessment”, reflected in the NSC memo to Congress confirmed by ABC News, was based on nothing other than so-called “public information” supplied by “social media users, non-governmental organizations, and other open-source outlets”.

    • Abe
      May 16, 2019 at 10:23

      Disinformation produced by fake “citizen investigative journalist” Eliot Higgins and fake “chemical weapons expert” Dan Kaszeta of the Atlantic Council’s UK-based Bellingcat blog made its way into the 11 April 2017 Trump White House’s “assessment” of the Khan Shakhun incident.

      Kaszeta is an enthusiastic backer of any and all evidence-free “Israeli intelligence” claims about Syria.

      A 19 April 2017 Israeli “assessment” presented by anonymous military officials included evidence free claims that Syrian military commanders has ordered the Khan Shaukun attack with President Assad’s knowledge and “estimates” that Syria still has “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons.

      The Associated Press report on the Israeli military briefing included an interview with Kaszeta, who said the Israeli estimate appeared to be “conservative”. Kaszeta claimed that “One ton of sarin could easily be used to perpetrate an attack on the scale of the 2013 attack. It could also be used for roughly 10 attacks of a similar size to the recent Khan Sheikhoun attack”.

      Back in 2013, Kaszeta peddled similar evidence-free claims by Israeli defense officials.

      Fake “expert” Kaszeta appeared in numerous mainstream media outlets after the Douma incident. Peddling policy recommendations on 10 April 2018, Kaszeta urged direct U.S. military attacks. and attempted to make a case for “depriving the Assad regime of its air force in its entirety”


      The “presence of Russian aircraft complicates this issue immensely”, mentioned Kaszeta in an aside.

      On 14 April 2018, beginning at 04:00 Syrian time, the U.S., France, and the U.K. carried out a series of military strikes involving aircraft and ship-based missiles against multiple government sites in Syria.

  17. Mark McCarty
    May 15, 2019 at 22:21

    The real significance of this finding is not that the Douma “gassing” was wholly staged, and that the 34 people in “the basement of death” had been slaughtered by the jihadis – any fair-minded person who looked at the totality of available evidence could have reached that conclusion already. The significance is that the OPCW is deeply corrupt, willing to hide the findings of its own investigators so that it could issue a prolix, mealy-mouthed report that failed to make clear what evidently had happened. And it is the assertions of the OPCW that have provided the primary support for the MSM’s adamant assertion that Assad has been “gassing his own people”.

    Previous reports by OPCW accusing the Syrian Arab Army of gassing civilians with sarin or chlorine have been based on testimony and evidence provided almost solely by jihadi affiliates such as the White Helmets, as reporters and investigators did not have safe access to ground held by the head-chopping “rebels”. Indeed, the only reason why clarity was gained in regard to the Douma incident is that the Syrian army conquered Douma soon after the incident was perpetrated.

    In light of evidence that the OPCW is a corrupt tool of the Western powers, the entire volume of “evidence” pointing to Assad “gassing his own people” must be re-examined. Indeed, there is ample reason to suspect that this evidence is every bit as “valid” as that pointing to Saddam’s vast horde of WMDs.


  18. Jeff Harrison
    May 15, 2019 at 21:05

    Good Show, Caitlin! Now all we have to do is get the MSM to start doing their jobs and report the truth. (Fat chance) The bad news is that we have to depend on the honesty and hard work of people who will, beyond any doubt, be pressured to not tell the truth. Clearly, the OPCW has been compromised and, frankly, the UN is as worthless as tits on a boar hog when it comes to maintaining peace in the world. This incident is, after all, the one where Russia sought to have the US reprimanded for violating international law, the UN charter, etc etc only to have most of the assembly abstain. I would suspect that a change in UN procedure wherein individual country votes would be secret so that they didn’t have to fear the wrath of a certain Cheetos imitator.

    • Jeff Harrison
      May 15, 2019 at 21:06

      would make a major difference to vote outcomes.

    • Michael
      May 16, 2019 at 07:05

      Unfortunately the MSM IS doing its job. The CIA pays them well (the carrot) and does not tolerate (the stick) articles that put our, or rather Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s, foreign policies in a bad (truthful) light.

      Besides the Deep State has moved on, Israel says Iran is bad. Syria is in the rear view mirror, for now.

  19. Me
    May 15, 2019 at 20:22

    Zombies don’t think. It’s to confusing.

  20. May 15, 2019 at 20:03

    It’s great to see Consortium News host Caitlin’s recent very timely essay! Our challenge is to get mainstream media to even acknowledge the existence of this story – the posting of Caitlin’s essay here may help in this regard.

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