CONFIRMED: Chemical Weapons Assessment Contradicting Official Syria Narrative Is Authentic

The leak undermines the fundamental assumptions behind many years of Western reporting, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun responding to queries by the press about a leaked document that contradicts official OPCW findings on an alleged chemical weapons attack last year in Douma, Syria. The prepared statement they’ve been using in response to these queries confirms the authenticity of the document.

To recap, a few days ago the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a document signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. It’s unknown who leaked the document and what other media organizations may have received it.

The report picks apart the extremely shaky physics and narratives of the official OPCW analysis on the gas cylinders allegedly dropped from Syrian government aircraft in the Douma attack, and 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,” saying instead that manual placement of the cylinders in the locations investigators found them in is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

Cylinders Did Not Arrive by Air 

To be clear, this means that according to the assessment signed by an OPCW-trained expert, the cylinders alleged to have dispensed poison gas which killed dozens of people in Douma did not arrive in the locations that they were alleged to have arrived at via aircraft dropped by the Syrian government, but via manual placement by people on the ground, where photographs were then taken and circulated around the world as evidence against the Syrian government which was used to justify air strikes by the U.S., U.K. and France. There were swift military consequences meted out on what appears now to be a lie. At the time, the people on the ground were 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 their air force, since they’d already effectively lost the battle against the Syrian government.

We now have confirmation that, for whatever the reason may be, this assessment was hidden from the public by the OPCW.

British journalists Peter Hitchens and Brian Whitaker have both published matching statements from the OPCW on this report. Hitchens has been an outspoken critic of the establishment Syria narrative; Whittaker has been a virulent promulgator of it. The statement begins as a very mundane and obvious assertion that it takes information from numerous sources and then publishes its conclusions, but concludes with an admission that it is “conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.” This constitutes an admission that the document is authentic.

Text of Statement

Here is the text of the statement in full; the portion I’m drawing attention to is in the second-to-last paragraph:

The OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic through the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which was set up in 2014.

The OPCW Technical Secretariat reaffirms that the FFM complies with established methodologies and practices to ensure the integrity of its findings. The FFM takes into account all available, relevant, and reliable information and analysis within the scope of its mandate to determine its findings.

Per standard practice, the FFM draws expertise from different divisions across the Technical Secretariat as needed. All information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW issued its final report on this incident, signed by the Director-General.

Per OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat

Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

At this time, there is no further public information on this matter and the OPCW is unable to accommodate requests for interviews.

Should Be Major Global News

This should be a major news headline all around the world, but of course it is not. As of this writing the mass media have remained deadly silent about the document despite its enormous relevance to an international headline story last year which occupied many days of air time. It not only debunks a major news story that had military consequences, it casts doubt on a most esteemed international independent investigative body and undermines the fundamental assumptions behind many years of Western reporting in the area. People get lazy about letting the media tell them what’s important and they assume if it’s not in the news, it’s not a big deal. This is a big deal, this is a major story and it is going unreported, which makes the media’s silence a part of the story as well.

Also conspicuously absent from discussion has been the war propaganda firm Bellingcat, which is usually the first to put the most establishment-friendly spin possible on any development in this area. If Eliot Higgins can’t even work out how to polish this turd, you know it’s a steamer.

As near as I can tell the kindest possible interpretation of these revelations is that an expert who has worked with the OPCW for decades gave an engineering assessment which directly contradicted the official findings of the OPCW on Douma, but OPCW officials didn’t find his assessment convincing for whatever reason and hid every trace of it from public view. That’s the least sinister possibility: that a sharp dissent from a distinguished expert within the OPCW’s own investigation was completely hidden from the public because the people calling the shots at the OPCW didn’t want to confuse us with a perspective they didn’t find credible. This most charitable interpretation possible is damningly unacceptable by itself, because the public should obviously be kept informed of any possible evidence which may contradict the reasons they were fed to justify an act of war by powerful governments.

And there are many far less charitable interpretations. It is not in the slightest bit unreasonable to speculate that the ostensibly independent OPCW in fact serves the interests of the U.S.-centralized power alliance, and that it suppressed the Henderson report because it pokes holes in the narratives that are used to demonize a longtime target for imperialist regime change. That is a perfectly reasonable possibility for us to wonder about, and the onus is now on the OPCW to prove to us that it is not the case.

Credibility Undermined

Either way, the fact that the OPCW kept Henderson’s findings from receiving not a whisper of attention severely undermines the organization’s credibility, not just with regard to Douma but with regard to everything, including the establishment Syria narrative as a whole and the Skripal case in the UK. Everything the OPCW has ever concluded about alleged chemical usage around the world is now subject to very legitimate skepticism.

“The leaked OPCW engineers’ assessment is confirmed as genuine, which means the final report actively concealed evidence that the Douma chemical attack was staged by jihadists and the White Helmets,” tweeted British journalist Jonathan Cook. “The OPCW’s other Syria reports must now be treated as worthless too.”

Roger Waters, the English rock musician, responded on Twitter as well:

When I first reported on the Henderson document the other day, I received a fair criticism from a Medium user that I was actually far too charitable in my reporting on just how thoroughly the official Douma narrative was rejected.

“This article doesn’t really express just how damning the report actually is,” the user said. “It’s much more than just on balance their observations are inconsistent with the cylinders being dropped from aircraft. Just about everything about the official narrative is shown to be plain impossible, from the angles of the broken rebar in the roof, through the damage to the gas cylinders, to the pile of fins on the balcony that couldn’t have been attached to the cylinder, and more. There’s simply no way they were dropped from helicopters.”

I strongly encourage readers to check out the 15-page document for themselves to understand its claims and make up their own minds, and then sit a bit to really digest the possible implications. We may have just discovered a major piece of the puzzle explaining how seemingly independent international organizations help deceive us into consenting to wars and regime change interventionism around the world.

The narrative that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a monster who gasses his own people has been used to justify Western interventionism in that nation which has included arming actual terrorist groups, enabling them to leave a trail of blood and chaos across Syria, as well as an illegal occupation of Syrian land and sanctions against the Syrian economy. This narrative is being used currently to maintain support for continuing to uphold the crippling sanctions that are making life hell for the average Syrian, today. This is not in the past, this is happening now, and there is no telling when these siege efforts towards regime change will be ramped up further into more overt forms of military action. The violence, displacement and economic hardship that is being inflicted upon the Syrian people by this interventionism is causing incalculably immense suffering, and it is all made possible by false narratives sold to the public.

Remember, they wouldn’t work so hard to manufacture your consent if they didn’t require that consent. So don’t give it to them. The first step to ending the suffering caused by Western interventionism is to help free public consciousness from the incredibly complex and well-oiled propaganda machine which manufactures the consent of the governed for unconscionable acts of violence and devastation. Wake people up to what’s going on so we can all cease consenting.

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

32 comments for “CONFIRMED: Chemical Weapons Assessment Contradicting Official Syria Narrative Is Authentic

  1. Martha
    May 22, 2019 at 15:38

    THANK you for this.
    Caitlin, and Consortium News, what about this Month’s (May 2019) New York Times report on torture in Syria?
    I have found many websites confirming this, none that deny it.
    Democracy Now is reporting it to be true. So many of us rely on DN for factual reporting.
    When I talk with friends & family, I would like to know I am providing them with good information…
    I have no idea what is true regarding frequent accusations for many years that Assad maintains horrific torture prisons. These accusations are made by respected human rights groups, Amnesty International, Syria Network for Human Rights, etc.
    Do you know where all the facts are gathered together or summarized and verified?


    Oh, also, in order to read your articles, Caitlin, I would have to sign up with GOOGLE ~ each time I try to get into Medium I am required to sign up. I will not do this. Is there is another way to access your articles? Thanks again.

  2. rosemerry
    May 20, 2019 at 16:55

    This information was available and read by people like the readers of this site, but the OPCW refused even to listen to the alleged victims (remember the little boy?) who were willing to speak about the truth of the “attack” and were flown by Russia to the meeting. They were not even received, and the “Western” members of the committee ere not even present. Robert Fisk and others were witnesses, but just as with the Skripal “evidence”, no independent investigation of the actual even took place.

    • Hank
      May 21, 2019 at 17:56

      Assad to Putin- Since we have this war under control finally and the end is in sight, why don’t we drop some chemical weapons on civilians so that the USA can launch missiles at us.

      Putin- Wow- why didn’t I think of that? Give the enemy an excuse to attack Syria on a golden platter. Brilliant!

      Assad- Yea, we’ll show the world how we brutalize our people so our enemies won’t have to make stuff up about us.

      • Rich
        May 24, 2019 at 13:49

        Yes Hank, so obviously a false flag yet one thing left you can bank on… incredibly stupid the average person is to continually fall for these false narratives. You nailed it though…Assad came through an incredibly tough struggle so of course he would then opt to shoot himself in his foot. Idiots!

  3. May 20, 2019 at 07:35

    Thank god for people like Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson who show us how academic people can still do their jobs!

  4. Realist
    May 20, 2019 at 01:05

    This article even ties in the Skripals’ incident with the Douma false flag, as part of one grand clusterfoock by the May government:

    What should be the consequences if any of the Nato governments in collusion against the remaining “independents” are proven to have murdered (staging false flags) in pursuit of their agenda? Can anyone picture May, Macron, Hillary or Pompeo occupying Milosevic’s old holding cell at the Hague? Me neither. In a worst case scenario they’d disappear to live a life of anonymity in complete luxury. Their whereabouts, like those of the Skripals, would be totally classified. Think of Hitler, according to the legends still hiding out in Argentina.

    • Skip Scott
      May 20, 2019 at 07:18

      For them to lose control of the narrative they would have to lose control of the MSM. The proof exists for many of these false flags but is not broadcast to the proles. Our congress already passed legislation that they’d invade the Hague if they ever attempted to prosecute a US military member or government official. And of course, the evildoers are violating our own laws as well without consequence from US courts.

  5. TEP
    May 18, 2019 at 20:39

    Thank you Caitlin and of course you are right. Alas, ‘waking people’ is a task similar to a ‘war on terror’ or ‘war on drugs’ in that it never ends. I recently saw several individual shares of a Pug with a ‘mouth tumor’ photo on social media, each with an abundance of sympathy from the zombie populous and none with the factual and somewhat obvious reflection that the ‘tumor’ was in fact an avocado in it’s mouth. A similar post of a dog with a slice of ham on it’s nose (as opposed to the accompanying narrative of ‘severe facial burns’) was also obvious to anyone discarding the narrative. I rest my case as to why waking the people will be a mammoth task, and one that is never ending.

  6. Jack Palmer
    May 18, 2019 at 19:49

    If the U.S. government or military is involved you can be sure you can’t believe anything they say. As for these international “ independent “ organizations, they all have an agenda.

  7. Robert Mayer
    May 18, 2019 at 12:49

    Tnx Caitlin & CN… Re: False “evidence” used2 enrich weapons/personnel contractors mid East & other locs… Who remembers WMD in Iraq… No aircraft or strew trail in Pa… No Wings on Pentagon lawn…
    Being down under Caitlin you’re Not Subject2 Patriot Act corp Fascism… but All Earth Cits xperience Some Effect from US WARLIES!

  8. nondimenticare
    May 18, 2019 at 12:41
    • rosemerry
      May 20, 2019 at 16:49

      William Blum’s book “rogue State” reminds us as well that it was JOHN BOLTON who was instrumental in the removal of Bustani, just as he was the destroyer of a 2003 prepared agreement with Iran which was abandoned on his “advice”. Some people never disappear!

  9. vinnieoh
    May 18, 2019 at 11:51

    “Remember, they wouldn’t work so hard to manufacture your consent if they didn’t require that consent.”

    Indeed Caitlin, this is a reality that has occupied my attention for years. It’s hard to square that idea with the fact that despite their success or failure at consent manufacturing they seem to do as the please none-the-less.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. CitizenOne
    May 18, 2019 at 10:19

    False flags have been used as pretexts for military action since the dawn of civilization. No doubt a big reason for don’t bear false witness as a commandment because wars are started this way. What is particularly disturbing is how so many countries signed up for the overnight conclusions that were pulled out of thin air. Also disturbing is the general uselessness of governing bodies such as the UN.

    If you ever wondered what it would take to plunge us into a war, you have your answer. Our war machine absolutely loved every second of the missiles flying with no concern for the possibilities. In fact, many other nations were equally giddy with support for what could have turned into a confrontation between superpowers.

    The optimists would say that we proved that the response by the World for conducting chemical or biological (WMD) attacks worked perfectly by swiftly responding in a big way. The argument has merit but in this case it is terrifying because it happened under illogical theories unsupported by credible facts. This is the nightmare scenario of the possible nuclear war based on a glitch or bad information.

    We need to think first and abandon our ready, shoot, aim mentality. The optimists need to be content that their response strategy worked and return to reality based decisions. One fire drill is enough. A big risk exists that we also have a system that could reliably ignite a war overnight for all the wrong reasons.

  11. Bob Van Noy
    May 18, 2019 at 09:34

    “Should Be Major Global News” but of course it’s not. Thank you Caitlin Johnstone, there is some interesting conjecture at Off Guardian which I’ll link.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    May 17, 2019 at 20:48

    Always jumping to quick conclusions is the established order of the day. Just like with MH-17 always quick for the Neo-USA league of conspirators with they’re sway towards blaming others… especially Russia.

    And now the OPCW can join the much crowded ranks of the corrupted institutions and agencies of which fill our public governance systems. Just like since 9/11 who will ever believe the NIST again.

    Lastly allow me to thank the venerable Caitlin Johnstone for her dwelling upon the things she dwells upon for she makes me think.

    • CitizenOne
      May 18, 2019 at 00:50

      Ditto Joe. The news title for the attacks was “US responds to attacks, Investigators on the way”. Motive and opportunity which are the basis for determining suspects was completely lacking in the forced conclusion that the Assad regime was responsible for the gas attacks. The attacks came just days after Trump announced he was preparing to withdraw US military from Syria.

      This is an important point and is often overlooked as a lost theory or lost history. The US blamed Syria for the attacks and this view was echoed by many other nations in Europe and elsewhere almost overnight.

      Not withstanding the community of nations that ignored motive and opportunity we have to ask the question of why would Assad gas his people after each announcement by Trump that he was was pulling the US out of the conflict in Syria.

      This makes no sense coming on the eve of the departure of US military directives which had as their aim the destruction of the Syrian government.

      Again: Why would Assad gas his people every time that the US backed military forces tried to pull out of Syria?

      • Joe Tedesky
        May 18, 2019 at 09:26

        The most offensive part is ‘they think we are all stupid’….. & maybe these thugs of governance are right. Well at least here at the Consortium we find independent thinkers… I think! Nice to hear from you Citizen One. Joe

        • Yahweh
          May 18, 2019 at 20:27

          Mr. Joe, The shapers of the future are not betting on how stupid the masses are. They are testing the resistance of the masses. What have they found?….the masses are cowards. The masses are waiting for the MSM to take them to a conclusion….The conclusion is the masses follow the path of least resistance….Who will storm the gates? No one ….

    • Skip Scott
      May 19, 2019 at 08:24

      Unfortunately, there are many who believe phony case studies from government. Most people are just passive consumers of MSM propaganda rather than critical thinkers. One that really stuck out for me was the NTSB coverup regarding TWA flight 800. I saw that one right out of the gate. One of the ships I used to work on was hit by an unarmed heat seeking missile about 2 years prior to the flight 800 disaster. The Navy tried to deny it over the VHF until our ship’s Captain (who was a retired Navy submarine Commander) gave them numbers off the fin of the missile that was sticking out of our hospital’s bulkhead.

      Here’s a video of a guy getting ejected from a press conference for noting that the Navy is a suspect, yet their divers are doing the retrieval. I noticed in watching it now that the sound has been tampered with. Previously you could hear the guy who gets tossed asking a question. Now it’s inaudible. They did an Orwellian rewrite, maybe Winston Smith got the job.

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 19, 2019 at 09:53

      Here some celebrities are question to why are we talking about this?

    • Sam F
      May 19, 2019 at 21:24

      It is troubling that the MH-17 scenario may be replayed to falsely accuse Iran. This weekend the State Dept alleged that there are threats against civil aviation from Iran, citing the FAA which probably has no evidence. Obviously Iran would not shoot down an airliner, which could only incite a war they are trying to avoid. One of their own civilian airliners was shot down by the US Navy back in the 1990s as I recall, with no consequences for the war criminals. It appears that the neocons may be actively planning another MH-17, probably to be shot down by Israel claiming “intelligence” of an attack from Iran.

  13. May 17, 2019 at 20:32

    Ahmet Üzümcü, “the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons”, is on the record as a person who cannot tell a difference between grams, milligrams and “a quantity that cannot be established from the data we were given”. Totally servile to the needs of NATO where he was a Permanent Representative of Turkey, groomed with assorted awards and accolades, and profoundly stupid.

    Thus he was explaining that the reason why he said that 100 grams of Novichok were used in the “attack on Skripals” was that he was informed that this is the upper limit of the amount of liquid that can be transported on a plane. This makes no sense in so many ways that I wonder if he has some neurological problems. Apparently, he is as useful as his mental disability allows.

    However, he did not became head of OPCW by some kind of mishap or happenstance. For sure USA and servile allies twisted enough hands that he was duly appointed by UN or whatever collective body is in charge. The lack of credibility of Üzümcü and OPCW projects directly on the “alliance of Western democracies”. Do they have to cheat, lie, steal, kill etc.? Does it make their populations happy?

    • May 18, 2019 at 06:35

      It won’t make the populations happy, but of course those like Üzümcü will be smiling all the way to the bank.

    • T
      May 21, 2019 at 06:56

      > However, he did not became head of OPCW by some kind of mishap or happenstance.
      > For sure USA and servile allies twisted enough hands that he was duly appointed by
      > UN or whatever collective body is in charge.

      It’s quite simple: a certain John Bolton of the illegitimate Bush Jr. junta pressured the UN heads to dump the former head of the Organization, and replace him with this stooge. As usual, the other countries (not just the NATO ones) went along.

  14. Eddie S
    May 17, 2019 at 20:25

    Strong physical evidence supporting an already very plausible theory (ie; that the gas attacks were staged by someone other than the Syrian government). That pretty much seals the deal for me, Thanks Caitlin!

  15. Jeff Harrison
    May 17, 2019 at 19:01

    Thank you, Caitlin! I have gotten increasingly skeptical of much that passes for “news” here in the West. Having what was supposed to be an independent and unbiased organization be shown to be just a lackey for the agenda of “the West” is discouraging, disheartening, and infuriating. No wonder that the Brits wanted OPCW to have the authority to lay blame in a chemical attack. They knew that the fix was on and they couldn’t lose. But now that the UN has lost credibility, what good are they?

  16. May 17, 2019 at 17:25

    And to think, Washington’s bombs and missiles could have easily killed Russian personnel possibly setting off World War III. All based on a pretext that was blatantly fraudulent.

  17. bjd
    May 17, 2019 at 17:01

    Thanks, Caitlin.

    • John Trott
      May 18, 2019 at 13:23


      • May 19, 2019 at 13:55


        • LarcoMarco
          May 19, 2019 at 22:38

          Caitlin ha detto.

Comments are closed.