Zakharova: Propaganda campaign on ‘Damascus using chemical weapons’ is launched
A propaganda campaign to blame Syria’s government for alleged use of chemical weapons has begun, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has warned, adding that the effort is expected to be massive and include “many fakes.”
“As we warned a few days ago, a media propaganda campaign on the ‘use of chemical weapons by Damascus’ has begun,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Zakharova’s post was accompanied by a screenshot from a video being shared on social media allegedly showing a hospital in eastern Ghouta. The speaker in the video claims the people he is filming have been affected by “chlorine gas used by the regime.”
“There will be more of such videos, and they will be of different quality – either low-grade, like this one or of Hollywood level. There will be many fakes, the planned campaign is a massive one,” the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.
On Saturday, a Syrian rebel group accused government forces of using chlorine gas against its fighters east of Damascus.
A Reuters report cited a militant group called Failaq al-Rahman which alleged that more than 30 people had “suffered suffocation as a result of the attack in Ain Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region.”
The Syrian army command denied the allegations in a statement run by state media saying that the army “has not used any chemical weapons in the past, and will not use them at any time.”
Syria also dismissed a report from the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on a chemical incident in the town of Idlib in April as one-sided, lacking evidence, and aimed at encouraging terrorists, as they are being defeated in many parts of Syria.
An OPCW report therefore “comes up with a fabricated and contrived narrative that has no credibility and cannot be accepted in any manner, because it is removed from logic and is concocted by a twisted imagination that only thinks about weaving conspiracies,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s Saturday statement said, as cited by Syria’s state SANA news agency.
Russian OPCW representative Alexander Shulgin has said the report is based on “questionable evidence.”
“The conclusions of this report are based on questionable data provided primarily by all kinds of the Syrian armed opposition groups and NGOs, including the infamous White Helmets,” he told RT.
The report’s fact-finding team did not visit the site of the alleged chemical attack near Idlib and relied only on evidence provided by “various NGOs” present at the scene and accounts from eyewitnesses, as well as medical specialists who treated the victims in “one of the neighboring countries.”
The report, which has been seen by RT, asserts that “the team was unable to implement a complete chain of custody, by the team, for samples from source.”
Alaa Ebrahim, a Syrian journalist, told RT on Sunday that alleging that the Syrian government has carried out chemical weapons attacks has become a common tactic employed by terrorists and rebel groups.
“Chemical weapons attack is a serious crime, and crimes should be investigated thoroughly – not just countless circumstantial evidences as it was in previous incidents,” he said.
“There have been allegations, intelligence, but we have no credible proof or evidence of what really happened,” Ebrahim explained, adding that the Syrian military is beating the militants in many parts of the country, and it would make no sense for it to use prohibited weapons, as it would play into the hands of the rebels.