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OPCW cannot be influenced by outside actors, the watchdog needs to be salvaged, British general tells RT

OPCW cannot be influenced by outside actors, the watchdog needs to be salvaged, British general tells RT
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) needs to salvage its reputation after whistleblowers offered credible evidence of deceitful reporting on the Douma incident, a former head of UK commandos has said.

The international chemical weapons watchdog is under increasing pressure to come clean about how it prepared its report into the April 2018 incident in the Damascus suburb. Several scientists from the watchdog blew the whistle, alleging that the findings by inspectors who went on a fact-finding mission to Syria had been distorted or ignored by the OPCW’s management, which was more concerned with putting the blame on the Syrian government than with uncovering the truth.

John Taylor Holmes, a retired major general who served as a director of special forces, was on a panel of experts which heard testimony from one of the whistleblowers, identified as ‘Alex.’ The general said the evidence provided by the scientist and the rest of the team “was very convincing”.

“Native English speaker, he was a senior member of the OPCW. He was extremely well-qualified for the job. And I cannot think of a reason why he became a whistleblower other than he felt very strongly that the final report had not reflected the findings,” Holmes told RT’s Going Underground program.

Following the incident and before OPCW inspectors could reach Douma, the US, the UK, and France conducted a nighttime missile raid against what they claimed were sites involved in Syria’s alleged chemical weapons program. Their public justification for this attack has seemed increasingly shaky as whistleblowers presented evidence which contradicted the claim that Syrian aircraft had dropped canisters with chlorine gas on jihadist-held Douma. Among other things ‘Alex’ reportedly described three US officials putting pressure on OPCW staff to produce a report, which would be in line with the accusations against Damascus.

Holmes said he believed OPCW’s credibility needs to be saved by a series of reforms that would prevent similar scandals in the future.

“Its value is its independence. It cannot be influenced by outside actors,” he explained.

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He agreed that the scandal had been covered up. The scandal has been mostly ignored by Western media even despite another whistleblower, Ian Henderson, telling members of the UN Security Council that his technical report on Douma was suppressed. Homes said he didn’t recall another cover-up as scandalous as this one and his belief in the importance of an independent OPCW is one of the reasons he got involved in the first place.

Watch the full episode of Going Underground here.

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