Tag Archives: Douma

Comedian Questions CNN Reporter Sniffing Potentially Chemical-Laced Backpack

Shortly after the United States, France and the UK launched air strikes against Syria in April in response to a suspected chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government in Douma, a CNN report featuring senior correspondent Arwa Damon reporting from a refugee camp in Aleppo was published.

The report highlighted Damon’s visit with survivors of the reported chemical attack:

We were at the camp, run and funded by Turkey, just hours after US, UK and French strikes hit three suspected regime chemical weapons site in response to the regime’s latest alleged toxic strike on Douma…

The people here believe that the strikes were part of a broader political game, and had little regard for ending or easing their suffering. The intervention did little to eliminate the rest of Assad’s deadly arsenal, they point out.

It is a sentiment that has long existed among those who live in opposition-held areas, which have borne the brunt of regime bombardment over the years: that leaders who condemn the regime are hypocrites, merely feigning outrage to push forward their own agendas, and that Syrian lives have no real value to them.

In a video accompanying the report, Damon is seen sniffing the interior of a child’s backpack, declaring that “there’s definitely something that stings” while motioning toward her nose. While the reasoning for Damon sniffing a backpack was not stated in the CNN report, the video footage lent the appearance that the item in question belonged to a child refugee and had been in close proximity to the suspected chemical attack.

One particularly vocal critic of CNN’s report and Damon’s on-air activity was comedian and political commentator Jimmy Dore, who mocked Damon for nonchalantly placing her face inside of a backpack possibly laced with toxic chemicals.

Damon’s behavior “shows that she’s not worried about it at all,” claimed Brigida Santos, a journalist accompanying Dore’s show. “I would not get anywhere near that backpack if I thought something was actually in it— I certainly wouldn’t stick my face in it and inhale it, if you’re talking about chemical weapons,” she added.

Dore compared Damon’s reporting to that of Robert Fisk, who also visited Douma and published ground reporting that questioned mainstream narratives regarding April’s chemical attack. In Fisk’s report, he wrote about his visit to “an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week.” Fisk wrote that he met a doctor in the clinic who confirmed the widespread video depicting afflicted victims was authentic, but claimed that “the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.”

Examining Ground Reports From Syria

In recent weeks the American public has been inundated with reports claiming the U.S., the U.K., and France have conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons against his own people. Most of the American, British, and French media have lined up behind the proclamations of their respective political leaders by declaring as fact that the Assad regime is responsible for alleged chemical attacks as far back as 2013. The most recent attack is alleged to have taken place earlier this month in Douma, Syria.

In a recent episode of Reality Check, Ben Swann examined government justification of air strikes in Syria, noting that “the U.S. government has a history of taking humanitarian action without evidence.” Swann also pointed out that “the U.S. is meddling in a country where multiple countries are playing out a proxy war, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not to mention the heightened tensions from our president calling out Russia for its support of the Assad regime.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkQODKjDVws

Despite the confidence displayed by the corporate Western media, there is actually an abundant amount of conflicting reports regarding who used chemical weapons – was it pro-Assad forces backed by Russia and Iran, or was it “rebels” with backing from the U.S., the UK, France, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia? Some reports have also questioned whether the attacks happened at all.

[Read more: Russia Accuses UK of Masterminding Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria]

Several foreign correspondents have been able to gain access to Douma and conduct interviews with residents. A few of the reports coincide with the Western media version of events (Assad used chemical weapons on his people), but several journalists reportedly found lack of evidence of the attack, or witness testimony to place the blame for chemical attacks on the U.S.-funded rebels.

Reviewing Ground Reports

On Monday, April 16, several journalists gained access to Douma and interviewed residents in the area. One of these journalists was Robert Fisk, two-time winner of the British Press Awards’ Journalist of the Year prize and a seven-time winner of the British Press Awards’ Foreign Correspondent of the Year. Fisk is a longtime foreign correspondent who the New York Times referred to as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain” and The Guardian called “one of the most famous journalists in the world.”

Writing for The Independent, Fisk described the situation in Douma:

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks–and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world– despite all the doubters–is perfectly genuine.

War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

According to the doctor Fisk spoke with, Dr. Assim Rahaibani, the international organization commonly known as The White Helmets had a role in carrying out the false or exaggerated scene depicting a chemical gas attack.

I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night–but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia–not gas poisoning.

At the same time that Fisk was interviewing the doctor and residents, Pearson Sharp of One America News stated he interviewed between 30 to 40 residents of Douma. As with Fisk, Sharp says he found no evidence of chemical attack and the residents he spoke with seemed completely unaware of the apparent incident.

Sharp’s reports have been criticized by the mainstream press, as well as typically anti-establishment press like The Intercept. A recent report from The Intercept was critical of all of the foreign correspondents who claim to have seen no evidence of a chemical attack. However, they reserved a specific distaste for Sharp and OAN. The Intercept reported:

There was no way of knowing if any of the medical personnel who spoke to the reporters in the presence of government minders had been coerced into making those statements by threats from Assad’s secret police, the mukhabarat, to harm their families — as the head of the largest medical relief agency in Syria told The Guardian they were. Still, Russian state television channels and critics of Western military intervention seized on credulous reports from the British writer Robert Fisk, the French news agency Agence France-Presse, Dirk Emmerich of Germany’s RTL, and Pearson Sharp of One America News, which is a San Diego cable channel known for its full-throated backing of Donald Trump and its hiring of “alt-right” conspiracy theorists.

The report went on to note that “former employees of the news channel told the Washington Post last year that Herring (owner of OAN), who met his wife in Russia, had ‘directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles.'”

It appears that a priority of The Intercept is describing Sharp and OAN as pawns for President Trump and thus, their reporting from Syria unworthy of consideration by Americans. However, they do point out one important aspect of Sharp’s reporting:

When his report was broadcast, however, it revealed that he had mistakenly described the location of the suspected gas attack as a town square and interviewed people close to it who said they had not been exposed to any chemicals. Since the attack in fact took place on a residential street some distance from the square, those accounts are not surprising.

It is possible that Sharp interviewed people in the “wrong” area of Douma or in an area which government handlers directed him, yet does not change the reports from Robert Fisk or other reporters who also concluded there was little sign of a chemical attack. In addition to Fisk, Sharp, and the aforementioned journalists, there is also a new report coming from German news station ZDF which claims the attacks were staged.

While speaking on ZDF Huete, ZDF correspondent Uli Gack reportedly stated, “People told us in a very convincing manner that this whole story was staged.” According to translations of Gack’s commentary, he also noted that “the militants brought canisters containing chlorine to the area and “actually waited for the Syrian Air Force to bomb the place, which was of particular interest for them.”

It is possible that these journalists were led astray by witnesses who had been threatened by Syrian or Russian government officials. In fact, The Intercept noted that medical staff were apparently questioned by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, a branch of the Russian military, prior to giving interviews for foreign correspondents last Monday. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides was in the area patrolling to “control observation of ceasefire regime, ensure security, organize assistance for civilians and keep a record of refugee flow.”

The presence of the Russian military police could indicate that some witnesses may have been tampered with or instructed what to say to the incoming foreign press. However, the truth of what is taking place in Syria has been scarce in the typical 24-hour corporate news cycle which tends to grab the attention of the average American. These issues are complex, with misdirection apparently coming from both the American and Syrian governments. When looking for truth in media, individuals should start by carefully examining all of the evidence before drawing conclusions and rushing to support another potentially disastrous conflict.

WATCH: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters Calls White Helmets a “Fake Organization”

Barcelona, Spain – Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, during a recent solo concert in Barcelona, stopped mid-concert to address the recent bombing of Syria – under pretense of retaliation for an alleged chemical attack – and called out the White Helmets as a “fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists.”

Waters said he had been approached by a man prior to the concert who wanted to get onstage to speak on behalf of the White Helmets regarding the alleged chemical attack in Douma, but instead chose educate the crowd himself. Although well intentioned, Waters said he believed the person had simply been misled about the White Helmets.

“The White Helmets is a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists,” Waters said. “That’s my belief. We have opposing beliefs. If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would be encouraged to encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions for us as human beings.”

Officially known as Syria Civil Defense, the White Helmets were founded in 2013 by James Le Mesurier, a former British military intelligence officer and private security specialist, and are largely funded by the U.S. and UK governments. Investigative reporter James Corbett delved into the White Helmets as a western propaganda construct in a video earlier this year.

Waters went on to say that individuals should “persuade our governments not to go and drop bombs on people,” going on to imply that a rush to judgement based on propaganda isn’t a substitute research, likely in direct reference to the US-led attack on Syria, based on the Douma chemical allegations.

“What we should do is go and persuade our governments not to go and drop bombs on people. And certainly not until we have done all the research that is necessary so that we would have a clear idea of what is really going on. Because we live in the world where propaganda seems to be more important than the reality of what is really going on,” he added.

Waters has been a staunch anti-war activist throughout his career and has never shied away from controversial stances. For instance, in 2016, he explained that the entertainment industry discourages individuals from calling out the atrocities committed by the Israeli military, and how the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) campaign was targeted:

The only response to BDS is that it is anti-Semitic, I know this because I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite for the past 10 years. My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice [against Israel]. There’s me and Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Manic Street Preachers, one or two others, but there’s nobody in the United States where I live. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared s***less.

“If they say something in public they will no longer have a career. They will be destroyed. I’m hoping to encourage some of them to stop being frightened and to stand up and be counted because we need them. We need them desperately in this conversation in the same way we needed musicians to join protesters over Vietnam,” he added.

American Journalist in Douma: Residents Say Chemical Attack Staged by ‘Terrorist Rebels’

Douma, Syria — An exclusive report by Pearson Sharp of One America News, who went to the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack in the war-torn town of Douma outside the capital of Damascus, reported that residents there deny an attack happened and instead claim it was staged by rebel forces in an effort to incite a response from Western forces.

Sharp explained that during his investigation he interviewed between 30 to 40 residents of Douma, and in a series of social media posts claimed:

Sharp claims that of all of the people he interviewed on the ground in Douma — which he asserted were not scripted or staged, but with actual local residents — not one person told him that a chemical attack had taken place. Sharp said he was told the attack was staged by terrorists who were in control of the area. He also reported that the residents revealed that they were glad to see the rebels, whom they referred to as terrorists, be defeated and praised Assad and his government.

Russia has accused the UK government of being complicit in a “false flag” event in Douma in collusion with the White Helmets, and claims to be in possession of “irrefutable evidence,” according to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkQODKjDVws

WATCH: Ex-British Army Officer’s Mic Cut When Questioning Syria Gas Attack

London, UK — An interview between Sky News anchor Samantha Washington and former  British Armed Forces assistant chief Jonathan Shaw lasted less than 60 seconds after Shaw was asked whether the British parliament should move forward in intervention in Syria, and replied by questioning the logic of Assad launching chemical attacks in Douma.

Shaw, who served as the commander of the British Armed Forces in Iraq, questioned “what possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place.”

“You know, quite apart from all that, the part that seems to be missing from this—and this was actually mentioned by the ambassador—is what possible motive might have triggered Syria to launch a chemical attack at this time in this place?” Shaw said.

“You know, the Syrians are winning. And don’t take my word for it – take the American military’s word for it. General Votel – the head of CENTCOM – said to Congress the other day that ‘Assad has won this war and we need to face that.’ And then you got last week the statement by Trump that America had finished with ISIL and that we were going to pull out soon,” Shaw said.

He went on by saying “and then suddenly you get-” only to be quickly interrupted by presenter Samantha Washington who apologized for having “to leave it there.”

Speaking exclusively later on to The Daily Mail, Shaw added:

The jihadists and the various opposition groups who’ve been fighting against Assad have much greater motivation to launch a chemical weapons attack and make it look like Assad was responsible…

Their motivation being that they want to keep the Americans involved in the war – following Trump saying the US was going to leave Syria for other people to sort out.

Russia has officially claimed the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma was a planned provocation organized by the British security services and certain Syrian opposition NGOs, including the White Helmets. The UN’s Organization for Prohibited Chemical Weapons has inspectors in Syria until Wednesday inspecting the area with a preliminary report due before leaving.

Watch the full interview below:

Ron Paul: Assad Gassing His Own People is “Total Nonsense”

Washington, D.C. – Former Congressman Ron Paul has strongly argued following the alleged chemical gas attack blamed on the Syrian government that it makes no logical sense for Assad to order a gas attack, and has called the accusations a telltale sign of a false flag attack meant to provide justification for the U.S. military to maintain a presence in Syria.

“An incident will occur and somebody will get blamed and it’s usually a false flag,” said Paul.

“Right now, recently, it’s all been in Syria, ‘Assad did it! Assad did it!’” explained the former congressman. “No proof at all.”

“The way the people that perpetuate these false flags [sic] say that Assad is gassing his own people, at the same time, he’s winning the war and the people are flocking back in to go to the territories that he has returned to the government of Syria,” explained Paul. “But, nevertheless, he’s out there gassing his own people, which makes no sense whatsoever and fewer and fewer people are believing this.”

Paul, who founded the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity in 2013 after leaving the U.S. House, presented his analysis via the Ron Paul Liberty Report, describing how foreign policy goals related to Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Russia, as well as the influence of neoconservatives, oil interests, and the military-industrial complex play into the current paradigm we see playing out in Syria.

During an appearance on RT, Paul further elaborated. “This whole idea that all of a sudden Assad’s gassing his own people, I think, is total nonsense,” Paul said, pointing out that “over and over again” the US has claimed the Syrian or Russian government has been complicit in previous gas attacks in Syria – and the alleged poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in London — but “nothing panned out.” Or as Paul put it, one “fake news” story after another.

The libertarian icon then reasoned that the rush to condemn the Syrian government without evidence is meant to provide a justification for those wanting the US to remain in Syria and topple the Syrian government in hopes of installing a more western-friendly regime that is not within Russia or Iran’s sphere of influence.

Paul argued that, while it provides little to no strategic benefit for Assad to gas his own people, it would greatly benefit those that are pushing for regime change – especially after Trump recently said he would like to remove U.S. troops from Syria.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hcOxFAp-nx4

Trump: “Major Decision” on Syria “By The End of Today”

Washington, D.C. – While speaking to reporters, President Trump said on Monday that he will make a “major decision” regarding a U.S. response to alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian government in Douma, East Ghouta, in the next 24-48 hours. Trump went on to specify that the decision will be made “very quickly,” likely “by the end of today,” and that “nothing is off the table.”

Trump stated at the cabinet meeting:

We are studying that situation extremely closely.  We are meeting with our military and everybody else, and we’ll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours.  We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen.  This is about humanity.  We’re talking about humanity.  And it can’t be allowed to happen.

So we’ll be looking at that barbaric act and studying what’s going on. We’re trying to get people in there. As you know, it’s been surrounded. So it’s very hard to get people in because not only has it been hit, it’s been surrounded. And if they’re innocent, why aren’t they allowing people to go in and prove? Because as you know, they’re claiming they didn’t make the attack.

So if it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out and we’ll know the answers quite soon. So we’re looking at that very, very strongly and very seriously.

On Sunday, Trump wrote on Twitter that there would be a “big price to pay” for the alleged attack and called President Bashar al-Assad an “animal.” Trump’s comments echo those of U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who told a reporter when asked about potential military strikes in Syria that he “would not rule out anything right now.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/982966315467116544

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/982967389028569088

Both Syria and Russia have denied involvement in the alleged chemical attack. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on April 9:

False information is being planted about the alleged use of chlorine and other toxic agents by the Syrian government forces. The latest fake news about a chemical attack on Douma was reported yesterday. These reports are again referenced to the notorious White Helmets, which have been proved more than once to be working hand in glove with the terrorists, as well as to other pseudo-humanitarian organisations headquartered in the UK and the US.

As Truth in Media reported on weeks ago, Russia warned of an impending chemical attack by anti-government forces based upon intelligence reports:

Russia’s Chief of the General Staff of Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, warned on Tuesday that Syrian rebels are preparing to utilize chemical weapons— to be blamed on the Syrian government— as a justification for U.S. strikes on Damascus, and cautioned that “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

According to Gerasimov, the U.S. plans to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, thus justifying a potential attack on Syrian government facilities in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Gerasimov noted that Russia has intelligence which indicates preparations are underway to stage the use of chemical weapons against civilians, stating that the United States plans to “furnish the so-called ‘evidence’ of the alleged mass civilian deaths through the fault of the Syrian government and the Russian leadership supporting it.”

Allegations of a government sponsored chemical attack in in Syria on Saturday comes as pro-government forces concluded an operation to liberate the region from Islamic militants that had taken control of vast swaths of the country, and only days after Trump publicly stated his intention to get U.S. troops out of Syria.

This entire incident rings similar to what happened in February, when Rex Tillerson blamed Russia for a “chemical attack” alleged to have been undertaken by the Syrian government, only to later admit he didn’t actually know who did it. Trump’s language used last April in response to an alleged chemical attack blamed on Assad’s forces in Idlib province — followed by the U.S. launching Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on Syria—was also similar to his response to this recent chemical weapons incident.

Following the reports of a chemical attack, Israel targeted a Syrian airbase with missiles in Homs on Sunday night, according to the Associated Press; that attack reportedly killed 14 people. NBC News confirmed the report, noting that the U.S. had been made aware of the pending strikes before they were launched.

In a statement released on Monday, the U.S. State Department claimed that victims of the alleged attack in Douma showed symptoms of nerve agent exposure, and called on Syria and Russia to open the area to international monitors, according to RT. Additionally, Monday marks the first day on the job for Trump’s new national security advisor John Bolton. Bolton, a former Bush-era ambassador to the UN, is a renowned proponent of increased U.S. military adventurism in the Middle East.