Chemical weapons in Syria? BBC Panorama relies on questionable evidence

originally from Tim Hayward’s blog

This is a press release issued by the Global Network for Syria (Corresponding author Baroness Cox ([email protected])

A joint investigation by BBC Panorama and BBC Arabic claimed to show how chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian Government as part of a deliberate military strategy. Yet there are serious concerns over the investigation’s reliance on ‘broadly impartial’ sources — who are not named — and consequently the reliability of the report’s findings.

The Panorama programme is called ‘Syria’s Chemical War’ and was first broadcast on Monday 15 October on BBC One at 20:30.

Members of the Global Network for Syria have issued the following response:

Yesterday’s BBC Panorama programme was notable for its omissions. It was not clear, for example, whether evidence backing the claims of 106 uses of chemical weapons came from Syrian rebel sources. Given that sources are not named, the BBC may be relying on evidence from groups that are widely regarded as favourable to the opposition, such as the White Helmets, the Syrian American Medical Society, or the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations.

“The investigation ignored the interim findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the Douma incident, which contradict the BBC’s conclusions. The OPCW found no evidence of the use of prohibited weapons in Douma and did not rule out that chlorine cylinders found at the site may have been planted.

“The programme showed former OPCW staff saying that not all of Asad’s stocks destroyed under OPCW supervision were necessarily accounted for. It neglected to point out, however, that the OPCW reported in 2014 that it had been unable to visit two sites where chemical weapons were stored and that both these sites were in rebel-held territory deemed unsafe for inspectors to visit.

“The programme also claimed to detect a pattern of Asad using chemical weapons in the final stages of sieges. But the report did not address questions raised by numerous military experts who ask why Syrian Government Forces, which were already winning the war, would deploy chemical weapons of limited usefulness, risking severe reprisals by the US-led Coalition.

“There are further concerns regarding the lack of reference to Islamist fighters, who have used chlorine canisters as part of their “resistance”, and who have butchered not just Christians and Alawites but also hundreds of the civilians living under their control, as documented by the UN.

“The war in Syria is complex, with many different layers to the conflict. It is crucial that any future investigation includes historical and geopolitical context, objective analysis, transparency about sources, and, at the very least, an acknowledgement that there are different points of view.”

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria
Dr Tim Anderson, University of Sydney
Lord Carey of Clifton
Baroness Cox
Lord Gordon of Strathblane
Dr Michael Langrish, former Bishop of Exeter
Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Contact: [email protected]



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Oct 17, 2018 12:38 PM
Oct 17, 2018 10:54 AM

So…..send it to every MP…every member of government…every BBC employee…expose people making this programme….. send them everything by Vanessa Beeley and others on white helmets…in fact make your own programme expising all the lies..we need it. Expose millions spent on whitehelmets that could be spent on our own health service…who made those decisions to fund them…publicly expose the whole scandal for what it is….what is UK presence in Syria how much is it costing…..etc etc

Oct 17, 2018 5:42 PM
Reply to  Jo

and then politely tell them that you won’t be paying their propaganda tax anymore, as they’ve broken their charter in many areas, and are not fit for purpose

harry stotle
harry stotle
Oct 17, 2018 9:28 AM

Slight tangent but the Beeb doc ‘A dangerous dynasty: House of Assad’ is equally frustrating, an account of events in Syria virtually devoid of any meaningful geopolitical analysis.

The knowing style of commentary from the female narrator, and the glossing over of western war crimes, or the motives for perpetrating them are particularly irritating.

Its an exercise in bias and blame rather than education or reflection.

Oct 17, 2018 7:29 AM

Meanwhile in the real world, a survey of Syria 2018 (with 2 nice maps for comparison with 2017) by Muslim_Dude BTL SyrPer 5 hours ago:

2018 REVIEW:

2018 has been a significant year in the Syrian conflict.

– It started with the SAA capturing 1/3 of the Idlib pocket.

– The Idlib offensive was stopped by, according to some, the SAA moving their attention to eastern Ghouta due to plans by the US to move rebels from At-Tanf to .. take Damascus itself. Operation Damascus steel lasted for about 6 weeks and then Damascus became free from rebel shelling.

– Then there was the Yarmuk offensive to capture Yarmuk from ISIS.

– Roughly around the same time also after eastern Ghouta the SAA took rebel pockets in the centre around Qalamoon and Hama.

– Then there was the SAA offensive to take the south-west including Dara’a and Quneitra.

So these 7 zones have been captured by the Russia-Syria-[Hezb’Allah] alliance.

1/3 of Idlib
Eastern Ghouta
3, Yarmuk
eastern Qalamoon pocket.
Rebel pocket in Hama.

We shouldn’t forget the cruise missile attacks against Syria following the capture of eastern Ghouta by the SAA, strikes which ultimately produced nothing and did not inhibit the SAA going on to capture more and more of the country e.g. the south-west.

Israel’s abilities have also been curbed after they caused the shooting down of a Russian plane.

Western power is decreasing as the West was totally cut out of the Russia-Iran-Syria-Turkey agreement in Idlib. It was a deal between the alliance (Russia, Iran, Syria) and Turkey, thus reflecting the consistent decrease of Western geo-political influence.

In 2019, rather than 7 key zones, the SAA will be looking at

The remainder of Idlib, which is 2/3 of what it was in 2017.
The north-east, which is a tenuous entity run by Kurdish militants hated by Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey alongside temporary allies such as the Assyrians and Sunni tribes who will inevitably dump the Kurdish nationalists.
The At-Tanf pocket.

Make no mistake, these pockets will be captured by the Russian-Syrian-[Iranian-Hezb’Allah] alliance.

Oct 17, 2018 9:09 AM
Reply to  vexarb


Oct 17, 2018 12:00 PM
Reply to  manfromatlan

Link for reliable info, analysis and entertainment on Syria and the world: SyrianPerspective.com

Warning: being a Resistance site, SyrPer is bombarded by trolls — rather heavily in recent weeks because the Resistance is winning. Trolls’ recent line of course, is The Antisemitism Smear; they are flooding the site with swearword-JEW posts in order to discredit SyrPer in the eyes of casual reader. Also disrupts the thread of genuine argument (sounds familiar?)

Oct 17, 2018 5:28 AM

What else would you expect from the British State Broadcasting Corporation? It does what it says on the can.

It’s best to take what it says with a dose of Epsom Salt – while sitting on the can…

It’s good though that people like the Global Network for Syria and OffG are keeping an eye on old Auntie’s devious ways.

Oct 16, 2018 11:27 PM

It is really well past time for a anti poll- tax type campaign of mass action of withholding the BBC regressive tax on every household in the country.


Plus they make at least another £BILLION from their commercial operations.

The fact that a lot of production goes to private companies as well means that the original public service ethos is long dead.

If netflix can operate on a few quid a month and produce high quality output so can the beeb.

A public service should be publicly funded by the Treasury like every other. And be FREE at the point of use.

As a matter of fact the WHOLE BBC output is available via free satellite across the large part of the globe for FREE yet we are forced to pay whether we can afford it, or watch it!

Oct 17, 2018 5:44 PM
Reply to  DunGroanin

it’s no longer a criminal offence to withhold your propaganda tax. see them in court if they can be bothered. they try to heavy you for a while then give up

Oct 16, 2018 10:03 PM

‘Psyop narrative control’ MO demands ongoing consolidation of script through varied media assets pretending to be ‘independent’ and corroborative.
The Wurlitzer/mockingbird flock calling to each other in the swamp.
Instrumental use of materiel ‘gas’ in this particular terror campaign by the intelligence services, is ‘word association’ propaganda reaching deep into a public consciousness already well seeded with images of naziism essential to the ongoing denigration of President Assad and the Syrian Army and in particular, the anti Russian operation.

Oct 16, 2018 10:02 PM

For those who may not have watched it, the programme conveyed the witness testimonies of local ‘civilians’, concluding from those accounts in a half hour programme that (1) because the ‘witnesses’ shown reported that the chemical weapons were dropped from the sky this was unquestionable evidence that ‘the regime’ was responsible (2) because dead bodies featured in (locally filmed) video evidence, this was again evidence that the regime was lying when it said they didn’t target civilians and (3) a pathologist reported that many dead bodies showed symptoms of a chemical weapons attack so, again, that was evidence of ‘the regime’s’ guilt. That was it…investigative journalism?? I try hard not to rush to judging people based on stereotyping but you only had to see the individuals giving their accounts to realise the very questionable validity of their testimonies.

Mulga Mumblebrain
Mulga Mumblebrain
Oct 17, 2018 3:17 AM
Reply to  JudyJ

The BBC has long been an Evil sewer of lies and Imperial propaganda and hate-mongering. Like the rest of the Western fakestream media. Of all the categories of Evil swine that flourish under Rightwing dominance, the presstitutes, not least because of their arrogant presumption, are among the very worst.

Oct 16, 2018 8:03 PM

I watched part of that “documentary” last night. I had to switch off after about 10 minutes because it was overtly partial, it was unwatchable. The letter above is amazingly measured and respectful to the propagandists.

David Macilwain
David Macilwain
Oct 16, 2018 11:22 PM
Reply to  Portonchok

Within the terms of what may be acceptable to the BBC, the esteemed author’s of this letter have presented a solid case. It is to be hoped however that the know just how mild their criticism is of a BBC program so clearly engineered by the forces driving the war on Syria, that still tries to make a case for the same belligerent lies it has been telling since 2011.
Sadly I think that this “mild” approach just won’t work, because the lies about Syria using CW have now been allowed to run for almost six years and we still don’t have any admission on the only one of these alleged attacks that was credibly found to be the work of Al Nusra and where actual people and animals were found to have died from “kitchen Sarin” – in Khan al Assal in March 2013.
More worrying really is what is the intention of the BBC/FCO in putting out this renewed propaganda now? Oh that it were a the dying gasp of defeat…

Mulga Mumblebrain
Mulga Mumblebrain
Oct 17, 2018 3:22 AM

The Western media sewer (the swine in Austfailure, particularly the ‘multi-cultural’ SBS are among the most fanatic) have for seven years acted as lying propagandists for the most Evil death-squad swine ever assembled, as they attacked Syria. Cold-blooded murderers, of gays, children, POWs, non-Wahhabists etc, rapists, torturers, slavers, destroyers of culture and every type of villainy imaginable. I pray that, despite appearances, a just and vengeful God will judge these presstitute facilitators of Evil one day.

Frankly Speaking
Frankly Speaking
Oct 18, 2018 10:57 AM

Well said Mulga

Oct 17, 2018 8:58 PM
Reply to  Portonchok

Yes please Admin, thanks!

Portonchok aka Frankly Speaking

Michael Cromer
Michael Cromer
Oct 16, 2018 7:40 PM

Can we in the UK do anything to help? – Save the Children and Oxfam to the rescue – just have to protect all of the witnesses afterwards.

Oct 17, 2018 1:03 AM
Reply to  Michael Cromer

Didn’t these organisations employ this fellow who urged people to donate money to the fake humanitarian aid group The White Helmets after his politician wife’s murder?


They also countenanced a culture in which he sexually harassed women employees – while his wife was still alive.

I would hardly look to Save the Children and Oxfam as worthwhile charities to support if they were to work in Syria with refugees and people needing help from being targeted for murder by jihadis.

Oct 17, 2018 12:05 PM
Reply to  Jen

Jen, didnt Save the Children name Tony B.Liar as Humanitarian of the Year?