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Douma “Chemical Attack”: Still Waiting for an Apology

James O’Neill

On 7th of April 2018 an alleged chemical attack took place in the city of Douma in the Syrian Arab Republic. Dramatic footage of the “victims” was widely broadcast throughout the western mainstream media. Particularly prominent were images of children foaming at the mouth and being hosed down.

The footage for these dramatic depictions was almost entirely sourced from a group known as the White Helmets. They are invariably depicted in the western media as a form of civil defence organisation. They are in fact an arm of Britain’s MI6, trained by the British and financed by the UK and the United States.

The alleged “chemical attack” was used by the US, UK and French governments to make a missile attack upon Syrian targets. The approximately 100 missiles fired destroyed buildings and caused civilian casualties. Many of the missiles failed to reach their target, being either deflected or shot down by Syrian air defences.

Speaking to a press conference on the Sunday following the attacks, the then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a series of unqualified assertions. He gave his government’s “strong support” for the military action, and urged Russia to exercise its authority to ensure that the chemical weapons were destroyed.

He further called on Russia to use its influence to ensure the “most recent chemical weapons attack is thoroughly investigated.” He blamed the Assad government for the incident and described the military action by the US, UK and France, “targeted, proportionate and responsible.”

He even attempted to link the Douma incident with the Skripal events in Salisbury, England, using both as a stick with which to beat the Russians over the head. Both the timing of and the linking of the two incidents were not a coincidence. They were clearly part of a campaign to discredit Russia, whose intervention in the Syrian war proved a decisive turning point, to the chagrin of the “regime changers” in Washington and London.

As is now almost invariably the case there is a marked distinction between the political rhetoric and the actual situation, both in terms of the relevant international law, and the facts on the ground. That has become glaringly obvious in the Skripal case, as has been well documented elsewhere, by for example, 3 March 2019.

Dealing briefly with the legal situation in the Syrian bombing, there is no such thing as a “targeted, proportionate and responsible” bombing of a sovereign state unless two pre-conditions are met. It must either be in self-defence, if the countries taking the action have themselves been attacked, and that was manifestly not the case; and secondly, in the alternative, it must be an action authorised by the United Nations Security Council. That didn’t happen either.

As in so many of Australia’s military forays around the world, the legal basis for the Syria involvement is notably absent, although in this particular case their role was limited to being cheerleaders on the sidelines. Australia’s participation in the so-called coalition of forces fighting in Syria and allied to the United States, a serial offender against international law, has no legal foundation whatsoever. The Australian government has had legal advice on the matter, and has had such advice since 2014. If it was confident of its legal position, why then does it continue to refuse to release that advice?

The facts on the ground do not support the Turnbull position either. Turnbull criticized Russia for using its Security Council veto to block motions to investigate chemical weapons crimes. In fact, both Russia and Syria asked the Organisation for the Prevention of Criminal Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the Douma incident.

The OPCW fact-finding mission began their investigation on 21 April 2018, two weeks after the alleged attack. Jihadist groups blocked their initial investigation and they were only able to enter the relevant areas with protection provided by the Syrian army and the Russian military police.

An interim report was published on 6 July 2018 in which it concluded, “no organophosphate (sarin) nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or the plasma samples taken from the alleged casualties.” The use of sarin had been one of the principal accusations against the Syrian government. This interim conclusion received minimal media attention.

The OPCW Final Report of the investigation was released on 1st of March 2019 although one will hunt in vain for an accurate account of that report in the western mainstream media. The reason for the media silence is not difficult to discern. The 0PCW Report effectively destroys the arguments advanced by US President Trump, UK Prime Minister May and Turnbull.

The OPCW’s investigation was hampered in significant ways. The White Helmets and their jihadist allies had either cremated or buried all the deceased “victims” of the alleged chemical attack. Those burial locations were not disclosed to the investigators. No autopsy material was therefore available.

The evidence of the medical staff in attendance at the Douma hospitals at the time began receiving “victims” prior to the timing of the alleged chemical attack. None had symptoms of chemical or nerve agent attack.

The OPCW investigation team carried out a number of analyses from areas said to have been affected by the chemical attack. Again, they found no traces of any banned chemical substances.

They were shown two yellow cylinders claimed to have been responsible for the casualties. Even that “evidence” was compromised as the two cylinders had been moved by the jihadists and were located in two places and in such a manner that they had no probative value.

The OPCW team was unable to say how the cylinders might have been used to release any toxins. Given that no toxic traces could be found anywhere, the likely inference is that the two cylinders were simply stage props.

This inference is reinforced by the fact that the OPCW team did find a further yellow canister similar to the two mentioned above. That canister however, was found in a jihadist workshop that also contained a variety of chemicals and equipment associated with bomb production. Insofar as this finding received any media coverage, it was to suggest that the Syrian government had planted the material. The OPCW made no such suggestion.

What the OPCW team did find were traces of chlorine. Chlorine however, is a common household substance and for that reason it is not on the list of banned chemical weapons. Chlorine would not in any case be likely to cause death, much less the significant casualty figures claimed.

The evidence of the medical professionals interviewed by the OPCW team was that the victims they treated at the hospital were suffering from the effects of dust and smoke inhalation. None had life threatening injuries and none died in hospital.

There was accordingly no basis in fact for the missile attack by the US, UK and France (quite apart from its illegality) and therefore no justification for Turnbull’s unequivocal assertions of Syrian culpability and Russian complicity in a chemical weapons attack upon the civilian population.

Notwithstanding the OPCW’s demolition of the claims made by the US and others, including Turnbull’s ill-advised unequivocal support, the US and mainstream media still refer to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons as a reason to justify their continued occupation of Syrian territory.

That occupation itself is a violation of international law. The “debate” within US ruling circles about whether Trump’s original professed desire to leave Syria (since resiled from) should be carried out or not has a surreal tone to it. It never seems to occur to them that they are neither welcome nor legally entitled to be there at all.

Perhaps the final word should go to a senior BBC TV producer, Riam Dilati. On 13 February 2019 he tweeted: “after almost 6 months of investigations I can prove without a doubt that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”

If our own media and politicians could show a similar degree of honesty and integrity, they would be offering Syria and Russia the long overdue apologies to which they are entitled.

That may however, be a long wait.

James O’Neill is a barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at


  1. Tim Jenkins says

    “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.”
    Dr. Assim Rahaibani

    Fisk arrived long before the OPCW, most ‘strangely’ . . . no problems for Robert
    & he wrote . . .

    “inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.”

    Or they lacked simply the WILL ?
    Coz’ they knew there was nothing to find >>> period !

    “No rush guys, whatever you do, don’t rush , coz’ we need more time to stage & re-create some lies, coz’ that darn Fisk got there first . . .”
    James le Mesurier

  2. What the OPCW team did find were traces of chlorine. Chlorine however, is a common household substance and for that reason it is not on the list of banned chemical weapons. Chlorine would not in any case be likely to cause death, much less the significant casualty figures claimed.

    Chlorine gas is not likely to cause death? Really? Most (maybe all) of the casualties in Douma were in the lower floors and basement of a single tenement building. In a wikipedia article on chemical weapons in WWI, it was noted that soldiers who stood up during a chlorine gas attack often escaped any serious effects but that those who lay down or sat at the bottom of a trench were either seriously wounded or died. “Men who stood on the parapet suffered least, as the gas was denser near the ground.”

    Not that this matters much to people who worship Assad here.

    • Antipropo says

      What a fool you are, what is clear-although as Caitlin points out the OPCW are at pains not to clearly state- was a false flag attack by heart eaters and the British/American propaganda organ the “white helmets” in the familiar pattern where facing crushing defeat at the hands of government forces a “chemical weapons attack” rings death and fury on Syria. So Louis and just for amusement because any explanation you offer will be nonsense; what possible reason when the SAA is on the brink of liberating another piece of Syria would they have for doing THE ONE THING guaranteed to bring missiles raining down? Go on give us all a laugh.

    • JudyJ says

      1. Syrian terrorists were/are known to have their own supplies of chlorine.

      2. How did the chlorine transmit itself from canisters supposedly dropped from the air, down into the lower floors and basements of the building in question without causing any structural damage to that particular building?

      3. No one, including the OPCW, has found any substantiated evidence of ‘casualties’ from the alleged Douma attack. The belief of many people, including me, is that the terrorists suffocated captive hostages themselves with chlorine in the locked basement probably days, if not weeks, before the alleged attack; took photos, moving bodies into different positions and different locations for best effect (of which there is clear evidence), and presented the photos of their own murderous ‘handiwork’ to the gullible West.

    • Admin says

      Presenting factual evidence that may counter your prejudices does not = ‘worship’, Louis. Aim at more sophistication in your commentary.

    • Tim Jenkins says

      Louis Louis, stand up, take a bow and sniff your credibility sinking like Chlorine gas.

  3. “As in so many of Australia’s military forays around the world, the legal basis for the Syria involvement is notably absent, although in this particular case their role was limited to being cheerleaders on the sidelines. Australia’s participation in the so-called coalition of forces fighting in Syria and allied to the United States…” Isn’t this somewhat contradictory?

    • Antipropo says

      The particular case Caitlin is talking about is the missile attack. I’m sure she is well aware that the Australian Airforce had a squadron of FA 18s bombing in Syria-killing in one raid over100 SAA soldiers” by mistake”. Also the RAAF airdropped weapons to “moderate rebels” in Syria.

  4. Graham. says

    I remember Seeing Cellphone Footage of This Event, it Showed the Wide shot of the Person With Video Camera moving around the Room.The Paid Actors then went into Shaking Fits when the Camera got near them .The Bodies on the Floor Stood up once the camera went past. lots of Smiles from the Actors for a Job well done. but yes the Actors reacted on Cue for the camera.

    • mark says

      One of the “dead bodies” lying on the floor got a bit bored and started yawning and scratching his nose.
      Where do they get these extras from, that’s what I’d like to know?
      Have they got Equity cards?
      If not, why not?
      We’ve paid good money for these videos, we should be getting our money’s worth.

  5. Rhys Jaggar says

    Apologies? You have to be joking. Apology is an admission of guilt. Admission of guilt implies consequences. Consequences might be contagious.

  6. Paul says

    The EU have now advised against a military intervention. Does the UK agree?

    • Lupulco says

      I doubt it. Almost three years for our highly paid Politicians to have come to ?? decision on Brexit, BUT;
      Let the US ask for intervention ANYWHERE and our highly paid Politicians will make a decision in three hours.

  7. Fair dinkum says

    Australia doesn’t do ‘military forays’
    It does military fawning.
    Fawning all over the bloody behemoth that is the military industrial complex.

    • Antipropo says

      Strewth cobber I’m with you on that. It’s shameful how willing Australia is to participate in illegal wars at the behest of the US. You still here Aussies parroting the line about how we’d be speaking Japanese if not for them, forgetting that they were willing to give up Australia north of Brisbane. Also just a reminder that in September 2017 Australian planes along with other other “coalition” members carried out a sustained bombing of SAA soldiers in Deir ez Zour, killing over 100, wounding many more after which Isis overran the position. The claim was it was a mistake but the US had acknowledged observing the position and troops in it for several days but could not distinguish between uniformed SAA troops and black pyjama wearing heart eaters. Btw, never mind legal advice, a quick read of the Geneva conventions shows that all armed forces in a country without the permission of the government are illegal.

  8. Antonym says

    Mixture of fake facts and child abuse: done a lot by the Anglo Establishment but more now too by the “Left”, Children Climate marches being the latest.

    • bevin says

      You may be right.
      We shall never know. You come here and make assertions without any attempt to justify them.

    • Makropulos says

      Well at least you are revealing your true colours now Ant. You are opposed to the Left, although you refer to them as the “Left”.

      • Yarkob says

        revealing his true colours? Have you been under a rock for the past however long? 🙂

        • Makropulos says

          Quite right Yarkob. I deserved that. Ant is clearly a troll trying to provoke interminable arguments that lead into halls of mirrors that mean nothing.

          • Tim Jenkins says

            @Mak. Lol : Oh good, now we’re all on the same page re.the mighty Ant. i won’t bother even asking him for the price of 250g quality butter, where he lives & creeps around 😉

            Seldom have we witnessed such a pathetic level of distraction, projection & transference, as demonstrated by the mighty Ant.
            (& dhFab.) 🙂

  9. vexarb says

    While the MSM-fed sheeple are bloating their minds with the mental equivalent of corn-syrup (Fake News about False Flags using Fake Chemicals) the Vineyard of the Saker is relaying a message from the real world. The Rev. Nasr’Allah of Hezb’Allah (banned in UKU$A and censored on YouTube) coolly dissects the sequellae of NATZO’s resounding defeats in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. Listen for 10 delightful minutes if you want to exercise your mind:

    BTL this Link: Harry_Red writes, “This second video is amazing……..The honesty and insights are almost scary. He [Rev.Nasr’Allah is basically spilling info out on the table.”

    Spiral writes, “One can clearly see, both in his [Rev.Nasr’Allah’s] face and hand gestures, the joy in explaining his understanding the geopolitical state of the larger ME. The joy is of a mathematical kind: he was part of a team solving a very hard problem involving high stakes, and they succeeded, with some of the details still left for cleanup.”

    Anonymous writes, “It’s odd that YouTutbe took this video down when Israelis want to hear what Nasrallah has to say about their situation in the region.”

    Sssh, don’t tell the sheeple!

  10. The residual empire of wealth has only international laws to hamstring its vassals. Not even decrees are needed let alone democratic accountability to their populations to carry out any smash and grab they desire. The MSM provides the bread and circuses and the rest is mere illusory subterfuge. And like any other blockbuster scenario rewind and repeat and the crowd relives the experience without any real involvement, time and time again…ad nauseam.

    The OPCW has laid waste to the script about Syria, as a cursory glance at Libya shatters time and time again the validity of infamous claims by Clinton and Obama’s and their blood thirsty administration. As with the current Triumvirate of Media Clown, Moustachio and Pompeo regarding Syria/ Venezuela…or any other independent sovereign state you care to mention. They lie they cheat they deceive all at the cost of TRUTH. And this is the real crisis for them all of their own making. It’s not Russia, alternative media, independent thinkers or whatever on the internet that have wrecked their show. It’s they themselves through their state funded fakery and lies.

    As the Bard said, “Truth is truth to the end of reckoning”… “This above all; to thine own self be true.” He was obsessed with truth as he himself was made to disappear…

  11. vexarb says

    “If you have the Law on your side, hammer it into the Judge”.

    Perhaps author James O’Neill, barrister at law and geopolitical analyst, could tell readers in which Court one can find the Judge?

  12. This is how the empire works. Regime-change not happening in Syria? Off to Venezuela! All the lies that were used to justify U.S. and Western aggression against Syria will never be so much as discussed in passing, or revisited in any way by MSM, or by the political shills who uttered them – much less “apologized” for. The empire kills and the empire lies, it does not apologize. If plans for Venezuela stall, well it’s off to Nicaragua or Cuba. The carnage left behind is invisible to MSM. The institutional blinders of empire simply filter out the mayhem we leave behind. It ceases to exist simply because we noble Western humanitarians “are no longer looking.”

    Who in MSM remembers or talks about the coups, or aftermath of the coups in Haiti, Honduras, Ukraine? Who remembers and speaks about the past and current suffering in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria caused by Western mayhem? No one in MSM speaks of this because all that suffering caused by the West is simply not of any concern to the West. It is simply inconsequential as MSM now tell us that it is “the people of Venezuela” who are now the one’s who are “really suffering,” and yet again, wouldn’t you know it, they are suffering because of yet another – “evil dictator” we are told – one that we ever so badly want to remove – you know just like we did in all those other places that people are now suffering in that we don’t think about anymore.

    The “reality” portrayed by Western MSM has absolutely NOTHING in common with actual events that occur in the physical world. Nothing. Zero. Nada. MSM – ‘reality’ – is simply the latest fantasies of deep state planning operations set to the canned music of MSM news broadcasts. An absurdist flight of fancy. Farce. Slap-stick. You could call it many things, but it is NOT “reality.” And it will never “become reality” no matter how many well groomed millionaire talking heads primp and preen and repeat the same lies and feign the same concern for the poor mistreated citizens in yet the next nation on our “kill-list.” The West is run by psychopaths, and psychopaths will gaslight you to the very end – and they will never admit they were wrong – nor will they ever say they are “sorry” and “apologize.” They just move on to look for their next victim – unless something stops them.

    • vexarb says

      This is merely a cut’n’paste post script to the world-wide-trauma which IGT so ably outlines above:

      “Ozskeptic BTL SyrPer #288720 cut’n’pasted from: Dissident Voice:

      “Something smells fishy when the presstitutes orchestrate a fake ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Venezuela, but totally ignore the real humanitarian crises in Yemen and Gaza. This ‘crisis’ in Venezuela cannot be compared with what is happening in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar.”

      *Salute to ‘Dissident Voice.’ – I had forgotten them. It’s worth bookmarking their page!”

      • Paul says

        We are asked to believe that the blackout is the result of poor maintenance over 2-3 years which has come to a head at a crucial moment in the attack on Maduro. It is an amazing coincidence! Or have the opposition already killed babies in hospital a bit like the Iraqui’s were reported to have done in Kuwait? That was of course 1st rate bollocks but this time the rebels have blood on their hands.

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