Witnesses to Alleged Chemical Incident in Douma Speaks at OPCW to Prove that the Attack Was Fabricated

THE HAGUE- The Syrian and Russian missions at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Thursday presented 17 Syrian eyewitnesses aiming to prove that the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma was a fabricated incident.

During a press conference held on Thursday at the OPCW headquarters, all witnesses confirmed that there wasn't any use of toxic materials in Douma and that reports about the alleged attack were fake news.

 Speaking at The Hague, 11-year-old Hassan Diab, featured in the clip of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, joined other witnesses to describe the events of April 7, which the US used as a pretext for a strike on Syria.

“We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me,” the boy told the press conference, RT reported.

Hassan was among the “victims” seen being washed by water hoses in a video released by the controversial White Helmets group on April 7. The boy and his family later spoke to the media and revealed that Hassan was hurried to the scene by men who claimed that a chemical attack had taken place. They started pouring cold water on the boy and others, filming the frightened children.

“There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care, they were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water. The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator of the emergency ward, recalled. “That happened for about an hour, we provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.”

Halil al-Jaish, a resuscitator who tended to people at the Douma hospital that day, told the press conference that some of the patients had indeed experienced respiratory problems. The symptoms, however, were caused by heavy dust, which engulfed the area due to recent airstrikes, and no one showed any signs of chemical warfare poisoning, al-Jaish said.

The hospital received people who suffered from smoke and dust asphyxiation on the day of the alleged attack, Muwaffak Nasrim, a paramedic who was working in emergency care, said. The panic seen in footage provided by the White Helmets was caused mainly by people shouting about the alleged use of chemical weapons, Nasrim, who witnessed the chaotic scenes, added. No patients, however, displayed symptoms of chemical weapons exposure, he said.

Ahmad Saur, an emergency paramedic with the Syrian Red Crescent, said that the ward he was working at did not receive any patients exposed to chemical weapons on the day of the alleged incident or after it. All the patients needed either general medical care or help with injuries, he said. Saur told journalists he came to speak at The Hague independently of the Red Crescent, and that he was testifying freely and without any pressure.

One reporter asked what would happen to the eyewitnesses and whether they would “stay in Europe to testify.”

“We’re going back home, and see no problem with that. The situation is a lot better now. We’re Douma residents, like many others,” Hassan Ayoun, a doctor with the emergency department, added.

Six of the Douma witnesses brought to The Hague have already been interviewed by the OPCW technical experts, Russia’s permanent representative to the OPCW, Aleksandr Shulgin, said.

“The others were ready too, but the experts are sticking to their own guidelines. They’ve picked six people, talked to them, and said they were 'completely satisfied' with their account and did not have any further questions,” Shulgin revealed. He added that the allegations by “certain Western countries” ahead of the briefing that Moscow and Damascus were seeking to “hide” the witnesses from the OPCW experts did not hold water.

The alleged chemical incident was only supported by the White Helmets’ video and social media reports from militant-linked groups, but the US, the UK and France judged they had enough evidence that it actually took place and launched a series of strikes against Syria on April 14.

The US and its allies accused the Syrian government of carrying out the “attack,” without providing any proof of their claim. Notably, the strike came hours before the OPCW fact-finding team was set to arrive in Douma to determine whether chemical weapons had been used there.

Claims on Using Chemical Weapons in Syria's Douma Made by Western Countries to Distort Syrian Army's Image

Syria's Deputy Representative at the OPCW Ghassan Obeid affirmed during the press conference that the claims accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma were made by western countries as to distort the image of the Syrian army which has been fighting terrorism over the past seven years. He pointed out that these claims were based on fake information provided by the so-called White Helmets which have close links to terrorists.

Obeid said that the Syrian Arab army found in Douma a huge warehouse for the terrorists containing toxic chemicals and explosive materials. 

He added that the Syrian mission at The Hague sent more than 100 letters to the OPCW on the planning of terrorist groups to provoke the use of chemicals in order to accuse the Syrian Arab Army.

“We provided specific information with coordinates of the location of terrorists’ chemical weapons stockpiles,” he said.

Obeid added that Washington, London and Paris did not wait for the arrival of the fact-finding mission of the OPCW, which Syria called for to verify allegations of chemical use in Douma and launched aggression against Syria to obstruct the work of the mission’s experts.

Hamda Mustafa