British academics: OPCW report on Douma incident deliberately suppressed Engineering Assessment

London, SANA – Four British academics affirmed that the Interim and Final Reports of the Fact-Finding Mission in Syria (FFM) which belongs to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the alleged incident in Douma had been “nobbled.”

In a detailed research report, Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, and Piers Robinson said that the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s excuse for the suppression of the Engineering Assessment under the pretext that this assessment is “outside of the mandate and methodology of the FFM,” is fallacious and contradicts OPCW’s published reports on the Douma incident.

The aforementioned Engineering Assessment included evidence that the cylinders containing chemical materials involved in the Douma incident, were manually placed rather than dropped from the air, thereby refuting the accusations leveled against the Syrian Arab Army and proving that terrorists had been responsible for the incident.

The academics said the suppression of the Engineering Assessment was not an isolated aberration, and that the FFM has relied for evidence since 2014 on sources that have “dubious provenance,” and at least some of them have been set up under UK tutelage.

They pointed out that the original draft of the interim report, which had noted inconsistencies in the evidence of a chemical attack, was revised by a process that was not transparent to FFM team members to become the published Interim Report released on 6 July 2018 that included only the laboratory results.

The academics said that after the release of the Interim Report, the investigation proceeded in secrecy with all FFM team members who had deployed to Douma excluded, and that these team members do not know who wrote the document that was released as the “Final Report of the FFM.”

They also noted that the creation of the FFM in 2014 as a new mechanism to investigate alleged chemical attacks allowed the OPCW to bypass the procedures laid down in the Chemical Weapons Convention for investigations of alleged use, and to set its own rules for these investigations.

The report goes on to note that multiple sources confirmed that the second stage of the investigation involved consultation with Len Phillips, the previous leader of FFM Team Alpha who worked in the OPCW during this period as a self-employed consultant, and examination of three earlier FFM reports on incidents in 2015 or 2017 where Phillips was the Team Leader, it is clear that these reports also excluded or ignored evidence that these alleged chemical attacks had been staged.

McKeigue, Miller, Mason, and Robinson called for an independent re-examination of all the OPCW’s previous investigations of alleged chemical attacks in Syria, and a radical reform of its governance and procedures.

Hazem Sabbagh

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