Chemical Weapons and Absurdity: The Disinformation Campaign Against the White Helmets
By Nick Waters
The Syrian Civil Defence (SCD), also known as the White Helmets, is a search-and-rescue organisation based in opposition-held areas. They have recorded some of the worst atrocities carried out in Syria and provided vital evidence of gross human rights abuses by the Syrian government and the Russian military. This has made them the target of a significant disinformation campaign attempting to smear them as “terrorists,” with some pro-government supporters claiming they are “legitimate targets.”
During mid-2018 this disinformation campaign appears to have focused on attempting to associate the SCD with chemical attacks in Idlib. From August to November of this year, the Russian and Syrian governments and state-controlled media continually repeated narratives involving the SCD and movement, or use of, chemical weapons around rebel-held areas of north-western Syria, primarily Idlib. This article will examine the accusations made against the SCD in Idlib and assess the evidence provided. The information we collected can be found here.
It should be noted that no reputable body has ever found that SCD was involved in any chemical incidents in Syria in any capacity other than as first responders to attacks. However, the Syrian government has been identified as the perpetrator in 23 Chlorine and Sarin attacks and has likely been involved in many more. Both Russia and Syria have a dubious reputation for factual reporting on the issue of chemical weapons due to their accusations of vast international conspiracies, use of doctored satellite images and tendency to present videos and images from computer games as evidence.
Image 1: Chemical Attacks in Syria, along with perpetrators, according to the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
Bellingcat has identified 22 separate accusations relating to …read more