Blog archive: Syria

  • 28th September 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In April last year a report by the OPCW, the international chemical weapons watchdog, blamed the Assad regime for two sarin attacks on Ltamenah in northern Syria. The implications of this were especially serious because the attacks took place in 2017 – four years after the regime had formally...
  • 17th September 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Hundreds of people died – many of them in their sleep – when rockets laden with the nerve agent sarin hit Ghouta, a rebel-held area on the outskirts of Damascus, in the early hours of 21 August 2013. It was the deadliest chemical attack anywhere in the world since the 1980s and it caused...
  • 26th July 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria's claim that crucial evidence relating to chemical weapons was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes has been greeted with widespread scepticism: it sounds too convenient to be true. In a diplomatic note to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Syria announced that...
  • 24th July 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Two gas cylinders that formed crucial evidence in connection with a suspected chemical attack in Syria have been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, according to the Syrian authorities. The cylinders were at the centre of an investigation by the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) regarding...
  • 6th July 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Four tonnes of a chemical supplied by a German firm and supposedly intended for making pharmaceuticals vanished after arriving in Syria, according to a Swiss newspaper investigation. The chemical – isopropanol – has multiple civilian uses but also is a crucial ingredient in the nerve agent...
  • 3rd July 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism is named in memory of a Lebanese-American journalist who died in a car crash while working for Iran's Press TV in 2014. The purpose of the award, according to its website, is to honour non-mainstream journalists who "tell...
  • 1st April 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A newly-formed group has joined the campaign to discredit investigations of chemical weapons in Syria and has recruited a former high-ranking UN official to its cause. "Berlin Group 21", whose website was registered on 10 March, is promoting a "statement of concern" which accuses the...
  • 29th March 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    It emerged last week that a university professor who spreads conspiracy theories about chemical weapons in Syria has been passing information to someone who he mistakenly believed was working for Russian intelligence. In a lengthy email correspondence with the supposed Russian agent, Prof...
  • 2nd February 2021
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In just six years a small team of investigators at the Bellingcat website have chalked up some remarkable achievements. One was their naming of Russian agents who poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in Britain – followed, a couple of years later, by identifying those behind a similar...
  • 30th November 2020
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Towards the end of each month the director-general of the OPCW issues a report headed "Progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme". There have been 86 of these reports over the last seven years but what they reveal is not so much progress as a lack of it. More than...
  • 27th November 2020
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    When the 193 countries that are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention hold their annual meeting next week they will face a tricky question regarding one of the members. The general assumption of the Convention is that if countries are willing to sign up to it they are also likely to comply...
  • 6th October 2020
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An interesting situation is developing at the OPCW – the global chemical weapons watchdog – regarding Syria and Russia. Last July the OPCW's executive council set a 90-day deadline for Syria to provide further information about its chemical weapons programme – some of which it was supposed to...

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