BBC continues to mislead on OPCW’s Douma ‘chlorine gas’ report

chlorine gas.png
Chlorine gas – heavier than air and extremely reactive

On Friday, the BBC – on its website and in its broadcast coverage – published blatantly fake news when it claimed that ‘chemical weapons watchdog’ the OPCW had confirmed that a chlorine gas attack took place in the Syrian town of Douma.

The BBC was forced to amend its article after the SKWAWKBOX pointed out its falsity – but the article is still highly misleading.

bbc douma1
Two BBC headlines – one outright fake news and the other highly misleading

The new version of the article states that:

The report said two samples from gas cylinders recovered at the scene tested positive for chlorine.

This is a classic example of a technically-correct claim that is completely misleading.

The report does note the presence of chlorine in some samples tested from the cylinders – but not chlorine gas or the residues that would be expected from its reaction with other substances.  Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so it would not simply disperse upwards and would have time to react and leave behind tell-tales.

The relevant page of the OPCW’s full report states that no ‘relevant chemicals’ were found from a swab inside the opening of one cylinder:opcw results.pngIn debris and on other items around the cylinder, chlorine compounds were found – but these are common compounds that would be unlikely to be formed simply by chlorine reacting with something on site.

For example, dichloroacetic acid – which appears in most of the samples – is commonly used for cosmetic ‘skin peels’ and for removing warts. It is normally made by processing trichloroacetic acid, which was also found in some samples, and sometimes from processing chloral hydrate, which also appears.

Chlorophenol, also found, is commonly used as a herbicide or pesticide and as disinfectants.

Trichlorophenol is the active substance in the well-known antiseptic TCP – which derives its name from the compound.

Chlorine gas, by contrast, is pure chlorine (CL2).

The BBC’s article states that chlorine was identified by the OPCW ‘fact-finding mission’. This is technically correct – but it was only found as a component in other commercial compounds.

Does this mean the OPCW concluded that chlorine gas was definitely not used in Douma? No – but equally it has definitely not concluded that it was. The report states:

various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.

By baldly stating that ‘chlorine’ was found in the samples – rather than the report’s ‘various chlorinated organic chemicals‘ – the BBC continues to mislead readers, just more subtly than in its original fake news.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted the BBC for comment and also asked whether the BBC would be issuing a correction on its broadcast news, so viewers would understand the facts and that they had been misled.

No response has been received.

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  1. Please go back on FB, I realise you are probably ticked off by Zuckerberg as we all are, but this should reach a lot of people to underline just how unreliable the BBC is.

    1. Never left FB. But FB has changed its MO to make it harder for people to keep up with their preferred independent sources. facebook.com/skwawkbox same as ever.

    1. I don’t see the BBC so called reporting on the OPCW interim report as being “economical with the truth”, it is outright deceptive propaganda on behalf of and in defence of egregious action by the British ‘ruling class’ faction of the modern western imperial, neo-colonial military industrial and banking/corporate complex.

      One of the facilities bombed was apparently making anti cancer drugs which are in short supply or unobtainable due to egregious economic sanctions imposed which have caused avoidable deaths, poverty and hardship on top of the war, forcing some into the arms of mercenary terror gangs that pay far better than the state and that have lost businesses and jobs due to sanctions and looting of whole factories via Turkey when terror gangs occupied the main industrial hub in Aleppo. Thankfully Aleppo and now Damascus are free of terror mortars, snipings and suicide bombs and are starting to rebuild despite the sanctions and ever present threat of a major attack from F,UK,US et al. That is terrorism on a grand scale.
      Syria has never been a threat to UK, May regime has no business bombing or having troops (special forces) on the ground or supporting terror led subversion and terrorist/sectarian propaganda against Syria and her people.

      1. Here’s Eva Bartlett interviewed by Global Research TV on Syria, Douma and Gaza. This interview, of someone who has been on the ground in Douma and many parts of Syria and Gaza over the years, directly conflicts with western narratives. She speaks colloquial Arabic but also takes an interpreter.

  2. It makes one wonder how complicit the BBC was in the proselytising of the infamous Dodgy Dossier

  3. We cannot and must NOT let the BBC getaway with this blatant spinning of the facts. We, that means all of us who want to see an honest, truthful BBC, should hound them and their news readers/anchors to stop presenting us with this deliberately biased information.

  4. I’ve recently ceased financially supporting the pathological liars that call themselves the BBC. I like watching football, so the timing isn’t too good but I cannot justify giving my hard earned cash to an organisation that barely produces a story that isn’t twisted or downright dishonest.
    Sadly, it will take many more thousands of people to do the same before this well oiled propaganda machine is adversely affected but I’ve done my bit. 🙂

  5. Yes it seems Douma has been to an extent kicked into the long grass by the Right and establishment (hoping we will all forget and it will fade from memory) before they feed snippets of their narrow and grossly exaggerated interpretation as fact.
    The Right Wing Neo-Liberal rich and powerful ‘polishing turds’?

  6. The BBC’s coverage has been unremittingly biased throughout the conflict in Syria, but they appear completely unrepentant and immune to complaint on this issue.

    I complained about an episode of the Today Programme on the Thursday morning after the alleged Douma attack in which they had seven pro-intervention voices and only one anti-war voice. The latter was the only one who was challenged when she raised issues about the evidence so far presented. The complaint was rejected as it did not refer to a specific individual piece on the programme FFS.

    Even now though, this OPCW interim report completely vindicates the anti-war commentators view – even were chlorine gas pumping out of both cylinders or even a dozen of them, there is no conceivable way that it could have killed 35 people so quickly and have them all lined up in the way in which the White Helmets videos show that they were ‘discovered’. Chlorine gas simply does not affect people that rapidly (which is why it was soon rejected as a weapon in the First World War) – it’s a heavy, slow-moving irritant that almost all of the alleged victims could quite easily have out-run or rendered ineffective by simply going to one of the many windows in the building – every one of which had been blown out by then. Jihadis in Iraq used tonnes of the stuff in a few incidents, but caused no large number of casualties (only a handful that may have been caused by the associated explosions – I can dig out the links for this if you wish).

    This event will be memory-holed as soon as possible as it is final, incontrovertible proof that Western supported NGOs have been involved in the staging of chemical weapons incidents in the Syrian conflict. It is the first and only time that UN inspectors have been able to attend the scene and take their own samples and ensure proper chain-of-custody – and now that they have the opposition story simply falls apart. The BBC and MSM has invested a lot of their credibility in these NGOs and cannot allow them to be exposed as the perpetrators – it’s as simple as that.

    1. “Jihadis in Iraq used tonnes of the stuff in a few incidents, but caused no large number of casualties (only a handful that may have been caused by the associated explosions – I can dig out the links for this if you wish). ”
      I would like to have the links please. If it’s not too much trouble

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