Famed war reporter’s visit to Syria: Gas attack evidence “flimsy”
A Syrian youth puts bread inside his jacket as authorities distributed bread, vegetables, and pasta to residents on April 16 in Douma, the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack. For the past six years, the town has been under the control of the Army of Islam. | Hassan Ammar / AP

LONDON—A Syrian doctor’s report that no chemical weapons were used in Douma last week throws more doubt on Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to join Donald Trump’s U.S. air strikes, Labour MP Chris Williamson told the Morning Star today.

British journalist Robert Fisk has reported in The Independent that he visited a subterranean clinic in the former rebel stronghold of eastern Ghouta, where he spoke to senior medic, Dr. Assim Rahaibani.

Rahaibani told the veteran reporter that children seen with breathing apparatus and doused in water in a video used to back up claims that chemical weapons were used against them were in fact suffering from oxygen deprivation from being inside tunnels and confined underground spaces while hiding from fighting going on in the city.

Rahaibani said: “People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet’, shouted ‘Gas!’ and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia — not gas poisoning.”

Derby North MP Williamson said that Fisk’s account shows that evidence of the Syrian government launching a chemical weapons attack on people of Douma is “flimsy at best.”

The search for truth in the rubble of Douma—And one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

He said: “Eminent military experts like Lord West, the former first sea lord and chief of the naval staff, as well as General Shaw, the former commander British armed forces in Iraq, have questioned the evidence and the motive [of using chemical weapons].

“They point out that the Assad regime has all but won the battle for eastern Ghouta. Consequently, using chemical weapons that could prompt the wrath of the U.S. military makes no sense.”

A second emergency debate on Syria was held in the House of Commons today over May joining U.S. and French forces in launching air strikes on chemical bases in Syria without consulting Parliament.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the PM showed a “flagrant disregard” for the convention of seeking authority from MPs when she did not recall MPs from their Easter recess, and that the convention should be enshrined in law in a War Powers Act.

The government won a vote in Parliament on the bombing, with a fifth of Labour MPs defying the whip to side with the Conservatives.

May said that while she accepted that elected members should be allowed to debate the deployment of forces, it was not right that this applied to “every possible overseas mission.”

This article originally appeared in Morning Star.


Lamiat Sabin
Lamiat Sabin

Lamiat Sabin is a news reporter and deputy news editor for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.