The Independent newspaper has published an investigation by journalist Robert Fisk (*) who visited the Syria clinic at the centre of a global chemical weapons crisis.

We reproduce here some of his findings which cast serious doubts about the claim of a chemical attack in Douma.

“Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups. These particular jihadis survived under a blizzard of shellfire by living in other’s people’s homes and in vast, wide tunnels with underground roads carved through the living rock by prisoners with pick-axes on three levels beneath the town. I walked through three of them yesterday, vast corridors of living rock which still contained Russian – yes, Russian – rockets and burned-out cars.

…”It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic – “Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city – is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.

“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. 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.”

He continues to describe the role of the White Helmets funded at least in part by the UK Foreign office and more inconsistencies about the reporting and awareness of people in the town about this attack.

Whatever the truth about it, it is highly suspicious that the missile “message” from the three Western powers was sent just before outside observers had the chance to investigate, and the media is already claiming that if nothing is found it would be due to the Russians tampering with the site. Jeremy Corbyn is also demanding an investigation on the missile targets as the claim that they were producing and stockpiling there chemical weapons must be independently verified.

The Independent article also contains a numbers of important pictures which are also witnesses to the report.

Robert Fisk is an English writer and journalist. He has been Middle East correspondent intermittently since 1976 for various media; since 1989 he has been correspondent for The Independent, primarily based in BeirutFisk holds numerous British and international journalism awards, including the Press Awards Foreign Reporter of the Year seven times. He has published a number of books and reported on several wars and armed conflicts. (Wikipedia)