Weeks before the attack, Russian Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia pushed an extravagant theory that there would be a “false flag” attack, a “pretext” “eagerly provided by the White Helmets’ provocateurs.”
In early March, Gerasimov said they had intelligence about a “provocation” planned by rebel militants, engineered to accuse Syrian government troops of using chemical weapon in Eastern Ghouta. The chief of general staff said the rebels would stage a chemical attack by assembling women, children and the elderly to represent the victims. They would then act their part along with the White Helmets and a film crew, who were already at the scene with video equipment to spread news of the “fake attack.” He then said the U.S. would accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons and Russia supporting it.
According to a Russian news outlet, the officials also blamed U.S. Special Forces, al Qaeda members and Free Syiran Army members as co-conspirators of the attack that would happen.
After the actual attack, U.N. Ambassador Nebenzia denied Russia had any role in it and said the incident was only beneficial for the rebels.
The entire elaborate explanation seems extremely suspicious, to say the least.
“What’s perhaps interesting in this one is the way that Russian officialdom started building the narrative on a false flag a month ago,” Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab’s Ben Nimmo told The Daily Beast. “There’s a measure of foresight and forethought there, which is quite interesting.”
However, pushing such conspiracy theories has become a norm in Russia, whenever Russia wants to cover up its or its allies footprints in Syria. When Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime used sarin gas in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, Russian officials then also accused the White Helmets of making up the attack, asking them how the first responders remained alive without gas masks while they reported the attack.
The U.S. also concluded that Russia had advance knowledge of the attack based on the information that a drone was flying over a hospital where the victims of the 2017 attack were being taken to get treatment. A few hours after the drone left, Russian-made fighter jets bombed the hospital in what U.S. officials believe was an attempt to conceal the use of chemical weapons.
Russia’s announcement of the conspiracy happened after the Trump administration was considering military response against the Syrian government after reports emerged of Bashar’s repetitive use of chemical weapons.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: White Helmets/Handout via REUTERS