U.S. INTELLIGENCE SERVICES PREPARE NEW “CHEMICAL WEAPONS” PROVOCATION IN SYRIA – RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA

South Front

U.S. Intelligence Services Prepare New "Chemical Weapons" Provocation In Syria - Russian State Media

Kurdish YPG fighters head a convoy of US military vehicles in Syria. (Reuters: Rodi Said, file photo)

U.S. intelligence services are preparing a new provocation with the chemical weapons usage in Syria, the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported citing an “informed source” in Syrian security services.

“The operation is led by a former militant of ISIS, Mishan Idris Hamash. The aim is to stage a chemical attack against civilians to be further spread in the media,” the source said.

According to the report, the preparations for the provocation started on April 23. Civilians are being shipped to a territory near Jafra oil field, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates [controlled by US-backed forces] to participate in a staged filming of the alleged attack scene. Recently, the US-led coalition has established a military garrison in this area.

The tensions over the conflict in Syria escalated following the April 7 incident in the town of Douma where an alleged chemical attack took place. The US-led bloc accused the Syrian government of conducting a chemical attack against civilians and used these allegations to justify its April 14 missile strike on the country. Syria rejects all the allegations and say that the alleged attack was a provocation.

Russian representatives later found the “victims” of the alleged attack, who revelaed that they were forced to participate in the filming.

It’s important to note that the main source of the chemical attack allegations used by the US and its allies was the so-called White Helmets. An infamous pro-militant propaganda organization funded by the US and its allies.

Following the Douma chemical attack story, the US State Department has reportedly halted financing to the White Helmets. However, the Department of State is far from being the only source of funding of this organization by the US-led bloc.

Hague Press Conference On Douma Chemical Attack: Details, Evidence, Reaction

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#Douma: Russia ‘won’t allow’ another US military action in Syria based on false flag – OPCW envoy

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Russia’s envoy to the OPCW said it was crucial to avoid new false-flag attacks in Syria and that Moscow “won’t allow” US military action there, as he described details of Russian findings on the site of the alleged Douma incident. New false-flag operations against Damascus are “possible, since our American partners are once again threatening to take military action against Syria, but we will not allow that,” Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Aleksandr Shulgin, said during a press conference in The Hague on Thursday.

The meeting was called by Russia’s OPCW mission and featured witnesses of the April 7 alleged chemical incident in the city of Douma. It highlighted the findings of Russian military experts, who were among the first to reach the site of the purported attack and locate the “munitions” that supposedly hit the residential buildings.

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The Douma Hoax

Stephen Lendman

26-04-2018 | 14:43

A years earlier article asked if Washington planned a major false flag incident in Syria.

Children

They’ve been so many earlier, dating at least since the mid-19th century – the 9/11 mother of them all most destructive, a second Pearl Harbor launching endless wars of aggression, smashing one country after another.

Numerous earlier CW attacks in Syria, committed by US-supported terrorists, wrongfully blamed on Assad, were false flags.

Three major ones stand out – the August 2013 Ghouta area sarin gas attack, casualties grossly inflated. Britain and France estimated several hundreds. John Kerry falsely claimed over 1,400. Likely only scores were affected.

UN inspectors found no evidence of large numbers harmed or killed. Many questions remain unanswered to this day.

Ghouta was a classic false flag. At the time, I expected another major one ahead.

It came in April last year in Khan Sheikhoun. No evidence proved its residents were affected by chemical toxins.

No victims were identified. No one sought medical treatment, no help of any kind for help in response to a CW attack.

Images showed no one investigating the alleged site wearing protective clothing – essential where suspected CW incidents occurred.

Khan Sheikhoun was fabricated, Assad wrongfully blamed for what didn’t happen. Trump terror-bombed Syria’s Shayrat airbase in response – based on a Big Lie, naked aggression on a sovereign state even if an incident occurred.

On April 7, Douma was the latest CW false flag, another victimless nonevent – multiple Syrian sites targeted by US, UK, and French terror-bombing in response to fake news, fallout from the incident far from over, another major CW incident sure to come.

Perception alone matters, reality on the ground of no consequence. CW incidents, real or fake, are the favored false flag vehicles of our time – Washington the leading practitioner.

When used as directed, naked aggression follows almost every time.

Commenting on Douma, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted “lot(s) of fake materials…spread over social media – images and videos from the alleged sites.”

“Indeed, these locations can be confirmed, but in many cases the situation and the circumstances of what was going on there are contrived,” adding:

Douma was “100% fake. How is it that dead kids are moved from place to place, if the key goal is to confirm the fact that the attack occurred?”

“Because in order to spread fake evidence they needed emotional coloring, so they were tasked with diverting attention from factual inconsistencies.”

Big Lies repeated enough get most people to believe them. No matter how many times they were fooled before, they’re easy marks to fool again.

How much more mass slaughter and destruction will occur in Syria before US-led naked aggression ends?

How many more nations are on its target list, repeating what’s going on in multiple US war theaters?

Is East/West confrontation inevitable? Is global war coming?

Will use of nuclear weapons ahead doom us all? Is it too late to turn things around?

Source: stephenlendman.org, Edited by website team

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IS FALSE-FLAG ATTACK ON US NAVY SHIP NEXT?

South Front

23.04.2018

Is False-Flag Attack On US Navy Ship Next?

Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman (Photo by Michael W. Pendergrass/U.S. Navy/Getty Images)

Written by Nick; Originally appeared at the Saker blog

The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group left the east coast Naval Station Norfolk, VA on 11th April.

The aircraft carrier is accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, the guided-missile destroyers USS Burke, Bulkeley, Forest Sherman and Farragut, and the destroyers USS Jason and The Sullivans. The strike group carries 6,500 sailors and Carrier Air Wing One.

Recent announcements about Russia’s hypersonic Kinzhal (‘Dagger’) missile system having made these vessels effectively obsolete, this means that the ships and their crews are essentially being sailed into a bloody scrapyard.

Even without the recent upgrading of the Kinzhal system, the experience of the British fleet in the Falklands conflict illustrates the vulnerability of warships to low-flying missiles. In addition to the sinking of the HMS Sheffield and Sir Galahad, virtually every British ship was hit by at least one of Argentinian’s French-made Exocet missiles – a weapons system which was already 20 years old at the time.

Exocet missile sinks HMS Sheffield during Falklands War:

Reportedly the only thing that saved the UK force from obliteration was that the Argentinians had got their missile altimeter settings wrong. The Russians will not make the same sort of error!

These facts are of course known to the US military planners and – one would assume and hope, for it is duty to know – by Donald Trump. And yet the US fleet is now nearing the coast of Syria, where it will met up with American and other NATO warships already in position. Together, they will make one big flock of sitting ducks.

If the people pushing Trump manage to get him launch a new strike on Syria (and we must expect a new false flag attack) and if the massive increase in NATO firepower means that enough missiles get through to enough targets to kill Russians, then Putin really has no choice but to sink the US fleet.

No choice because, whatever the danger of doing so, failure to respond would signal Russian defeat and retreat in Syria, which would of course lead to a rapid escalation of military pressure against Lebanon and Iran, and mean that when the Empire then rolls on to strike Russia, her most reliable allies will already have gone and her ‘soft underbelly’ will be seriously exposed.

So Putin orders the destruction of the US fleet, and an hour later all that is left is debris and mangled corpses in some oil slicks – and some ‘great’ photos and video clips to illustrate Trump’s declaration of war on account of “Russia’s deadly sneak attack on a US humanitarian force”.

Sounds familiar? It should do. Because we’re not just thinking here of the USS Maine, the Lusitania and the Gulf of Tonkin. The Washington habit of using sunken ships as the causus belli also of course included Pearl Harbor.

Just in case you need a reminder, here’s just one example of the many short videos out there on the truth about the Japanese attack on 7th December 1941 which explain how Roosevelt had advance intelligence of the planned attack, but decided not to pass it on to the anchored sitting duck fleet:

The more or less official excuse (the President’s guilt never having been formally acknowledged) is that to have alerted the fleet would also have tipped off the Japanese that their naval codes had already been broken. But the truth is of course that deliberately didn’t warn the fleet because he knew that the sacrifice would goad the American people into a war against Hitler to which he and those around and behind him were committed, but which the American people opposed.

The circumstances this time are of course somewhat different, not least that everyone with even a passing knowledge of the Russian missile capability already knows that 6,500 sailors are “on their way to Samara”.

Which makes Donald Trump either a criminally incompetent fool, a bad poker player or a wholly controlled puppet of the psychotic Anglo-Zionist elite. If he is one of the first two of these, then there is of course still a chance that he might respond to the disaster by blinking and retreating. In which case, the Beltway elite will use the human tragedy and his humiliation to remove him from office (not a bad consolation prize, from their point of view).

But if he is the third, then the ‘shock’ blitz on the US fleet will lead to the immediate declaration of World War Three.

Indeed, if things get that far (and we’re probably 48 hours and one White Helmets’ video away from it) then the only thing that realistically stands a chance of stopping the racist Anglo-Zionist psychopaths in their tracks is if the Russian attack and its result are such a devastating show of ‘shock and awe’ as to make it impossible for them to ignore a simultaneous public warning by Putin to Netanyahu that any further US hostile response will place Israel directly in the firing line as well.

That might JUST be enough to make the Neocons back off. If not, then World War Three it will be. It might not go nuclear straight away, but even while it is conventional EVERYTHING will change:

Dissident anti-war voices such as this will rapidly be silenced by blanket censorship and internment; your sons and daughters will be conscripted; your taxes will go through the roof – and you will have to live with the ever-present fear that, once China enters the war against Washington and its client states, the tide will run so fast against the ‘democratic allies’ that their ‘humanitarian missiles’ will end up with nuclear tips.

If that disturbs you (and it surely should) then all I ask is that you take the Pearl Harbor analogy and get busy spreading it on social media RIGHT NOW. Because once those young sailors and airmen have been sacrificed, the demand for a war of ‘revenge’ will be unstoppable. But if the warmongers realize that plenty of people have already understood the plan, it might just spook them into backing off.

In which case the fleet can do a few face-saving manoeuvres and then sail home again and we can look forward to a summer which may be warm, but not as uncomfortably hot as it could otherwise become!

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Poison Gas – Weapon of Choice for “False News”

The Saker

by Peter Koenig for the Saker blogPoison Gas – Weapon of Choice for “False News”

Poison gas is not only deadly, it often provokes a slow suffocating death. That, perpetrated on innocent children, is particularly cruel. But when such poison gas attacks are mere false flags, or by the new term, “false news”, and are used to provoke war, perhaps an all annihilating war, then humanity has turned to what it never should have become – a lowly-lowly herd of brainless zombies. Is that what we have become – brainless, greedy, selfish beings, no sense of solidarity, no respect for other beings; I am not even talking about humans, but any living being.

Poison gas, the weapon of choice for fear. Poisoning in Salisbury of the former Russian double-agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, visiting her dad from Moscow. Poisoning with a nerve gas, called Novichok that was allegedly made in Russia. In the meantime, we know that nerve gas made in the former Soviet Union, now non-existent in Russia, was military grade and deadly. The gas used for the alleged attack was not deadly. We also know by now that the UK – all of their highest officials, from PM May down the ladder, lied so miserably that they will have a hard time recovering. It will backfire. Unlike the foreign secretary, Johnson boy pretended their secret bio-gas / bio-weapon laboratory Porton Down, just 13 km down the road from Salisbury, where the pair was allegedly found unconscious on a park bench, assured him the gas was made in Russia. Alas, the laboratories chief chemists testified later to the media that they could not be sure that the substance was made in Russia. No, of course not.

In fact, Porton Down, working in close collaboration with the CIA, is a highly sophisticated chemical warfare facility that can easily make the gas themselves – at the grades they please, deadly or not so deadly, if it should serve a “false news” purpose – which this did.

Were father and daughter indeed poisoned? – This is a legitimate question. Who has seen them since the alleged poisoning occurred on 28 March? – They disappeared from the public eye. Apparently, they are both recovering, Yulia having been released from hospital a few days ago, but has not been seen by anyone in public, nor been able to talk to the media, lest she could say “something” the public is not allowed to know. Her father is also recovering and may be released soon – released from where? – Is this all a farce?

An aunt talked to Yulia from Moscow, where she noticed that Yulia was not free to talk. The aunt wanted to visit her niece in the UK but was obviously denied a visa.

Where are father and daughter? – Washington has “offered” them a new home and new identity in the US, to avoid further poisoning attempts… how ridiculous! A blind man or woman must see that this is another farce, or more correctly, an outright abduction. The two won’t have a chance to resist. They are just taken away – not to talk anymore to anyone ever. – That’s the way the story goes. The lies are protected, and the “Russia did it” syndrome will prevail – prevail in the dumb folded public, in the herd of pigs that we all have become, as Goebbels would say.

And the saga continues. The saga to drum up war. That’s the purpose of it all. Nothing else – Russia, the evil nation, led by an evil leader, must be subdued and conquered. But the empire needs the public for their support. And the empire is almost there. It disposes of a vicious media corporate army – that lies flagrantly about anything that money can buy. It’s like spitting in the face of the world, and nobody seems to care, or worse, even to notice.

On the other side of the Mediterranean is Syria. A vast and noble country, Syria, with a leader who truly loves his people and country, a leader who has despite a foreign induced war – not civil war – a proxy war, instigated and funded by Washington and its vassal allies in Europe and the Middle East; Syria, a highly educated socialist country that has shared the benefit of her resources, free education, free medical services, free basic infrastructure, with her people. This Syria must fall. Such strength cannot be tolerated by the all-dominating west. Like Iraq and Libya, also socialist countries once-upon-a-time, and like Syria, secular Muslim nations, sharing their countries wealth with the people, such countries must fall.

According to Pentagon planners and those Zion-neofascist thinktanks that designed the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century), as the chief instrument of US foreign policy, we know since Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied commander and Chief of NATO in Europe (1997-2000) talked to Democracy Now in 2007 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8FhZnFZ6TY ), saying that within 5 years seven countries must fall, one of them is Syria. – Since 2011, the Syrian people have been bombarded by US and NATO and Saudi funded terrorists, causing tens of thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees. Now, even more blatantly, US bases are vying to occupying the northern third of Syria, totally illegally, but nobody says beep. Not even the UN.

The recent fake gas attack on Douma outside of Damascus, has allegedly killed 80 to 120 people, mostly women and children. Of course, that sells best in the propaganda theatre – women and children. Strangely, like last time the infamous White Helmets discovered the gas victims, including a gas canister-like bomb laying on a bed, having been shot through the roof of a house… a totally and unprofessionally staged event. As Russian military quickly discovered and reported. They called on an independent investigation, one that could not be bought and corrupted by Washington. President Assad invited a team of investigators to inspect the scene.

Instead of heeding this invitation, Trump, the bully, calls Mr. Assad an “animal” and a “monster”, twittering his brainless aggressions throughout the world. Tell you what, Mr. Trump, Bashar al-Assad is a far better human being than you are a monster. You and your dark handlers don’t even deserve being called human. Mr. Assad has regard and respect for his people, attempts to protect them and has so far succeeded with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, recovering the last bits of Syrian territory from the terrorist, except of course, the northern part, where the chief terrorist and the world’s only rogue state has itself installed, the US of A. – Why in the world would Mr. Assad choose to gas his own people? Especially, when he is winning the war? – People, ask yourself, cui bono (who benefits?) and the answer is simple: The western aggressors, who seek a reason to mass bomb Syria into even more rubble, causing even more death and destitution. That’s who.

While you, Donald, and those monsters that direct you from behind the scenes, have no, but absolutely no respect for your people, for any people on this globe, for that matter, not even for your kind, for your greed-no-end kind of elite, as you bring the world to the brink of an all-destructive, all killing annihilating war.

Since the other fake event, 9/11, we are, of course, already in a “soft version” of WWIII, but that’s not enough, the United States needs a hard war, so badly it doesn’t shy away from destroying itself. That’s how blinded your own propaganda has made you Americans, you generals, you corporate “leaders” (sic-sic) – and all you Congress puppets. That is the sheer truth. You better read this and wake up. Otherwise your dead sentence is hastened by your own greed and ignorance.

Both Russia and the US drafted a Security Council Resolution – which of course are both not approved, with Nikki Haley lambasting Russia, accusing them of being responsible for the countless deaths in Syria – pointing again to the children and women, making up the majority. Again, it sells best in the world of psychological propaganda, while evil Nikki Haley knows very well who has caused all these deaths by the millions, destitution and refugees by the millions, tens of millions throughout the Middle East and the world – her own country, directly or through NATO, the European puppets allies and proxy wars, paid and funded by Washington and by elbow-twisting her vassals.

On 9 April – UNSC – while Nikki Haley, repeats and over-repeats her lies and fake accusations, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Vassily Nebenzia, listens. And then in a twenty-minute statement of sheer intelligence, he dismantles all the lies, and lays bare the truth, about all the fakeness being played out internationally. The depth with which he addresses the assembly is concise and so brilliant, none of his UK, French and German counterparts could have ever come close to a statement of this magnitude an dexcellence. Even Ms. Haley can’t help glancing over ever-so often to Vassily Nebenzia, as he speaks (http://thesaker.is/russian-ambassador-to-the-un-vasily-nebenzea-addressing-the-un-sc-9-april-2018/ ). Her eyes reveal some kind of hidden admiration for what he says. – After all, she can’t be as dumb as she is paid for to look and sound.

By now anybody who dares not just reading and listening to the mainstream presstitute “fake news”, but has the courage to dig into the truth news, RT, TeleSur, CGTN, PressTV – and a few others, or websites like Global Research, The Saker Blog, ICH, NEO, Greanville Post CounterCurrent, Dissident Voice and many other trustworthy sources – knows about the lies and the only, but the very only purpose these false flags cum false news serve: Provoking a war with Russia, subjugating and dividing Syria, and the Middle East and becoming the hegemonic masters of the universe.

For the simple reason, and hardly anybody talks or writes about it – the US economy is based on war, is based on weapon manufacturing and international banking which finances weapon manufacturing and the exploitation of mineral resources coveted by weapon manufacturing.

The entire war industry with all its associated civil services and industries, of banking, electronics, aviation, mining…. makes up more than half of the US GDP – but of course, it’s never broken down that way. The chosen people will control the world. Well, they do already – financially at least the western part of our globe. But it’s not enough. They will not stop, before they burry themselves in their own-dug graves, or rather in one massive mass-grave. But, please, do take all your fakeness, from money, to lies, to hypocrisy and more lies and coercion and sanctions and blackmail with you – never to surface again. And give peace a chance – for those who survive your (almost) terminal assault on humanity.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog; and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

AngloZionist options (intermediate report) UPDATED

April 10, 2018

An AngloZionist attack on Syria appears to be inevitable and imminent.  There is always a chance of a major pushback from some putative mentally sane, realistic and patriotic generals in the Pentagon, but I am not holding my breath (I asked two of my best informed friends about that, they both told me to forget about it).  Counting on those who have made a life obeying orders to suddenly refuse one, and wreck their career in the process, is naive.  Besides, most of what we now have at the Pentagon are not Admiral Fallon types, but rather the same “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” type à la Petraeus.  They might not push for a confrontation with Russia, but they will do what they are told to.  The commander of CENTCOM recently said just that (“we will do what we are told“).

However, what kind of attack options the US Neocons and their Israeli pals will chose is probably what is being debated right now.  Here are the basic options

1) A repeat of last year’s attack on the Syrian Air Force base in Shayrat.  That would be by far the best option and that would allow the Neocons a face-saving, even if entirely symbolic, “look how tough we are” option.  They might as well strike the same T4 base the Israelis did a few days ago, just with more missiles.  And, just to make this look all very “democratic” they might ask the French, Brits or Israelis to participate in that attack.

2) It is too late, militarily speaking, to try to reverse the situation on the ground, but hitting more Syrian Air Force bases, communication nodes, air defenses, etc. is definitely an option.  Following such an attack, the US allies on the ground (the “good” and the “bad” terrorists) would go on the offensive and the Syrians and their allies would struggle to “plug the holes” thus created.  That would not fundamentally change the outcome, but would prolong the chaos and associated bloodbath.

3) Attack the Iranians.  This is a grand favorite with the Israelis and the Neocons, but it is also a much riskier option because if the attack is successful, the Iranians would have a huge number of potential US targets to chose from to retaliate, as would Hezbollah.  Still, that would placate the Iran-haters, at least temporarily, and it would allow Trump to show how “tough” and “great” a guy he is.

4) A full scale attack on the Syrian military and on the government (including Presidential facilities).  We are talking about hundreds of cruise missiles in the first wave.  Targets would include not only purely military targets (ammo dumps, troop concentrations, etc.) but also the “regime support infrastructure”, i.e. civilians and that which makes civilian life possible: power plants, water purification, communications, bridges, roads, ports, schools and hospitals (“camouflaged regime objectives”) etc.  Basically, that is what the US/EU/NATO did to Serbia and what the Israelis have done many times to Lebanon: murder as many civilians as possible to make them pay for supporting the “Animal Assad”.  A time honored Anglo and Jewish tradition, by the way.

5) A deliberate attack on Russian and Iranian positions in Syria to “punish” them for supporting “Animal Assad’s” chemical attacks.

Of course, a combination of the options above are possible.  Roughly speaking options 1, 2 and 3 might (conditional) remain manageable.  Only option 1 is (relatively) safe.  Options 4 and 5 are absolutely insane and are likely to result in an extremely dangerous escalation.

Let’s look at it from another point of view.

What would be the goal of a AngloZionist attack?

I think that we can all agree that nobody seriously believes that a actual chemical attack took place and that everybody knows that this is a (poorly) staged false flag predicted by both Nikki Haley and the Russians weeks ago.  As for a full-scale reversal of the outcome in Syria or a reconquista by US/NATO, these are not militarily speaking realistic options.

So then what is the point?

1) Internal US politics: Trump wants to appease the Neocons and looks “tough”.

2) Make the Syrians, Iranians and Russians pay for defeating the “good” and “bad” terrorists.

3) Appease the always bloodthirsty Israelis and create a nice pretext to renege on the nuclear deal with Iran.

4) The need to act on the rhetoric (that one is often ignored, but the fact is that when a regime spews a constant stream of paranoid and hate-filled nonsense about another country, it eventually has to do something about it.  Speaking of “Animal Assad” and do nothing about him just does not look good for The Donald).

5) Some hope to actually kill Assad (unlikely, the integrated Russian-Syrian air defenses will warn him of the attack).

6) Re-establish, by means of example, that the USA is still the biggest and baddest guy out there and that neither Iran nor Russia can do anything about it.  Scare Russia and Iran into submission (I know, this is a stupid notion, but Neocons are not very bright!).

I think that we should not over-intellectualize all this.  Frankly, I don’t think that the folks in the White House are very bright and that their level of planning is roughly similar to “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.  What they have is a mental hammer: the desire to lash out, to strike, to hurt, to punish.  Just hatred and infinite arrogance.

As to where and how the hammer will strike – your guess is as good as mine.

Attempting to predict the actions of delusional psychopaths is an exercise in futility.

Besides, we will find out very soon.

The Saker

UPDATE1RT reports that Russia and the US are both submitting resolutions to the UNSC.  Both resolutions demand an international investigation; the OPCW announced its decision to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Syria.  RT is also reporting that one Russian newspaper has declared that a top level Russia-US meeting over Syria is scheduled for next week.  Maybe, just maybe, this insanity can be stopped?

#Skripal poisoning: deleted Foreign Office tweet leads to awkward questions for Boris Johnson

Source

 A police cordon in Salisbury A police cordon in Salisbury, where the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found critically ill on a bench on 4 March. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Deputy political editor

Boris Johnson is facing embarrassing questions over his claims that Russia had produced the Salisbury nerve agent after it emerged that the Foreign Office had deleted a tweet blaming Moscow for the attack.

With the foreign secretary already under pressure over his remarks two weeks ago that a Porton Down scientist had been “absolutely categorical” that the novichok had originated in the country, Jeremy Corbyn accused Johnson of “completely exceeding the information he had been given” after the emergence of the deleted tweet.

Play Video
0:32
Jeremy Corbyn questions Boris Johnson’s claim on Russian-made novichok – video

But Johnson later hit back, accusing the Labour leader of “playing Russia’s game”.

The deletion, immediately seized on by the Russian embassy, has deepened the government’s difficulties after British scientists at the UK’s defence research laboratory announced on Tuesday that they had not established that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal had been made in Russia.

After Porton Down said it had “not identified the precise source” of the poison, the Foreign Office issued a swift rebuttal saying the prime minister had always been clear that the assessment was “only one part” of the intelligence picture.

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0:26
‘Absolutely categorical’: Boris Johnson insists novichok was made in Russia – video

The announcement prompted claims from the Kremlin that Britain was lying about the origins of the novichok and demanded an apology from Theresa May.

However, it emerged on Wednesday that the Foreign Office had earlier deleted a tweet claiming the British scientists had concluded that the nerve agent was “produced in Russia”.

In an awkward development for the Foreign Office, the Russian embassy’s Twitter feed pointed out that the 20 March tweet on a presentation by Britain’s ambassador to Moscow on the Salisbury attack had disappeared.

The deleted tweet read: “Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.”

Johnson is now under growing pressure to explain whether the government has shifted its position.

Boris Johnson’s diplomatic gaffes as foreign secretary

Johnson has caused a string of diplomatic incidents with his words and actions

Footage emerges of Johnson reciting inappropriate poem in Myanmar

Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar’s former capital Yangon, Johnson starts reciting Rudyard Kipling’s colonial-era poem The Road to Mandalay. UK ambassador Andrew Patrick steps in and stops him. The poem includes a reference to the Buddha as a “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd”

Johnson refers to clearing away ‘dead bodies’ in Sirte

At a Conservative conference fringe event Johnson draws gasps saying: “There’s a group of UK business people who want to invest in Sirte, on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed. They literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away.”

Tory colleague Heidi Allen says the remarks are “100% unacceptable from anyone, let alone the foreign secretary”. A senior Downing Street source says: “We did not feel it was an appropriate choice of words.”

Johnson disputes Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s reason for visiting Iran

“When I look at what Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it” the foreign secretary tells the foreign affairs committee.

He is later forced to apologise in parliament, accepting that the British government believes, as Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family assert, that the sole purpose of her visit to Iran was for a holiday.

Despite a subsequent visit to Tehran by Johnson, Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains in prison, serving a five-year sentence.

Compares Irish border Brexit question to London congestion charge

While applying pressure over Brexit arrangements, a leaked document reveals Johnson had suggested the government’s task is not to maintain “no border” in Ireland, but to prevent it from “becoming significantly harder”.

On the radio he goes on to say “There’s no border between Islington, Camden and Westminster, but when I was mayor of London we anaesthetically and invisibly took hundreds of millions of pounds from people travelling between those boroughs without any need for border checks.”

Claims Porton Down informed him novichok source was Russia

In an interview with Deutsche Welle’s Zhanna Nemtsova, Johnson categorically asserts Porton Down informed him the nerve agent came from Russia.

Nemtsova: You argue the source of this nerve agent, novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples?

Johnson: Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …

Nemtsova: So they have samples …?

Johnson: They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, “Are you sure?” and he said there’s no doubt. 

The security minister, Ben Wallace, said the Porton Down scientists had only provided one part of the picture and had never been expected to attribute responsibility for the attack.

He told the BBC: “Scientists are scientists. I, as well as national security, have organised crime [and] terrorism under my portfolio, and when we work with forensic scientists, the scientists tell us what something is. They tell me a gun and a type of gun was used, but the attribution of who used it, exactly how it was used, is a matter for the broader investigation.

“That includes intelligence, detectives if it’s a police investigation, and the scientists as well, and that’s perfectly understandable.”

Wallace, a close ally of the foreign secretary, defended Johnson for suggesting he had received assurances from government scientists that the nerve agent was categorically made in Russia.

“Porton Down will be able to tell you there are very, very, very few people in the world who, first of all, did design novichok – and that was the Russians – and who have developed and stockpiled it. In fact, the task of that is reduced to one,” he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “An HMA Moscow [British ambassador Laurie Bristow] briefing on 22 March was tweeted in real time by @UKinRussia and amplified by @foreignoffice to explain what happened in Salisbury to as wide an audience as possible.

“One of the tweets was truncated and did not accurately report our ambassador’s words. We have removed this tweet.”

According to an official transcript of the speech, Bristow’s original words were: “The analysts at Porton Down, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in the UK, established and made clear that this was a military-grade chemical weapon. One of the novichok series; a nerve agent as I said produced in Russia.”

Corbyn, who faced criticism for his initial, cautious response to the novichok allegations, accused Johnson of exaggerating the evidence that Russia was to blame for the Salisbury poisoning.

Quick guide

What is novichok?

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Novichok refers to a group of nerve agents that were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s to elude international restrictions on chemical weapons. Like other nerve agents, they are organophosphate compounds, but the chemicals used to make them, and their final structures are considered classified in the UK, the US and other countries. By making the agents in secret, from unfamiliar chemicals, the Soviet Union aimed to manufacture the substances without being impeded.

“Much less is known about the novichoks than the other nerve agents,” said Alastair Hay, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Leeds who investigated the use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988. “They are not widely used at all.”

The most potent of the novichok substances are considered to be more lethal than VX, the most deadly of the familiar nerve agents, which include sarin, tabun and soman.

And while the novichok agents work in a similar way, by massively over-stimulating muscles and glands, one chemical weapons expert told the Guardian that the agents do not degrade fast in the environment and have “an additional toxicity”. “That extra toxicity is not well understood, so I understand why people were asked to wash their clothes, even if it was present only in traces,” he said. Treatment for novichok exposure would be the same as for other nerve agents, namely with atropine, diazepam and potentially drugs called oximes.

The chemical structures of novichok agents were made public in 2008 by Vil Mirzayanov, a former Russian scientist living in the US, but the structures have never been publicly confirmed. It is thought that they can be made in different forms, including a dust aerosol that would be easy to disperse.

The novichoks are known as binary agents because they become lethal only after mixing two otherwise harmless components. According to Mirzayanov, they are 10 to 100 times more toxic than the conventional nerve agents.

The fact that so little is known about them may explain why Porton Down scientists took several days to identify the compound used in the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. While laboratories around the world that are used to police chemical weapons incidents have databases of nerve agents, few outside Russia are believed to have full details of the novichok compounds and the chemicals needed to make them.

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The Labour leader, asked on a campaign visit to Watford about the foreign secretary’s remarks, said: “He claimed categorically – and I think he used the words 101% – that it had come from Russia.

“Boris Johnson seems to have completely exceeded the information that he had been given and told the world in categorical terms what he believed had happened. And it’s not backed up by the evidence he claimed to have got from Porton Down in the first place. Boris Johnson needs to answer some questions.

He added that Johnson had been left with “egg on his face” over his interview.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson dismissed Corbyn’s response, writing: “It is lamentable that Jeremy Corbyn is now playing Russia’s game and trying to discredit the UK over Salisbury attack… 28 other countries have been so convinced by UK case they have expelled Russians. In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn chooses to side with the Russian spin machine.”

The European commission said it had never thought that Porton Down had been tasked with identifying the source of the substance used in Salisbury.

The commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told a Brussels press briefing: “Our understanding is that the role of the experts there was to identify the type of agent that was used, not the source of the agent … They did identify the nerve agent novichok. That is what they have done.”

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