On May 17, RT published a story on the investigation of the alleged Saraqeb chemical attack. It was headlined: “OPCW says chlorine 'likely' used in Syria based on open-source info & samples provided by jihadists.” That claim also appeared in the lede of the story and a tweet from RT’s official Twitter account.
Who are the “jihadists” – as described by RT -- that provided the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with samples for their investigation?
The RT article stated: “In fact, the entire OPCW account is based on witness testimonies and material evidence provided by selected NGOs as well as medical records offered by the same questionable sources, including Belgium-based Same Justice/Chemical Violations Documentation Center of Syria (CVDCS), the notorious Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) – better known as White Helmets – and the US-based Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).”
The piece also cited Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria, on why those sources are “questionable.”
“Ford noted that the White Helmets are a ‘well-known jihadi auxiliary who have assisted in beheadings and who are notorious for making propaganda’, and that SAMS shares ‘a similar reputation’,” RT wrote.
RT did not provide evidence substantiating Ford’s assertion. However, the White Helmets have long been the target of a smear campaign promoted by the Russian and Syrian governments, as well as by conspiracy theorists in the West who typically use Russian sources like RT and Sputnik.
Both Ford and RT also tried to discredit the White Helmets and other NGOs by associating them with the United States and other Western countries. However, the RT article did not mention that Peter Ford has been the director of a pro-Assad lobbying group since April 2017. That group, the British Syrian Society, was founded by Fawas Akhras, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father-in-law.