Video Footage of 'Chemical Weapons Attack' Uploaded Before it Happened?
Hundreds of videos showing apparent victims of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were uploaded to YouTube on August 20, a day before media reports say the attack actually happened, prompting Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman to assert the incident was a "pre-planned" provocation staged by rebels.
As PBS reports, "At around 3 a.m. (on August 21st) , patients started streaming in from neighborhoods in suburban Damascus like Zamalka and Ain Terma," following the alleged chemical weapons attack.
However, a playlist of videos entitled 'Alleged Chemical Attack in Eastern Ghouta August 21st 2013' contains 159 videos - every one of which was uploaded to YouTube on August 20th.
While no one is denying that some kind of attack did indeed take place, the fact that hundreds of videos showing victims of the attack were uploaded to YouTube a day before the incident is supposed to have actually happened remains unexplained.
The time stamp attributed to uploaded videos applies to the country in which they were uploaded, meaning that the videos were uploaded in Syria on August 20th, which is seemingly impossible given that the attack took place in the early hours of the 21st. The only way the videos could display as being uploaded on the 20th was if they were uploaded in America, which is on an earlier time zone.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich, this represents evidence of a "pre-planned" provocation. Lukashevich labeled the accusations "another anti-Syrian propaganda wave."
“We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he told RT. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.”
The unanswered question as to how footage showing victims of an attack that occurred on August 21 was uploaded to YouTube on August 20 is in addition to doubts cast about the veracity of the videos by several chemical weapons experts.
Paula Vanninen of the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention questions the behavior of those seen handling the victims in the video footage. "At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators….In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms," he stated.
Stephen Johnson, an expert in weapons and chemical explosives at Cranfield Forensic Institute, told Euro News that the video footage also looked suspect.
“There are, within some of the videos, examples which seem a little hyper-real, and almost as if they’ve been set up. Which is not to say that they are fake but it does cause some concern. Some of the people with foaming, the foam seems to be too white, too pure, and not consistent with the sort of internal injury you might expect to see, which you’d expect to be bloodier or yellower,” Johnson said.
His comments were echoed by chemical and biological weapons researcher Jean Pascal Zanders, who said that the footage appears to show victims of asphyxiation, which is not consistent with the use of mustard gas or the nerve agents VX or sarin. "I'm deliberately not using the term chemical weapons here," he said, adding that the use of "industrial toxicants" was a more likely explanation.