Robert Fisk’s bombshell first-hand account for the UK Independent runs contrary to nearly every claim circulating in major international press concerning what happened just over week ago on April 7th in an embattled suburb outside Damascus: not only has the veteran British journalist found no evidence of a mass chemical attack, but he’s encountered multiple local eyewitnesses who experienced the chaos of that night, but who say the gas attack never happened.
Fisk is the first Western journalist to reach and report from the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack widely blamed on Assad’s forces. Writing from Douma in eastern Ghouta, Fisk has interviewed a Syrian doctor who works at the hospital shown in one of the well-known videos which purports to depict victims of a chemical attack.
The Independent: “Middle East Correspondent Robert Fisk in one of the miles of tunnels hacked beneath Douma by prisoners of Syrian rebels.” (source: Yara Ismail via the Independent)
Importantly, the report, published late in the day Monday, is causing a stir among mainstream journalists who–minutes after the Saudi-sponsored jihadist group Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) accused the Syrian Army of gassing civilians–began uncritically promoting the “Assad gassed his own people” narrative as an already cemented and “proven” fact based on the mere word a notoriously brutal armed group who itself has admitted to using chemical weapons on the Syrian battlefield in prior years. Also notable is that no journalist or international observer was anywhere near Douma when the purported chemical attack took place.
Controversy ensued immediately after Fisk’s report, especially as he is among the most recognizable names in the past four decades of Middle East war reporting, having twice won the British Press Awards’ Journalist of the Year prize and as seven time winner of the British Press Awards’ Foreign Correspondent of the Year (the NY Times has referred to him as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain” while The Guardian has called him “one of the most famous journalists in the world”). An Arabic speaker, Fisk became famous for being among the few reporters in history to conduct face-to-face interviews with Osama bin Laden, which he did on three occasions between 1993 and 1997.
Fisk says he was able to walk around and investigate newly liberated Douma without Syrian government or Russian minders (in part this is likely because he has reported from inside …read more