A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo? - by Robert Fisk

20 July 2018

Exclusive: The documents, some lying amid smashed guns and shrapnel, provided the most intriguing paper trail yet discovered of just who is producing the weapons that have armed the Assad regime’s most ferocious Islamist opponents

Robert Fisk Novi Travnik, central Bosnia

Ifet Krnjic had recently retired from his position at the arms factory ( Nelofer Pazira )

In the basement of a bombed-out al-Qaeda arms storage building in eastern Aleppo last year, I found a weapons log book from a mortar factory in Bosnia – with the handwritten name of one of their senior officials, Ifet Krnjic, on each page. It was dispatched from the Balkans with a cargo of 500 120mm mortars in January 2016. But now, in the forested heart of central Bosnia, I have found Mr Krnjic, who says his company sent the arms to Saudi Arabia.

Sitting on the lawn of his home south of the weapons-manufacturing town of Novi Travnik, he brings his finger down onto the first page of the log book which I showed him. “This is my signature! Yes, that’s me!” Krnjic exclaims loudly. “It’s a warranty for the 120mm mortar launcher – this is Nato standard. It [the shipment] went to Saudi Arabia. It was part of a supply of 500 mortars. I remember the Saudi shipment well. They [the Saudis] came to our factory to inspect the weapons at the beginning of 2016.”

This is astonishing. Not only does Krnjic, the 64-year old newly retired weapons control director of the BNT-TMiH factory at Novi Travnik, acknowledge his signature – but he says he recalls the visits of Saudi officials and military personnel to inspect the mortars before their shipment to Riyadh, and insists all such sales were strictly in accordance with the legal end-user certificates which his company obtained from all customers, stating that the weapons were to be used only by the armed forces of the nations which purchased them.

A weapons guarantee paper signed by Krnjic in February 2016, found in the basement of a ‘Nusrah’ office in eastern Aleppo (The Independent)

Five-hundred mortars is a massive shipment of weapons – most European armies don’t have that many in their individual inventories – and some of them at least appear to have ended up in the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s Islamist Nusrah Front/al-Qaeda enemies in northern Syria within six months of their dispatch from Bosnia 1,200 miles away. Because the mortars left Bosnia on 15 January 2016 under a BNT-TMiH factory guarantee for 24 months – numbered 779 and with a weapons series number of 3677 – the documents now in The Independent’s possession must have reached Aleppo by late July of 2016, when Syrian government troops totally surrounded the enclave held by armed factions including Nusrah, Isis and other Islamist groups condemned as “terrorists” by the United States.

When The Independent asked the Saudi authorities to respond to the documents in its possession and their discovery in eastern Aleppo, the Saudi embassy in London replied that the Kingdom did not give “practical or other support to any terrorist organisation [including Nusrah and Isis] in Syria or any other country” and described the allegations raised by The Independentas “vague and unfounded”. It said Saudi Arabia had been a “leading voice within the international community in support of a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria, while at the same time working with our neighbours and allies to counter the growth of forces of extremism”. It made no comment on the weapon log book and arms control coupons, photographs of which The Independent had asked it to examine.

However, it is clear that Saudi Arabia’s strict Wahabi faith has inspired Nusrah, Isis and other violent Islamist groups in Syria. Saudi Arabia has often been accused of arming the rebels in Syria, and religious publications from Riyadh have been found in towns formerly held by the Islamist groups. Besides, Saudi Arabia has demanded the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and his government in Damascus.

Ifet Krnjic, former weapons control director at the Novi Travnik arms factory in Bosnia, whose signature was found on weapons shipment papers (Nelofer Pazira)

In the last stages of the 2016 siege of Aleppo, Syrian and Russian forces were condemned in the west for the daily bombing of civilian areas of eastern Aleppo, and video footage provided constant images of dead and wounded men, women and children. During this period, however, the city’s Islamist defenders – most of whom later departed under a promise of safe passage for jihadi-held areas of Idlib province – fired barrages of mortar shells at government-held western Aleppo.

In the weeks that followed the mid-December surrender of the fighters in eastern Aleppo, the square miles of wreckage remained sown with mines and booby-traps. There were whole districts still cordoned off when I entered three former military barracks of the Islamist groups in February 2017, rubble sometimes blocking my path; stones, bricks, sheet metal and bomb fragments strewn across the roads and inside still standing, though badly damaged, buildings. Inside one of these, lying half-concealed amid iron fragments and field dressings, I found piles of discarded documents containing firing instructions for machine guns and mortars, all of them in English.

They also included weapons shipment papers and arms instruction booklets from Bosnia and Serbia, the pages still damp from winter rains and some stained by footprints. I stuffed as many as I could in the satchel I always carry in wars, later finding – in another building – a Bulgarian weapons shipment paper for artillery shells. In a deep basement of a third building in the Ansari district, with the words Jaish al-Mujaheddin (Army of the Holy Fighters) crudely painted but still visible on the front, its upper floors clearly bombed by Syrian or Russian jets, lay dozens of empty boxes for anti-armour weapons, all marked with their maker’s name – the Hughes Aircraft Company, of California. The boxes were labelled “Guided Missile Surface Attack” with stock numbers starting with the computer code “1410-01-300-0254”.

These papers, some of them lying amid smashed guns and pieces of shrapnel, provide the most intriguing paper trail yet discovered of just who is producing the weapons that have armed the Assad regime’s most ferocious Islamist opponents – and how they apparently reach the fighters of Syria via countries ‘friendly’ to the west. While claiming that he would have to “search” for documents on the end-user of the 2016 mortar shipment, Adis Ikanovic, the managing director of the Novi Travnik factory, acknowledged to me in his head office that most of his company’s exports went to “Saudi Arabia, probably”. An email reminder to Ikanovic six days after our meeting, for copies of the 2016 end-user certificate papers for the mortar shipment, elicited no reply.
Adis Ikanovic, managing director of the BNT-TMiH arms factory in Bosnia. Most of his arms exports, he said, went to Saudi Arabia (Nelofer Pazira)

Milojko Brzakovic, managing director of the Zastava arms factory in Serbia, looks through the arms manuals I found in Aleppo – including a 20-page instruction document for the powerful Coyote MO2 machine gun which his company manufactures – and says “there is not a single country in the Middle East which did not buy weapons from Zastava in the past 15 years”. He agrees that the documents I presented to him, which included a 52-page manual for his company’s 7.62mm M84 machine gun, which I also found in the Aleppo ruins beneath a bombed apartment bloc which had ‘Nusrah’ painted in Arabic on its wall, were published by Zastava in Serbia, and that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates were among his customers.
Milojko Brzakovic, managing director of the Zastava arms factory at Kragujovac in Serbia, admitted Saudi Arabia was a customer (Nelofer Pazira)

Ifet Krnjic’s account of the mortar shipment from BNT-TMiH in Bosnia is both precise and detailed. “When the Saudis came to our factory to inspect at the beginning of 2016, there was a Saudi ‘minister’... and some Saudi officers who also came to inspect the weapons before receiving them. The officers wore civilian clothes. The minister was in a robe. All our production after the [Bosnian] war is under the control of the Americans and Nato who are always coming here… and they know each and every piece of our weapons which go outside our factory.”
Krnjic, who lives in the tiny village of Potok Krnjic, Bosnian hamlets sometimes carry the names of extended families, south of Novi Travnik, describes how he recognised Nato officers visiting the plant, one of them “a Canadian officer, a black guy whose name is Stephen”. Ikanovic, the BNT-TMiH boss, confirms that all weapons shipments, including those to Saudi Arabia, were checked by the European Union Force Althea (EUFOR), the successor to Nato’s SFOR, and set up under the 1995 Dayton accords which ended the Bosnian war. Ikanovic says an Austrian general visits his factory for inspections, identified to me by other employees as Austrian two star Major General Martin Dorfer, the EUFOR commander. Krnjic says weapons from the plant are exported by Tuzla airport or through Sarajevo.

The Saudis, Krnjic tells me, “were never complaining because we have had a very good reputation for a long time, not only for our weapons but for who can give the shortest delivery date… I know I should not say all of this, but Nato and the EU have given us the green light to do this. Ours is the only mortar that can shoot from asphalt. Each mortar has a base plate, but other base plates [from other countries’ mortars] break – they can only be used on soft ground. With ours, the mortars can also be carried in sacks – they are three shells, one barrel, you shoot at a building and then you disappear. Only Chinese mortars are better than ours – I saw them in Iraq.”

Documents found in bombed Nusrah militia basements in eastern Aleppo


It transpires that although Krnjic has never visited Syria, he was employed in a weapons factory built by BNT-TMiH in Iraq in 1986, during the eight year Iran-Iraq war. “I was working inside the factory in Iraq – I wasn’t waging a war there” he says. “The factory there was more modern than ours [in Novi Travnik] – we were in Fallujah and Ramadi. By that time, we were already doing rocket launchers for Saddam, 260mm with a range of 500km. I saw Saddam three times.”

But Novi Travnik’s fortunes declined when the Bosnian war began in 1992, its once 10,000-strong workforce today reduced to fewer than 900. Much of the factory compound is now overgrown with rusted steel walls around some of its machine shops. Krnjic, a member of Bosnia’s Social Democratic Party and a veteran of the country’s civil war, retired from the company some months before Ikanovic was appointed managing director.

“I cannot export anything without a licence with the approval of five different ministers here in Bosnia, and it [the contract] is overlooked by Nato,” Ikanovic said. “We can only sell to countries which are on Nato’s ‘white list’.” Like Krnjic, and Brzakovic in Serbia, he says that his arms company must receive an internationally recognised end-user certificate for any arms export – but agrees that exporters had neither an obligation nor any way of preventing the further shipment of its weapons to third parties once they had arrived at their initial destination.

* This article has been updated to take account of a response from the Saudi embassy in London, received after a deadline for its receipt had passed and after the piece was initially published. 17.15 19/7/18

Initial Thoughts on the OPCW Interim Investigation into the Alleged Gas Attack in Douma, Syria

By Peter Hitchens - 7 July 2018

Now we have the first interim report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the alleged gas attack at Douma, outside Damascus, on 7th April 2018. You may read it in full here

I’d like to check its conclusions against some of the things which were said at the time, when the NATO allies very quickly concluded that the, allegations (for which there was no independent evidence) were true, and that the Assad state was to blame.

Here is the Guardian, on 9th April 2018: ‘Aid workers and medics described apocalyptic scenes in the besieged city of Douma, where at least 42 people have died from what appears to be a chemical attack, as they scrambled to save the survivors of the latest atrocity in Syria.

The Guardian - 9 April 2018

‘Doctors, nurses and rescue personnel said that, without medical equipment or supplies, they battled to save people who had started arriving at hospitals from 7.45pm on Saturday and were frothing at the mouth and suffocating. Many of those who made it to the hospitals did not live long. People who could not be pulled out needed to stay in their homes for hours waiting for the gas to dissipate before they could be retrieved. Some rescue workers also required treatment for exposure to the alleged chemicals.

‘Doctors said the symptoms had been consistent with exposure to an organophosphorus substance.’

Which doctors? Note the absence of named, checkable sources in a story written some distance from Damascus. This was typical of almost all western media reports of the episode at the time.

Now, the OPCW preliminary report, 6th July 2018, paragraph 2.5, specifically says there is no evidence of any such organophosphorus substance at the site. The quoted ‘doctors’, being unidentified, cannot now be approached to ask for their response to this.

The OPCW says : ‘The results of the analysis of the prioritised samples submitted to OPCW designated laboratories were received by the FFM team on 22 May 2018. No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties. Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive. These results are reported in Annex 3. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing.’

The Times , 9th April 2018, declared in a leading article:

‘It was business as usual yesterday in the propaganda bunkers of President Assad. A horrific chemical weapons attack on the sheltering Syrian civilians of Douma township was brushed aside by the Damascus regime as a fabrication or a "false flag" operation by insurgents. Moscow rushed to support its client dictator, branding the assault "bogus".

‘At least 70 people, including women and children, were killed after a Syrian army helicopter rolled a barrel bomb stuffed with chlorine or a nerve agent on to a heavily populated neighbourhood at the weekend. Douma is the only city in the eastern Ghouta enclave that is still in rebel hands and the Assad regime had plainly become impatient to mop up resistance. The relentless airstrikes since February indicate that the regime is willing to breach international rules to conquer terrain it considers strategically vital.

‘Russia cannot be allowed to block investigations into yet another breach of the chemical weapons convention. In 2013, when the US readied itself for a strike on Assad's bases to punish the regime for a chemical assault on eastern Ghouta, Russia offered to help to destroy Syria's stockpiles of gas and nerve agents. Moscow's aim was to head off US military involvement rather than restrain Assad. Again and again, new attacks have been documented by non-governmental organisations. It is obvious that the regime retains at least part of its chemical arsenal and manufacturing facilities.

‘The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be authorised to send investigators to the scene. The UN Security Council should demand the surrender of all flight logs for the period of the attack. These are the basic requirements for establishing that a war crime has been committed. Yet the past behaviour of the Russian authorities, and their reflex response of denying everything, suggests that little progress will be made at the UN.’

What reason did ‘The Times’ (which above imputes cynical motives to Russia without evidence) have to suspect that Russia would block an OPCW investigation? Russia has not in fact blocked any investigation, though it has objected to the creation of a body, which it regarded as biased, which drew conclusions from the Khan Sheikhoun events without having actually visited the site or seen any independent evidence gathered there, since there wasn’t any.


For the full story of Khan Sheikhoun.

The OPCW report shows that the Syrian and Russian governments both supported the mission of the OPCW to the site. By contrast the OPCW was unable to visit the scene of a previous alleged chemical attack at Khan Sheikhoun, in an area controlled by the Islamist factions supported by the West, as their safety could not be guaranteed. I do not recall ‘The Times’ condemning the rrbels over this.

Paragraph 3.3 : ‘On 10 April 2018, the Secretariat sent note verbale No. NV/ODG/214589/18 to the Syrian Arab Republic expressing its intention to deploy a team to Damascus. This correspondence coincided with note verbale No. 38 from the Permanent Representation of the Syrian Arab Republic to the OPCW requesting that an FFM team be dispatched urgently to visit the town of Douma to verify the information surrounding the alleged use of toxic chemicals on 7 April 2018. On the same day, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW submitted a letter to the Secretariat in which he welcomed the request from the Syrian Arab Republic and pledged to facilitate the work of the FFM.’

It also shows that delays to the OPCW team’s arrival were not caused by Russian or Syrian government action:

Paragraphs 6.1 to 6.8 (my emphases) explain wat happened:

‘Given the recent military activities and the volatile situation in Douma at the time of the FFM deployment, security and safety considerations were of paramount importance. Considerable time and effort were invested in discussions and planning to mitigate the inherent security risks to the FFM team and others deploying into Douma. According to Syrian Arab Republic and Russian Military Police representatives, there were a number of unacceptable risks to the team, including mines and explosives that still needed to be cleared, a risk of explosions, and sleeper cells still suspected of being active in Douma. This assessment was shared by the representative of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). Moreover, the operation to evacuate residents who had accepted an offer to leave Douma was ongoing, using the same road the team would have to take.

6.2 At the outset, the formal position of the FFM team, as instructed by the Director-General, was that security of the mission should be the responsibility of the Syrian Arab Republic. During the initial meetings in Damascus, the FFM team was informed by Syrian and Russian representatives that the Syrian Arab Republic could guarantee the safety of the FFM team only if the security was provided jointly with the Russian Military Police. S/1645/2018 page 6 6.3 Following consultations with OPCW Headquarters it was agreed between the Secretariat, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Military Police, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and UNDSS representatives that security within Douma could be provided by the Russian Military Police. This was formalised on 16 April 2018. Consequently, it was agreed that the Syrian Arab Republic would provide security from the hotel where the inspectors were staying to the final checkpoint at El Wafadin before entering Douma. From that point on, the Syrian Arab Republic would relinquish responsibility for security to the Russian Military Police. It was also agreed that the FFM team would be accompanied by Syrian Arab Republic representatives during the on-site activities, with Russian personnel limited to providing security.

6.4 During the reconnaissance visit by UNDSS on 18 April 2018 to assess the first two locations planned to be visited the following day, the security detail was confronted by a hostile crowd and came under fire from small arms and a hand grenade that exploded at Location 2 (see Figure 2 in section 8 below). The incident reportedly resulted in two fatalities and an injury to a Russian soldier. (PH Notes: This seems to me to suggest that the crowd were hostile to the Syrian government and the Russians, not to the defeated Jaish al Islam rebels. But I am speculating here)

6.5 Following the incident, the planned deployment of the FFM team was postponed until the security situation could be reassessed. Additional measures to mitigate the high security risks were proposed by the UNDSS representative, which included: (a) clearing the areas to be visited by the FFM team; (b) securing the areas during the 24-hour period before deployment; (c) increasing the number of escorts and having advance teams from the UNDSS and the Russian Military Police monitor the area prior to the arrival of the team at the sites; (d) using the police force for crowd control; (e) minimising the movement of civilians near the areas of interest given the possibility of suicide bombers getting within close proximity of the inspection team; and (f) deploying snipers on rooftops around the sites of interest. 6.6 New routes of access to the locations of interest were identified and modifications to the initial FFM deployment plans were formulated. These included reducing the size of the FFM teams deploying to the field to facilitate better security control and limiting the number of sites to be visited during each deployment. All parties agreed that media reports and public pronouncements on operational aspects of the FFM were compounding the security risk for the team and efforts were made to mitigate this risk element. 6.7 Once the security reassessment had been concluded and the proposed additional mitigation measures implemented, the FFM team deployed to the sites of investigation in accordance with the updated priorities and proposed schedule. S/1645/2018 page 7 6.8 For the remainder of the mission, the deployment by the FFM team proceeded without any security incidents. Access was granted to locations identified by the team as soon as adequate security conditions could be assured by the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Military Police, and the UNDSS. The Russian Military Police ensured that the team was fully isolated from local crowds and media personnel during the on-site visits, thereby allowing it to conduct its activities without interference.’

The Times stated in its 9th April leading article, as fact, that ‘At least 70 people, including women and children, were killed after a Syrian army helicopter rolled a barrel bomb stuffed with chlorine or a nerve agent on to a heavily populated neighbourhood at the weekend.’

The interim report says nothing about casualties. The reports we have of these come, like so much of what we think we know, from un-named sources, presumably so-called ‘NGOs’, not necessarily neutral in this matter, operating in the areas controlled by the Islamists.

We have so far no names of the dead, and no post-mortems to show cause of death (though the OPCW report reveals that there have been discussions about opening mass graves). So it is not yet possible to say whether these allegations are well-founded. The OPCW seems to have dismissed the suggestion that a nerve agent was involved. But the Times was cautious about this, saying it might have been chlorine.

So, was chlorine used? This issue is dealt with in paragraphs 8.7 to 8.14

‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive. These results are reported in Annex 3. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing. Physical data collection

8.8 Aside from sampling, a large volume of information was gathered by the FFM team and included photographs, video recordings, detection measurements, dimensions of the cylinders and attached metallic structure, and the spatial arrangement in the environment of the cylinders. Location 2 (cylinder on the roof)

8.9 The team deployed to Location 2 (N 330 34’ 25.6”, E 360 24’ 17.3”) on 21 April 2018.

8.10 During the visit to Location 2, Syrian Arab Republic representatives did not provide the access requested by the FFM team to some apartments within the building, which were closed at the time. The Syrian Arab Republic representatives stated that they did not have the authority to force entry into the locked apartments. This situation was relayed to OPCW Headquarters during the post-deployment debrief that same evening. S/1645/2018 page 11

8.11 The FFM had full access to other areas of interest within the same building, namely the balcony where the cylinder had allegedly impacted, the apartment directly below this, and the basement of the same apartment block.

8.12 Work is in progress regarding the location of the cylinder, its provenance, and the damage to both the reinforced concrete balcony and the cylinder. A comprehensive analysis by experts in the relevant fields will be required to provide a competent assessment of the relative damage. Location 4 (cylinder on the bed)

8.13 The team deployed to Location 4 (N 33° 34’ 24”, E 36° 23’ 41.1”) on 25 April 2018. The team gathered a broad selection of sample types, took videos, photos, detection measurements, and relevant dimensions of the location and the cylinder.

8.14 Work is in progress regarding the location of the cylinder, its provenance, and the damage to the reinforced concrete roof terrace and the cylinder. It is planned that a comprehensive analysis will be conducted by suitable experts, possibly in metallurgy and structural or mechanical engineering, to provide an assessment of how the cylinders arrived at its location, in addition to the observed damage to the bed and other furniture of the room, the roof, and the cylinder itself.

The report is not definitive. It seems to me that quite careful investigations are still taking place into how the cylinders got there. I don’t expect this is very easy to establish. The assertion that they were dropped form a helicopter by the Syrian army, widely made at the time, remains unproven. As to the chlorine traces, I’d be interested to hear from a chemist about these. They are listed in Annex 3, which is, alas, printed sideways.

Shortly after this event I had a few broadcasting engagements in which I urged caution, and was pretty much told not to be so silly, amongst other unpleasant suggestions.

This, from the once-staid and cautious Daily Telegraph, gives an idea of the quality and speed of the rush to judgement, in media and government

Trump's warning to Putin over Syrian gas atrocity

'Gravest consequences' for intervention, says Moscow
By: Ben Riley-Smith, Josie Ensor, Steven Swinford

DONALD TRUMP last night warned Russia's Vladimir Putin that there would be a "big price to pay" for a suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack that killed up to 70 people, including children.

In his harshest criticism of the Russian leader since taking office, the US president said Mr Putin was partly "responsible" for the assault on rebels in Douma, Eastern Ghouta.

He also criticised Barack Obama's failure to police a "red line" over chemical weapons, while a senior White House official said no form of response was "off the table".

The comments raise the possibility of a US air strike against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. Mr Trump approved the same response a year ago after a similar chemical attack.

The UN security council is expected to meet today after the UK, France, the US and six other countries called for an emergency session.

Theresa May was under pressure to join any US military intervention against the Assad regime, although MPs are not expected to be recalled to Parliament to discuss policy change.

Russia, Iran and Syria all denied chemical weapons had been used, with the Kremlin warning that any military response from the West would be "absolutely unacceptable".

A residential area of Douma, one of the last remaining rebel-held pockets in Syria, was struck around 8.45pm on Saturday.

Footage showed the dead bodies of children and adults with foaming mouths and glazed eyes.

Mr Trump tweeted: "Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world.

"President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.

"Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!" The president highlighted Mr Obama's failure to launch air strikes after past chemical weapons use, tweeting: "If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!" US media reported that Mr Trump would meet military leaders today, while Republican congressmen demanded action should follow up his uncompromising rhetoric.’

Well, we know that soon afterwards what seems to me to have been an illegal armed attack on Syria was made by the USA, Britain and France. Was this justified? We are some of the way towards knowing, but I still do not know what would have been lost by waiting to know, instead of assuming we knew.


#Syria | Sy Hersh: The truth of 2013 Eastern Ghouta chemical attack

30 June 2018

"Obama administration knew well that the sarin used in the 2013 Ghouta attack didn't have the grade and the characteristics of the one that Syrian military had at the time, and the administration also knew well that Saudi Arabia and Turkey were providing chemicals to Al Nusra in Syria that, when mixed together, make a nerve agent referred to as "kitchen sarin."

"The Obama Administration knew from this very important intelligence report...that there were two suspects – Al Nusra had the stuff and Syria had the stuff. Forget about having it analyzed – they knew right away (that it wasn't the Syrian Government's) and -still- they only talked about one (the Syrian Government's)," Hersh said.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist also spoke to RT about the anti-Syrian gov. propaganda organization, the White Helmets, and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK. - (Extract from RT's Going Underground - 30 June 2018)

You can watch the full episode here ↓↓↓

Also see |


Related: Sarin materials brought via Turkey & mixed in Syrian ISIS camps – Turkish MP to RT

Sarin materials brought via Turkey & mixed in Syrian ISIS camps – Turkish MP to RT

Islamic State terrorists in Syria received all necessary materials to produce deadly sarin gas via Turkey, Turkish MP Eren Erdem has told RT, insisting there are grounds to believe a cover up has taken place.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) member, Erdem, brought up the issue for public discussion in parliament last week, citing evidence from an abruptly-closed criminal case. He accused Ankara of failing to investigate Turkish supply routes used to provide terrorists with toxic sarin gas ingredients.

“There is data in this indictment. Chemical weapon materials are being brought to Turkey and being put together in Syria in camps of ISIS which was known as Iraqi Al Qaeda during that time," Erdem told RT.

Sarin gas is a military-grade chemical that was used in a notorious attack on Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2013. The attacks were pinned on the Syrian leadership, who in turn agreed to get rid of all chemical weapons stockpiles under a UN-brokered deal amid an imminent threat of US intervention.

Addressing parliamentarians on Thursday, Erdem showed a copy of the criminal case number 2013/120 that was opened by the General Prosecutor's Office in the city of Adana in southern Turkey.

The investigation revealed that a number of Turkish citizens took part in negotiations with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) representatives on the supply of sarin gas. Pointing to evidence cited in the criminal case, he said that wiretapped phone conversations proved that an Al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin.

“These are all detected. There are phone recordings of this shipment like ‘don't worry about the border, we’ll take care of it' and we also see the bureaucracy is being used,” continued Erdem.

Based on the gathered evidence Adana authorities conducted raids and arrested 13 suspects in the case. But a week later, inexplicably, the case was closed and all the suspects immediately crossed the Turkish-Syrian border, Erdem said.

READ MORE: Turkish prosecutors indict Syrian rebels for seeking chemical weapons

“About the shipment, Republic prosecutor of Adana, Mehmet Arıkan, made an operation and the related people were detained. But as far as I understand he was not an influential person in bureaucracy. A week after, another public prosecutor was assigned, took over the indictment and all the detainees were released. And they left Turkey crossing the Syrian border,” he said.

“The phone recordings in the indictment showed all the details from how the shipment was going to be made to how it was prepared, from the content of the labs to the source of the materials. Which trucks were going to be used, all dates etc. From A to Z, everything was discussed and recorded. Despite all of this evidence, the suspects were released,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Abandoned’ barrels containing deadly sarin seized in rebel-held Syria

“And the shipment happened,” Erdem added. “Because no one stopped them. That’s why maybe the sarin gas used in Syria is a result of this.”

Speaking to RT, Erdem said that according to some evidence Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation was also involved, with some unconfirmed reports pointing in the direction of a government cover up, with Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag’s involvement.

Certain evidence suggests Bozdag wanted to know beforehand from the sarin gas producer when and if the Islamists will use the chemical weapon.

“When I read the indictment, I saw clearly that these people have relationships with The Machinery and Chemical Industry Institution of Turkey and they don’t have any worries about crossing the border. For example in Hayyam Kasap's phone records, you hear him saying sarin gas many times, saying that the ateliers are ready for production, materials are waiting in trucks which were supposedly carrying club soda,” he told RT.

The parliamentarian said that now he feels like there is a witch hunt against him, after he confronted the justice minister. Bozdag, according to Erdem denied only the part that he wanted to get notified about the operations beforehand.

Furthermore, Erdem argues that the West purposely blamed the regime of Bashar Assad for the August 2013 attacks and used it as part of the pretext to make US military intervention in Syria possible. The MP said that evidence in Adana’s case, according to his judgment, proves that IS was responsible.

“For example the chemical attack in Ghouta. Remember. It was claimed that the regime forces were behind it. This attack was conducted just days before the sarin operation in Turkey. It’s a high probability that this attack was carried out with those basic materials shipped through Turkey. It is said the regime forces are responsible but the indictment says it’s ISIS. UN inspectors went to the site but they couldn’t find any evidence. But in this indictment, we’ve found the evidence. We know who used the sarin gas, and our government knows it too,” he said.

At the same time, Erdem also accused the West and Europe in particular for providing “basic materials” to create such a powerful chemical weapon.

“All basic materials are purchased from Europe. Western institutions should question themselves about these relations. Western sources know very well who carried out the sarin gas attack in Syria. They know these people, they know who these people are working with, they know that these people are working for Al-Qaeda. I think is Westerns are hypocrats about the situation,” he concluded.