If a chemical weapons “attack” comes to pass in the place it has been predicted, it would be the first such provocation blamed on Assad to take place in territory occupied by a foreign power, likely triggering an intensified military response from the U.S.
by Whitney Webb
Part 2 - White Helmets still in the game
Given the warning that another staged chemical weapons attack could soon take place in Syria, it seems likely that such an attack will involve the “humanitarian” group of dubious credibility, the White Helmets. Indeed, the evidence of the last chemical weapons attack blamed on the Assad-led government, occurring in Douma of Eastern Ghouta, largely came from the group, whose ties to terrorist groups and pro-regime-change foreign governments have been the subject of several reports at MintPress and elsewhere.
Yet the White Helmets have been in the news as of late as a result of the fact that the State Department has put the funds it has long provided to the group, a third of the White Helmets’ total funding, under “active review.” As a result, given the threat of withheld funds, the case has been made that the White Helmets would be unlikely to participate in any upcoming staged provocations, particularly in an area controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.
However, the withholding of funds from the U.S. is largely a sham. While the funds are “under active review,” U.S. funding of the White Helmets remains in effect while that review is taking place. According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, during the review period, “all of their work still continues, peoples bills are still being paid […] as far as I know [all U.S. contributions] are still in play.”
Other evidence suggesting that the White Helmets’ funding freeze is not at all what it seems is the fact that the group was just given the McCain Institute’s “Award for Courage and Leadership” for 2018 and that the State Department has already tried to back-pedal claims that it was cutting funds for the group.
On May 4, VICE News quoted an unnamed State Department spokesperson as saying, “the U.S. jointly supports the White Helmets with other donors, and we expect their operations to continue as a result of additional multilateral donations.” Thus, the fact that funds have not actually been cut off to the group negates the thinking that its purported status change would limit its participation in a staged chemical weapons attack.
Furthermore — as Vanessa Beeley, independent journalist and well-known expert on the White Helmets, recently wrote at 21st Century Wire — the U.S. “funding freeze” on the White Helmets may be just another Trump administration fake-out prior to a staged chemical attack. Indeed, prior to the alleged attack in April in Douma, Trump had promised to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, but quickly changed his tune after the alleged gas attack.