Op-Ed: There may not have been a chemical attack in Douma

Posted Apr 16, 2018 by Ken Hanly
There is a constant information war going on in the media between those supporting the view that the Assad regime is not guilty of a chemical attack in Douma and those that insist that he is.
The chemical weapons meeting  comes a day after allegations of a fresh chemical attack by the Syrian...
The chemical weapons meeting comes a day after allegations of a fresh chemical attack by the Syrian regime on Douma in the rebel-held region of Eastern Ghouta.
Most of the latter group also support the actions of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom in attacking a limited number of targets in Syria allegedly to degrade the regime's use of chemical weapons. This attack was carried out even as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW) had arrived in Syria but had not begun their investigation of the site where the alleged attack took place. It is still to carry out its investigation and started on Saturday.
The Assad is guilty narrative
The view that Assad is guilty is based on evidence that is shown widely on social media which has graphic images of corpses and children being hosed down and treated after suffering from a chemical attack. The evidence is provided by the rebels, the Army of Islam, the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). A typical video is below:
SAMS put the toll at 49. The White Helmets claimed 43 were killed with twelve being children. Mohamad Katoub of SAMS said that he doubted any meaningful evidence would remain and local staffers would be too afraid to give testimony. He claimed in the present circumstances that an investigation would be too hard. Notice that he is in fact in advance of the investigation taking place questioning its worth. In other words one should rely on the evidence already produced with the cooperation of the White Helmets, SAMS and the rebels.
There are few explanations as to why Assad would unleash a chemical attack just when he is almost victorious in driving rebels out of the area. It would seem that it is just because he can't help himself, despite how disastrous as the outcome might be.
In the U.S., one of the few people critical of the air strikes is the libertarian Ron Paul who thinks that the answer is that Assad did not carry out a chemical attack.
The mainstream press, particularly in the U.S., is almost unanimous in support of the view that Assad is guilty and few if any dissenting or skeptical voices are to be heard.
There was no chemical attack narrative
There are various narratives supporting the view that Assad is not to blame for a chemical attack. One version is that there was a chemical attack but by the rebels themselves who did it in a desperate attempt bring more foreign intervention into the war to fight against the Assad regime. However, there is another narrative that denies that there was an attack at all and that the videos widely seen on TV and other media are staged but meant to evoke a response from the U.S. and others against the Assad regime.
Assad and his allies were worried that as the rebels lost ground and faced defeat they would carry out a false flag chemical attack to force the U.S. and its allies to intervene militarily against the Assad regime. The appended video from March 17th suggests the attack would come in the south near the Jordan border and was assisted by U.S. training.
As it turns out the alleged chemical attack came in Douma, and according to one narrative, it was not an actual attack but was staged.