MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly reject claims they spread 'fake news' about Syria attack

MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have rejected claims that they have spread "fake news" about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly reject claims they spread 'fake news' about Syria attack

MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have rejected claims that they have spread "fake news" about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have rejected claims that they have spread "fake news" about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Mr Wallace had on Friday questioned the conclusion of a report the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at the European Parliament's committee of security and defence. The report concluded that the Assad regime had used chlorine gas in an attack on the city of Douma in 2018.

During questioning of the OPCW's director-general Fernando Arias, Mr Wallace said that the OCPW had not "heeded calls to meet with investigators", prompting committee chair Nathalie Loiseau to accuse him of peddling "fake news".

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organisation and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” she said to Mr Wallace.

“Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more?”

Mr Wallace replied, saying he had "been denied his opinion" and was "the only one being interfered with" in his questioning.

Speaking about the incident on Newstalk, Mr Wallace said that the OCPW report had "ignored the people on the ground" and said that the report was a "compromise" which "bore no resemblance to the testimony of those on the ground". 

Two investigators involved in the report, which was used in part to justify western airstrikes on Syria, have rejected its findings, but the OCPW has said that they did not have access to the full facts.

Mr Wallace said that he did not know what had happened in Douma, but said that the "initial team had said it wasn't a chemical attack", going on to call the volunteer White Helmet organisation, which was nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize of being "paid for by the US and UK to carry out regime change in Syria".

"I didn't say that they (the White Helmets) carried out the attack, I said they may have."

Mr Wallace's Independent4Change colleague in the European Parliament Clare Daly said that "an independent OCPW is absolutely necessary".

She said that her own opinion of what happened in Douma was "not relevant", adding that she and Mr Wallace were raising "valid concerns" about the OPCW report. She said that the accusation of "fake news" was a "convenient slur" to distract from the questions being raised.

Ms Daly said that neither she nor Mr Wallace were supporters of Assad.

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