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Fake News: Top UN Inspector Did NOT Say Assad Not Responsible For Chemical Weapons Attack

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 11 Apr 2018 22:10:49 Z)

Did a top UN inspector named Åke Sellström say President Bashar Al-Assad was not responsible for the recent chemical attack on the town of Douma? No, that was a serious misrepresentation by a site known to be creative with the truth very often in the past.

YourNewsWire posted an article on April 10, 2018 titled "Top UN Inspector: Assad Not Responsible For Chemical Weapons Attack" (archived here).

Right at the start of the article it already backpedals, calling him a "former director of UN weapons inspectors" instead of a "top UN inspector":

A former director of UN weapons inspectors has said that the Syrian government is not responsible for the recent chemical weapons attack, and claims the attack is an attempt to topple Bashar Al-Assad.

Dozens of people were killed in the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday, in an attack President Putin and others described as a 'false flag' perpetrated by the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets group.

On Sunday night, two Israeli F-15 fighters targeted a Syrian military airbase in the Homs province, firing eight guided missiles at the airport, killing 14 soldiers.

Infowars.com reports: However, according to chemical weapons expert Åke Sellström, who investigated the use of chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria, it is unlikely that Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian Army were responsible for the attack in Eastern Ghouta.

Screenshot of http://yournewswire.com/un-inspector-assad-not-responsible-chemical-attack/

The InfoWars article quoted as the source is a lot more nuanced already:

Former Top UN Weapons Inspector: Assad Likely Not Responsible For Chemical Weapons Attack " Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!

The former director of UN weapons inspectors in Syria says that he is skeptical the Syrian government was behind the chemical weapons attack in Douma because Bashar Al-Assad did not stand to gain in any way. Dozens of people were killed in the rebel-held town on Saturday, prompting President Trump to tweet there would be a "big price to pay".

And that article in turn quotes this Swedish news article as the source:

Expert: Svårt att bedöma uppgifterna - DN.SE

Åke Sellström, tidigare chef för FN:s vapeninspektörer i Syrien, säger att det är svårt att bedöma uppgifterna om den nya kemvapenattacken. Det som talar emot att regimen ligger bakom är att man i så fall helt i onödan skulle göra sig till måltavla för internationella protester.

InfoWars helpfully provides a link to a Google translated version of the story. Key quote from that story is the former inspector saying:

"Until proven, I'm skeptical," he said, but expects the case to be investigated.

So the facts are that a former UN weapons inspector says he doesn't know something and that there is no evidence yet but he expects there to be an investigation. And out of that YourNewsWire spins a headline that claims a current top inspector says something is definitely certain. Being top inspectors of fake news ourselves we feel obligated to call this headline false.

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

THE PEOPLE'S VOICE, INC. AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

We wrote about yournewswire.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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