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Syria Rebels Used Sarin, UN's Del Ponte Strongly Suspects, Of UK's Trolls & Russia's Popova

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 -- Amid disputes of the scope of a UN chemical weapons probe in Syria, UN Human Rights Council appointee Carla Del Ponte has said this:

"Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas... on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities."

  Now the question is, how fast can the UN Human Rights Council, or Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, or in the Security Council the Permanent Three (France, UK and US) walk back from this?

  Del Ponte previously caused a stir when she reported on the extraction and sell of organs from Serbian prisoners of war.

  But her work on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before that had been such that she was put on the HRC's Syria panel.

  Now this.

  Last week at the Russian mission, a Russian state media reporter Anastasia Popova showed some of her footage from eight months inside Syria.

  Inner City Press asked her about chemical weapons. She replied she had been in Khan al Assal, and had eye witness testimony that chemical weapons use was by the opposition.

  At the next UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson if his prober, Ake Sellstrom, would take a look at the information Popova assembled inside Syria. (Popova said the HRC's Paulo Pinheiro panel, which includes Del Ponte, had been unwilling to.)

  The answer was yes. Now this. Again, how fast can Ban, the HRC or really the P3 walk back from this?

Footnotes: When Inner City Press reported on the session at the Russian mission, anonymous social media accounts associated with Reuters and others of the UN Correspondents Association board quickly made the false allegation that Inner City Press must be funded by the Assad government, then asked the UN's Stephane Dujarric to dis-accredit Inner City Press -- just after "World Press Freedom Day."

  We've noted that the UK Mission, also on social media but at least like Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant under its own name, produced its own World Press Freedom Day video, with four short interviews at least two of which we'll review in another post.

The UK "quartet" included Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse, who on March 8, 2013 filed a false complaint with UN Security saying Inner City Press "abused" French head of Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous.

 It also included, from Reuters, not Louis Charbonneau but Michelle Nichols, who did the same. Higher tech than Witcher, Nichols is associated with UNCA's trolling social media accounts which falsely and anonymously accuses others of being funded by Assad or Sri Lanka's defunct Tamil Tigers, leading to death threats.

  World Press Freedom Day, indeed. Watch this site.

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