To Inform is to Influence

CEM GENCO/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

The conspiracists introduced claims about rebels using chemical weapons just as the Trump administration’s frustration was rising over the Assad regime’s use of chlorine gas.

Weeks before the world saw the bodies of men, women, and children dead from an apparent Syrian military chemical attack in Douma, Syria, the Russian military was already spreading bizarre conspiracy theories about an impending “false flag” chemical attack carried out by rebels.

Russian conspiracy propaganda and truther chum have been a staple of official discourse whenever Moscow wants to cover up bad behavior by its allies in Damascus. When the Assad regime used sarin nerve agents on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, Russian officials accused Syrian first responders—a group known as the White Helmets—of fabricating the attacks—saying it was impossible to explain otherwise how the group “managed to work for such a long…

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