Politifact Reverses 2014 Ruling on Kerry’s Statement Regarding Syrian Chemical Weapons Stockpile

John Kerry

The fact-check website, Politifact, on Wednesday, reversed course on a 2014 ruling that found the statement of then-Secretary of State John Kerry, regarding the “100 percent” removal of chemical weapons from Syria, “mostly true.”

“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” then-Secretary of State John Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in July 2014. Kerry stated while referring to a deal between the US and Russians in September 2013, whereby the Russians agreed to help disintegrate and destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

When making its ruling in 2014, Politifact quoted Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

“The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura,” Üzümcü said in June 2014.

Eventually, PolitiFact ended up calling Kerry’s claim “mostly true” as there were still several discrepancies between the number of chemical weapons Syria claimed to have and the number external observers claimed the country possessed.

According to PolitiFact, they rated Kerry’s statement based on the data they had at that time. For instance, at that time, they did not that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces dropped chemical bombs at least four times between 2014 and 2015. Also, they did not have any information regarding the use of chlorine gas between that period.

“There are still 12 former chemical weapon production facilities which need to be destroyed,” a human rights worker told Politifact.

Almost three years after Kerry’s statement, on Wednesday, a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-controlled village in northern Syria, killed around 70 to 100 individuals, including civilians. The attack is said to have devastated the village and killed at least a dozen children. The United States believes Bashal al-Assad ordered the attack.

The very next day, PolitiFact reverted its earlier fact-check “because we now have many unanswered questions.”

“We don’t know key details about the reported chemical attack in Syria on April 4, 2017, but it raises two clear possibilities: Either Syria never fully complied with its 2013 promise to reveal all of its chemical weapons; or it did, but then converted otherwise non-lethal chemicals to military uses,” the site wrote.

“One way or another, subsequent events have proved Kerry wrong,” PolitiFact concluded.