A US conspiracy theorist Donald Trump Jr said deserved to "win the Pulitzer" has claimed the Syrian gas attack was a “false flag” operation by “deep state agents”.
Mike Cernovich tweeted that the gas attack which killed up to 100 people in Idlib in Syria on Tuesday was perpetrated by secret Western agents who were trying to provoke sympathy so the US would be dragged into a war against Bashar al-Assad.
He also accused the “fake news media” of spreading the lie – despite victims taken over the border to Turkey for treatment blaming the Assad government for the atrocity. Some of them later died of their injuries.
According to a post-mortem carried out by Turkish authorities, the victims died of injuries as a result of exposure to chemical weapons which are banned by the UN.
Experts say the most likely chemical used would be Sarin gas, which was also used in an attack on the rebel-controlled town of Ghouta near Damascus in 2013 that killed at least 280 people and provoked an international outcry.
But Mr Cernovich, who is best known for falsely accusing a New York pizza restaurant of imprisoning children for Democrat party figures to sexually abuse, said there was no way Assad would risk a gas attack on his own people when he had already won the war.
He claimed the Syrian regime had already defeated Isis, who he said the media referred to a “moderate rebels”. He conflates them with other groups operating in Syria such as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, al-Qaeda and more secular groups such as the Free Syrian Army who are continuing the fight in the six-year Syrian Civil War.
He claims Russia backs Assad and Mr Trump is “neutral” but does not want to drag the US into another Middle Eastern war so it would be illogical for Assad to use gas against his enemies.
He said: “The Syrian gas attack was done by deep state agents. The fake news media (which works for them) wants you to ignore basic logic and 101 level game theory and strategic thinking to reach an illogical conclusion”.
Allegations of "deep state agents" plotting behind the scenes have been used frequently by conspiracy theorists to back up their claim that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of unelected officials who manipulate the US public and their elected representatives.
Although the concept has largely remained on the fringes of political discourse – most notably surrounding conspiracies about the death of President John F Kennedy in 1963 – it has recently been propelled into the mainstream by Mr Trump's support base.
In 2013, Assad crossed a “red line” set by Barack Obama on chemical weapons but the West failed to act as a collective, with a vote for military action falling short in the UK parliament.
The West has now effectively dropped its demand for regime change in an attempt to negotiate peace.
As an unnamed Syrian minister told The Independent on Thursday: “Silence means approval”.