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Fugitive Syrian General Says Assad’s Government Retained 700 Tons of Chemical Weapons

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According to a fugitive Syrian General, the Syrian government had hidden hundreds of tons of chemical weapons from the OPCW.

Fugitive Syrian General Says Assad's Government Retained 700 Tons of Chemical Weapons

Fugitive Syrian Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat (L) (Photo: Telegraph / Zaher al-Sakat / AP)

The Telegraph newspaper has published information about chemical weapons of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, provided by fugitive Syrian Brigadier General Zaher al-Sakat, who allegedly had been commanding a subdivision of chemical troops of the 5th Division of the Syrian Army until 2013.

According to al-Sakat, in 2013, the Syrian authorities hid from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) hundreds of tons of chemical weapons. As the fugitive officer claimed, the Assad’s regime had at least 2,000 tons of combat chemical agents, but the Syrian government recognized the presence of only 1,300 tons of such substances.

Al-Sakat said that at least 700 tons of sarin and other poisonous substance, as well as precursors (substances, used in chemical reactions in order to get a target substance), remained at secret warehouses in Syria after the country’s ‘clearing’ of chemical weapons. He noted that these stocks were secretly exported to fortified warehouses in the mountains near Homs and to the coastal city of Jableh, located near the port of Tartus. According to al-Sakat, the Syrian Army still has aerial bombs, capable of carrying chemical charges, and missiles of the Scud class with warheads for chemical charges.

Damascus and Moscow said that accusations of the presence of chemical weapons and means for its usage in the Syrian Army are unfounded. At the same time, the Syrian and Russian authorities have repeatedly claimed that militants of terrorist groups, operating in Syria, have such weapons.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow is puzzled why the fugitive Syrian General hid the information about the remaining chemical weapons in Syria for such a long time.

“I have seen reports on the statements of the fugitive Syrian General. They indicate that he fled in 2013. In the same year, the Russian-American agreement on chemical disarmament of Syria in accordance with its accession to the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, which was supported in The Hague and New York, was reached,” Lavrov said.

According to the Russian Foreign Minister, “on the basis of this agreement, as early as in 2014, the OPCW received by the Syrian government data on its stockpiles of chemical weapons and verified them in the same 2014.”

Lavrov noted that “the total amount of chemical substances that should have been disposed was 1,300 tons, while the general said yesterday that there were 2,000 tons of chemical weapons.”

“As the figure of 1,300 tons was announced openly, I have a question why the General, if he knew about the 2,000 tons, was silent for three years. Seven hundreds of tons are not a small figure, you cannot hide it in a test tube from under white powder,” the diplomat said.

Lavrov noted that “any person of sound mind understands that this general has been stimulated either with a carrot or with sticks.”

Will remind, on April 4, about 90 people, including up to 30 children, were killed, and some 560 others were hospitalized with poisoning, injuries and wounds, as the result of an airstrike and subsequent chemical contamination of the area in Khan Shaykhun town in Idlib province. The US accused the Syrian government of the chemical attack. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the Syrian Air Force bombed a warehouse, where terrorists stored their chemical weapons, and this led to the contamination of the area. Later, Moscow declared that it was necessary to thoroughly investigate what happened before setting out any versions and charges.

On the night of April 7, US Navy destroyers fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, targeting the Shayrat airbase, located about 30 kilometers of the city of Homs. The Shayrat airbase was chosen as a target of the missile strikes, as the US authorities believe that the Syrian Air Force departed from there to carry out its airstrikes in Idlib province.

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