Moscow: UN-OPCW Report Regarding Khan Shaykhun Chemical Attack Is “an Attempt To Mislead the International Community”

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Moscow: UN-OPCW Report Regarding Khan Shaykhun Chemical Attack Is “an Attempt To Mislead the International Community”

Nigel Treblin/Getty Images

The Russian Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Industry and Trade have presented their own report on chemical attacks in Syria following the UN-OPCW report, which accuses Damascus of using chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, Sputnik reported.

The UN-OPCW report states the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is allegedly responsible for the use of sarin in the Khan Shaykhun incident. The UN-OPCW report blamed Damascus for the Idlib chemical attack, claiming that a bomb with sarin has been dropped by the Syrian military aviation on Khan Shaykhun citing photo and video evidence from the site and positive sarin analysis as proof.

According to Moscow, a Syrian warplane was present in the area, but it was too far away from the site and couldn’t have dropped the bomb there due to the plane’s technical limitations. There are also no witness reports of a jet flying above Khan Shaykhun, a Russian Defense Ministry official has said, emphasizing that it’s impossible for a Syrian Su-22 to drop a bomb from 5 km distance.

“The report [by the OPCW-UN] noted that in 57 out of 247 cases of requests for medical assistance, the victims were taken to medical facilities even before the incident took place. The incident took place between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. [4:45-7:00 GMT], according to the JIM [Joint Investigative Mechanism]. They [57 alleged victims] accessed health services even before that, and these facts are recorded and documented,” said the head of the Nonproliferation and Arms Control Department of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov, adding that some of the victims requested medical assistance in a hospital located 78 miles away from Khan Shaykhun.

Judging from how the bomb crater looks, the ammunition that hit Khan Shaykhun must have exploded on contact, the Russian Defense Ministry said. As a Russian chemistry expert has noted, claims of unique characteristics of sarin, which was confirmed to be used in Idlib, are baseless. According to the photos of White Helmets’ volunteers, they touched the site with their bare hands. If it the site had traces of sarin, it would have proven fatal. One possible explanation for this is that the explosive charge was first blown up, forming a crater where White Helmets volunteers were filmed, and only later was the crater covered with sarin.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, that overall the UN-OPCW report on the chemical weapons’ use in Syria is biased, “unprofessional and amateur,” as the investigators had refused to visit the site of the alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province. The Russian ministry said that the probe had been conducted remotely.

“The investigation … was carried out remotely in New York and the Hague offices, as well as on the territory of one of the countries bordering Syria. This could not help but affect the quality of the investigation, which turned out to be extremely low.”

Experts had previously refused to visit the airbase, from where the chemical attack was allegedly conducted, according to the claims of Western countries explaining that visiting the airbase was “not a part of their mandate,” but still visited the base in October.

“But experts categorically refused to collect samples in order to detect sarin saying that they were not instructed to do so,” Ulyanov said.

“Actually, this is a scandal: this is an attempt to mislead the international community,” he told the reporters.

Khan Shaykhun incident that took place in Idlib province in Syria on April 4, 2017, resulting in 80 people dead and more than 200 injured. While the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, backed by the US, immediately blamed the Syrian government for using the chemical weapons against civilian population, Damascus has denied the allegations and reiterated that it does not possess any chemical weapons, the full destruction of which was confirmed by the OPCW.

Commenting on the accusations against the Syrian government, Russia has multiple times reiterated its position that all chemical weapons were taken out of Syria in mid-2014 with Washington’s assistance and called for a thorough probe into the Khan Shaykhun events.

The US has admitted that terrorist groups in Syria possess chemical weapons.

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