Moscow’s delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and witnesses of the supposed chemical attack in Syria’s Douma held a press briefing in Hague on April 26.
Following the April 7 incident in Douma, the US-led bloc accused Syrian government of using chemical weapons against civilians there. Russia and Syria reject these accusations. The US, the UK and France used the incident to justify their April 14 missile strike on Syria.
Head of the Russian delegation Alexander Shulgin said that Moscow views the Douma incident as a provocation. Shulgin marked that the only evidence had been a “sloppily staged” video shot by a pseudo-humanitarian organization, the White Helmets, and the key intend of the video was to “touch hearts”.
“We can prove today that the White Helmets’ runner was a crudely staged product,” Shulgin said. “Consequently, the references our Western partners – we call them ‘partners’ – make to the runner as a piece of evidence of the chemical attack are simply null and void.”
“Our news briefing today was aimed to show precisely this fact,” he said.
During the conference, the Russian delegation presented footage from the apartments were allegedly targeted with chemical weapons. According to the Russian General Ivanov, the cylinders remained undamaged, what “is highly unlikely if they were dropped from above”.
Witnesses of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, including 11-year-old Hassan Diab, spoke at The Hague to describe the April 7 incident.
“We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me,” Hassan Diab told the press conference.
Hassan was among the “victims” filmed by the White Helmets group for their Douma chemical attack video. The boy and his family later spoke to the media and revealed that Hassan was hurried to the scene by some men claiming that a chemical attack had taken place. They started pouring cold water on the boy and others, filming their video.
According to Shulgin, six of the witnesses brought to The Hague have been interviewed by OPCW technical experts.
“The others were ready too, but the experts are sticking to their own guidelines. They’ve picked six people, talked to them, and said they were ‘completely satisfied’ with their account and did not have any further questions,” he said adding that the allegations by “certain Western countries” ahead of the briefing that Russia and Syria were seeking to “hide” the witnesses from the OPCW experts did not hold water.