No Victims of Alleged Chemical Attack Found in Syrian Douma - Moscow
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - No victims, casualties or even traces of use of chemical weapons have been found in Syria's Douma, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"These victims, mentioned by [French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves] Le Drian, casualties, or at least traces of the alleged use of chemical weapons, have not been found yet," Zakharova said at a briefing.
Zakharova noted that later on Thursday, Douma residents will speak at headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in order "personally provide the representatives of the Convention member states with first-hand information."
The spokesperson stated that Russia expected the OPCW mission report on the alleged attack to be ready as soon as possible.
"The OPCW expert group, which arrived in Douma on April 21, continues its work. They have visited the place of the alleged chemical attack, the so-called chemical attack. For its part, Russia renders the mission the maximum possible assistance, first of all, in the issue of ensuring security. Russia expects the OPCW inspectors to conduct an impartial investigation into the circumstances of the incident and provide the early report," the spokeswoman said.
The situation around Syria escalated in the wake of the reports on chemical weapons attack in Douma on April 7, published by a number of Syrian opposition media platforms. The claimed attack prompted France, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of which blamed Damascus for using hazardous substances against civilians, to fire over 100 missiles on what they called the Syrian government's chemical weapons sites.
The Syrian government and Russia have refuted the allegations, saying that the attack was staged by militants and the White Helmets to influence public opinion and justify possible intervention. In order to investigate the details of the incident, the OPCW sent a fact-finding mission to the Syrian town last week.
Conflict in Seattle
Zakharova went on by speaking about the latest situation with the residence of the Russian Consul General in Seattle as "outrageous and unprecedented", adding that such violation of the fundamental international legal norms never happened in the history of bilateral relations.
"In conclusion, I would like to speak about the comment spread by our US counterparts on their Internet platforms. Particularly they said that the officials from the US Department of State walked through the building to confirm that it had been cleared. No, it had not been cleared, it had been seized by them," the spokeswoman said.
On March 26, US President Donald Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle by April 2 over claims that Moscow played a role in the poisoning of an ex-spy in Salisbury, which Russia denied.
Ties with Armenia
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson has also touched the theme of the recent political crisis in Armenia, which prompted the country's prime minister to resign.
"We maintain contact with Yerevan, it has not been interrupted… Russia has done everything that depends on Moscow in order to establish such ties… We have fulfilled our commitments and will take as a premise all the obligations we have," Zakharova said at a briefing.
The political crisis in Armenia broke out earlier in April after ex-President Serzh Sargsyan was nominated as the country's prime minister. It was largely regarded as an attempt to stay in power since the newly amended constitution transferred some of the presidential powers to the head of the government.
On Monday, Sargsyan resigned amid large-scale protests and Armenian First Deputy Prime Minister Karapetyan became an acting prime minister. At the same time, the opposition politicians insist that a "candidate from the people" should be elected as head of the government and only then the interim government could be formed and the snap vote could take place.
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