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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

OPCW report on Syria chemical attack unreliable: Russia

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 09 April 2020 9:59 AM

Russia has censured as "untrustworthy" a recent report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – tasked with probing a series of suspected "chemical attacks" on a Syrian town in 2017, saying the watchdog has violated the basic principle of its work by conducting a remote investigation without visiting the sites.

In its Wednesday's 82-page report, the OPCW's Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) claimed Syrian government forces had been responsible for the alleged chemical attacks on the militant-held town of Lataminah in the northern Syrian province of Hama during the last week of March 2017.

It alleged that in the span of one week, Syrian fighter jets had twice dropped bombs containing sarin nerve agent on the village and a helicopter had targeted its hospital with a cylinder containing chlorine, affecting scores of people.

According to the report, the team had based its investigation on a range of evidence, including witness testimonies, videos, forensic reports on recovered munitions scraps, medical records and satellite imagery.

"The experts, who accused Syria of incidents that took place in 2017, have depended on judgments released by the Fact-Finding committee which included rough violations of the basic principle of the OPCW work that stipulates the need for a logic succession of events while collecting and keeping material evidence," the press office of Russia's permanent mission at the OPCW said on Wednesday.

It described the IIT's report as unreliable, saying it depends on investigations that were conducted remotely without visiting the places of incidents based on statements of terrorist groups and the so-called civil defense group White Helmets

The Lataminah strikes came days before another alleged sarin assault in nearby town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province, which killed more than 80 people on April 4.

The Western countries rushed to blame the incident on Damascus – an allegation rejected by the Syrian government – with the US launching several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, taking the lives of about 20 people including both Syrian soldiers and civilians.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. However, Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

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